• May 21, 2024
  • By Sneh Kakileti, vice president of product management, ZoomInfo

Unlocking the Power of Intent Data

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The digital revolution has thrown business into an information age gold rush, characterized by a relentless pursuit of informed, data-driven strategies that maximize ROI. Intent data is at the forefront.

The gist of intent data lies in propelling your sales and marketing efforts with customer interest and buying signals, rather than relying blindly on traditional demographic data alone. Instead of targeting a specific industry or job title, intent data identifies accounts actively expressing interest in your product or service, making every outreach instance more effective.

Understanding Intent Data

Intent data is a type of market intelligence that surfaces the accounts most likely to be showing indicators of interest in your solution. Using online behavior clues — like website visits, browsing behaviors, and content downloads — intent data providers gauge a prospect’s level of interest in your offering, so you prioritize leads accordingly.

Use cases for intent data include:

  1. Identify interest. Purchase-intent signals detect companies researching your solution before they engage with your sales or marketing teams or fill out a form on your website.
  2. Reaching out at the right time. Spot when prospects are most likely to be receptive to outreach and avoid wasted efforts on uninterested leads.
  3. Identifying new prospects. Uncover prospects who didn’t show initial interest in your business, but who now display behaviors that indicate they could be a good fit for your product or service. You can use this information to expand your company’s reach and target a wider range of potential customers.
  4. Tracking and analyzing trends in buyer behavior. Understand which topics and keywords are trending among prospects and modify your marketing strategy to better attract and engage with potential customers where they are.

According to Forrester, over 85 percent of companies using intent data have seen the business benefits like increased response rates and more successful sales prospecting.

Types of Intent Data

There are three main types of intent data:

  • First Party: Data collected directly from interactions with your brand's digital assets, like website visits or content downloads.
  • Second Party: Essentially first-party data from another source, often through partnerships with outside news sources.
  • Third Party: Aggregated insights from various sources beyond your company or your partners, like purchasing details or social media activities. This is what we call “inferred intent,” and the most common intent data type among providers.

And at ZoomInfo, we think of intent data across a continuum of signal strength:

  • Derived intent signals: this is a mix of first-party and third-party signals. These offer insights into behaviors that indicate interest in a company, such as ad engagement, web activity, topic engagement, and technology use.
  • Known intent: we like to think of as zero-party intent — ZoomInfo partners with Qualtrics each year to survey millions of business professionals, who are incentivized to share the key priorities, projects, and pain points at their companies.
  • Champion moves: this is the most actionable level of intent data that identifies buyers and power users who have moved and can influence future sales.

Using different types of intent data together enhances your go-to-market strategy, allowing you to connect with more buyers when it matters most.

But analyzing intent data can be the trickiest part. It requires both sophisticated software and human intuition. By unpacking the digital inferences, sales professionals can dial into the exact moment when a lead is ready for outreach.

The Power of Intent Data

Here’s what I mean.

On January 23, 2024, the Milwaukee Bucks fired head coach Adrian Griffin, despite having one of the league’s top records and coaching only 43 games. This was big.

But if you were looking at their intent data, this move would have been less of a surprise. The team’s intent data was showing spikes for topics like “succession planning,” “crisis communication,” and “public relations.”

On March 1, 2024, it was announced that Boeing planned to acquire Spirit Aerosystems — their key supplier of MAX fuselages. Sources said the acquisition would provide Boeing with greater oversight into manufacturing, and hopefully avoid incidents like the recent blowout on a Boeing 737 MAX 9.

Spikes had occurred on February 24 for “post-merger integration” and “mergers & acquisitions due diligence.”

On March 8, 2024, Roku announced a data breach that compromised more than 15,000 accounts.

As early as February 10, the company was spiking for “computer hacking,” and just days before the announcement, “cybersecurity” and “data breach” were spiking intent terms.

These are just a few examples of how intent data could be used before an event occurs, but it does take some intuition.

In more common situations, salespeople can look at intent spikes for keywords, topics, and clusters of topics that represent a prospect’s interest in your offerings.

If you’re a PR agency, for example, you can find companies searching for public relations and crisis management in real time. If you’re in IT consulting sales, you can find out when a company is looking for just that. Regardless of industry, your go-to-market team can use intent data to find your next best customer.

Intent Data Readiness

Intent data offers a tremendous amount of value and ROI. But it does take work to get to a spot where intent data can be a guiding force.

For one, your company should have aligned and specific objectives. Your ideal customer profile (ICP) should be understood across sales and marketing teams so that individuals know which types of companies to review to understand where intent data can lend a hand.

You also need to choose an intent data provider. This can be a challenge, as there are many providers that overcommit and oversell their capabilities. Intent data providers should be able to offer you customization, real-time signals, integration into your tech stack, and a high standard of data compliance, at minimum.

G2 and TrustRadius offer a good comparison of buyer intent data providers ranked by actual users. We suggest reviewing their list for guidance on the right fit for your company.

Intent data gives teams the opportunity to fine-tune strategies and improve results. These actionable insights will propel your company into the next stage of GTM. What are you waiting for?

Sneh Kakileti is vice president of product management at ZoomInfo. Since 2016, Kakileti has played an instrumental role in the evolution of ZoomInfo’s GTM platform. Since becoming ZoomInfo’s VP of product management in 2021, Kakileti has focused his product development on the needs of enterprise organizations, leveraging cutting-edge technologies to push the boundaries of GTM. 

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