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8
minute read
March 8, 2021

How to Track and Use Buyer Intent Signals

Written by
Terry Kelleher

Understanding buyer intent signals enables you to identify leads before they reach out to you. If your sales team knows when good-fit accounts are in the market preparing to buy, it’s a game-changer. Instead of waiting for buyers to come to you, you’ll be able to flip the script and reach out with the perfect pitch, at the perfect time.

There are multiple types of buyer intent signals you can track, from digital to event-based. In this guide, I’m going to show you how you can use buyer intent signals to improve your sales and marketing efforts, close more deals, and reduce churn, and even how to choose the best among B2B intent data providers. I’ll also show you what signals you should be looking out for and how to track them.

Let’s jump in.

What are Buyer Intent Signals?

Buyer intent signals are indicators that someone is preparing to make a purchase. There are multiple types of intent signals you can use, and each type will help you identify prospects based on different criteria. Some of these help you identify prospects at the top-of-the- funnel (TOFU) and others at the bottom (BOFU).

TOFU signals will show that someone is beginning their buyer journey. Chances are, they’re not ready to hear your sales pitch, but they do want to be educated on their problem and possible solutions.

BOFU signals occur when buyers are preparing to make a purchase. They want to find a vendor that can solve their problem and get started as soon as possible.

Next, we’ll dig into these intent signals, and I’ll show you practical examples of intent signals.

Types of Buyer Intent Signals

First, it’s important to note that there is often crossover in the category an intent signal can fall into. A prospect might tick every box, or just a few. By knowing what buyer intent signals are and how they relate to your sales process, you can make smarter decisions.

1. Demographic, Firmographic, and Technographic Signals

Your ideal customers have demographic, firmographic, or technographic criteria in common. For example, if you have a marketing product/service, you’ll need to target:

  • CMOs
  • Head of Growth
  • Head of Marketing

Demographic signals are the first basic intent signal you can use. Firmographic intent signals are any signal that makes a company a good fit for your services. For example, if you ran a B2B marketing agency, a firmographic signal could be that a company is hiring for several marketing roles. As they bring in a team, your target account may want extra help so it’s an excellent time to engage with them. Other examples of firmographic signals include:

  • Company size
  • Number of employees
  • Revenue numbers
  • Industry

Technographic signals are even more granular. As the name suggests, technographics are all about the technology a company uses. You’ll be able to see if a company:

  • Is using a competitor product
  • Isn’t using a solution like yours

You can customize your outreach based on those criteria to ensure it’s relevant, and unique to your prospect.

2. Event-Based Buyer Intent Signals

Event-based intent signals are about company news. For example, if a growing startup raised a new round of funding or hired a new leadership team, it’s a clear signal that growth is happening. If you offer a product/service that can help them with their plans, it’s a good time to reach out and engage. Examples of event-based signals are:

  • New funding round
  • Attending industry events
  • New hiring pushes

When a key event happens, your team can react accordingly.

3. Action-Based Intent Signals

Next, action-based intent signals. These signals relate to actions you know your prospects are taking that show their potential to become customers. These action-based intent signals are often linked to the bottom of the funnel, so it’s vital that you have a way to track and understand them.

  • Target accounts visiting particular pages on your website
  • Prospects asking questions in your live chat
  • People searching for high-intent keywords

If you can track these action-based intent signals, your team can reach out to prospects as they’re getting ready to buy. It’s a perfect way to improve your sales conversion rate and ensure your sales reps are spending their time with prospects likely to buy.

How to Use Intent Signals to Drive Sales

1. Build Qualified Target Account Lists

As your team taps into a prospect intent data source, you’ll see information on what topics different accounts are interested in. From there, you can prioritize which accounts you’re targeting, and with what methods. For example, you can have one campaign targeting accounts showing high levels of purchase intent, and another targeting accounts still early on in their buying journey.

Alternatively, you can use firmographic and technographic data to target a list of accounts based on criteria such as:

  • Company size
  • Annual revenue
  • Number of employees per department
  • Technology used on their website

It’s actionable, and useful. Your sales reps can qualify prospects based on the tools they’re already using. For example, if you know that a company uses competitor software, you can reach out and show why your product/service is better.

