Use intent data

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Intention signWhen planning your marketing you can use three methods to target people: demographic, psychographic, and intent. And of these three, intent is the greatest.

With demographic profiling you’re reaching people who are most broadly potential customers. For a consumer company demographics could include age, gender, income, where they live, race, education and so on. (B2B demographic data can include the industry of the company, location, size, departments and titles of people, etc.) But people with similar demographics may actually have very different buying habits. The people in my neighborhood are similar to me demographically but some have very different tastes when it comes to food, cars, entertainment, vacations, fashion and so on.

Psychographic profiling is based on much more data. Previously large consumer companies added thousands of data points to each customer’s profile; today they may be adding tens of thousands. These can include previous buying experience, stores that they shop in, what publications they subscribe to, political party registration, etc. Are they trendy or conservative? Risk seeking or risk averse? Data science and predictive analytics are then used to select the best customers or accounts to target.

But neither demographic nor psychographic profiling answer the most important question: Who wants to buy what you’re selling now?

It’s a lot faster, easier and cheaper to convert people who are interested in buying into customers than to get people – no matter how well they match your ideal customer profile – to buy if they’re just not interested, or haven’t budgeted for the purchase.

That’s where intent data comes in. Intent data helps you identify and target people who are in active buying mode.

You may collect intent data from your website. If you’re using a marketing automation program it will help you track people – and accounts – who are actively visiting your site now and researching what you sell.

Search marketing is based on intent data.  And the keyword phrases people are searching with can help tell you where in the buying process they are: early exploration, comparing solutions, or making final reviews of vendors.

Some B2B companies are selling intent data based on the online behavior of people. For example, TechTarget has over 100 technology-specific websites. It tracks surges of interest from companies and then sells that data to vendors. Bombora aggregates data from hundreds of sources to identify surges. Software review sites such as Capterra and G2Crowd also provide intent data.

Sometimes you’ll identify people whose behavior suggests intent, but whose demographics don’t fit your potential customer profile. Those people are often called “students”, or “tire kickers”, or people who are writing books.

Combining demographic and intent data can give you a very high quality set of people and accounts to target with programs from direct mail to account based marketing.