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Understanding and Using Intent Data

Intent data can unlock the secret to finding buyers early and delivering a personalized experience. Learn more about intent data’s benefits and use cases.
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Chapters

Chapter 1

Understanding and Using Intent Data

Chapter 2

Introduction to Intent Data

Chapter 3

Intent Data for Marketing

Chapter 4

Intent Data for Sales

Chapter 5

Intent Data for Ops Teams

Chapter 6

6sense’s Unique Approach to Intent Data

Chapter 7

Combining Intent Data with Predictive Analytics

Chapter 8

Case Studies and Success Stories

Chapter 9

Getting Started with Intent Data

Chapter 10

Conclusion

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Understanding and Using Intent Data

Most of a B2B buyer’s journey happens anonymously, far from the ever-watchful eyes of your revenue team. In fact, before you even know an account is in-market, they’ve already completed 70% of their research.

Worse for sellers: Buyers are making critical decisions before they ever fill out a form. According to a report from 6sense Research:

  • 78% of buyers have already nailed down their specifications before they contact a seller.
  • 84% of the time, they buy from the first seller they contact — meaning they have almost always picked a winner before they start talking to sales reps.
  • What about the other vendors they contact? Buyers are mainly doing due diligence. The chances of those vendors winning the deal are minimal.

This is why intent data is crucial for sellers. If your revenue team isn’t aware of buyers until those buyers fill out a “Contact Us” form on your site, then they’re entering the conversation too late and losing deals.

Intent data unlocks the secret to finding buyers early and delivering a more personalized buying experience.

This guide will help you understand what intent data is, how it benefits your different teams, and how leveraging AI can make it even more effective.

Chapter 2

Introduction to Intent Data

Every time someone uses the internet to research a keyword, visit a website, use social media, download a whitepaper, or do literally anything online, it creates a data trail. Each action serves as a virtual footprint, and this trail of virtual footprints can be used — with the right technologies — to track and predict a person’s behavior.

This information is called intent data, and within the context of B2B sales, it can be interpreted to provide valuable insights like:

  • Which accounts may be interested in your products and services
  • How likely they are to become a customer
  • When they’re most likely to make that decision

Types of Intent Data

There are several types of intent data, including:

  • First-party intent data, which is information that comes from within your own systems, including your company’s website, your CRM or MAP, and custom analytics.
  • Third-party intent data, hailing from outside your systems, including information from external sources such as blogs, social networks, review sites, and industry solution providers.

Assembling this information can help determine where a prospective customer is in the buying process, which competitors they’re interested in, and many more buyer insights.

The Dark Funnel™ and Anonymous Data

As we mentioned, we all leave “footprints in the snow” as we traverse the web, but there are clues that can tie anonymous signals to specific accounts. We call this world of anonymous buyer intent data The Dark Funnel™.

For B2B revenue teams, matching traditionally unidentified Dark Funnel clues to known accounts is a transformative key that enables you to:

  • Spot accounts that have begun a buying journey
  • Understand their needs
  • Win their interest and engagement

Want to learn more about how AI turns these footprints in the snow into actionable data? Check out A Deep Dive Into the Dark Funnel to learn about the wealth of anonymized buyer intent data that wasn’t visible to revenue teams … until now.

Chapter 3

Intent Data for Marketing

Marketing teams can use intent data to inform, optimize — and, in many cases, simplify — their activities. Intent data for marketing leads to:

  • More personalization
  • Better message timing
  • Warmer leads
  • Stronger engagement

Let’s look at specific ways intent data can take your marketing to the next level.

Uncover Top Topics and Keywords

By knowing the real-time topics and keywords your buyers are researching, you can:

  • Optimize PPC and SEO strategies to target the most effective and relevant keywords
  • Infuse specific keywords into your buyers’ digital experiences for more targeted personalization
  • Uncover trends around certain products, services, and even competitors that are seeing increased interest

Find In-Market Accounts

Roughly 10% of your Total Addressable Market (TAM) is in-market at any given time. Even the best campaigns can be ineffective if they’re mainly reaching accounts with no need or budget for your services.

Intent data helps you uncover the 10% that are in-market by revealing real-time interest in products like yours. 

Understanding which accounts are in-market enables:

  • Prioritization of ABM activities
  • Optimization of marketing resources
  • Increased engagement with campaigns

GTM teams waste $2 trillion annually, and focusing on accounts that aren’t in-market represents a large amount of that loss. Intent data helps stop that waste.

