Companies waste millions each year on online advertising that isn’t working, with marketing dollars going to poorly conceived targeting approaches that employ irrelevant data and generate meaningless clicks.

Why? Many online advertising options aren’t mature enough to accommodate B2B buying processes with long purchase cycles and multiple stakeholders. That’s why many B2B advertisers are turning to a different data source to guide efforts: purchase intent.

The best intent-based solutions enable companies to identify and target the right people inside the right accounts at the right time with a complete understanding of relevant content key targets are consuming. Real purchase intent insight enables marketers to understand what resonates with active buyers.

Realizing value from intent data requires obtaining the information you need and applying these buyer insights to your marketing processes. The key elements of intent-based marketing can be best understood as four distinct pillars — or building blocks — necessary for success.

1. Identity – Who are your buyers?

With an Intent-based approach, marketing is no longer about executing broad strokes. Instead, intent enables you to target only accounts and individuals known to be in a buying cycle: the exact people you need to engage with now. It’s about executing informed, personalized tactics that address highly specific needs. Real purchase intent pinpoints active accounts and delivers precise buying team contact data – locations, titles and marketable names, like you’ll find in your own systems but also available from rigorously validated third-party sources.

While it’s not difficult to source some of this information, it’s far more challenging to find it altogether in one place. Though a valid name and job title are somewhat useful, they are more powerful when associated with topics buying teams are actively researching that are relevant to what you sell.

2. Interest – What are your buyers doing?

Once you can identify exactly who your targets are, you need to know if they’re currently in the market for what you sell.

Demonstrated buyer interest – often referred to as “active demand” – is available from two very different sources. Everyone has first-party data– it’s the information you generate from your own prospects and customers, your marketing automation, CRM and related systems.

This data is valuable, but limited in scale.

In contrast, third-party intent data comes from two different types of providers: Those who capture it on properties they own and operate, and those who obtain it from less clear-cut sources, whether by scraping from the open web, licensing it from other providers or otherwise.
The best third-party intent providers can reveal the specific web properties visited and the exact content their users have browsed. For example, providers can tell you the account and the individuals who are reading articles like “Building an intrusion detection and prevention system for the cloud” which indicate near-term interests and business needs.
When this is directly relevant to what you sell, there’s huge value in this information that you often can’t find in your own systems. Adding reputable third-party data into your process can give you much more complete access to total market demand than you can economically generate on your own.

3. Enrichment – Effectively Managing and Applying Intent Data

Intent data, whether externally or internally sourced becomes more useful the better you understand how to take advantage of it. Marketing automation systems, classic lead qualification methodologies like BANT, short-sighted KPIs and even siloed organizational constructs are just some of the challenges marketers face as they try to improve their ROI.  Locked inside your systems and the minds of your teams, there’s information that could easily change how you see a given situation. Third party data can help you work around through these blockages. Take for example what happens when you send a list of leads to an SDR team:  Their job is usually to work through such lists as fast as possible. If they can’t get through to a “lead”, they close it out as unreachable and it’s either recycled or discarded completely. All your work goes to waste.

But what if you took a list of leads and asked an intent provider to enrich your list with other names showing similar behaviours on the same account? If the third-party provider could show that the account as a whole was showing frequent and broad demand signals, then you could make the case that no matter what the SDRs thought, your sales team needs to get in there now.

4. Activation – Acting on Purchase Intent Insight

Like other solution categories, there are several types of purchase intent information, each created using a very different approach. Generally speaking, the richer the information, the more expensive it is to access. But if you’re in a good position to act on these signals, the payout from quality can far outstrip that available from lesser offerings.

With better visibility (and accurate contact information), not only can you generate better consideration rates with your highest-priority accounts, you are also able to create truly integrated approaches where advertising, demand gen and sales motions all work together to target the same buyers within the accounts that deserve enhanced treatment.

Strong intent-based strategies enable sales and marketing teams to make the most of their total budgets, not just their ad budgets in isolation. Better information allows them to improve experiences for the targets they care most about – those who are actually in a buying process.