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What is Intent Data? Unleashing Its Power for B2B Sales and Marketing

Staying ahead in B2B sales needs more than your conventional strategies. 

This is where intent data comes into play – a revolutionary concept that has the potential to reshape the way businesses approach their growth strategies. 

This comprehensive guide delves into the depths of intent data, its significance, and how to use it to effectively power your sales and marketing teams.

Let’s start 👇

What is intent data?

Intent data provides insights into the online behaviours of a target audience. It’s also known as buyer intent data or purchase intent data. It predicts whether a buyer intends to make a purchasing decision in your industry. 

While sales and marketing teams can use it to make more efficient decisions, it’s not often used to its full potential. 

Think of B2B intent data as the behavioural breadcrumbs that users leave behind as they navigate the digital realm. These breadcrumbs provide invaluable insights into what a user is seeking, what problems they need to solve, and what solutions they are exploring. 

In this informative video, Emily Liu explains the meaning of intent data and how it helps B2B sales. Press ▶️ to watch.

What are the different types of intent data? 

To effectively leverage customer intent, you must understand the different types of intent data and where it comes from. There are two main areas: first party and third party intent data.

  1. First party intent data is any data collected from your site. This could include forms filled in for gated content or IP addresses collected from visitors.
  2. Third party intent data is any data collected from another website. This also includes filled-in forms and collected IP addresses. It’s usually gathered by intent data providers, such as Cognism’s partner Bombora, and provided to buyers.

We’ve broken this down in a handy cheat sheet for you to steal 👇

What is intent data? Four types explained.

There are four types of intent data sources: 

1. Search intent data

This data is collected when a potential customer searches for a keyword or phrase on a search engine like Google. You can use search intent data to identify the topics your target audience is searching for, allowing you to provide the most relevant answers to their questions.

For instance, if you sell sales intelligence software, you can find companies searching for "How can I make prospecting easier?”. 

This shows customer intent; you can reach out with your solution before your competitors.

2. Engagement data

This data refers to prospective buyers’ engagement with specific content, including reading, sharing, or commenting activities. Engagement data is collected from lead source channels such as your blog, website, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

An example of this is dark social. A prospect will share a piece of content they’ve found valuable from your company across social media, including sources you can’t easily track, such as Facebook  Messenger. You can use this information to share more content they enjoy or attempt a sales conversion.

3. Firmographic data

Data collected about a prospective company. Firmographic information can refer to size, location, industry and revenue obtained from business directories, website forms, and B2B data providers.

Consider integrating firmographics and ABM to strategically target companies with a higher likelihood of conversion. 

For example, you can use firmographics to find and target your ideal customer based on industry and company size.

4. Technographic data

Technographic data includes the software, hardware, and networks a company uses. Use surveys, questionnaires and polls to better understand a target company’s technical capabilities and needs.

For instance, if you sell B2B data, it’s important to know if potential customers have an outdated CRM system or are using a competing tool. If you know this, they likely have outdated data, too, and you can offer them data enrichment or sell your tool as a better option.

Here’s an example of intent data being used to target the right customers at the right time: 

What are the benefits of intent data?

The traditional “spray and pray” approach to B2B sales and marketing is ineffective and costly. This is where intent data emerges as a game-changer. By knowing what your potential customers are searching for, you can tailor your strategies to meet their needs exactly.

Intent data bridges the gap between marketing and sales teams, aligning them with customer behaviour. This alignment streamlines processes, leading to higher conversion rates and shorter sales cycles.

Here are three benefits of B2B  intent data:

  1. Prioritise companies based on their intent. Knowing which prospects are most interested in your solution will revolutionise your sales and marketing efforts.
  2. Identify companies and markets that have shown interest but might not have been on your radar.
  3. Prioritise existing customers based on intent topics.
  4. Identify the low-hanging fruit opportunities for higher conversions. 
  5. Learn more about your audience, and build a more detailed ideal customer profile.

These benefits aren’t only true for tech companies. Buyer intent data is highly valuable for any B2B company.


How to drive sales and marketing with intent data

Virtual prospecting intent data can give you the edge over your competitors, giving you better awareness of your market and more context heading into cold calls. 

If you’re still unconvinced, here are a few use cases for intent data in:

B2B sales teams

The ROI potential of sales intent data is staggering. With laser-focused sales strategies, sales leaders can reduce wastage of resources and significantly enhance conversion rates.

Get in early

Every sales rep knows it pays to be the first person in touch.

With intent data, you’ll be able to get in front of potential clients earlier in their buyer’s journey. Your awareness of potential customers just starting to look around means you can target them sooner.

You’re also more likely to find potential buyers unaware of your company. 

With sales intent data, you’ve got a chance to intercept buyers before they start investigating competitors.

Lead scoring

If sales teams are identifying many outbound sales leads, they might need more time to reach out to all of them. This is where lead scoring comes in. It’s the process of prioritising leads so you know who to speak to first.

What’s the best way of scoring leads?

By their intent, of course. If they’re more likely to buy, you want to get on the phone and start pitching to them immediately.

One of the most valuable aspects of contact intent data is that you can rank prospects according to customer intent. This will give you a list of targets, ordered by who to contact first.

It’s a lead generation game-changer.

Cold calling context

If you know the types of companies a prospect is looking at and the type of company you are, you can have a more valuable call with them.

It will give you insights into why they’re looking at your solution. It means you’re not looking for pain points at the start of your cold call. You already know them.

