The Ultimate Guide to Leveraging Data to Track Buyer Intent

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    Imagine you’re the pilot of an old wooden fishing boat. Some days you go out and catch netfuls, other days you go hungry. It all depends on the fish swimming into your net. This might seem irrelevant to a modern-day business, but actually, this is still a common approach to finding customers – at least, among those companies unable to track buyer intent.

    Now back to the fishing analogy. A company that learns to track buyer intent is like a fishing ship with radar. There’s no guessing, waiting, or leaving things to chance. You know exactly where the fish are and how to catch them. It’s not hard to see how this will transform the fisherman’s gross profit margin!

    And like any solution that boosts the bottom line, buyer intent tracking is growing fast. In fact, TOPO’s Account-Based Technology Report shows that B2B buyer intent data is the fastest-growing sales solution today. That means you now have two types of competitor: those that use B2B intent data, and those that soon will.

    Can you afford to stick with the old wooden fishing boat? It’s time to get yourself some radar! So add buyer intent tracking software to your list of modern tools you need to succeed in 2021.

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    Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

    How do you leverage data to track buyer intent? 

    Like the fish in the sea, your prospects are out there online. They’re looking for a solution that your business can provide. It might be the best conference call service or even a workflow software – that’s up to you. Either way, your prospects are leaving a trail of data behind them from searching, reading, and interacting with content.

    But they haven’t contacted your sales team. They’ll probably progress far down the buyer’s journey before they engage with any salespeople at all.   

    That’s particularly true if you’re selling B2B. Gartner has identified six stages or “jobs” that B2B buyers go through before they can finalize a purchase. This long and complicated customer journey involves a lot of “looping” and “deconflicting” internally, within the buyer’s business.

    As for B2C, we see that in the UK 80% of consumers aged 45 to 54 conducted online research before buying in 2021. That’s compared with 68% in 2019.

    This means there’s a wide window of opportunity where the leads are looking, but no salespeople are involved.

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    Photo by Negative Space on Pexels

    What if you could dangle your hook in front of them before anyone else had a chance?

    Buyer intent tracking helps you do exactly that. These smart tools interpret subtle buying signals from your prospects across the internet – allowing you to make your pitch before anyone else. 

    Before we get into the use cases of buyer intent data, let’s examine the data itself. 

    Internal buyer intent data

    The more familiar way to track buyer intent is through internal data. This originates from across your website, automation systems, and proprietary software. Such data includes:

    • Visits to website pages with buyer intent
    • Downloads of decision-stage content
    • Visits from leads with buying power 
    • Details submitted, such as phone numbers
    • Length of time spent on pages
    • Registration for relevant events

    External buyer intent data

    Internal data is all good, but external buyer intent data is the secret weapon in your arsenal. 

    This is the key difference between buyer intent tracking and the usual website analytics. Because external intent data tells you what potential customers are doing anywhere on the web.

    Some facts you can glean from tracking external buyer intent data are:

    • Which competitor websites your prospective customers are looking at
    • Whether they’re searching for your target keywords but landing elsewhere
    • If they’re looking at review or comparison websites for products like yours

    All this information helps you take the guesswork out of optimizing your sales funnel. And as you’ll see below, it’s also invaluable for marketing and customer service. 

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    Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

    Use cases of buyer intent data

    The four key use cases for buyer intent data are:

    Get to buyers first

    Respond to signals that companies are researching solutions like yours, before they interact with your site.

    Prioritize high-intent leads

    Increase conversions by giving sales and marketing teams lists of the leads that are most likely to buy right now.

    Improve personalization

    If you know exactly what your leads are looking for, it’s easy to personalize content at a granular level.

    Upsell and retain

    Intent data helps you upsell proactively to existing customers and step in before they look elsewhere.

    In brief, this opens up a whole new world of leveraging customer intelligence data. Let’s dive in. 

    Using buyer intent data in marketing

    Good marketing starts with knowing your target audience. Any content you create will be geared towards a particular buyer persona – addressing their queries, pain points, or goals.

    It isn’t hard to establish the buyer intent of someone who clicks on an article titled “Five best deep-sea fishing rods in 2021”, for example. That’s because the marketing team has created that content for someone with just that buyer intent.

