3 Ways Intent Data Helps Target Cooperatively

Jul 18, 2019 | Author Yvonne Haendel

TL;DR — Sometimes the best prospects are those who are researching something related and haven’t yet realized they will need the related product/service you sell. They appreciate well-intentioned helpful info and often haven’t engaged with competitors. Contact-level intent data provides a tool to identify and reach them early in their journey.

Competitors’ Prospects are Hard to Sell

Intent data delivers significant competitive digital marketing power. You can focus business development representatives (BDRs) on active buyers, remarket to prospects who are actively researching and actively engaged with competitors, and analyze large sets of data to mine insights.

As powerful as competitor engagement signals are in an intent data set, they’re narrowly focused on existing customers or those at the very bottom of the funnel — in the final stretch of their buyer journey.

We’d be crazy to ignore those, but they’ve often made a decision that they’re now trying to rationalize. They’re not necessarily easy sales to close.

We also need to expand our scope.

You’ve probably seen Vorsight’s statistic that only 3% of the potential buyers for any given product or service are active in the marketing at any given time. The rest of the stat gets less play: 56% are absolutely not ready and 40% are poised to begin.

There’s gold in that 40% if you can efficiently find it.

That’s the potential of cooperative targeting

Cooperative Targeting and Trigger Events

Cooperative targeting offers the opportunity to find prospects who are actively engaged around the:

  • Challenges you solve
  • Outcomes you deliver
  • Products and services you sell
  • Companies that aren’t direct competitors, but which indicate a likely need and awareness.

For instance, an executive researching sales training will probably also require additional CRM capability, more sophisticated compensation management and perhaps talent management as they identify and replace weak members of the sales team.

Closely related are trigger events. Hiring more BDRs likely means a company will need increased demand generation. 

These aren’t new tactics. Smart marketers have used them for years. Even average marketers have — if you’ve been cited for a moving violation and are then bombarded with attorney solicitations...well, you know that already.

What’s new, however, is the power of Contact-Level™ behavioral intent data to help you take cooperative targeting and trigger event approaches to a new level.

Understanding Contact-Level Intent Data Signals

Many marketers are familiar with account-level intent data and the typical anonymous company-level signals. These are sometimes delivered with separately sourced, but unrelated, contact details.

Many trigger event signals are available at the account level. These include recently funded M&A activity, changes in key positions, hiring by job function, new product launches, sponsoring events, new offices, technology install/uninstall, and other news items. They also include details for individuals who may be involved in a procurement/research initiative.

Less familiar may be Contact-Level™ intent data signals. These are observed and collected among the publicly available, unstructured data around the entire internet and specifically include the contact details and granular context for the individual that has taken action indicating purchase intent.

Examples include engaging with a competitor, engaging with articles and content, attending events, and engaging with thought leaders/influencers.

This individual intent information, with detailed granular context, represents a huge opportunity for cooperative targeting.

Help, Don’t Harass

We’ve heard it so often it’s really banal. Today’s sales is about helping.

That’s the opportunity we have with early engagement through Contact-Level™ intent data.

When we observe that someone who meets our ideal buyer profile (IDP) is taking action indicating they’re researching/buying a related product or service, then we can leverage our legitimate understanding of businesses like theirs to proactively provide insights and resources that will help them.

That puts a big burden on marketers and sales teams.

It’s not necessarily enough to import data and route it to a BDR or sales rep. Often some analysis (of course you can automate much of this, but have to think it through) is required to understand where the prospect is in their process. (Remember they’re not buying your stuff yet/may not be buying anything yet!)

Then you can’t just pull the string to trigger the pitch from the talking sales doll — you have to put valuable, relevant enablement content in front of them in a format they’ll find easy to consume. You have to meet them where they are in your marketing and sales approach and content.

Here are a couple of examples to get your creative marketing juices flowing.

Example 1

Let’s say you’re an accounting firm and you observe a Controller researching independent audits, you understand they’re in a different place than if their CFO is researching investment banks or their AP manager is researching FX payment platforms.

You could reasonably assume that their current accounting relationship is in jeopardy. It might be a great prospect for you based on firmographic details. They’re unlikely, however, to be immediately ready to disrupt long-standing professional relationships. They’re focused on the audit. Perhaps you have resources to help companies prepare for independent audits, or to manage the resulting action recommendations. Help them where they are.

Example 2

Similarly, recognizing that a mid-level marketing person has engaged with a freemium, product-led SaaS product which is somewhat related to yours would be an opportunity not to target them to buy yours, but to understand what management level and function might start to have feedback flowing up to them on issues their team is trying to manage, and which you have insight into. Then provide information that will help them anticipate, acknowledge, respond and guide the process internally to avoid having an unwieldy ad-hoc martech mess.

Here’s the key to understanding this tactic: You can only follow up appropriately by knowing who the person is who is taking the action. If you only knew that someone from the company was engaging with content around independent audits or related software vendors, you’d have to resort to a very crude, blanket approach to marketing. It’s the contact-level detail that makes this possible.

But How Do You Build An Intent Data Algorithm for Cooperative Targeting?

There’s lots of creative thought involved in optimizing this approach. But the first barrier is the ability to get not only contact-level intent data but also data that is granular enough to power the required insights.

The common “topic” approach to data often prevents marketers from seeing exactly what action was taken and where. In other words, if you only know that someone from a company is appearing in relation to the topic “Accounting Audits” you have no idea what kind of action they took. It might be relevant. It might not. 

Instead, a custom, bespoke algorithm will allow you to identify companies, vendors, key terms, thought leaders, influencers and events for cooperative targeting. This allows for the delivery of data that shows precisely who is taking what action and where they’re taking it. And the data is filtered for job function and level, geography, company size and industry.

Entirely New Set of Leads

This approach opens up a large new world of potential leads. It helps companies move beyond the hypercompetitive arena of prospects already engaged with competitors, and begin to interact with early-stage prospects who are “poised to begin.”

Building this approach requires contact-level intent data processed with a bespoke algorithm. It also takes creative approaches in marketing and sales.

That’s why is so focused on client success. We believe it’s not enough to just peddle subscriptions. Sure, our data is awesome and powerful. But the real power comes through the sophisticated understanding and use of the nuanced information.

It’s not easy. It’s not even simple. But neither is marketing automation, account-based marketing, great remarketing or any of the other approaches which are driving results.

We do make it possible, and stick with customers through development and implementation to support their efforts.


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