“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey that counts.” Sure, it’s a cliché adage found on many a coffee mug and inspirational wall calendar. But it’s also a genuinely useful phrase to remember in certain circumstances, especially when it comes to using intent data.
When coupled with the appropriate strategy, intent data can drive big results for your sales and marketing initiatives and deliver impressive ROI across the organization. But intent data is not a standalone solution. Instead, think of it as rocket fuel for your existing efforts, giving your B2B engine the power it needs to rheach your ROI goals.
Viewing intent data as a one-and-done solution may be why so many sales and marketing teams struggle to track their return on investment. In our recent DemandScience benchmark report, 50% of respondents agreed that measuring ROI is their biggest challenge when leveraging intent.
Given intent data is relatively new (FYI, it’s one of the fastest growing data types in recent years), it’s no surprise sales and marketing teams grapple with how to drive the most profitable results.
But if you’re ready to start seeing returns from your intent data use in the form of cold hard cash, look no further. Here are five ways to apply intent data to your existing sales and marketing initiatives that’ll supercharge ROI in no time.
Initiative #1: Increasing Funnel Velocity
Funnel velocity—also called sales velocity—measures how fast leads progress through your pipeline, telling you how long it takes your sales team to move deals from opportunity to close. Funnel velocity consists of four variables:
- Number of Opportunities
- Average Deal Value
- Conversion Rate
- Length of Sales Cycle
By measuring funnel velocity, you can keep an eye on how fast you make money, while identifying any sticking points that are slowing things down, enabling you to adjust tactics and remove any blockages.
Why Is Increasing Funnel Velocity Important?
Knowing how quickly your sales and marketing efforts translate into company revenue is great, but it’s when things start to take a turn for the worse that an opportunity arises. Funnel velocity acts as a smoke alarm, alerting you to potential fires that need extinguishing, figuratively speaking. If you notice funnel velocity plummet, it’s best to analyze the state of each individual variable mentioned above so you can diagnose and treat the problem.
For example, you may spot funnel velocity declining toward the end of a quarter. After a deeper look, it becomes apparent that despite all other metrics looking healthy, your average deal rate has taken a nosedive. This could indicate your sales team, under pressure from looming targets, might be offering one too many discounts to get sales over the line before the quarter’s end. On the other hand, if the number of opportunities dwindles, marketing may need to resuscitate lead gen efforts to pour more leads into the top of the funnel.
As well as troubleshooting, funnel velocity improves efficiencies throughout the pipeline, pinpointing why sales may be slow. Sales may blame marketing for poor lead quality; marketing may blame sales for poor selling. And yet, the reality may be that lead volume is simply too high, resulting in a clogged pipeline. Instead of playing the blame game, sales and marketing teams should consider employing some more SDRs to capitalize on missed revenue.
How Can Marketing Use Intent Data to Increase Funnel Velocity?
By using data aggregation tools to get readouts on funnel velocity across marketing channels, marketers can pinpoint areas in need of boosted revenue. For example, noticing that funnel velocity from PPC is significantly lower than paid social indicates a need to revise keywords or increase budgets, depending on which variables aren’t performing. Funnel velocity can also be assessed on a product level, showing which products sell more quickly than others. This helps marketing to readjust their strategy toward products generating the most ROI.
How Can Sales Use Intent Data to Increase Funnel Velocity?
Sales want to get the right deals through the pipeline fast, which makes increasing funnel velocity high on their agenda. Most CRMs have built-in functionality to report funnel velocity, but integrating this with a data visualization tool adds additional power. Visualizing data helps salespeople home in on the action required to close deals based on buyer intent signals. For example, if a lead at the bottom of the funnel searches for your price plans or free trial offers, salespeople can reach out to offer them exactly what they’re looking for, moving them closer toward conversion. Having a clear visual read of this data makes it easier for sales teams to take fast action, instead of wasting time wading through a sea of overwhelming data.
Initiative #2: Reducing Churn Rate
Churn rate tracks how many customers stop using your services or products within a given period. Considering the time and resources it takes to convince them to become customers in the first place, it’s always depressing to lose them later down the line, no matter how much time has passed. Keeping an eye on churn helps prevent this heartbreak, especially if it’s premature.
Why Is It Important to Reduce Churn Rate?
Churn rate helps identify what’s working and what’s not when it comes to customer experience. After calculating churn, it’s possible to determine why customers have left, which allows B2B teams to create customer retention strategies that encourage customers to stay longer instead of jumping ship. It’s also a useful metric to review in combination with other measurements (i.e., customer lifetime value) as an indicator of what’s going well and what’s in need of improvement.
How Can Marketing Use Intent Data to Reduce Churn Rate?