    And based on the general demographic of people who go deep-sea fishing, we can make an educated guess about other topics that your visitor might be interested in: perhaps island holidays or seafood restaurants.

    By tracking this visitor across further article and page visits, plus browsing history and many other variables, we can create a detailed profile. This will help sales know exactly what to say when the time is ripe.

    For marketing, the key here is to create and tag content with relevant buyer intent values. Then you’ll be ready to track buyer intent and build rich personas for each visitor.

    Using buyer intent data in sales

    From a sales perspective, buyer intent data is the secret to knowing when a lead is ready to buy. A good buyer intent tool will compile a web of signals that indicate buyer readiness. When those signals reach a critical level, the sales software will tell your sales team it’s time to close that deal.

    It’s like a psychic power: your sales team is so much more likely to get a reply from buyers when they’re already on the verge of making a decision. Your team just has to step in.

    So how does this work in practice? Let’s take two examples. 

    1. The buyer intent tracking tool might tell you that a lead has visited your services page twice in one day, for example. You’ll respond with a targeted email asking, “Did you want to learn how our services provide better ROI than Competitor A?” 

    2. The tool spots visitor activity belonging to a C-suite executive at a company with the right budget for your flagship product. You quickly assign that lead to your most effective salesperson and watch the magic happen.

    Using buyer intent data in customer service

    Another valuable reason to track buyer intent is to encourage customer loyalty

    With customer solutions that incorporate buyer intent, you’ll have a deeper insight into when customers are likely to buy and when they’re becoming dissatisfied. 

    Here’s a practical example. Let’s say you get a notification that a customer has visited your “cancel my account” page. The software will also let you know if the customer has visited external product review sites. It’s clear the customer is weighing up your competitors. But never fear – your team can quickly offer the customer an incentive by phone or email (you might want to try one of these customer service email examples).

    And this “sixth sense” doesn’t only work when customers are thinking of saying goodbye. It’s also about stepping in and helping customers before they even have to ask. As call center agent performance metrics often show, satisfaction drops when customers have to :

    • contact your organization again
    • re-explain their issue

    By proactively reaching out to clients, you nip both of those in the bud. Basically, buyer intent tracking is a must-have in your customer satisfaction toolkit.

    Must-have features for buyer intent tracking tools in 2021

    Naturally, you don’t have to figure out buyer intent tracking on your own. Just like there are workflow automation tools, social media automation tools, and automation QA tools, there are also tools for automated intent tracking.

    Here are some of the top features you can leverage in any of the leading buyer intent tracking tools:

    1. A business database that helps you understand what your audiences are looking for and reach out when the time is right. Such databases typically integrate with your CRM and can also have web browser extensions for ease of use.
    2. Insightful data on the companies visiting your site and how they interact with your content. These tools will let you sort those companies based on a range of filters like location, behavior, and demographics.
    3. Automatic prioritization of leads based on their level of buying intent. This is essentially a hit list for your sales and marketing teams.
    4. Predictive intelligence that tells you which companies are likely to buy in the near future.
    5. Real-time alerts so sales can jump on those leads fast.
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    Photo by Pixabay

    Time to get started leveraging data to track buyer intent

    So there it is: your radar-equipped vessel awaits. Hopefully this article has helped you grasp the value of buyer intent and how you can operationalize it in your business.

    In all honesty, using buyer intent to your full advantage isn’t easy. It takes time, practice, and an initial investment to get your sales and marketing teams ready for this transformation.

    But ask yourself, what is the alternative? It’s falling rapidly behind. But with the right tools and all hands on deck, you’re guaranteed to start seeing more (and bigger) fish in the bucket this year.

    Or in other words: “Thar she blows, mighty shoal of buyers to starboard, captain!”

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    About the author

    John Allen, is the “Billion Dollar SEO,” known for effectively scaling enterprise SEO teams. With over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs he currently directs all SEO activity for RingCentral, a global UCaaS, VoIP, and contact center software provider, globally. He has written for websites such as Hubspot and Toolbox. Here is his LinkedIn.