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Intent Data - Friend or Foe for Demand Creation?

Everyone’s talking about it. Some are starting to use it. A few are doing better than others. Many more are finding it opens up cans of worms they didn’t know existed.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Used very effectively over the years for B2C purchases, every digital move racks up intelligence for businesses trying to sell you everything from cars to jelly tots.


You’ve already worked out that having used browser search, clicked on links, asked Alexa, you start to see a great deal more about the things you’ve looked for online. Yet with Google processing an average of over 40K queries per second, in the B2B world, how do you filter frivolous, mindless scrolling from serious intent interactions that may want to engage with your business?

Back to Basics

B2B buyer intent data works in the same way as for B2C. It offers an aggregated set of data that shows you which companies are active in the buying cycle.

These are companies actively sending out strong signals that they are ready to buy, and soon. We term this early, mid and late intent. When analysed and processed intelligently, this behaviour offers businesses actionable insight into the activities of key decision-makers.


Wowzers!  Where do I get my hands on some of that? 

Hold up just one second!

Whilst I apologise for being a bit literal, it does nicely open up a proverbial can of worms that's worth consideration. What I hope to do here is to offer at least one golden nugget that will help you if you’re thinking of using intent data to inform your account-based sales and marketing strategy.

Intent Data Phase I: Acquiring it

1. It's not all about you! What are your customers searching for in relation to what you offer?  Understanding your point of difference has never been so important. Sounds obvious, but ask for intent purchasers searching on “compliance” or “cloud”,  will result in literally thousands of results that may, or may not, end up being a relevant intent based record.


Drill deeper, be smarter with your search and think about the long tail.

2. Companies, not people. Your purchase of intent data may only tell you which companies are looking for information, e.g. how many people within a company are looking and how often, not whom.


How are you going to get at the actual people?

3. Scrutinise results. Could intent data contain students and interns looking for information, rather than them ever being a potential new customer?


Understand the behaviour and trends in what you’re looking at.

4. You’ve decided it's for you!  Now you need to figure out who in the organisation it's likely to be and contact them. Sometimes contact data is offered as part of the intent search service (at a price), but not always so it's worth checking.


Buyer beware – check if data has opted in, is CTPS suppressed, etc., or you won’t be GDPR compliant. If you already have a compliant data set, then you crossmatch it with that. If not, then you need to research it or purchase an opt-in list which will add more cost to the process.

5. Cost. It’s not cheap, so it's vital to have a proper plan around what you’re going to do with it and what it’s going to return for you.


Cost depends on what you buy as some of it’s deemed more valuable depending on the stage of intent.

Intent Data Phase II – Using it

There’s never been a truer phrase than “it’s not what you’ve got, it’s how you use it”. The correct use of the data will determine the level of success you have in sales leads.

6. Reaching out. You now know the intent, matched the people, next step is to make contact. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts here. Sending an email and putting telemarketing on it, whilst doing a bit of InMail to connect with them on LinkedIn isn’t the best way forward. This is old-school spamming and cold calling cold lists, which should be committed firmly to the past.


If you're not prepared to create multi-channel content for every stage in the funnel, tailored to the individual's pace, then the investment in intent data probably isn't for you.


7. Intent is continual. Strike too early with a call and you’ll turn them off. Patience is needed to trigger onward intent through continual behavioural profiling until they reach a level of qualification which merits a sales call.


No more cold calling, cold lists or quarterly based programmes.


8. Content. Data will not perform as you wish it to. Individual buyers will progress at their own pace. This requires a robust content and delivery plan. Your job is to deliver what they need at the right time from a system that automates the process.


Think beyond the quarter and always keep an eye on the next step in the messaging.

9. Automation. Managing buyer journeys isn’t easy without automation. It’s worth noting that industry figures state even those with automation in place rarely use more than 30% of their capability.


If you have it use all its functionality. If you don’t, then look at this in tangent with your intent data purchase – it will be a good investment.

10. Visibility & Transparency. Making every engagement visible and meaningful for your internal teams is essential. Marketing needs to understand what’s working and what isn’t. For those making calls, every nugget of information is vital for a successful outcome so they need to be educated about what is available to them.


Weekly marketing to sales campaign activity briefings.  Weekly sales to marketing feedback on the quality of what's been delivered. 


11. Analysing intent. Is a ‘click’ on your content the result of an email security tool checking links, or is there someone actually there? Your system won’t know either way so this is just one example of how your results can be skewed.

Using extended tools that go beyond standard automation can tell you this, along with other behavioural trends such as dwell times on the website are required to truly reap the rewards of intent data purchase.

12. Appropriate follow-up. Forensic reporting on the data, including behavioural analysis, informs great sales calls. Convert more conversations by getting this bit right!

Sales and marketing have never needed to work more collaboratively (see 10 above)

13. Resource. Is your team equipped to deliver all this on a sustained basis?


14. Never end on unlucky 13.  Thank you for reading our article. Using, creating, and managing buyer demand is what we specialise in so I’d be happy to hear from you if you have challenges around anything you’ve read here – or indeed, anything I’ve missed.


Our comprehensive managed service offers


  • Vendors an enterprise-grade suite of services at a fraction of the price it would cost them to do it themselves
  • Vendors who already have a team in-house can offer all their channel partners the same high-performing demand creation with full visibility of lead progression
  • Distribution the opportunity to deliver higher value to vendors and partners via our white-labelled managed service.
  • Partners and MSPs the opportunity to bundle services and vendor offers and use MDF funding to contribute to the cost.

For more information, contact Shelley Hirst @ [email protected]

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