How Intent Data is Collected – Uncovering the Good and the Ugly

The greatest challenge for sales and marketing professionals is determining what accounts to prioritize and focus their time, attention, resources, and budget on. At the end of the day, no matter how well they have defined their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), only about 15% of those accounts will actually be ready to buy now. If you’re targeting all of your ICP accounts indiscriminately then that’s an incredibly high miss rate. Even worse, by not targeting accounts with the right kind of content at the proper point in their buyer’s journey you may drive them away or miss your opportunity to close them depending on where they are. This is why intent signals are so crucial. By gaining visibility into the type of content your ICP accounts are consuming you can determine exactly where they are in their buyer’s journey and target them accordingly, focusing on those who are most ready to close.

We have discussed earlier what Intent Data is and how to use it for your business. However, this article is about pulling back the curtain and showing you how Intent Data is actually gathered, competing strategies for how to most effectively determine intent, and some of the concerns and considerations you should be aware of when considering an Intent Data provider.

A Quick Recap

Intent Data is the set of behavioral signals that helps you to understand the intention of your prospects to purchase a product or service. Intent Data creates an opportunity to identify potential buyers before they enter the sales funnel by collecting signals like buyer behavior and the type of content they consume on different websites and platforms.

First-Party Intent Data, or engagement data, is nothing new. This knowledge is collected on or via your own website and platforms and is normal fare for most marketers. Think inbound form fills, website visitor tracking, chat bots, reverse IP lookups, etc.

Third-Party Intent Data is a different story. Captured by an Intent Data provider, third-party intent data tracks the behavioral signals of your targets on sites other than your own.

Intent Data – The Good

If you can master the skill of reaching your potential buyers before they approach you, you can land a deal before they even consider your competition, shorten your sales cycle, and cut your customer acquisition costs.

Before the competition even thinks about reaching out, you can identify potential buyers. Your competition may not be aware of Intent Data and may, therefore, continue to use blind targeting and untargeted customer acquisition strategies. B2B salespeople and marketers who use intention data in the right way can obtain prospective buyers much faster and move them down the funnel more efficiently than their competition.

Intent data allows you to create a better ABM strategy and accelerate your sales pipeline. Intent Data not only helps you expand your reach, but it also gives you data that you may not be able to collect yourself. This data helps you to find more customers in the market, score leads more precisely, and reshape your ABM campaign with customized messaging.

High-quality Intent Data, properly deployed, can deliver up to 4X pipeline expansion and increase your marketing ROI by 300%. The benefits are indisputable. But understanding the differences in Intent Data sources and solutions are essential for achieving these results.

Intent Data – The Bad Side

The risk represented by bad Intent Data is even more obvious. When it comes to Intent Data, control and management are necessary to ensure that the data is used properly. If not used properly, you may face non-compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Law (GDPR), all of which can lead to some nasty fines.

Tracking user behavior without consent is against the new GDPR and CCPA regulations and can carry heavy fines. There are a few big names in the data industry that keep the manner they gather their intent data from their customers. Misuse of information without permission, deliberately or inadvertently, could lead the company to pay a price for years. Recently, Bombora, a leader in buyer Intent Data, filed a suit against a publicly traded data company for allegedly gaining an unfair advantage by breaching CCPA.

Intent Data – How do They do It?

Different companies have different approaches to gathering Intent Data – with some practices more ethical and complaint than others.

There are three sources to collect Intent Data:

  1. Independent Websites or Portals
  2. Bidstream
  3. Publisher Co-Ops

 

1. Independent Websites

Independent websites or portals gather customer information and pass on these insights to third parties. Although they lack the scope to capture large volumes of data, they can more easily manage opt-in and approval of their users to share their data.

For example, G2 is an independent online B2B review website that tracks the type of products users are researching and shares that information with the vendors who pay for access to that information. This data is hyper-focused on B2B products and is one of the strongest signs of buying intent. However, similar to intent signals gathered on your own site, these signals are obviously limited to only those organizations visiting their website.

 

2. Bidstream

Bidstream data is user behavior that is captured by an ad pixel and shared through ad exchanges. With bidstream, the intent data provider will insert an ad on a public site hosting content, and then scrape the keywords on that site as well as visitor information without the consent of the website owner or the visitor. This means that if your prospect is searching and viewing sites with the phrase “social media marketing” and the intent data provider’s ads are running on that site, your intent provider will collect your data.

But if you search for “Facebook Marketing” or “LinkedIn Marketing” keywords that are specifically applicable to social media marketing and visit an article that does not have your particular keyword, the Intent Data won’t consider that prospects’ intent signals.

The additional data that bidstream providers collect, such as dwell time, is actually specific to the ad itself – not the content. Furthermore, it is not clear whether users actually opt-in or agree to have their information tracked and shared by the person who will take action based on the Intent Data as they only agreed to share this information with the original site.

 

3. Publisher Co-Ops

Publisher Co-ops are a collection of many publishers and websites that pool their data so that all participants can benefit from a larger data set. Each publisher or website also requests the consent of its visitors on their first contact.

For example, Bombora relies on a curated collection of content-rich publishers and partners to collect a massive pool of detailed firmographic data and buyer intent. Bombora also uses deep-learning and natural language models that directly interpret content and construct clusters of similar items called themes. Using advanced machine learning, Bombora can scan billions of monthly content consumers and consider numerous keywords within content pieces, while also considering their context, relevance, and density.

This approach paints a holistic, and more reliable picture of Intent Data than the exact keyword matches, used in bidstream approaches. Bombora can also determine the level of engagement with each piece of content with access to timestamping, URLs, IPs, scroll velocity, and dwell time – not just a site visit.

Most importantly, Bombora’s Intent Data is compliant with GDPR and CCPA. Every participating content publisher and Bombora partner requires opt-in through a standard Terms of Service agreement for site visitors that reflect the website’s intention to use cookies and track behavior.

The Intent Data Fair Play – Bidstream Vs. Co-Op Approach

While bidstream may collect large amounts of data through keyword scraping, it does so only at a very superficial level of site visits. It means the data is aggregated over time without any sense of context, resulting in regular false positives and demonstrated intent for most accounts.

When sales reps put their time and effort into targeting an account showing an interest in a false positive intent signal and later realize that they are working an unqualified account, their trust and use of this valuable tool will evaporate. Still, many big names in the data industry and publicly-traded data companies are relying on bidstream strategies for gathering intent data.

On the other hand, Bombora sets the baseline of activity for a target around a particular topic. This baseline is important because it operates on the premise that a target will actually already be searching and reading content about a subject that is consistently relevant to your business.

Elevating your Lead Generation Game with Bombora & SalesIntel

SalesIntel strives to consistently add more value to its B2B data and recently partnered with Bombora to ensure that SalesIntel users can take their lead generation to the next level by accessing the industries most Accurate Intent Data.

Intent data is an increasingly important piece of the puzzle for B2B salespeople and marketers. That’s why we have partnered with Bombora to include access to these invaluable insights to all of our customers right inside the SalesIntel portal.

Want to get started with a more reliable Intent Data?