What is intent data? Plus 5 ways to use it effectively

intent data overview

How do you know when a prospect is ready to buy? When is a customer likely to churn? And how can you tell when a customer wants to buy more?

You can’t answer these questions by reading your customers’ and prospects’ minds. But you can do something else that’s nearly as effective: Look at their intent data. 

Intent data (also known as buyer intent data or purchase intent data) reveals certain online behaviors from your target audience that signal what they’re likely to do next—whether that’s buy a product in your category or leave your company for a competitor.

Despite its business value, it’s rarely leveraged effectively. For example, when we studied 114 B2B companies’ lead response times, the average time clocked in at 12 hours, while 18% of organizations never responded. 

This begs the question: How can you use this type of data quickly and thoughtfully? We’ll breakdown 5 examples that tackle both of these goals. But first, let’s make sure we’re aligned on what we mean by intent data, as well as why it’s critical for growing your business.

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Intent data definition

Intent data tells you about the online research a lead is conducting. This research can come from a first-party and/or a third-party source.

First-party data simply uses cookies and IP addresses to follow leads on your site. You’ll learn about the pages they view, the whitepapers they download, the webinars they attend, etc.; while third-party data monitors your leads’ behaviors across other sites.

By understanding what your leads are reading, when they’re reading it, and for how long, you can begin to sell and market your product in more effective ways (the next section explores this further). 

Sources of 3rd-party intent data

To better understand different forms of intent data, let’s explore some popular 3rd-party  platforms that let you gather it:

  • G2: using a software review site like G2, you can uncover the specific pages accounts visit, whether it’s your company’s listing, a specific competitor’s, or a comparison page (between your organization and a specific competitor)
  • Bombora: this type of platform can track account activity across a specific network of sites. It can even understand the topic(s) of the pages that are viewed via natural language processing, allowing it to score accounts for specific topics
  • 6sense: a tool like 6sense allows you to track accounts that view specific ads as well as understand the content of the pages that these ads are displayed in (via NLP). Similar to Bombora, it can use these insights to assign scores to accounts for specific topics

What are the benefits of intent data?

Here are some of the top benefits it provides:

1. Identify buyers faster

With this type of data, you can better understand when a lead is sales-ready. This allows you to reach out to them sooner—which makes a world of a difference on your close rate. 

However, as we proved earlier, having it on-hand doesn’t guarantee a timely reaction. Later in this page, we’ll show you how you can use it to ensure that your team responds quickly.

Related: 4 ways to ramp up your speed to lead

2. Personalize your outreach

Intent data also allows you to understand what, exactly, the lead is looking for. 

Were they viewing a specific product page in your site? That’s a clear sign that they’re interested in that product. Were they reviewing your competitor’s page in a software review site? They may be seriously considering them over you.

The more you understand your intent data for each lead or client, the better you can respond. And a better response not only gives you a higher chance of getting your message viewed, but it also increases the chances that you deliver on your desired outcome—such as retaining the client or selling them another product.

3. Prioritize your efforts effectively

Using buyer intent data, you can make an informed decision on who you respond to first.

For example, if a lead is browsing through several of your competitors’ pages in a software review site, while another lead reads a few news articles in your industry, you should respond to the former first—as they’re more likely to make a purchasing decision sooner.

Related: 3 reasons why RevOps is critical for your organization

4. Engage accounts earlier on

By the time a prospect submits your demo request form, they’ve likely already done extensive research on different vendors in the market and have come to their own conclusions on the platforms that are best for them. And while your sales team might be able to influence their opinions during the demo call (and during any subsequent meetings), their opinions are harder to influence at this stage.

You can influence prospects more successfully by using intent data to help reps reach out earlier. For example, as a prospect begins researching topics related to your platform, the assigned sales rep can get alerted and reach out to contacts at that account with a message—along with relevant content from your site—that might interest them.

5. Perform account based marketing successfully 

By using intent data to both understand the specific topics accounts are interested in and where they are in their buying journey, your team is better positioned to engage each account intelligently; this can be including them in the most relevant nurture sequence, showing them personalized ads, etc.

