Intent matters: Leveraging data & signals to target audiences

The modern marketer has access to more data than ever before, and the deluge is only going to increase as more devices and sensors come online from an expanding IoT and emerging 5G networks. The opportunities to capture intent at the moment of interest and respond quickly with the right message will continue to abound, but success will only come by making sense of all the signals—and acting fast.

This is where many marketers stumble—they simply don’t know who is in the market at any single moment, and unable to focus their outreach. “From a marketer’s point of view, it’s never been easier to send direct messaging to the right person,” says Jeff Adee, Senior Vice President and General Manager, B2B, at Data Axle and the lead on the company’s intent data solutions. ”But many marketers end up not knowing exactly what to do with all the data that’s available and how to parse it.”

The value within customer and prospect data is no secret to marketers. According to The CMO Survey, which is sponsored by the American Marketing Association, Deloitte, and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, 62% of marketing leaders said use of online customer data at their firms increased in the last two years, and 70% said they expect to use more online data in the next two years. But do they know how to make the most of their data?

A marketer needs two things to successfully target an in-market audience before anyone else: Recognition and speed.

Seeing Intent

Mike Johansson, principal lecturer in the School of Communications at the Rochester Institute of Technology, says that most of his students want targeted ads that reflect their interests at the moment. “They mostly do not mind ads that target them,” he says. “It doesn’t bother them when they see an ad for something related to their own taste or intent. They find that useful.”

“With an intent campaign, you’re looking at locational information and the types of content prospects are ingesting at that site, seeing a surge in interest, then deriving insights from that feed,” Adee says. “The result is visibility into just what a prospect wants at that moment.”

Why Intent is Crucial

As an example, a marketer with a repository of 100,000 prospects for a certain business line might be trying to touch all of them monthly. Some of the big questions are these: What cadence should you deploy? What’s the strategy behind outreach to those individuals?

Answering those questions helps narrow the focus. For example, that repository of 100,000 people can be distilled to 5,000 targets in market for a specific product or service. Those are the people marketers want to address. From there, it’s efficient to scale to other, receptive audiences.

Consider these three big reasons to use intent:

  • Prioritizes customers and prospects based on their buying journey stage
  • Identify previously unknown audiences that are in-market
  • Generates ideal upsell and cross-sell opportunities

The Power of Recognition

Data is useless and even damaging to a brand if it’s not accurate and relevant.

Imagine thousands of people in a convention hall listening to a talk about something they have no interest in. Now imagine you gather just the right people and all of them have name tags on. With an intent campaign built on accurate contact data, you’re essentially walking through the crowd and greeting each one by name, with just the right personal handshake, so to speak.

Intent Marketing: The Steps

The first step is narrowing the field to who’s in play. Data Axle has about 14 million IT or tech decision-makers available to marketers, for example. The company’s various data assets can reveal surging, in-market prospects for a certain category, whittling that huge crowd down to only receptive prospects in a particular category.

The next step is the cadence of channels for individuals, and this is where strategy assets and people with expertise come in: Where do these prospects consume their information? What messaging will be successful? What cadence will produce positive results?

“It’s not only the data,” Adee says, “it’s the support system around how to use the data. We’re able to use our intent data across any channel, not just digital. We’re also able to match locational information to actual contacts that we have within our industry leading assets.”

The Benefits of Intent Marketing

  • Solidifies repeat business from current and former clients.
  • Monitors online behavior consistently.
  • Sees predictive signals that a new purchase is quickly approaching.
  • Nets a 16% higher engagement rate with your audience.
  • Provides sales reps with a 79% higher close rate.

Speed: Stay Ahead of the Competition

The surge in interest that can be captured by data gives a marketer a magnifying glass into intent, and the ability to jump on receptive decision-makers once their interest reaches a threshold, before the competition.

A marketer can send company names for ABM programs. Intent changes at relevant sites can give them account-level indicators that show which locations are in-market. A data partner can set up a feed of this intent data and desired contacts to quickly close business.

Says Adee, “When prospects fitting the target criteria start showing a surge in relevant intent topics, we can feed marketers that information on a regular basis. They can be the first one to reach out to them.”

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