So, you’ve done your homework and are using intent data to design and execute your demand generation strategies. You’re building audience segments based on active topical interest, and you’ve incorporated the intent “heat level” reported by your demand gen vendor in your lead scoring system. You’re even personalizing your messaging based on what intent reveals about each prospect’s personal journey.

But you’re just not seeing an uptick in campaign response or conversion rates.

The good news is that you’ve made the right decision to add intent data to your B2B marketing operations, particularly in demand generation, where it’s been shown to accelerate the revenue pipeline by 40% or more.

The bad news? You’re probably working with bad intent data.

It happens. Not every intent data provider delivers on the promise of timely business intelligence that helps you identify and engage with in-market opportunities. Candidly, there’s still a lot of confusion in the market – 55% of respondents to a recent survey said Marketing and Sales can’t even agree on what “intent” means – so it’s not always easy to critically review the quality of the intent data you are using.

And without quality data, no tactic or campaign is going to work, no matter how smartly designed or executed it is.

What Does “Quality” Really Mean for Intent Data?

For intent data to super-charge your demand gen campaigns, it needs to be:

  • Correct – Behavioral intent signals from the internet have to be mapped to contact records that are up-to-date and verifiable. Remember, “signals” don’t become actionable “data” until you are sure they are being created by somebody you want to talk to.
  • Comprehensive – Intent needs to be collected from thousands of sources and from all key marketing channels to create a 360-view of a prospect’s current purchase research habits.
  • Timely – It doesn’t do you any good to know that a CFO was actively researching a new accounts payable system 10 weeks ago. Your chance to engage is gone. Intent data needs to provide a real-time view of your best opportunities to help you win new business.

With these three quality standards in place, intent can dramatically elevate every aspect of your B2B demand generation and marketing strategies.

It really works.

And if it’s not working for you, there’s a good chance you have bad data.

Are You Paying for Subpar Data?

With so many vendors now offering intent – Forrester says 70% of intent users now work with more than one provider – there’s an increased risk you’ll end up paying for data that doesn’t meet expectations.

What can go wrong?

Contact Data Is (Wildly) Out of Date

Intent signals only become actionable when you map them to a real, identifiable person who meets your ideal customer profile. And real people are changing jobs at an alarming rate, particularly in technology. After a year in which the tech sector lost an estimated 260,000 jobs, the first weeks of 2024 saw another 25,000 layoffs. Those are huge ongoing shifts in your potential audience that are happening day-to-day.

But many intent and demand gen providers don’t update their contact data for months or even multiple quarters. And the rigor with which they validate those updates is often questionable. You simply can’t count on a scan of a LinkedIn profile anymore – people are on the move, and frankly, they often misrepresent their job status in public spaces.

It’s a huge issue. If you can’t trust the anchor of your intent data strategy, everything that follows is likely to fail.

Poor Signal Sourcing and Coverage

Your intent signal data stream should include activity across thousands of quality websites and publishers – not just a closed garden of a few large sites. B2B purchasers look everywhere for insights to give them an edge, and you need a complete picture of who they are talking to about that buying decision.

Just as important, you need signals from every channel your customers rely on – search terms, article views, email response, form completion and more. If you’re only getting blog page views, you’re missing out on critical down-funnel interest that should weigh heavily in your opportunity scoring. If you’re only getting webinar signals, you’re ignoring high- and mid-funnel intent that you can engage on the ground floor.

Slow Signal Data Delivery

Just as with contact data updates, you may be paying for intent signals that are weeks or months old. Slow data is useless data. And as the number of brokerages and data resellers bog down delivery of key intelligence, slow data is a real problem for B2B Marketers.

Imprecise Intent Topic Taxonomy

You need to know that a CFO was researching an AP solution, not just “accounting software.” Intent signals need to be mapped to a discrete topical taxonomy that reflects the realities of your industry. If you can’t find key service or product categories as you are building an intent-based audience segment, your provider either a) has poor signal coverage, or b) hasn’t invested in the “Big Data” and AI needed to learn and sort what those signals are actually saying.

Bad ID Triangulation Technology

This is the secret sauce that turns all that “Big Data” into actual business intelligence. “Triangulation” is the advanced AI and machine learning method of associating otherwise anonymous intent signals, often from third parties, with contacts who you explicitly know via direct interactions with your demand gen partner or your own first-party marketing programs. (It’s called “triangulation” based on the principle that if you know the dimensions of two sides of a triangle, you can find the third side.)

Triangulation is how you find the actual prospects who are reading those articles and clicking those links.

It’s a lot of math, and quality intent data providers invest enormous amounts of time and money building out and refining this tech. It’s a real differentiator. If it’s not right, you’ll end up targeting audiences who simply aren’t interested in what you’re selling – at least not right now.

How to Ensure You Are Working With Quality Intent Data

Ok, so you now know what can go wrong with intent data. How can you be sure the intent you are paying for can deliver on the promise of improved engagement and conversions?

When selecting an internet provider, ask these questions and expect the right answers.

What Is Your Data Refresh and Quality Assurance Program?

How often does your provider update contact records, and what methods do they use to ensure that the updates are correct? Here at Bython, we continuously run 10 checks with our Connect360 Quality Automation tool, including geo and email verification. In addition, our QA team conducts four manual data checks, including phone verification of delivered opportunities that we use to update our contacts. If someone has changed a job recently, we probably know.

Where Do Your Intent Signals Come From?

Any quality intent data provider will have intelligence generated by their own campaigns, as well as data from a network of trusted third-party sites. At Bython, our network covers more than 7,600 topics sourced from social media, partner data, and open data sources such as company websites, news, and blogs. We cover all the areas of interest and channels where your best customers are making decisions.

How Quickly Does Data Get From the Originating Source to Your CRM?

Let’s be honest – it takes some time to process intent signals, map them to topics, and then identify the people creating the research activity. But it shouldn’t take months. To ensure that our data gets to you in a timely fashion that you can act on, we operate multilingual delivery centers in LATAM and Asia, with supporting teams across the US, UK, and APAC. This ensures that data is delivered on time and to your specifications. We’re close to the data and get it to you in a timely manner.

How Much Are You Investing in Your Big Data Analytics?

Unless you are a data scientist, there may not be a lot of value in inquiring after the specs on triangulation algorithms and semantic taxonomy AI. But you do want to be sure your intent provider can tell you how they are keeping up with (and hopefully ahead of) the curve in this essential technology.

Quality Is Always Job One with Intent Data

If intent is not accelerating your demand generation strategies, there’s a good chance you simply are using incorrect or stale data. Ask your provider tough questions about sourcing, delivery and QA to make sure you are getting the quality business intelligence you are paying for. With the right intent data and smart campaign design, you’ll see a solid return on your investment.

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