Marketers Focus on Buyer Intent Data as Privacy Undermines Targeting

Identifying and understanding customers in the digital sphere is getting much tougher. Apple’s privacy policy downgrading tracking on mobile and Google’s plans to nix the third-party cookie are making it more challenging for marketers to track prospective customers across properties and target them with ads.

But firms, such as LinkedIn, G2, Qualified, and 6Sense, are rolling out and testing solutions to fill the gaps in B2B targeting. Gartner found prospects spend 50% of their time getting information from third-party sources, and sales teams can use buyer intent signals to learn about that activity and act on it. Here’s what four industry leaders from the aforementioned companies have to say about taking advantage of B2B marketing opportunities. 

Abhishek Shrivastava, Senior Director of Product, LinkedIn

The advertising industry is at a crossroads with changes in privacy that will ultimately limit advertisers’ ability to reach their target audiences. This, coupled with the fact that only 20% of buyers are in-market for services in a given year, and just 5% in a given quarter, is why buyer intent is becoming increasingly important. Knowing you’re reaching the right buyers at the right time is more crucial than ever.  

Marketers should take advantage of differentiated targeting tools, which utilize buyer intent signals, to point to in-market audiences and drive them towards conversions. These tools can help marketers leverage insights to create audience targeting campaigns based on engagement, show relevant messages, and nurture audiences toward their desired outcomes. 

Mike Weir, Chief Revenue Officer, G2 

Buyer intent is an underutilized resource for today’s marketers and sellers. Search players such as Google and Bing have long contended that marketers move from demographic-based approaches toward more purchase-intent-based programs because the latter provides a more immediate and relevant way to target your marketing. B2B marketers and sales professionals will similarly benefit if they harness buyer intent data to focus on the right companies at the right time with the right messaging. 

There’s value in targeting every company that could be a potential fit for your solution, but you 100% should be focused on the in-market buyers to give yourself the best opportunity—across marketing, sales, and success tactics—to help buyers and get into their purchase consideration or protect against losing your existing customers.

Digital signals that reveal intent could be anything as basic as a click on a social media ad, a visit to a website page, or subscribing to an email newsletter. Marketers need to go beyond basic intent, though. They need to use second-party intent signals where you can pinpoint who is looking for a particular product category, reviewing specific software companies, or even show who’s searching for alternatives or comparing competitors. 

Maura Rivera, Chief Marketing Officer, Qualified

Buyer intent is increasingly demonstrating its potential for B2B marketers. Years ago, the only buyer intent signals that companies could gather were if someone filled out a form or called a 1-800 number—often bottom-of-the-funnel, ready-to-purchase prospects. Companies were completely left in the dark with the rest of the funnel. Since then, buyer intent has helped B2B marketers become more customer-centric and less about the company they work for. 

Over the past five years, a new set of buying intent data has emerged, showcasing potential buyers far earlier in the cycle. This is incredibly helpful, as it adds key insights into who is researching your category, who is reading reviews on your competitors, as well as who has been clicking around your website—the latter being the company’s most important digital asset and largely untapped resource. Nothing shows buyer intent better than who is checking out what you offer. 

Kerry Cunningham, former Forrester Analyst and Senior Principal, Product Marketing, 6sense

The world of B2B solution providers has undergone a quiet paradigm shift from the realization that when buying teams of 10 to 20 or more people each interact with dozens of digital assets online, they generate thousands of signals that together reveal the who, what, when, and where of their purchase intentions. While most B2B organizations already use or experiment with intent data, many simply supplement the leads they feed their sales teams with accounts displaying third-party intent signals.

A better approach is to regard the various sources of buyer intent data as layers of evidence about which prospects are really in-market and how to engage them. More signals from more sources provide a more reliable indication of where a provider’s next buyers will be found. No individual signal is reliable by itself — not even the venerable marketing qualified leads (MQLs) upon which organizations have relied so heavily. When layered together, though, this multitude of signals produces a reliable, accurate means of identifying and prioritizing in-market buyers.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018 and compiled the daily newsletter since 2016. Joe is a journalist who has written widely about technology, business, and politics. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.