Quick wins, medium term value, and the intent data long game

Oct 03, 2019 | Author Ed Marsh

We're All Too Busy - Make it Fast & Easy!

People often ask how to get started with intent data or what the path to success looks like.

Embedded in the question is often an expectation that there's a brief window. Set it up...and let it run. And since data has traditionally involved signing a long-term (one-two year contract,) simply picking a few topics, and wrapping up with a quick integration, it's understandable. If the goal of 3rd party data is limited to highlighting active accounts, then that can be perused over coffee like scrolling through a TikTok feed.

The real answer is more complex. A good analogy might be the distribution of successful passes by a quarterback. Short, high probability passes create a base from which to run medium distance plays and an occasional long-bomb.

In fact, there are various ways to answer the "how can I get started with intent data" question, because there are so many ways to use buyer intent data.

First, there is a path to quick wins and rapid activation.

Second, some companies want to move beyond that for increased maturity in the medium term.

Third, others envision themselves as enterprise intent data sensei. (Is anyone else as happy as me that "ninja" and "guru" have fallen out of common parlance!!??)

The bottom line is that almost any company can implement data quickly.

Fast Start - Great Data, Customer and Target Account Alerts, Retargeting

Companies want to see the potential of data immediately. There are some quick plays to deliver some immediate visibility and value.


Intent Operations

The simplest use case to implement is to feed alerts to existing account, contact and opportunity owners when data includes intent signals related to those objects. With an easy native integration with and form integrations with marketing automation platforms including Marketo and HubSpot, your team can get these critical insights within a day or, at most, a few days. 


Intent Marketing

Data evolves. Data accumulates. Over the course of several weeks that creates opportunities to extend intent data activities.

First, you'll experiment with tweaks and changes to the algorithm. Granular, contextual detail empowers you to understand the nuance of data - not just get some black box list of priorities. You'll find that some triggers are noisy, and you'll realize that you've missed other opportunities. With daily delivery of full data files (even in parallel with the CRM/marketing automation integration) you'll have time to manage the evolution of the data.

At the same time your aggregated intent data will provide some opportunities for early wins with intent marketing.

Retargeting can begin almost immediately (as soon as you have a large enough custom audience for the platform you want to use.) Initially you'll focus on a tight range of prospect, persona and action/competitor engagements. That will simplify messaging and speed the activation of ad campaigns. Starting with retargeting allows you to create conversions early (quick wins) which you can then use to excite your sales team when you talk about outbound sales playbooks.

Settling In - Segmentation, Outbound Sales, and ABM

Many companies buy intent data to support outbound sales and ABM. These intent sales use cases take a bit more work, but can still be efficiently implemented.


Intent Sales

Over several weeks you'll expand or contract your daily volume of data based on changes to the algorithm and adjustments to filters (geography, job seniority and function, firmographic information) to get tightly focused on your ICP. At the same time you'll refine data segmentation.

The fastest way to create segments will be to create lists in your CRM or marketing automation. Common segments will include job function, job seniority, main topic/theme, stage in buying journey, competitors they've engaged with, contacts with multiple engagements, companies with multiple contact engagements, known accounts and intent data signals that coincide with first-party data events (e.g. website site visits or conversions.)

Segmentation is an important step to make sure that follow-on activity (like email templates, call scripts, ad messaging) are properly targeted to resonate. It also helps to put the high priority (based on scoring and activity level) leads at the top of the list for your BDRs. While you're working on segmenting, you'll work in parallel on developing messaging and sales sequences, as well as training your BDRs on how to use the intent data information to be effective but not creepy.

Normally you can start to turn solid data over to your outbound sales team after several weeks, particularly if you've been nurturing leads with paid ads in the meantime. As they receive this data they'll start to use it to adapt their sales approach with pending projects and to prioritize target accounts. Seeing which players are involved in complex buying teams, and where they are in their research, provides insights which often aren't available through a deal champion.

Intent Success

It's commonly accepted that it costs 5X as much to secure a new logo than to retain an existing one. Contact level intent data can help drive down the cost of new logo acquisition, but it can also support the important work of churn reduction and upselling.

As you watch data over several weeks you'll begin to see patterns with various roles within existing accounts. This will provide powerful insight to your customer service and success teams to proactively deliver value and to preempt churn risks.


Intent sales will take time to refine. You'll A/B test messaging, cadences, and channels. Your process will be refined and improve over several months.

Intent Marketing

In parallel you'll probably start to work on intent marketing augmentation of your account-based marketing approaches.

ABM is inherently a longer term play, so this work will take some time and experimentation. Your work on segmentation during the first few weeks will enable powerful programmatic ABM capabilities which will improve your one:many ABM campaigns. The data will also help to identify appropriate ABM targets which might not have made your initial lists.

Your colleagues in product marketing / competitive marketing will start bugging you several months into the program for access to the data as they realize the insights which they can extract. For instance, what seniority and function engage at which point in the buying journey? Who's attending competitors' events? And what seniority typically engages with each competitors' messaging?

Often product marketers will make some interesting observations about personas and the ICP based on analysis of the data.

Your scoring will also start to mature at this stage. The intent profile(s) most likely to purchase; the most opportune time and method for sales handoff; and the what combination of data provides the richest and most accurate predictors of timing and sale.

Long-Term - Enterprise Applications and Forecasting Accuracy

The wins and insights you'll realize through contact level intent data will create a powerful buzz and interest within the company, particularly if there's executive sponsorship for the ideas.

That will translate into various use cases beyond the common areas of demand generation marketing, sales and success.

Examples include:

  • 3rd party intent data to inform public relations (PR) efforts
  • corporate development and strategy teams incorporating intent data observations into inorganic growth efforts
  • high level observations of market trends

Forecasting accuracy and pipeline management will likely benefit as well. Clear understanding of buying journeys (vs. sales process) will enable teams to more accurately anticipate which deals will close, and when.

Bottom Line - Get Started Easily and Realize Value Quickly

Contact level intent data offers many powerful plays. It's exciting to brainstorm them and work to apply them effectively.

Sometimes, however, that can distract from the fact that companies can start to realize significant value within days. The basic "blocking and tackling" of 3rd party intent data are easy to understand and implement.


Image credit - @KirkGoldsberry


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