What is Buyer Intent Data: The Ultimate Guide

Imagine being able to see companies in their buying cycle, actively looking for a product just like you offer.

Buyer Intent data gives you that capability.

Only 25% of B2B companies use intent data, but it's one of the most powerful ways to grow your pipeline of qualified leads.

If you’re here, you’re most likely looking to start using intent data to effectively grow your lead pipeline.

In this article, we're going to show you what intent data is, how you can use it, and where you can get it from.

What is Buyer Intent Data?

Intent data consists of aggregated behavioral signals that enable companies to identify buyers during their buying cycle.

It sounds a little complicated, but in reality you’re probably already thinking about it in your sales and marketing.

Behavioral indicators of purchase intent can be things such as:

  • Someone reading specific articles on your site
  • Visiting certain pages on your website
  • Frequency of visits
  • Engagement levels with content or sales emails

Essentially, intent data is anything that indicates a lead is in their buying cycle and preparing to purchase your solution (or a competitor's solution).

Buyer Intent Data

The main sources of intent data include website data, off-site activity, your CRM, social media data, and content consumption data.

Where does Intent Data come from?

There are two main types of intent data and they come from different sources. 

We’re going to look at internal intent data, and external intent data.

Let's take a look at what those mean.

1. Internal Intent Data (First-Party Data)

Internal intent data is also referred to as first-party intent data.

This data is collected in-house via your marketing automation platform, or application logs if you have a web app.

The benefits of collecting intent data internally are that you have control over what you collect, and how you collect it. 

You can also act on it immediately and customize what classifies as purchase intent to your liking.

2. External Intent Data (3rd Party Data)

Then, there is external intent data, also known as 3rd party intent data. As the name suggests, this is collected outside of your organization, but can be put to use by your team.

3rd party intent data gets sourced via IP lookups or cookies on specific websites. 

Due to the complexity of collecting and using intent data in-house, using an external provider and with licensed behavioral data is a popular way to take advantage of this valuable asset.

5 Benefits of Using Intent Data

There is a strong case for using intent data in your sales and marketing.

To me measuring intent is a requirement. It’s huge for not only identifying short-term purchase potential but matching the message to the readiness for mid-and-long term buyers. With good intent insight you strive to make every interaction more relevant and every relationship stronger. Scott Fingerhut, VP Worldwide Marketing Demand Generation at Elastic.

Let's take a look at why you should be using it.

1. More Efficient Prospecting

75% of companies say closing more deals is their top sales priority.

If a great lead is almost ready to buy, wouldn't you like to know?

Intent data makes prospecting simpler.

Top sales priorities according to the State of Inbound report

You can see companies researching your solution, making your sales reps jobs easier and faster.

Knowing who is looking at what content means your team can tailor their messaging to each lead.

As well as this, third-party intent data will provide your team with information on how, and what leads are researching. This enables you to engage with leads as early as possible and put your solution into their consideration bucket.

Having access to a source of B2B intent data will supercharge your sales team. They'll be able to prospect for SQLs in a fraction of the time it would usually take them, and use their time most productively.

2. Improve Outbound Sales Results

Only 18% of marketers say that their outbound work provides the highest quality leads.

While you can see success with cold outreach, you never know if the leads you contact are ready to buy.

Your sales cycle can be long, as most buyers now view at least 3-5 pieces of content before even engaging with a sales rep, and research in other ways such as talking to colleagues or looking on vendor review sites like Capterra.

B2B buyers do 12 searches before visiting a brand's website according to Think With Google

Giving your sales team access to a source of intent data allows them to reach out to qualified leads in their buying cycle, rather than wasting their time emailing unqualified leads.

Intent data can also increase the ROI of your B2B content syndication efforts. You can see who is researching your solution and target your content more effectively.

3. Advanced Sales Prioritization

Traditional lead scoring relies on adding points to a lead's score when they take certain actions. 

Intent data uncovers additional paths that your leads take, even when they're not on your site. 

Your marketing team can lead score in a precise way and predict purchase intent of people based on the research they're doing on your solution.

Then, your sales reps can use that prioritize who they contact based on how ready to buy they are.

4. More Accurate Account-Based Marketing Campaigns

Successful Account-Based Marketing campaigns are built on personalization.

The most effective way to improve your ABM campaigns is to map out your buyer journey and provide the most relevant content to leads at all times.

Tactics to optimize marketing automation
Popular tactics to optimize marketing automation according to ClickDimensions

Intent data lets you strategically nurture leads in your campaigns by segmenting your lists, and only showing relevant content to purchase-ready leads.

This guarantees every touch point in your campaign matches the prospect's expectations.

5. Create Targeted and Relevant Content

Intent data lets you see the correlation between topics and context. 

When you know the questions people have before purchasing your product or service, you can answer them in new content.

Your marketing team can use these insights to guide content creation, and increase the inbound flow of leads to your site.

How to Judge “Buyer Intent”

Only 46% of sales reps have data insights on customers’ readiness to buy. This number is low, considering almost every sales rep would agree that this data would be a huge help.

Why do so few sales teams have access to useful data?

Well, calculating buyer intent isn’t a simple task. 

Firstly you need to decide what you value as important and how you score interactions with key decision-makers.

You also need to account for who is interacting with your brand, as there's no point tracking, scoring, and spending time on leads who aren't a fit for your business.

At Internal Results, we use a buyer intent algorithm to create intent scores for every account within our database. 

By tracking buying signals of millions of interactions by B2B decision-makers, we predict buyer intent and provide you with that data.

Indicators of Buyer Intent
Key indicators of buyer intent

We use several key considerations when creating our intent data:

1. Recency

How recently a prospect engages with your content is valuable data.

If you wait weeks to contact leads that visited your website, they will have either already made a buying decision, or forgotten about you.

Speed matters in sales. Research shows that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds or reaches out first.  

If your sales team react fast to buyer intent and contact decision-makers at the best time, they'll close more deals.

2. Frequency

Frequency is another key indicator of buyer intent.

If you can see a lead frequently viewing key pages (e.g. your pricing page, case studies, etc.) you can assume that they're in their buying cycle. 

Your sales team can then know that it's a great time to reach out.

3. Engagement

The third indicator of buyer intent we use is engagement.

Most lead scoring systems value engagement, and it's the same with intent data.

If a lead is engaging with your content on your site, via a chatbot, or in an email nurturing campaign, it's a great time to reach out.


These three considerations are all vital to creating accurate intent data.

Internal Results also takes into account dozens of extra variables such as firmographics, technographics, job titles, account size, and more.

This means you can create a detailed picture of your ideal buyer, identify when they're ready to buy, and reach out with a personalized message.

How to Source and Use Intent Data

As we mentioned in the first section, there are two types of intent data, and you can source these in various ways.

Firstly, internal intent data can be found in your existing marketing automation platform or CRM.

Most popular CRMs will show you the actions that visitors are taking on your site, giving your team an idea of how ready to purchase they are. 

Using your already-available intent data provides you an easy way to get started.

When it comes to external, or third-party intent data, you will need to use a service like Internal Results. 

Our data is GDPR-compliant, sourced from industry-leading sites that your prospects are using to educate themselves before buying.

Our data is a powerful predictor of buyer intent and is going to help your team close more deals.

Wrapping Up

So, as you can see intent data is going to change the way you prospect and engage with leads.

Companies using intent data have a distinct competitive advantage over their competitors.

Being able to identify ideal customers during their buying cycle enables your team to engage with leads in the best way.

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