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How to Close the Intent Data Gap

Think back to the last time you staffed an exhibitor booth at an industry conference. Over the course of the day, as different people nosed into your stand, your job was to determine who was worth engaging with — and who wasn’t — in the limited time you had.

Cues like eye contact and body language provided important clues. Reading the company listed on an attendee’s name badge helped as well (assuming you recognised their organisation). But while these signals may have proven visitors’ interest in your solution, they didn’t necessarily identify their fitness to purchase. 

The same issue occurs with third-party intent data. Although it’s long been touted as marketing’s holy grail, third-party intent data is the digital equivalent of someone leaning into your stand at a corporate event. It’s a promising signal, but it’s not nearly enough to justify a full-on sales campaign.


Why Third-Party Intent Data is Only Half the Equation

First, a quick definition. Third-party intent data refers to insight generated by prospects’ behaviours — in particular, their buyer research activities — on websites you don’t own. By contrast, first-party intent data is derived from visitors’ interactions with your owned web properties, which can be captured and interpreted using visitor intelligence and website analytics tools.

Third-party intent data gives you some insights into prospects’ interests, but it only gives you a partial view — not the complete picture — when you’re trying to identify in-market accounts. Here’s why.


Coverage by third-party data providers is limited.

Only a small segment of your target audience is researching your solution at any given point — and an even smaller number of these accounts are actually captured by intent data providers.

That’s because intent data can really only be identified for companies that are large enough to have their own fixed IP addresses. If you’re selling into enterprise organisations, that’s great. But when your customers are small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), third-party intent data loses precision — and is much more scarce — given their correspondingly smaller digital footprint.

And with Google, Facebook, and Apple phasing out third-party tracking cookies, challenges with coverage are only going to get worse in the future.


Third-party intent data is reactive.

If you want to proactively go to market instead of waiting on your market to come to you — an inherently reactive approach — intent data just isn’t scalable. If your goal is to generate an extra £3m in pipeline, for example, you can’t magically increase the availability of third-party intent data by spending more.

Engagement data, on the other hand, can be created proactively by putting content out into key channels and then observing the rates of engagement against it.
To coordinate truly effective sales outreach, you need more than intent data alone. Pairing intent data with engagement data gives you a richer view of your prospect’s true purchase intent and stage in the buyer journey, allowing you to make smarter decisions about how and when to involve your sales team.


Complete the View with Engagement Data

Engagement data is the record of interactions a particular company has had with your brand. Generally speaking, there are two main forms of engagement data:

  • Digital Engagement Data: This includes clicks, likes, and shares against the content you’re putting out on digital marketing channels, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google. Digital engagement data can also include activities such as website visits, form completions, and on-site opt-ins (often known as first-party intent data).
  • CRM Engagement Data: This includes your prospects’ history of engagement with your outbound sales and marketing tactics. Activities such as opening an email, clicking a link in one of your emails, or answering a call from your sales reps are all examples of the types of CRM engagement data you may already have on hand.


Targeting your sales activity based on engagement data offers greater precision and scalability because you don’t have to wait on prospects coming across third-party content — you can pull them directly into your funnel by promoting your own content. And because only a small subset of companies are actually searching for topics related to your business in the first place, doing so makes it possible to target more accounts at scale than can be uncovered with third-party intent data alone.

To see how an approach that combines intent and engagement data works in practice, take a look at a sample ABM workflow using Growth Intelligence’s artificial intelligence (AI) ABM to SME solution:

  • First, our Fit AI technology can ingest and unify any engagement data you have already, as well as the unique company data we create from external sources. This activity produces a prioritised list of best-fit accounts, which serves as the single, most truthful view of all your potential customers and their likelihood to purchase.
  • Next, these lists can be micro-segmented into smaller, more manageable cohorts of prospective accounts. Each cohort can then be targeted with highly customised content and messaging — as determined by our Value and Persona AIs — that you deploy across multiple channels. Return on ad spend (ROAS) improves, as you’re only promoting content to a named set of businesses you’ve identified to be a good fit with a high degree of certainty.
  • As cohorts engage with your content, the engagement data of individual accounts is captured and used to establish an ‘engagement score’ rating — similar to how marketing automation tools provide a lead score. Once prospects reach a certain score based on their engagement, they can be surfaced and passed over to sales for timely, relevant outreach.


In this way, Growth Intelligence allows you to combine engagement data with fit and value AIs to target businesses at greater scale — whether or not you have access to third-party intent data. In fact, we’ve found that leads who have been digitally warmed in this way convert at a 42% higher rate than those that haven’t.

At Growth Intelligence, we’ve made it our mission to help marketers scale account-based marketing (ABM) to millions of businesses at a time, building confidence and momentum in your GTM approach.

To see how we’re making ABM accessible to all companies — even those selling into SMEs — we’re running 20-minute demos where we’ll show you how you can use our ABM platform to drive more meetings and more revenue from your best-fit accounts. To sign up for your free session, get in touch here


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