Knowing this data enables your campaigns to be more personalized to who your prospects are, their company, and their day-to-day problems. In turn, you’ll generate higher engagement rates and have more successful sales and marketing campaigns.

2. Proactively Reach Out to Prospects

If your closest competitor reaches out to a perfect-fit prospect before you do, you’ll have a hard time convincing them that you’re a better option. By paying attention to intent signals, you can ensure your team will always be the first to reach out to high-value prospects via intent targeting.

Using intent signals, you can create a lead scoring system based on intent indicators and whenever a prospect fulfils those, you reach out. Those indicators could include account actions such as:

  • Searches for particular types of content
  • Visits your pricing page more than once
  • Signs up to a webinar

Your team will have reliable indicators that a prospect is starting their buying process. They can then reach out proactively rather than reactively. When a prospect receives your outreach email or phone call, they’ll be glad you reached out as the timing is perfect for them.

3. Inform Your Marketing Content Creation

You can use intent signals to create a marketing strategy that answers your buyers’ most important questions. Rather than simply relying on keyword research, use intent data to guide content ideas. For example, you can prioritise the content you create based on where it lands in the funnel - top, middle, or bottom.

But, what does this look like in practice?

Content with high purchase intent would be topics like:

  • Best [product/service] for [pain point]
  • Alternatives to [popular solution]
  • How to [solve specific pain point]

These are all specific search terms that indicate someone is close to making a purchase, or at least actively exploring their options. Say you had a product that had a clear competitor our in the market. You should make sure to target keywords that position you as a viable—even better—alternative than that competitor.

Anyone searching for alternatives to a product is clearly interested but is likely at a stage where they’re comparing what’s on-offer to find the best deals. It’s a perfect time to show up you’re your content to help them in their buying process.

Once your content is published, you can track how many visitors are taking valuable actions after viewing your pages, such as:

  • Scheduling a call
  • Filling out a contact form
  • Viewing key pages

As you gather data on your content performance, you’ll see what type of content your best-fit customers are engaging with most, and use it to inform future content creation. Today, it’s not enough to publish broad, generic content - you need to answer specific questions that your prospects are searching for in Google.

4. Customize Sales Assets and Presentations

When you know what your prospects care about and pain points they’re looking to solve, you can personalize your sales assets to match. Salesforce research found that 84% of customers say being treated like a person is “very important” to winning their business. If you’re not personalizing your sales process as much as possible, you’ll miss out on opportunities because your competitors did personalize their offering.

Customizing a sales deck to match your prospects’ business and exact pain points won’t take more than 30 - 60 minutes in the run-up to a meeting. If the extra personalization influences the sales cycle, or increases the final contract value, there’s a massive ROI to it.

5. Reduce Churn By Identifying Problems

An underrated but hugely valuable way to use intent signals is to reduce churn. For example, you can track if your accounts are visiting your cancellation pages, or terms of service. Most happy customers won’t be browsing your cancellation page for fun, so it’s a clear sign something is wrong.

If your team knows a customer is looking for instructions on how to cancel their agreement with you, they can reach out and see if there’s anything your customer needs help with. You can also tap into your intent data source to:

  • Identify when customers are searching for topics you can help with
  • Considering competitors
  • Quickly see when customers need extra support

Your customer support or account reps can reach out to those customers with information to help them. You can use intent signals from existing customers to:

  • Identify gaps in your product/service offering
  • Guide future business plans and prioritization
  • Equip your support team with everything they need to help customers

The result?

Your team can boost customer satisfaction, loyalty, and cut unnecessary churn.

Intent Signals Unlock Hidden Potential

Intent signals might feel complicated at first. Over time, you’ll learn what signals lead to the most conversations with good-fit prospects. For example, you might find that targeting based on demographic and firmographic data doesn’t result in much engagement with prospects who are in-market. But, if targeting based on content engagement signals results in far higher engagement levels, you can focus your efforts there.

If you need help tapping into intent data to fuel your marketing, sales, and customer support, Internal Results can help. Our intent data helps you target B2B decision-makers based on a range of factors to ensure you can engage with prospects at the right time, with the right content. If you’re ready to get started, get in touch with us today.

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