Right Person, Right Time: How to Leverage Buyer Intent Data

May 8, 2020

Intent data can tell you when your target accounts show strong buying signals, allowing you to target the right people at the right time. Yet, many sales and marketing teams still aren’t sure how to include this new type of data in their workflows, let alone incorporate it into actionable programs.

Intent data is the latest, greatest trend when it comes to account-based marketing. Used correctly, intent data can let you know when your target accounts show strong buying signals, allowing you to target the right people at the right time. Yet, many sales and marketing teams still aren’t sure how to include this new type of data into their workflows-- let alone incorporate it into actionable programs that they can systematize across their sales organization. 

using intent data

Types of Intent Data

What we refer to as “intent data” is information about web users’ content consumption or ‘observed behavior’ that is collected and analyzed, and can provide insight about their interests. This data can indicate potential ‘intent’ to take an action, like make a purchase or evaluate a new software. There are three different types of intent data that can be used to increase conversion on your ABM campaigns and engage with target accounts:

  1. First-Party Data
  2. Third-Party Data
  3. Trend Signals

First-Party Data

first party data
Source: HubSpot

First-party data is powerful and easy to track because it’s all data you already have in your systems. It includes anonymous website visits, form submissions, content leads, event leads, sales meetings, and opportunities. You will want to take good inventory of your 1st party data and use a CRM to track it. How many visitors are coming to your site every day? How many of these are from your target account list? Use a platform to track this information, and make sure that you are scoring your leads and accounts accordingly. If a target account comes to your site their status is changed to “aware” instead of “cold”. 

Another bit of first-party data to track is lead and form submissions. These are people visiting your website who have also filled out a form online. Because they have given you their contact information, they are considered “aware”. You can also track their page views by using a marketing automation platform. Review quality of lead/form submissions and score accounts accordingly, with different scores for content download, demo requests, etc, (more on lead and account scoring later).

lost opportunities

The easiest type of first-party data to track is lost opportunities. Lost opps from the last few years are great for retargeting -- they were interested enough to engage with a sales rep, and something may have changed since you last spoke with them. To track these correctly, you first have to make sure all opportunity statuses are updated in your CRM. Make sure all accounts with open oppts are tagged as “Opportunity”, all accounts with Lost Oppts should be tagged as “Lost Oppts”, and all accounts with Closed-Won oppts should be tagged as “Customer”. Once your list is tagged correctly and you can identify all lost opps, you can run a custom campaign against that list with specific messaging to re-engage, possibly with an incentive offer.

third party data

Third-Party Intent Data

Third-party data is when people visit other websites that are not yours, but indicate some level of intent related to your product. This includes review websites (such as G2, Capterra), publisher content consumption, and ad networks. Accounts’ IP addresses are collected by platforms like Bombora and Big Willow, and this information helps identify companies looking to buy. Accounts are given an intent score based on topics they are researching or interested in. 

Imagine a scenario where a prospect has been researching several topics related to your product on other sites, but has not visited your site or hit your scoring threshold set. You should try to engage with them early on, since it’s likely that they are doing research on your platform. Offer yourself as a point of contact to help them with their research. If they are clearly interested in your industry, you will want to strike while the iron is hot.

3 Common Types of Third-Party Intent Data

  • Independent Websites: collect consumer information and deliver those insights to 3rd parties
  • Pros: GDPR/CCPA Compliant, High Quality Data
  • Cons: Low Volume

  • Publisher Co-Op: a collection of many publishers and websites which pool their data so that all participants can benefit from a larger data set
  • Pros: GDPR/CCPA Compliant, High Volume of Data
  • Cons: English Only

  • Bidstream: log-level data generated by various tech vendors (DSPs, SSPs, ad servers) involved in the real-time bidding auction of digital ads
  • Pros: Real-time data, Multi-language support
  • Cons: Compliance is unclear,  Volatile / Low Quality Data

Trend Signals

Finally, trend signals make up a smaller portion of actionable intent data and include new funding, hiring data, company growth, technology adoption, or other types of custom data (e.g. Facebook ad spend; monthly travel spend). When companies raise new funding or hire more employees, it generally indicates that they might be ready to start investing in new solutions. If a company is acquiring new platforms or hiring roles that would benefit from your product, it can also mean it’s a good time to reach out about the pain points you can solve. This information can be sourced from databases such as Crunchbase, LinkedIn, Indeed, Datanyze, and more. 