Armed with competitive intent data, marketers can receive a heads-up if customers start researching competitive offers, flagging them for churn risk. Customer support teams can then begin an early intervention, reestablishing connection with accounts in jeopardy.
How Can Sales Use Intent Data to Reduce Churn Rate?
Sales can use intent data to prevent churn before a customer even comes on board. Again, using competitive intel, sales teams can identify buyers who not only match their ICP, but also show interest in competing companies with products similar to their own. Logic says these customers may find long-term value in your solution, making them a good candidate for a lasting working relationship with minimized risk of churn from the get-go.
Intent data can also arm sales with talk tracks for competitive scenarios. For example, if a prospect or client is researching competitors, sales can be forewarned and provided with a talk track to combat these objections when they arise. Intent data also makes it easier for salespeople to jump on cross-sell opportunities. By setting up a CRM notification, reps can be alerted when customers search for competitive solutions your business already offers.
Initiative #3: Increasing Customer Lifetime Value
It’s important to know what your customers are worth, and the customer lifetime value (CLV) metric can give you just that, providing there’s a view of their total value throughout the course of the relationship. Given that acquiring a new customer costs up to five times more than retaining an existing one, this is an important metric to track in order to increase ROI.
Why Is It Important to Increase CLV?
Businesses aware of CLV can develop strategies that balance new customer acquisition with customer retention strategies to create the most favorable profit margins.
This works by encouraging better decision making, teaching teams to spend less time acquiring multiple low-value customers and more time focusing on current customer relationships to increase profitability. Therefore, a high CLV score indicates increased profits and higher levels of customer engagement—an all-round picture of good business health.
How Can Marketing Teams Use Intent Data to Increase CLV?
Intent data helps marketers micro-segment their customer base across multiple channels and dimensions, including:
- Demographic data of prospects/existing customers (i.e., size of business, industry, etc.)
- Customer purchasing patterns
- Customer preferences and affinities
After developing accurate segments, marketers can create targeted programs for each one. For example, customers with high purchase intent in buying back-to-school clothing could be offered a basic discount to influence their purchase choice, which gives your products ample visibility over competitors.
Survey analytics are another useful tool that not only harvests intent, but also increases CLV. Using the results of customer surveys, marketing teams can update the usability of products based on consumer preferences and tailor marketing messages that meet customers’ specific needs. As a result, conversion rates increase, along with CLV and engagement. Combining this technique, along with churn score metrics, can indicate which customers may need additional outreach. It’s a powerful one-two punch that ensures at-risk customers remain engaged while boosting CLV.
Visualizing historical customer data on a scatter graph also helps increase CLV. By plotting the cumulative earned revenue of customers against the length of time those customers have been in business with your company, you can get a helpful visual breakdown of your most high-priority buyers. But don’t just focus on individual customers; analyzing CLV across your entire customer base allows you to calculate a CLV average. You can then use this figure to identify customers going above and beyond your average score. This is vital information for your customer care teams, who should ensure these high-value customers receive gold standard service to boost chances of retention.
How Sales Can Use Intent Data to Increase CLV?
Sales teams can use intent data to identify additional products, services, or features existing customers have already been researching. This creates an opportunity to cross-sell, helping to increase overall CLV. This also has the added benefit of preventing competitor poaching. By setting up an intent topic cluster focused on competitors, sales teams can keep an eye on current competitor behavior to stay ahead of the game. More importantly, sales teams can use historical data to get a better understanding of how customers’ intent-driven activity contributes to a higher CLV over time.
Initiative #4: Lead Scoring & Prioritization
Lead scoring helps sales and marketing teams identify which prospects show the most company value within a current sales funnel. But remember, a lead scoring system only works when it’s managed properly and used on a regular basis. Otherwise, it runs the risk of being a waste of precious time and limited resources. Lead scoring generally assigns value to different actions a prospect takes within the sales funnel. When a prospect reaches a specific point, they’re considered “hot.” This helps salespeople determine the best time to reach out to a lead and ensures their attention stays focused on the right group of customers.
Lead prioritization builds on this process by separating quality leads from junk ones, helping sales teams pinpoint prospects with the highest propensity to purchase. By focusing on those customers closest to the finish line, B2B teams can increase conversion rates and customer satisfaction all in one fell swing. To understand how purchase-ready your leads are, you can use two simple parameters:
- Ideal Customer Profile Matching: The better the match rate, the higher the likelihood of conversion.
- Buyer Intent: The stronger the intent signals, the more likely your prospect is to buy.
Why Is Lead Scoring & Prioritization Important?