Identify Low-Intent Accounts and Keep Them Warm

Part of marketing’s job is to keep leads warm and influence them. 

Intent data makes it possible to understand where an account is in their journey, how much interest they’re showing, and what, if anything, they’re interested in. 

With intent data by your side for your low-intent accounts, you can:

  • Create “always-on” campaigns that consistently engage with them and move them along their journey dynamically
  • Use AI-powered writing tools like Conversational Email to reduce time-consuming manual tasks (that might not get done because of limited resources) while maintaining constant engagement with your accounts

Low-intent accounts might not have top priority, but it’d be wrong to cast them completely aside. Intent data makes it easier — and more profitable — to engage with these accounts.

Chapter 4

Intent Data for Sales

Intent data is an incredibly powerful tool in any seller’s toolkit. Whether you’re an AE, BDR or enterprise rep, intent data can help you:

  • Uplevel your selling with a more personalized approach 
  • Build stronger relationships with buyers 
  • Uncover opportunities for upsell and cross-sell
  • Beat the competition

Let’s look at some use cases for intent data with sales teams. 

Prioritize Hot Accounts

Too many sellers are being set up for failure — stuck working on arbitrary account lists based on … geographic territories … static companies … specific products … and other criteria that miss the most important consideration: when and what buyers want to buy. Remember, only 10% of accounts are in-market at any given time, which means sellers rarely have a strong chance of reaching the right buyer at the right time.

Intent data fixes that problem by surfacing accounts that are actively searching for a solution. This helps:

  • BDRs reduce time spent prospecting
  • Optimize selling resources around accounts likely to convert
  • Book more meetings from accounts that are actively interested in hearing from you

Intent data removes the idea that sellers are throwing darts when seeking out accounts. Take away the guesswork and focus on actively in-market companies. 

Know What Buyers Need

Today’s buyers expect a personalized experience. Receiving outreach that isn’t aligned to their stage of the buying journey or relevant to their actual interests is likely to dissuade them from engaging. 

Intent data arms sellers with the most relevant intelligence at all times. With intent data, they can:

  • Use the actual keywords and topics buyers are researching to personalize outreach
  • Prepare more detailed and personalized presentations for meetings
  • Establish stronger trust with buyers by speaking directly to their needs

A seller who can regularly personalize their communication and understand a buyer’s needs is well-positioned to win deals.

Uncover Upsell and Cross-Sell Opportunities

Generating more revenue from existing customers is easier and more efficient than landing a new customer. 

Intent data helps you uncover upsell and cross-sell opportunities by:

  • Revealing which of your customers are actively researching additional products and services
  • Uncovering additional departments or locations that could benefit from existing relationships
  • Reveal critical stakeholders on the buying team that you might have missed and can engage with

Upselling and cross-selling are critical endeavors to increase the efficiency and impact of your sales teams. 

Chapter 5

Intent Data for Ops Teams

Operations teams sit at the center of revenue activities and greatly benefit from the intelligence provided by intent data. 

Intent data for ops leads to:

  • Cleaner, more accurate data
  • Smarter workflows
  • Optimization of tech and resources
  • More in-depth and impactful reporting

Let’s look at some real ways intent data benefits ops teams.

Inject Intelligence into Other Systems

The beauty of intent data is its flexibility. Ops teams can use intent data to enrich critical tools like:

  • Drift: Identify anonymous and known visitors plus provide a personalized experience
  • Clari: Accurately predict the value of deals in the pipeline, spot gaps, and recommend playbooks
  • Salesloft: Precisely target in-market accounts and curate personalized engagement 
  • Mutiny: Deliver website personalization at scale

Layering intent data on top of the functionality of these systems helps improve the way revenue teams interact with your tech. Learn more about 6sense’s integrations with other martech tools.

Identify Potential Risk Factors for Renewal/Churn

Intent data can help ops teams flag potential problems for existing customers.

Ops teams leveraging intent data for existing customers can:

  • Identify customers most at risk of churn
  • Create more accurate models for renewals and churn
  • Understand market potential so they can set ambitious but attainable goals for marketing and sales
  • Support Sales and Marketing on In-Market Accounts

As mentioned, one of the biggest benefits of intent data is that it reveals in-market accounts.

Ops teams can leverage this strength by:

  • Optimizing the way account territories and lists are designed and routed
  • Maintain a healthy database that reflects the real-time activities and buying stage of accounts
  • Score and identify the most impactful buying team members at the right accounts
  • Prioritize the purchase of contact data for in-market accounts
  • Configure workflows and alerts to accelerate opportunities

Ops teams that can provide their GTM teams with accurate, insightful data are putting them in a position to succeed. 

