Overcoming Today’s Intent Data Obstacles

October 19, 2021 | Blog, Resources

Key actions for overcoming today’s intent data obstacles that should be on every enterprise ABM leader’s agenda

The Intent data industry is broken – continuing to prioritize ‘surges’ of company level intent when buying group decisions are decentralized and regionally based. But there are a handful of concrete actions that enterprise marketers can take to overcome the lack of geographic and multilingual specificity, to ultimately succeed with intent data. 

Today’s marketers have access to data, processes, and technology that can support buying group needs and complex B2B purchase dynamics like never before — and for good reason. Gartner research states the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers, each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently and therefore must deconflict within the group. Beyond siloed capabilities, marketers require advanced control and real-time triggered connections among the identification of needs within a target account, activation of next best actions and the resulting delivery of high-value sales and marketing outcomes.

Some 70% of B2B technology vendors now use intent data for prospecting, and a bevy of companies now promise to harvest that information and transform it into viable insights for enterprise marketers. But there are two big problems with the heavy reliance on the current state of intent data for enterprise B2B firms: 

Problem #1: Your business is global — but most intent data platforms aren’t. 

Less than a quarter of the Fortune Global 500 are headquartered in the U.S. — and regardless of where they’re based, enterprise B2B companies increasingly do business across international borders. But so far, the majority of intent data providers and tools are built around detection and interpretation of American English. 

While English is the world’s top business language, as regional corporate hubs grow and establish their own budgets and buying centers, procurement staff are seeking truly localized solutions, and using their native languages to conduct research. After all, Wikipedia serves content in 290 languages, while Google operates in 149 languages and is investing to improve functionality in underserved regions. Failure to capture and accurately interpret signals from around the globe — not only in Chinese, Spanish, German, and French, but in every language spoken where your customers operate — means potentially leaving money on the table.

Problem #2: Intent data in isolation is meaningless.

In truth, when intent data platforms pick up on a ‘surge’ in activity, that could mean a potential customer is in-market and preparing to buy — or it could mean someone far removed from the company’s purchasing committee is doing research on competitors or industry trends. Understanding who is generating each engagement and where and within what environment that engagement is happening is essential in evaluating whether there is ‘true intent’. Without further context to identify whether the signals are coming from relevant locations and departments within target accounts, intent data signals have little significance.

The last thing you want to do is tell your sales team that an account is displaying high intent when that intent is not accompanied by fit, opportunity or timing. If a signal pertains to third-party content, do you know the exact nature of that content or if that content was viewed by multiple buying centers at an organization — or multiple times by one buying center? Do the individuals that engage with the content hold influence in the buying cycle?

Problem #3: Intent data is not predictive. 

The fact is that intent data isn’t predictive… it’s backward looking, it poses significant latency as a marketing trigger, and it involves a lot more than a subscription with a single vendor. While intent data can help identify accounts and score a topic’s resonance, it can’t predict the account’s propensity to buy. In addition, many intent data solutions fail to distinguish between implied and explicit intent — a distinction that can be critical to identify in-market accounts. Measuring success by delivering content to accounts that display implied intent, at best, will only drive awareness or provide the wrong level of content to prospects who could be in-market for a different solution that you have.

Predictive analytics can identify and score an account’s stage in the funnel as well as the timing and likelihood of action. But since it cannot identify relevant topics, campaigns that are solely based on predictive analytics can often end up looking like spam. Bombarding buyers with streams of content doesn’t help; it just frustrates them. Too many fragmented or irrelevant marketing messages can even cost organizations potential customers.

The Solution: Give Intent Data Context and Immediacy

Improving intent data performance isn’t simply a matter of collecting more of it. Instead, the solution is to enhance the data with context and new interpretive capabilities, and close the gap from signal to action with real-time processing power. To identify true intent signals amidst the noise, enterprise ABM marketers should:

Build global capabilities — within data and teams.

Global audiences have global needs, yet too often the enterprise is forced to rely on English-centric topic activity to inform their multiregional programs. Blinded by a lack of geographic specificity and English centricity, the enterprise organization fails to understand how buyers are engaging in multiple languages and regions across the globe. Capturing intent data in multiple languages with full geographic context to indicate buying center locations not only helps identify more activity; it’s a way to demonstrate on-the-ground expertise starting with the very first marketing interaction.

Not only should intent data capabilities be multilingual; ABM teams should include regional experts who can help provide additional context on the ground. Those teams should have global visibility into account activity so that prospect contacts can be coordinated, preventing an overwhelming and inconsistent surge of marketing messages.

Marry intent signals with first-party and technographic data.

Although enterprise companies often focus singularly on intent data, that information doesn’t reside in a vacuum — far from it. In fact, unlike startups, enterprise B2B firms have the advantage of an extensive existing customer base, and likely already sell upgrades, enhancements, and new products to these clients. Marrying intent data with existing user profiles in CRM and marketing automation systems gives the signals context, and those originating from procurement teams can be given priority.

Similarly, technographic data can provide context for signals coming from whitespace and greenfield accounts. That data should be global, helping identify where regional buying centers and budget decision-makers are located. 

Add predictive analytics to drive real-time insights.

Combining intent data and predictive analytics can give marketing and sales teams the explicit, company-level information they need in order to discover in-market accounts and pinpoint their topics of interest. This allows you to market with your audience — not at them, allowing for more effective personalization. Armed with actionable insights into buyers’ needs and specific stages in the buying process, marketers are better able to provide high-value, relevant content timed to the buyer stage.

While combining intent data and predictive analytics has value for B2B organizations of all sizes, it’s particularly important in complex organizations. In enterprises, with numerous business units and messages, multiple marketing lines and managers face the challenge of coordinating marketing activities across numerous products, industries, geographies, channels, and partners.


To learn more about the benefits and potential pitfalls of intent data — and how to integrate it into a holistic ABM strategy — read MRP’s latest whitepaper, “Intent Data Is Broken. What’s Next?” And schedule a demo today to see how MRP’s industry-leading global ABM solution can transform intent data into action. 


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