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Use intent data to anticipate your customers' needs

Use intent data to anticipate your customers' needs Mike Burton

Historically, B2B marketers have tailored and targeted their campaigns to specific job titles or seniority levels. Early on, it made some sense from an efficiency standpoint to focus on those titles high enough up the corporate ladder to control purse strings, but job titles and seniority only tell part of the story as to how decision makers carry out the consideration and purchase process.

Awash in data, predictive models, charts, and graphs, it can be easy for marketers to forget that those data points -- those dots on the graph -- are actually people as well as key B2B targets. They have their own personal predispositions that can have great influence over the decisions they make in a business setting. In many ways, it's remembering the people behind the decision-makers that can help B2B marketers harness the right data to engage and nurture those customers through the funnel.

Now, intent data can be used to gain insight about decision-makers and their spheres of influence, enabling B2B marketers to take advantage of opportunities to engage those targets at every stage of the customer journey. The problem is that B2B marketing tech is evolving at such a pace that it's difficult for data-driven marketers to understand what they have at their disposal. So how can marketers ensure they are actually reaching the audiences they're paying for?

Intent data is derived from multiple sources including search, social, email, and transactions, and can be utilized to find out who the people behind the prospects are, what their interests are, what their needs are, and how they want to engage. Intent data is also derived from the content your customers consume -- such as blogs and online publications read, videos watched, games played, and more.

"In B2B, when identifying companies that are most likely to become buyers, it's now critical to include new intent data signals -- like those from content consumption data -- next to things like your search, social, and CRM data," said Bob Ray, president, Americas at DWA. "Intent data lets us better decide when and where to create new content to meet demand, and when and where to align advertising against existing content -- all based on recent audience actions as opposed to static demographics or assumed personas."

Using this deeper level of insight to target campaigns has been in practice in the B2C world for a while, but the B2B space has been somewhat slower to adopt. The main issue with intent data for most B2B marketers has been lack of scale; there has been no way for them to target at such a granular level across a massive customer and prospect base.

Recently, new technology has enabled B2B marketers to achieve the long-awaited dream of scalable intent data. Essentially, this technology enables B2B marketers to access a veritable tidal wave of timely B2B intent signals when, previously, that level of data insight was only available in small disparate streams. This has allowed advertisers to create unique, highly targeted segments across vast audiences, and then buy media based upon those segments. This efficiency has benefited advertisers' bottom lines, as has the ability to validate the traffic each publisher claims to provide.

At its core, B2B marketing is about building and nurturing ongoing relationships, and a steady flow of insight-rich intent data is what enables marketers to address and, often, anticipate their customers' needs. Knowing what a prospect or customer needs and values before engaging with them is far more valuable to a marketer than simple job title and demographic data. They will appreciate the personalized communication and service throughout the sales cycle, and they'll show that appreciation with their continued business.

Mike Burton is co-founder and SVP, data sales at Bombora

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet. 

Mike has been working with AdTech start ups since 2002. Currently he is responsible for driving adoption of Bombora’s offerings across email marketing, analytics, programmatic display, predictive analytics and lead scoring, and countless other...

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