Chapter 6

6sense’s Unique Approach to Intent Data

6sense Revenue AI™ captures and analyzes intent data to give your teams unparalleled insights into the buying journey. A proprietary blend of data and technology has led to industry-leading performance.

Let’s look at how 6sense delivers the strongest de-anonymization of web traffic and intent data in the industry.

6signal Graph

6sense’s patented 6signal Graph provides best-in-class account identification. That means 6sense is able to de-anonymize web visitors and match intent signals to the right company better than anyone else.

The 6signal Company Graph tracks over four billion IP addresses and 500 billion monthly signals to connect intent across devices, channels, and product categories. The graph is the backbone of 6sense’s de-anonymization capabilities, resulting in industry-leading match rates. 

Proprietary B2B Intent Network

6sense’s proprietary B2B intent network captures intent signals from millions of webpages published by the most trusted B2B sources. 

The network captures billions of third-party intent signals from potential buyers every month — then maps those signals to unknown accounts using our 6signal graph to show you who is actively shopping for a solution like yours, and who is ready to engage. 

Natural Language Processing

6sense’s natural language processing reads pages within our B2B network to understand topics and keywords so we can match visiting accounts to specific interests.

AI and machine learning is at the heart of 6sense’s Revenue AI platform (as the name implies). Using the capabilities of these technologies allows for increased scale and accuracy of intent data collection.

Keyword Recommendations

6sense users input keywords that are relevant to their business, competitors, and industry. This helps us capture ‌intent signals relevant to those keywords.

With 6sense’s help, you can uncover topics and keywords that you might have missed — or weren’t even aware were signifiers of intent. By adding those keywords, you can detect more prospect activity and expand your sales opportunities.

Chapter 7

Combining Intent Data with Predictive Analytics

What is Predictive?

On its own, intent data is incredibly powerful. But it becomes exponentially more so when used alongside AI and machine learning to predict behavioral trends and selling opportunities. 

6sense’s predictive capabilities take your intent data to the next level. There are three foundations to 6sense’s predictive models:

  • Fit: Know who your ideal customers are.
  • Reach: Know how well you are reaching buyers. 
  • Intent: Know when buyers are in-market.

Predictive Analytics takes the billions of signals and matched to accounts and compares those signals to your historic data to spot the accounts that are behaving the most like past buyers. From there, you’re served up the accounts that are most likely to purchase, as well as details showing the best way to engage with them at any stage in their buying journey. 

6sense customers that use predictive capabilities have seen:

  • 39% more opportunities
  • 13% more wins
  • 45% larger deals
  • 38% shorter deal cycles

Let’s look at how predictive and intent data can win at every buying stage. 

Target Stage

Accounts in the Target stage are often at the very beginning of their buying journey, potentially unaware of your products, services, or even your brand.

By integrating predictive analytics with intent data, you can anticipate the needs of these accounts before they actively begin their search. This proactive approach allows you to tailor top-of-funnel content more precisely.

For example: You may not have keyword research data yet, but you can use firmographics, technographics, and historical behavioral data to predict potential pain points and interests. Create personalized sections on your website that serve up high-level content about specific pain points your products solve.

Awareness Stage

In the Awareness stage, buyers have started their research journey and may be aware of your company. They’re starting to show signs of life. In this stage, you want to start lightly targeting these accounts with some buying stage campaigns. 

Analyzing intent data through predictive models enables you to determine the topics potential buyers are researching. Predictive analytics use AI-driven insights to forecast buyer behavior and identify when they are most likely to engage, allowing you to time your campaigns more effectively.

For example: Serve up targeted display ads that educate the buyer about the solutions they’re seeking. Steer them toward:

  • Helpful blog posts describing common problems and solutions
  • Downloadable checklists they can use to identify their needs
  • Links to third-party studies and analyst reports that deliver unbiased insights

Predictive analytics also enhance website personalization by enabling smarter chatbot interactions. Based on intent signals and predictive insights, chatbots can suggest the most relevant content to visitors, aligning with their current interests and buying journey stage.

Consideration Stage

Here, accounts are homing in on specific solutions and potential vendors — including your competitors. If they’re not considering your company at this point, you are behind the curve.

Predictive analytics not only identifies what topics and solutions these buyers are looking for, but also anticipates their next moves. This empowers marketers to create highly personalized and timely campaigns that effectively address those buyers’ anticipated concerns and interests.