Scoring and prioritizing leads has the potential to generate up to 30% more conversions, but only if sales and marketing teams can align on a well-defined process. Sales and marketing alignment strikes again! Since marketing teams have the responsibility of generating leads before handing over the baton to sales, both groups must first agree on what constitutes a legitimate lead score and methods of prioritization. Everyone needs to be in sync.
Lead scoring and prioritization can also incorporate various intent factors indicating how likely a prospect is to buy. This includes any signals of interest they exhibit in certain products and features, their current position in the sales cycle, and how well they match a targeted buyer persona. Ultimately, this information lends to long-term ROI, as it highlights specific products in high demand among existing leads. Also, this process allows B2B teams to identify actions customers take before dropping a vendor from consideration.
How Can Marketing Use Intent Data to Score & Prioritize Leads?
Intent data is an immense help to marketers looking to score and prioritize leads. By analyzing behavior-based metrics, they can gauge a more accurate picture of an individual lead’s purchase intentions and target them accordingly. Metrics include:
- The ability to achieve consensus
- Engagement with supplier content
- Purchase intent
To understand how these metrics influence lead score and prioritization within your own sales funnel, a good place to start is by looking at historical lead attributes that have converted quickly, then exploring the common traits that exist between them. Similarly, you can assess those leads who did not convert and decipher familiar factors to avoid.
How Can Sales Use Intent Data to Score & Prioritize Leads?
Intent data provides sales teams with the intelligence they need to target the highest priority leads before all others. For example, a sales team may decide to focus their cold calling efforts on the people and companies who are actively searching for their products and services, as these are the prospects most likely to be receptive to a sales call.
They can also be notified of prospects who have already been engaging with industry content, giving SDR teams a heads-up as to how to properly engage with prospects through relevant messaging. Scoring and prioritizing leads in this way gives sales teams confidence that the prospects they’re interacting with have a genuine need for their businesses’ products or services. This reassures sales that a viable opportunity is on their hands, acting as an extra kick of motivation to close the deal.
Initiative #5: Building Custom Ad Audiences
Custom ad audiences enable you to display ads to people who have already shown an interest in your business or products. This is done using “identifiers” you’ve collected about customers, like email addresses, phone numbers, and physical locations. This enables marketing teams to target digital ads at specific groups of potential prospects who have already interacted with your brand in some way. Instead of leaning on pure luck to deliver ads to target audiences or using broad demographics like age and gender, B2B teams can target ads based on data pulled from their own website, apps, social media platforms, and other digital properties.
Why Is It Important to Build Custom Ad Audiences?
Custom ad audiences channel your marketing efforts straight to the perfect prospects. When you get your carefully crafted ads in front of the very eyeballs you designed them for, you should see an overall improvement in ROI and conversions. Custom audiences reduce wasted ad spend and maximize every dollar you spend.
They also help to reinforce alignment between sales and marketing efforts. How may you ask? Well, sales can provide marketing with customer feedback and accounts they’ve been keen on. Marketing can then create custom ad audiences based on this information and use insights from analytics to identify potential qualifying accounts.
How Can Marketing Use Intent Data to Build Custom Ad Audiences?
Intent data simply supercharges the power that custom ad audiences already yield. Contact-level intent data can target leads who have already taken the first several steps of their buyer’s journey. If you’re wondering why there’s a need to target those leads at all if they’ve already begun their journey, here’s your answer: on average, it takes 7 impressions to make a buying decision. So, if your ads only appear on their social media feeds once, you’re unlikely to be picked as their vendor of choice. Intent data enables marketers to serve ads to prospects who have already received a few impressions, and once the lead is warmer, sales can step in with an increased chance of being able to get a foot in the door.
How Can Sales Use Intent Data to Build Custom Ad Audiences?
Sales may not run ads, but they can still benefit from custom audiences. Using intent data, sales teams can carry out more successful outreach to highly interested leads, creating an audience of their own to target. Using the data to build the audience, sales can personalize their outreach, tailoring messaging specifically to what each prospect actually cares about. Furthermore, sales can also use intent data to identify the most qualified sales rep for the opportunity. If you have a prospect signaling interest in one of your specific products, and someone on the sales team is an expert in that area, it makes sense to choose them to make initial contact, ensuring the best chance of conversion.
It’s Time to Turn Those Good Intentions into ROI
It’s a fact: B2B companies can easily receive a strong return on investment using intent data to boost sales and marketing initiatives. By viewing intent data as a turbo injection for your existing objectives, you can use it to boost sales and marketing strategies that drive revenue straight to the bottom line.
For even more insight into how B2B sales and marketing teams use intent data, check out our benchmark report “Intent Data Trends: 2022 Edition.”
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