You’ll also better build rapport when you know the prospect’s intent to buy.

Reduce churn and upsell

This might be one for the Customer Success team, but it’s no secret that retaining customers is more cost-efficient than finding new ones.

Intent data allows companies to see the solutions their current client base is considering. They might include additional features you don’t yet offer or alternate solutions to your own.

You now have a chance to either work to save the client or add the feature they’re looking for. It’s a great indicator of the gaps in your product, so you can improve your offering over time - and stop your customers from moving elsewhere.

An example of how a sales team can use intent data to generate pipeline is Keboola. They used Cognism to book 60% of their overall demos:

B2B marketing teams

Marketing intent data is mostly about prioritisation and market discovery. Here are the main use cases:

Build LinkedIn-matched audiences

With the help of ABM intent data, marketers can build effective account based marketing campaigns. Showing relevant ads to the right companies at the right time will drastically reduce your cost per lead.

With a better idea of the companies interested in your product, you’ll be presenting ads to familiar faces. People will recognise your brand, and conversions will soar.

This also applies to content marketing.

Just created a handy whitepaper? Great!

Now, you can ensure you’re putting it in front of the right eyes. Which people need to see this content to get a deal over the line? Let’s get it in front of them - by targeting high-intent leads with relevant content at every stage of the B2B marketing funnel.

Improve your targeting

Once you’ve ordered your leads by intent, you’ll better understand your ICP. You’ll know which buyer groups are the most interested. These are the people you want to target.

This feeds into everything a marketer does.

Ensure your team is up to date with the intent scoring so they can tailor campaign efforts to hit the right note. It gives you extra flexibility that isn’t always there with B2B marketing.

Your email marketers will be able to build highly relevant lead nurturing campaigns. Which prospects are ready for a more forward CTA? Which ones need a bit more time? It’s all invaluable information.

Optimise your website

This is another benefit of a more accurate ICP. You can adjust your website to fit your audience and hyper-target potential customers.

The ICP doesn’t always stay the same. Changes in specific industries might make them a better or worse match. Figuring out your ICP isn’t a one-time job. Intent data allows you to calculate it constantly and make minor adjustments to reflect the change.

This includes optimising your websiteCreate pages specifically for the most frequent visitors and those with the highest intent. You could make relevant case studies easier to access and provide industry-specific information.

An example of how marketers can use intent data to generate conversions is Gradfuel. They used Cognism to triple their sales in just six months: 

How to use intent data

Data should fuel every business move, and B2B intent data provides a goldmine of actionable insights. From fine-tuning your product offerings to crafting compelling content that addresses user needs, every decision becomes more informed and strategic.

Here are four ways to use B2B buyer intent data: 

  1. Personalised marketing campaigns: Leverage intent data to craft personalised marketing campaigns that resonate with the specific pain points of potential customers.
  2. Content strategy enhancement: Develop content that addresses the queries and concerns expressed through intent data analysis.
  3. Sales prospecting precision: Equip your sales team with intent data for more meaningful conversations with potential clients.
  4. Product development alignment: Tailor your product development efforts based on your target audience’s prevalent demands and intentions.

You can use these strategies to leverage intent data. Other steps to use predictive intent data are: 

  1. Data collection: Gather first party and relevant third party intent data from various touchpoints.
  2. Data analysis: Utilise cutting-edge AI-driven tools to analyse the collected data for meaningful patterns.
  3. Strategy formulation: Develop strategies that align with the identified intentions of your target audience.
  4. Content creation: Craft content that serves the specific needs expressed through intent data.
  5. Sales integration: Equip your sales team with intent topics and insights to personalise their approach.

💡Learn how to use a tool like Cognism’s intent data to target customers searching for a service like yours. 

Where to get intent data

The trick to gathering accurate intent data is knowing where to look.

  • Known first-partyfirst party intent data - your CRM.
  • Anonymous first-partyfirst party intent data - Google Analytics.
  • Known third-partythird party intent data - Bombora intent data.
  • Anonymous third-partythird party intent data - a provider like Bombora or Cognism.

You can use many intent data tools to reach and understand potential customers searching for a solution like yours. Here are some examples:

1. Intent data providers

Cognism intent data, Uplead intent data, and ZoomInfo intent data are just a few of the tools you can use to buy intent data linked to a B2B contact database. 

Access to compliant contact level intent data helps businesses better understand their customers, tailor their offerings, and legally meet customer needs.

2. Co-op intent data

Bombora is a source of co-op intent data. It collects intent data across sites and provides B2B buyers and sales intelligence tools like the above with accurate, GDPR-compliant intent data for lead generation. 

Bombora sources its data via consent-based frameworks that respect and protect members’ privacy. 70% of websites in the co-op are exclusive to Bombora.

3. Bidstream intent data

Contact data providers like LeadIQ use Bidstream data. Bidstream data is the information publishers collect about their users and the available ad inventory. They then share this data with advertisers who can bid on it.


Cognism and intent data

The benefit of having company intent data in a B2B prospecting tool like Cognism is twofold.

With intent data, you get background information on a company that helps you target more precisely and qualify more quickly.

This gives you the power to only speak to companies currently looking for a product like yours - and the ability to understand exactly what they’re looking for.

Once you’ve found the right companies, Cognism will show you the right people. You’ll be able to quickly find the key decision-makers at the company for your solution.

You’ll speak to the perfect person at the perfect company in just a few clicks. It’s as easy as that!

Contact Cognism today

Take advantage of intent data on the Cognism platform today!

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