10 Ways to Use Intent in Your ABM Strategy

Account-based marketing with limited account insight is like trying to hit a piñata blindfolded. You have a general idea of where the sparkly unicorn might be, but you’re taking swings in the dark, and more often than not, missing your target.

The foundation of any great account-based marketing (ABM) strategy requires a clear understanding of who your target customer is and the ability to execute a customized approach to address their needs. Infusing your ABM strategy with intent data brings precision targeting, better team alignment, and increased ROI for your business.

Understanding the Different Types of Intent Data

Intent data captures the digital footprints that prospects leave behind when they research products and services. These signals can be used to make better-informed business decisions. For example, marketers can use intent data to identify prospects and customers that are most likely to engage with digital ads and content related to their business.

“Of course, not all interests are created equal, which is why when you apply intent data on top of ICP data, it becomes super powerful. That combination reduces a lot of noise in your data, and you can really get to your best-fit accounts,” says Deeksha Taneja, senior director of growth and optimization at ZoomInfo. 

At ZoomInfo, we think of intent across a continuum of signal strength: 

  1. Derived intent signals are insights into behaviors that indicate interest in your company, such as ad engagement, web activity, topic engagement, and technology usage. 
  2. Known intent is what we think of as zero-party intent. Through our partnership with Qualtrics, we send tens of millions of surveys to business professionals asking about their companies’ key priorities, projects, and problems. 
  3. Champion moves are a type of intent data unique to the ZoomInfo platform. We identify key buyers and influencers who have moved, either internally or externally, who can affect future sales.

These insights are a strong indicator of customer interest and engagement — essentially gold for marketers launching ABM campaigns.

10 Ways Intent Data Can Improve Your ABM Campaigns 

1. Track Topics Specific to Your Business

You can monitor relevant topics and keywords that companies are searching for — while they’re searching for them. For example, at ZoomInfo, we track industry and brand-specific terms such as:

  • B2B contact database platform
  • B2B sales intelligence solution
  • Go-to-market platform
  • ZoomInfo pricing

Intent data alerts us when multiple people from a company that fits our ICP (ideal customer profile) have been searching for one or more of these terms. We can assume they may be interested in purchasing a product that we offer. Sales teams can prioritize targeting efforts to immediately get our name in front of decision-makers at these interested accounts.

2. Build Prospecting Lists

When intent data is paired with a robust B2B database, you can automatically receive recommended contacts for each account conducting research relevant to your business. This includes name, title, phone number, and email address for quick, accurate outreach.

In the ZoomInfo platform, you can narrow down all of the accounts in your total addressable market based on intent topics and intent signal score. Once you’ve narrowed down your TAM, there are options to export all of the recommended contacts and intent signals to a connected platform or an excel file. These lists can be used as a single source of truth for which companies and contacts to target in your ABM strategy.

Intent also surfaces firmographic and technographic data about each business, such as industry classification codes, which CRM they use, and the sophistication of their marketing software. These insights are powerful when creating targeted outreach campaigns for each account.

Using intent data to build prospecting lists gives your sales team the best chance of having an informed conversation with each prospect — and saves time and resources that would’ve otherwise been spent doing manual research.

3. Personalize Outreach

The essence of ABM is using a personalized approach to target high-priority accounts. ABM intent data can tell you what your prospect is looking for, what their needs are, and how far along they are in their buyer’s journey. You can use this information to tailor your marketing pitch with relevant messaging that speaks directly to your customers’ needs.

“Accounts buy, but it’s eventually the people, stakeholders, gatekeepers, and decision-makers who are actually making those purchases,” Taneja says. “They’re out there giving you those implicit and explicit signals about their needs, and if you can layer those intent signals into your marketing campaigns and sales talk tracks, that’s where you’ll be able to unlock the potential of personalization at scale.”