How to use intent data

Here are just a couple of impactful ways to use intent data:

1. Share critical intent data with reps in near real-time

Once a prospect displays certain intent behaviors that clearly signal interest in a platform like yours, you can make it visible to the assigned sales rep in an app like Slack

Here’s how it can work:

1. Once an account views a page on G2 you’ve defined as important, the workflow gets triggered.

2. A customized platform bot (“Rev Bot”) gathers existing information on the account in 1st and 3rd-party tools, it populates the information it’s found in a templated message, and it then delivers the message to the assigned sales rep in Slack.

A screenshot of a Slack message from "Rev Bot"

3. With the click of a button, the rep can add specific contacts to pre-built sequences in an application like Outreach and/or launch ads to their account. 

Note: You can modify the first action in this automation such that all of the contacts at the account get added to a specific sequence in Outreach; once a contact engages with an email from the sequence, the assigned sales rep would get notified via an app like Slack.

Related: How to implement lead routing effectively

2. Track previous buyers and reach out when they land a new job

When someone transitions into a new role, they’re eager to establish themselves and make a strong impression on their team. This can motivate them to use tools that fueled their success in the past. 

You can get ahead of this by reaching your champions soon after they start working in their new role! Let’s break down how this process can look:

1. You can use a data source like ZoomInfo to update the contact in your CRM once they change jobs.

2. Workbot alerts the relevant account manager or sales rep about this via the organization’s internal communications platform (Workbot can also alert a specific channel or group in the platform).

3. The account manager can then put the contact into the appropriate email sequence with the click of a button using a platform like Outreach, and even send them a gift with a tool like Sendoso.

Here’s more on this:

3. Respond to new leads on time

We recently tackled this approach ourselves.

We wanted to accelerate our response time as 77% of leads either heard back when it was too late or didn’t hear back at all. 

To respond to qualified leads faster, we use Lead Bot to route every lead that filled out a form to a sales rep in Slack. Within every message, we also add information on the lead by using ClearBit, ZoomInfo, Linkedin Sales Navigator, and Salesforce

Here’s additional insight on this process and the benefits it’s delivered to our sales organization:

4. Tell customer success managers when a client is viewing competitors

Let’s say that one of your customers is browsing through a peer-review site for business software, like G2. They spend time looking at your page, your competitors’ pages, and they even look at the list of the best vendors within your software category.

Clearly, this customer is reevaluating their relationship with your business. But how do you help your team become aware of this before it’s too late? By sharing the customer’s activity with your team through “Intent Bot”. Here’s how it works:

  1. You define the criteria for a customer at risk of churn and then use that as your trigger in Workato (an enterprise automation platform). For example, it can be a customer who views a certain competitor’s page in G2.
  2. Once a customer meets your trigger condition, Intent Bot collects their information from 1st-party apps, like their account in your instance of Salesforce.
  3. Intent Bot then messages the appropriate customer success manager (CSM) in your organization’s internal communications platform. The message includes the customer’s activity in G2 and their information in your 1st-party apps.

Now your CSMs can identify which of their accounts are at risk of churn. And by using the information provided by Intent Bot, they can provide a personalized response quickly—which should significantly reduce the chances that your customer leaves.

5. Combine intent and product usage data to pinpoint expansion opportunities

While intent data, in and of itself, is clearly valuable, it’s utility stretches further when combined with other types of information, such as product usage data.

For example, say an account is adding users who (based on their titles) might be interested in one of your products that don’t fall within their current license. In addition, according to your intent data, contacts at the account are consuming content that’s related to that product. 

You can use these insights to trigger an automation where the assigned CSM receives a notification in Slack; within the message, they can not only learn about the new users and the account’s score for a specific content topic(s), but also add the contacts to the appropriate Outreach sequence with the click of a button. In addition, they can access resources for selling that product, giving them all the more confidence in cross-selling to that account.

Final thoughts

Intent data not only presents you with an opportunity to influence business results, but it also lets you provide better experiences for your prospects, customers, and employees. To use this type of data effectively, you’ll need to integrate your applications, build out workflow automations, and leverage bots. Once your organization does this, it’ll have a competitive advantage for years to come.

Workato logo

Ready to leverage intent data?

Learn how Workato, the leader in enterprise automation, can help you build automations that empower your GTM teams to take action off of intent data.

Schedule a demo

About the author
Jon Gitlin Content Strategist @ Workato
Jon Gitlin is the Managing Editor of The Connector, where you can get the latest news on Workato and uncover tips, examples, and frameworks for implementing powerful integrations and automations. In his free time, he loves to run outside, watch soccer (er...football) matches, and explore local restaurants.