What intent data is and how to use it to drive sales
A crucial part of B2B lead generation is getting the right people to the right pages on your website. But guiding these users to the ideal destination is easier said than done, especially if you don’t have the right kinds of user intent data.
In this blog, I go over intent data, types, modes of collection and analysis.
What is intent data?
Intent data refers to behavioral data that indicates what a user may be interested in, be it a product or information. This data is normally collected by observing a user’s online activity, what pages they visit, search for and even how long they spend on a particular piece of content.
If correctly collected and organized, this data can be invaluable to demand generation teams when understanding your target audience and their needs. By leveraging the right kind of intent data, you can answer any questions a potential buyer may have before they even ask them.
For example, suppose you are running a banking-as-a-service business and are monitoring how people search for and find your business. You may discover that many visitors are trying to understand your solution’s use cases since the keywords “banking as a service use cases” or “banking as a service examples” are being searched hundreds of times per month. To address this search intent, you can create a guide explaining all of these use cases — and then monitor its traffic.
This traffic data will indicate what else these potential buyers are interested in on your website. You can also see links that prospects click and pages they linger on, allowing you to create a B2B sales funnel from your initial guide. This sort of analysis and action requires that you use and understand the multiple different kinds of intent data.
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What are the different kinds of intent data?
There are different types of user data you can collect online. Here, I have divided them into four main categories based on where the data is collected and what actionable insights you can glean from it.
Search intent data
Search intent data can be gathered by studying how people search — be it for information, products or services. By studying the phrases or keywords people use to search for something, we can understand what they are looking for and why.
During your analysis, you should categorize keywords by their stage in the buyer journey. For example:
- If someone is searching for the keyword “best cybersecurity software for small business,” they are likely in the research phase of the journey. They are in the market for cybersecurity software but are looking for the most suitable one for their needs. At this stage, they will likely be looking for reviews and comparisons.
- Someone searching for reviews of your business is at the very bottom of the funnel and is close to converting. Your search intent analysis should determine what kind of pages you optimize for both of these scenarios or keywords.
Below is an example of what this kind of keyword analysis looks like. The keywords are sorted by the number of people who use them per month, and each keyword indicates that the user is interested in a different topic. This volume analysis will help you understand what parts of your product have the most demand.
Browsing/Engagement intent data
Thanks to website analytics, you can track users’ every move as they browse your website. Browsing intent data helps you understand what pages web users visit, how long they spend there, what buttons they click and even how far down they scroll.
Here’s a list of key engagement metrics you can use to track buyer intent:
By tracking what pages a user visits and what links they click, you can tell what products or concepts a user may be interested in. You can look at repeat visits to gauge the level of interest a visitor has. A user visiting your product page multiple times is likely closer to making a purchase.
Average time on page
If you want to drill down page visit data to get an even clearer picture of how well a page is performing or how interested a user is, you can look at the average time on the page. This metric will tell you how engaged a user is with the content on the page that you are tracking.
Button presses or CTA responses
This type of engagement intent data is crucial to measuring and understanding user or buyer intent. Does the user engage with your content by following through on your CTAs? If not, you may not have very engaging content or the user may not be interested in your product.
Ensure you use CTAs that can be tracked and monitor every button clicked on your website so you know which buttons convert and which ones clutter your page. You can also track your thank you pages to know which leads reached the end.
Below is an example of a standard page report from Google Analytics where you can view all three metrics for every page on your website:
Firmographic intent data
Firmographic data is firm-specific data gathered during the early stages of the sales process or just before. Collecting this data involves learning about your buyer personas and noting characteristics such as the size of the business, their net worth, the industry, the number of employees and even your target persona within the company.
These indicators can help you understand how interested this business is in your product and even how you should formulate your sales strategy.
Advertising intent data
You can collect advertising intent data from interactions with your digital advertising efforts. These include social media advertising, Google Adwords, email marketing or other trackable digital marketing campaigns. Demographic data is invaluable here as it allows you to split your data into groups based on what kind of user you want to analyze.
