Using Intent Data Throughout the Customer Journey

April 13, 2020 Tom Keefe

I love intent data. First of all, because it makes me feel like I can read people’s minds — isn’t it cool that we have data that helps us to figure out what someone’s intentions are? We’re living in the future here!

And second of all, I love intent data because it makes me the hero of our SDRs, account executives, and customer experience teams. There’s so many different use cases for intent data, and when you make it easy to access and understand for your organization, then you’re giving them a really powerful tool.

Engagio makes it easy to utilize intent data because we have a native integration with Bombora, and we also allow for CSV uploads from other intent data vendors. If you’d like a walk-through of exactly how to set up your intent data and make it actionable, then I encourage you to check out my Walk Through of Engagio Intent Data here. You can also use the resources we have in the Dive School on intent data.

What is Intent?

Intent is an indicator that an account is interested in a certain topic, based on the content consumption of people within an organization.

I know that sounds a bit abstract, so let’s look at how it actually works. Let’s say that Gio is looking at some content on marketing attribution. Gio is a Marketing Operations Specialist at Whale Enterprises, and he’s considering buying some new software. Gio’s research is creating intent data that can be tracked by intent providers, who can then let marketing attribution providers know that Whale Enterprises is showing intent to buy a marketing attribution solution.

We know that Gio is interested in marketing attribution specifically because each piece of content is tagged with a topic, and Gio was reading content that was tagged with the “marketing attribution” topic. Now, I know this sounds a bit stalkerish — that everything you consume on the internet can be tracked. But before you get too paranoid, let’s take a look at what the intent providers don’t provide. They don’t provide Gio’s name, or the specific pieces of content that he was reading. They only provide his account (Whale Enterprises) and the topic that he’s showing interest in (marketing attribution). But this is still enough information to make intent data a powerful tool for account-based programs.

Where does intent data come from?

Intent data can be gathered in a lot of ways, so today I’ll just focus on how Bombora does it. If you use a different intent provider, then I encourage you to educate yourself about their data collection practices. Bombora is part of an intent co-op (a collection of websites, media providers, etc.), and all members of the co-op gather account-level data on the content that people consume in a GDPR- and CCPA-compliant manner. Bombora then aggregates the content consumption of an account to see if there are any patterns and if the account is showing more interest than usual (i.e. surging) on specific intent topics, and then scores this surge on a scale of 0-100.

This intent surge data that Bombora collects is synced to Engagio every Saturday. If you’re a Bombora customer, all data that’s available to you will sync to Engagio. If you’re not a Bombora customer, you’ll still have access to 10 new accounts every week that have surge scores of 70 or higher.

Note: if you’re reading this when it’s published, Bombora has implemented a new policy where all Engagio users (even those who aren’t Bombora customers) will receive 100 accounts a week for the next 60 days. It’s never been a better time to start or increase your intent data usage.

How do I make sure I see value from my intent data?

The best way to see value from your intent data is make sure that you have a clear idea of what you want to do with it. This is where enablement comes into play, where it’s really important to talk with your marketing, sales, and CX teams to make sure that they understand how to leverage the intent data that you’re giving them. Because even if your data is great, it’s not worth anything if you can’t make it actionable. Our customers who’ve had the most success with their intent data tend to look at it through the lens of the customer lifecycle, so that’s how we’ll look at it now.


There’s two main ways to leverage your intent data when an account is in the pre-opportunity stages. First, if an account surges on intent data but they haven’t had direct engagement with you, you can use intent data to target them with multi-channel plays and get them to interact with you. For instance, maybe they’re researching products and solutions like yours, but they haven’t visited your website, filled out a form, or spoken to an SDR yet. Remember, intent data gives you account-level information, but not person-level information. One of the goals here is to raise their awareness of your product, but the other goal is to get them to self-identify in some way. Because, quite frankly, you’re not going to know who they are (and if they have buying power) until they tell you.

The other way to use your intent data here is once an account has engaged with you, but they haven’t taken a meeting yet. Using intent data, your SDRs can tailor their messaging to the specific topics your prospect is interested in. There’s multiple ways to do this — matching your offered content to their interests, suggesting a workshop with the person in your company who’s most knowledgeable about what the prospect cares about most, etc.

Open Opportunities

The main use case here is using your intent data to help your account executives see which of their opportunities are showing surging intent scores on competitors, since that could indicate that the deal is at-risk. Ideally, this allows your account executives to start subtly bringing up what differentiates you from your competitors, show what value your product offers that others don’t, and get ahead of the competition so that the prospect doesn’t even start talking to representatives from the other companies. This can help to save at-risk deals, and it can also help to increase deal velocity.

Current Customers

The main use cases for intent data here are for knowing when a customer is at-risk for renewing your contract (if you’re a SaaS company), and if there’s an opportunity for cross-sell (if you have multiple products). The first use case is similar to the one I talked about above. If a customer is surging on intent for your competitors, then that’s a good thing for your customer success team to know about so that they can reach out and get ahead of the problem before it affects retention.

In a happier scenario, your customer could surge on intent for a service or feature that you provide in a different or upgraded version of your product. They may not even know that you provide these services, so it’s great for customer success to reach out and get the conversation going about other kinds of value you could offer. If this were to happen at Engagio and the customer was surging on features that our Dash product offers, such as campaign performance, marketing ROI, the customer lifecycle, and multi-touch attribution, then the conversation would go something like this: “hey, it looks like you’re really ready to take things to the next level of really measuring your campaigns in a more sophisticated way with multi-touch attribution.” I really like this use case because it means your CSMs don’t have to wait for the customer to come to them, and it lowers the likelihood that they’ll end up going with another vendor when you can offer them a simpler solution.

Intent Data Resources

Just want the basics of how to set up your intent data? Then this Dive School lesson and this documentation is for you. Dive School has great resources on how to use Engagio like a pro, and if you don’t have an account, it only takes a second to sign up. And it’s free!

If you’d like to dive into intent data in more detail and figure out how to implement all the use cases I talked about and more, then this intent data training will be right up your alley.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!

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