For example, imagine a company is searching for a sales intelligence solution. If they are reading articles such as, “What is Sales Intelligence?” you can assume they’re at the beginning of their buyer’s journey. But if they’re reading articles like, “The 5 Best Sales Intelligence Solutions,” then they’re likely closer to making a purchase. This helps your team know what kind of content to send (an infographic versus a whitepaper) and helps your sales rep prepare their pitch.

4. Box Out the Competition

If you can get in front of a prospect while they’re still researching how to solve their problem, you gain a huge competitive advantage. You can position yourself as the expert who clearly understands their needs. By interacting with prospects early in the buyer’s journey, you can build a level of trust that subsequent vendors can’t match. 

Additionally, you can track your competitors’ names to identify prospects who are researching your competition. In doing so, your marketing team can jump straight in to promote your unique selling proposition and focus on what differentiates you from a particular competitor.

5. Shorten the Sales Cycle

Using real-time intent data, you can create campaigns that spark conversation and warm up prospects for better sales engagement and shorter sales cycles. When you increase brand awareness at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, your sales outreach won’t seem (or be) completely out of the blue.

“These insights also help with resource allocation, planning, and spending across all of your internal teams,” Taneja says. “When everyone is connected and working together, you increase the likelihood of targeting the right people and right time, and ultimately increase ROI.”

6. Track Champion Moves

ZoomInfo offers a unique category of intent data called champion moves. When an account champion leaves a company, intent data can track this change. Key buyers and influencers who have moved can now influence future sales in their new department or company. 

These move insights also help reduce friction in your ABM strategy when a champion leaves a key account. Your team can coordinate with sales to initiate a smoother transition at the account, while also starting a new outreach campaign to the champion on the move.

7. Retargeting Audiences 

Since intent data surfaces insights related to priorities and problems, it’s easier to retarget ads and tailor email campaigns to the unique needs of your target audience.

For example, let’s say your business sells project management software to enterprise businesses. A high-intent account uses your software to track all of their marketing projects and you might receive an intent signal that they’re looking for a similar service for engineering projects. Having access to these insights makes it easier to engage with prospects and broaden your strategy to the needs of the entire business, rather than just one department.

8. Abandoned Form Tracking

One of the best intent signals is when a prospect interacts with something on your website, such as a demo form, blog post, or webinar. But when leads make it this far only to abandon a form, it can confound your campaign’s progress.

That’s why we offer FormComplete, which captures a person’s email address, title, and firmographic details — even if they don’t fully complete a form. This ensures that your teams have all of the information they need to track engagement and progress with an account. 

 9. Rearview Intent

At ZoomInfo, we run a play called rearview intent. We look back at closed-won accounts or deals to see which intent topics they were spiking on shortly before that opportunity was created. 

These insights highlight the topics, areas of research, and activities of successful accounts. This helps our teams take advantage of those signals in the future and improve things like our sales talk tracks and marketing themes. 

“Rearview intent helps us see how our accounts are evolving based on topics they’re looking at, and this tells us how they are thinking about their go-to-market business,” says Calen Holbrooks, vice president of marketing at ZoomInfo.

10. Sales and Marketing Alignment

Intent data helps sales and marketing teams ensure they’re targeting the best-fit accounts within their TAM and prioritizing accounts as they work their way through the funnel.

Sales and marketing teams can use intent data to understand the actions and interests of best-fit accounts. This enables both teams to deliver a relevant and consistent experience from the initial touchpoint to closing the deal. Having a strong data foundation coupled with an integrated tech stack that both teams have access to is key to building a unified view of each account. 

For example, let’s say marketing notices a high-intent account completed a form to download a piece of content and attended a recent webinar about the same topic. They can take these insights and any other historical data on that specific account and pass them to sales. That way sales have all of the information they need to begin a targeted outreach sequence.

Get Started with ABM Intent Data Today

By knowing what your target audience is looking for in real time, your marketing and sales teams can act quickly and close more deals. ZoomInfo’s streaming intent data puts you in front of your ideal customer at the precise moment they’re looking for a solution just like yours. 

Start your free trial today.