Do You Want Intent Data with That?

If you could layer third-party intent data into every lead gen program you run, would you do it? In other words, would you only ever want marketing leads from prospects pre-determined to be actively researching your category, solution, use case, etc.? My argument: no, you wouldn’t.

I was part of a client conversation recently about the merits of different demand generation channels (paid social, content syndication, email, search, etc.) and this particular marketing exec was quick to reject the idea of anything that didn’t incorporate an element of intent data.  In fact, he went as far as to classify anything else (a simple LinkedIn campaign, for example) as merely a “shotgun” approach.

Now, third-party intent data is a powerful tool, and, if you’re a B2B marketer, deserves to be a part of your demand generation planning.  However, if it’s a prerequisite for anything you ever do in demand gen, you’re doing your company and sales team a disservice by limiting engagement to only those prospects already in the more advanced stages of the buying journey. 

Building a sustainable pipeline for the long-term means also engaging with prospects who haven’t yet decided they need a solution like yours, or perhaps don’t even (yet) recognize the problem you solve.  Engaging earlier in the buying cycle also puts you in a position to build brand credibility, inform buying criteria, and educate the buyer before he/she even decides to start looking for solutions.

Effective demand generation is a mix of hunting AND gathering.  Hunting those prospects “ready to buy,” sure, but also sowing the seeds that will yield a larger pool of opportunities in the long term.  Without that foundation, you’ll be constantly scrambling to refill the pipeline with more “hot leads.”

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Furthermore, even the best third-party intent data only ever delivers a subset of the total number of hot leads out there.  That’s because, out of the pool of people with real purchase intent, not all will be searching on specific terms and thus showing up within Bombora or other intent data providers.  If a marketer focuses exclusively on so-called “surging” accounts, he/she will miss out on engaging with prospects who have hidden (yet real) intent that simply hasn’t been captured or measured yet.

For illustration purposes, here’s a real-life analogy:

If I run a LinkedIn campaign promoting a white paper on “How to Write a Better Webinar Invitation,” will everyone who downloads that white paper be looking for a marketing agency like ours?  No, they won’t.  However, I will know that every individual is involved in some way with Webinar marketing, is at some level dissatisfied with their current creative, and may at some point decide to seek outside assistance.  And I can nurture that individual with information of value, build our firm’s credibility, make the case for a full-service agency, and maintain a level of brand awareness until the day comes when that marketer decides that he/she needs help.

OR … I could choose to focus exclusively on those marketers shown to be researching marketing agencies.  That latter group would yield, in theory, more qualified leads, and leads that are more likely to close in the short term – hence the fundamental value of intent data.  However, by also incorporating early-stage demand generation and more general, thought leadership-type content, I can chase those hot leads AND generate future opportunities by building a marketing database of in-profile prospects.

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

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