For example: Provide content that focuses on ways you can solve the specific challenges the buyer has identified — and how your solution stands out among vendors. Consider using:

  • Blog posts that discuss specific challenges in-depth, and detail how you can solve those issues
  • Downloadable guides that compare features and pricing, especially relative to competitors they may also be researching
  • Case studies, customer reviews, and testimonials that bolster your credibility and value

Decision Stage

You’re entering the late stages of the deal and a decision is coming soon. Accounts aren’t ready to negotiate a deal, but they are ready to engage with sellers directly. 

(Without intent data and predictive intelligence, this is often the first time sellers become aware of an opportunity! That’s way too late.)

Now is a great time to focus on multi-threading to make sure you are engaging with as many buying team members as you can.  Predictive analytics can guide your sales team on the optimal timing and messaging for outreach, ensuring that communications are timely and relevant.

For example: Armed with insights from both intent data and predictive analytics, sellers can schedule demos or meetings when intent data indicates interest levels are at their highest. Additionally, you can identify relevant members of the buying team to personalize engagement for every individual.

Purchase Stage

This is the final stage, where a buyer will select their vendor. All the chips are on the table. 

Predictive analytics enhances the use of intent data by providing foresight into potential objections and concerns that may arise just before the final decision is made. This allows salespeople to prepare and alleviate those issues proactively.

For example: Pay attention to intent signals mapped to different buying team personas. This can help you understand the unique priorities of every decision-maker and anticipate potential roadblocks.

Chapter 8

Case Studies and Success Stories

Let’s look at a couple of real-world use cases of intent data and how it transformed sales and marketing processes.

Ceros

Ceros, an interactive content platform, faced challenges in effectively prioritizing and engaging their target accounts (300 to 400 accounts for each Sales Development Representative!). This lack of prioritization led to inefficient use of time and resources across sales and marketing teams. To address this, the organization implemented 6sense because of its robust intent data and segmentation capabilities. 

With 6sense, Ceros SDRs identified and focused on accounts in the Decision and Purchase stages, streamlining their go-to-market efforts across North America and EMEA. 6sense also equipped team members with actionable insights and predictive analytics that helped refine account prioritization and engagement. 

As a result, Ceros reported a:

  • 72% increase in meeting-to-SQL rate
  • 22% increase in average deal size
  • 109% increase in win rates
  • 118% increase in opportunities

SailPoint

SailPoint, a cybersecurity software company, integrated 6sense’s intent data capabilities into its Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. Initially, the company’s approach involved broadly targeting potential accounts, which failed to yield effective conversions despite high engagement levels. 

By adopting 6sense, SailPoint shifted to a more focused strategy, using intent data to identify and prioritize accounts that were actively in the market and fit their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Valuable insights into buyer intent at both the keyword and topic levels empowered the marketing team to move away from generic campaigns to highly tailored engagements.

The integration of intent and fit scores directly into the CRM system further streamlined processes, allowing for enhanced reporting and data-driven activities.

Chapter 9

Getting Started with Intent Data

Integrating intent data into your marketing and sales strategies can dramatically improve your ability to engage with prospects and drive conversions. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Understand your objectives: Clearly define what you want to achieve with intent data, whether it’s increasing lead quality or enhancing personalized marketing efforts.
  2. Choose the right type of data: Decide between first- and third-party intent data based on your specific needs. 
  3. Select a platform: Invest in a platform that effectively captures and analyzes intent data with features like predictive analytics and account identification.
  4. Integrate with existing systems: Making sure the platform integrates with your CRM and marketing automation tools for operational efficiency. 
  5. Train your team: Demonstrate to sales and marketing teams how to interpret and use intent data effectively. 
  6. Launch campaigns: Use insights from intent data to personalize campaigns and messaging based on where prospects are in the buying journey.
  7. Monitor and optimize: Continuously evaluate campaign performance to refine your approach and optimize the use of intent data.

Chapter 10

Conclusion

Intent data opens up incredible opportunities across your entire revenue organization. 

By uncovering ‌hidden buying activity, you can:

  • Optimize marketing campaigns to influence buyers earlier in their journey
  • Prioritize selling activities to make the most impact and drive more revenue
  • Empower operations to provide cleaner, more accurate data for all your teams.

Combining intent data with predictive AI capabilities helps pinpoint exactly where buyers are in their journey. That knowledge enables you to deliver a more robust and personalized buying experience — and win more deals as a result.

Want to learn more about intent data? Check out our guides on buying intent and pre-intent data.

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The 6sense Team