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Give your lead pipeline a shot in the arm

Judith Niederschelp, MD, Aberdeen Europe outlines five ways intent data can improve demand generation performance

If your demand generation efforts are floundering, there’s a good chance that sales and marketing activity is failing to reach the right people.

But who are the right people?

For a long time, this was the million-dollar question facing B2B marketers. But the answer is really quite simple. It’s those who are actively in-market for your products and services. People only become buyers when they want and need what you sell. And today, it’s possible to pick them out from the crowd when you use modern data techniques to identify buyer signals.

The rise of intent data

It’s taken a while for the B2B sector to get to grips with the quantity and complexity of data available in the digital age. But things are improving, and it’s now possible to leverage actionable insights from ‘unstructured’ data at scale. Purchase intent data is a fantastic example of this.

When a business is considering investment in a new solution or service, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes long before the purchase decision is made. It creates an uplift in employees’ online research and content consumption related to the product category. So, monitoring online behaviour within target businesses over time can give a good indication of early readiness for an offering like yours. This is purchase intent. When you harness this insight, and apply it well, demand generation activity becomes precisely-focused and highly effective.

Demand generation with intent

There are five key ways that intent data can boost performance:

  1. Better targeting – when you know who’s in-market for your products and services, marketing efforts can be geared towards accounts that are more likely to engage with your proposition. This ensures better efficiency right from the word go, at the front end of demand generation. The warmest prospects are prioritised in contact strategies and content can be deployed more intelligently.
  2. Faster progress – when you’re interacting with buyers who are already aware of issues they need to solve, or capabilities they need to improve, the conversation can move more quickly. There’s less need to educate and persuade, but more need to consult and advise. Intent-qualified prospects still need to be nurtured. But they move through the pipeline faster and convert at a higher rate.   
  3. Optimised communications – by its very nature, intent data reveals the type of issues, pain points or goals that prospects are preoccupied with. This insight empowers marketers to serve highly relevant content that speaks to their real needs and concerns. Ongoing monitoring of online behaviour also enables content to be shared at the most opportune time, through the most appropriate platform.
  4. Sales and marketing alignment – improving collaboration between sales and marketing remains a top priority for many B2B brands. When activity is driven by purchase intent insight, it becomes more focused and the integrity of leads escalates. Teams need to operate cohesively ‘in the moment’ to take advantage of this. The pace is faster, but it fosters mutual respect and drives better outcomes.  
  5. Improved agility – with digital transformation and modernisation on the agenda for many businesses, intent data enables marketers to up their game. Instead of relying on retrospective anecdotes and hindsight to shape demand generation efforts, they have a finger on the pulse of today’s buyers and their needs. This unlocks the ability to respond to rapidly evolving markets, investing efforts and budgets where they will reap the greatest rewards.  

Early adopters of intent data are enjoying excellent returns from strategies driven by these powerful insights. Tests at Aberdeen show it’s possible to determine which companies are in-market to buy a solution or service with up to 91% accuracy, and in good time to engage with them before they progress too far on the buyer journey.

However, as with any new approach, it’s important to take things one step at a time. Trialling intent-driven demand generation with one segment of the target market can be a good place to start.

Ring-fence a project or product area, use intent data to refine and optimise communications, then closely monitor how the sales pipeline unfolds. Tracking effectiveness in this way, and providing evidence of success, can help build the case for further intent-led activity.

Purchase intent data, and the insights leveraged from it, are set to transform the way B2B marketers operate over the coming years. In a demand generation scenario, it takes value and effectiveness to an entirely new level. Marketers who start exploring intent-led demand generation now will be at the head of the game.

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