Is Intent Signal Data the Future of Business Intelligence in B2B companies?

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An extraordinary new form of data has become available to Business-to-Business (B2B) marketers recently, and the implications of its usage include such counter-intuitive notions as enabling marketers to do less of what they find most effective.

This new form of information — Intent Signal Data — is the digital footprint that companies leave across the internet as they research potential purchases.

The net effect is to make it possible for B2B marketers to recognize when companies are visiting more web pages relating to a certain type of product (for example, Network-Attached Storage) than they typically do. This spike or surge in interest is proving to be a powerful indicator of purchase intent.

The Known and the Unknown

A bit of background:  B2B marketers have long been accustomed to monitoring visitors to their own corporate websites and using marketing automation software to categorize all visitors as either “Known” or “Unknown.” Known Visitors are those that have previously been cookied by the marketing automation software and identified as being a specific individual (example: John Brown, Director of Cloud Storage Solutions at Company X).

Meanwhile, the Unknown Visitors have not been cookied and are only identified by their IP address (example: Company X at 123 Main Street in Poughkeepsie, NY). Both Known and Unknown Visitors provide useful and actionable insights to Marketing and even Sales departments.

New developments: intent signal data

Intent Signals Data is similar in many ways to the Unknown Visitors data described above, with one key difference.  We are not only tracking visitors to company websites, we are tracking visits to any page across the internet.

Large-scale data aggregation and processing makes it possible to monitor millions of companies, hundreds of millions of web pages, and thousands of keywords (such as the “Network-Attached Storage” example given previously).

Benchmarking — continuous monitoring over time — makes it possible to establish a historical baseline level of interest in each keyword by each company so that a change in interest level is readily and reliably identifiable.

This means that today, B2B marketers can instantly identify when a given prospect company seems to be conducting the online research that precedes a purchase.

That’s big news for B2B marketers.

Taking business intelligence a step further

B2B marketers know the departments and titles of their potential buyers (example: John Brown, Director of Cloud Storage Solutions). Now it’s possible to infer from Intent Signals Data the specific individuals conducting this research.

This final piece of the puzzle is something we worked hard to include in our InsightBASE platform.  Our proprietary Relevance Engine TM pulls all of this disparate data (pages, keywords, companies, locations, current activity, historical activity, relevant individuals and contact information for these relevant individuals) together for the B2B marketing end user.

The future is less

The implications of this are far-reaching and includes elements that might seem counter-intuitive. Use of Intent Signals Data to trigger campaigns to targeted recipients (as opposed to mass audiences) is improving marketing results at scale.

In a 3-month 2016 study comprised of over 2 million emails sent to several hundred thousand B2B recipients in 9 different vertical markets (IT, Telecommunications, Manufacturing, etc.), the average increase in conversion rate (defined as the recipient of an email accepting the call to action in that email, such as downloading a white paper or viewing a video) for campaigns sent to individuals identified using Intent Signals Data was over 450%.

With studies continuing to show that email is still the most effective B2B marketing channel, use of Intent Signals Data would allow marketers to send fewer emails while achieving superior results. Reducing emails sent would be welcomed both by senders and recipients. It’s something those of us who focus closely on innovations in data are familiar with – new forms of data often deliver not only their intended benefits but also extraordinary collateral benefits as well, a very fortuitous situation.

Use of Intent Signals Data will continue to expand and develop, and use cases already include Programmatic Display, Account Based Marketing, Business Intelligence, Account Management and Mergers & Acquisitions in addition to email marketing campaigns. I believe that the ways in which marketers and other businesspeople react to understanding the apparent intentions of companies in which they are interested is among the most exciting trends to watch in 2016 in beyond.

Brian GieseContributed by: Brian Giese, CEO and Founder of True Influence, a fact-based account marketing company specializing in B2B lead generation and prospect insight.


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  1. Intent Signals Data sound interesting, but where is this data aggregated from? Most sites are not simply giving out their analytics data, so how are IPs being tracked across the web to be able to determine the user’s intent? Is the intent data formed from the keywords the user is running into on pages and site they visit, or is there additional components, such as adding intent data based on the topics associated to a site?