**Bonus: use a tool such as MailParser to scrape the content from recurring emails (e.g. new fundings, announcements, etc) and add it to a CSV file or to your CRM.

account scoring abm

Account Scoring

Account Scoring is what controls an account’s status. To do this, you first have to create a model to score accounts based on engagement metrics (such as visiting your site or downloading content)  and custom signals that apply to your ideal customer profile (ICP). These custom signals usually include specific data, (e.g.department growth, free account creation, technology adoption). Any time a lead engages with your company -- whether it be directly or via third party intent-- they will automatically be given a score based on the level of engagement. As a note, make sure to roll up all lead-level data to the account level, engagement like email replies to SDRs, content download, etc, need to be noted at the account level as well as the lead level in order to score the account correctly.

This account scoring model will help prioritize target accounts by how likely they are to purchase your product. Divide your target accounts list into segments based on their company fit (Tier 1, Tier 2) and intent to buy (account scoring). For each segment (e.g. “Tier 1 - High Intent”) create a campaign workflow to target that specific segment. You will want to prioritize accounts that show multiple intent signals -- i.e. intent data, content downloads, site visits, etc -- as these are most likely to take a meeting. 

3 ABM Use Cases for Intent Data

  • Acquisition: automatically trigger targeted digital advertising efforts for high-fit accounts based on intent topics to drive acquisition
  • Expansion: improve email response open rates for cross-sell and upsell opportunities
  • Retention: plan events in areas in which competitor intent is increasing among target accounts to reduce churn

Example - Warm-up Tier 1 low intent score

These are accounts that fit your ICP but have not yet shown a high intent score. Warm up cold accounts with digital ads and content -- once they show higher intent you can trigger a high-intent flow.

     1. Upload target list to the LinkedIn ad platforms so they can consume content, visit your site, and/or read blogs

    2. If they download content, enroll them in an automated follow-up to nurture them further -- propose new content, and try to keep leads/accounts warm. If they engage with the follow-up, you can hand them off to sales team

     3. If they don’t engage but continue to show intent, add them to a “high intent” workflow

Example - Tier 1 High Intent Score - Acquisition

If an account is in your top tier ICP and is showing high first and/or third-party intent, you can trigger a direct mail flow to engage more personally with those accounts.

         1. Build a list of target contacts within your ideal persona from these high intent, Tier 1 accounts

     2. Enroll contacts in an Email-Direct Mail workflow (emails concurrent with box send/receipt), with the goal of generating meetings

          a. If they engage, you can hand the leads off to the sales team

          b. If they do not engage, you can continue to nurture and enroll them in future retargeting campaigns

Once you start to see results, you will want to measure the amount of engagement generated from your workflows by segment. How much pipeline was generated? What percent of accounts engaged? How did each segment perform?

Operationalizing Intent Data for Sales

Sales teams want two things: they want to be notified in real time when target accounts engage, and they want an updated, scored target accounts list. You can trigger real-time email and Slack notifications to the sales team any time a target account has a new lead, a new anonymous visitor, or reaches a specific score. You can also use back-end automation such as Zapier to automate notifications, CRM updates/integrations, and more. Keep an updated target account list sorted by intent and overall score that your team can access at any time. Additionally, you can also create and maintain a separate list of accounts that are showing intent but are not currently part of your target list.

abm intent data


  • Intent data can help you discover and take advantage of low-hanging fruit accounts that you might normally have missed.
  • Every company has a lot of first-party intent data to take advantage of.
  • Third-party intent data can help you target accounts that are already in the buying process but may not know about your company.
  • Plan and implement automated workflows for campaigns and notifications (avoid “one-offs” and custom campaigns).

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