You should measure who interacts with your ad, their gender, location and age. Most platforms will allow you to tailor specific ads to specific demographics, allowing you to target them better and understand the buyer’s intent. Remember that the decision-makers in your target market are individuals, so understanding their personal interests is important.
As long as you set up tracking throughout the entire buyer journey, which helps you know where each new lead came from, you can accurately track conversions and even engagement data for a demographic.
How is intent data collected?
Each kind of intent data comes from a different source, but you should track as much of the buyer journey as possible. You should be able to gather every kind of intent data if you set up your tracking well.
Consider tracking some of these parameters:
- Keywords you rank for on search engines
- User behavior on your website (for example, tracking button clicks, form submissions and page visits)
- Demographic data from your ads
- Traffic/user attribution so you know exactly how a certain user arrived at your website
How to set up intent analytics and monitoring?
Setting up all this tracking can seem daunting at first, but it is certainly easier than filtering for data in a web analytics tool like Google Analytics. Many of the tools needed for this are available online for free or at least cheap. For example, you can use the Google Search Console for search analytics for free or Semrush if you are willing to pay. Similarly, you can use Google Analytics for web analytics for free or Hubspot if you have more of a budget.
You must set up different kinds of tracking for each intent data, as described below:
Using any SEO tool or the Google Search Console, you can track what keywords bring you traffic and which pages perform the best for search. If you don’t have the budget or don’t want to spend money on a premium SEO tool, you can rely entirely on the search console and still gather all the search intent data you need.
You can follow this detailed guide to setting up Google Search Console to ensure you are accurately tracking search data.
Although Google does make it difficult to keep track of what session came from what keyword, the best way to get rough keyword attribution is to group your sessions and traffic by landing page. This way, you will be able to tell what users came from what keyword group or cluster and will be able to track searcher intent throughout the buyer journey.
Setting up website analytics can seem challenging, but knowing what is important to track and what is not is all a matter of understanding your buyer journey. Try to avoid getting bogged down trying to track EVERY action a user could take and instead only track those actions that could provide you with some insights.
Here are some actions that you should be tracking:
- Page views so you can track which pages attract the most attention
- Form submissions so you can track leads
- Demo button clicks and their source pages so you know what pages convert
- Time on-page so you know how engaged users are with your content
- Page scrolls so you know if users are making it to the bottom of your page
Many tools, such as Google Analytics, track some of these metrics automatically. Keep all of your metrics in mind when selecting website analysis software. Ensure you have proper attribution set up so you are always aware of where your traffic is coming from. You can create unique trackable links for different traffic sources or use software with attribution capabilities.
Optimize your B2B campaigns with user intent data
Understanding B2B intent data can make all the difference in the success of your marketing efforts. You need the right data to leverage user intent in achieving conversion goals. Acquiring this data, however, can be costly if you don’t have access to the right tools. By partnering with a lead generation team, you can access extensive user intent data for your web assets.
Productive Shop is a B2B marketing consultancy that empowers SaaS teams with the analytics and insights they need to make strategic decisions for their web presence. If you need help setting up your buyer intent analytics, get in touch with our consultants, and we will be happy to help you out.
Frequently asked questions
What is intent data in B2B?
Intent data in B2B refers to the data collected on the behavior and actions of potential buyers in the market, which lead gen teams can use to understand their buying intent or interest in a particular product or service. You can gather this data from various sources, such as web browsing activity, content consumption, social media interactions and other online behaviors.
B2B marketers use intent data to identify potential customers actively researching or showing interest in their products or services. This data allows them to tailor their marketing and outreach efforts to these individuals. By leveraging intent data, marketers can more effectively target their audience and improve their chances of converting leads into customers.
How do you use intent data for sales?
You can use intent data for sales by leveraging its insights to determine the best approach for your potential customers. With intent data, you understand what part of your product most interests your potential customers based on what they interact with or what pages they visit.
Momin Shahab is an SEO consultant at Productive Shop. He has worked in SEO on an international level for upwards of three years at various companies. He has gained training in content marketing, project management and data analysis. When he's not working or researching SEO, he is reading and collecting books.