How & Why ZoomInfo Relaunched Its B2B Buyer Intent Data Product

As ZoomInfo announced its acquisition of Clickagy earlier today, I couldn’t help but think back to  famous baseball statistician and political author, Nate Silver, and the point made in his bestselling book, The Signal and the Noise:

“… a practical statistician must have a firm understanding of how uncertain processes work, what measures are reliable and which not,,” and “… what scales of aggregation are useful, and then to utilize the statistical tool kit as well as possible.”

Let me translate the excerpt in simple terms: 

Let’s start here: Data is a fickle beast. 

This isn’t exactly a hot take; yet, still, the world is increasingly data-driven. Not just in ZoomInfo’s sales and marketing technology bubble, but everywhere.

Constantly challenging previous assumptions is the first step towards extracting value from actionable data in new ways, no matter what the arena (or game). It’s these periodic breakthroughs that help find underlying beauty in the (data) beast, and lead to exponential returns. 

I was reminded of this — rather often — in the months following the relaunch of ZoomInfo’s intent product over the summer; its meteoric ascent to the top of the G2 Grid for Buyer Intent last month; and, finally, our acquisition of Clickagy,  which will serve as the catalyze for introducing the first generation of streaming intent data to the B2B landscape. 

You may be asking yourself: Wait, ZoomInfo launched a new product then acquired a company with a similar use case? Why circle back and polish up a brand new intent engine? And more specifically, how do these the latest enhancements provide (exponential!) value to our customers? 

The answers to the above questions (in order): 1) Yes; 2) Because data innovation relies on iteration, and ZoomInfo puts customer value above all; 3) Well, glad you asked — let’s dive deeper below… 

How (And Why!) ZoomInfo is Launching Streaming Intent 

For readers unfamiliar with intent data, let’s provide essential context: intent data uncovers buying signals based on online consumption patterns. Its primary purpose is to help companies identify prospects interested in specific topics related to their value propositions. 

The value and promise of intent data is that it enables companies to strike while the iron is hot and have meaningful, informed conversations with companies searching for their products. 

Many vendors claim to provide their intent data in “real-time,” but let me let you in on a dirty little secret. They collect the data in real-time, but they need time to process and package it for their customers.  They don’t let you know someone is searching for your products or solutions as the search volume is spiking,  they batch the data and distribute the signals on a scheduled, usually weekly, basis.

In other words, real-time doesn’t mean real-time. 

Until now. 

With the acquisition of Clickagy, our differentiation here is real-time, on time. The moment a significant uptick occurs in search activity, our customers will be alerted and able to engage warm prospects the moment they are actively searching for the solutions they provide.. 

It’s a game-changer that’s been a long time coming. And the reason we decided to write about it now is that streaming intent is the proverbial cherry on top of the sundae. The encore to an already amazing few months.

Want details? Let’s catch up on how we’ve skyrocketed our intent solution, all by putting the customer at the heart of its use case. 

Improving — and streamlining — customer value 

While it had its shortcomings, ZoomInfo’s legacy intent product  was effective and beloved by our customers. It unlocked another dimension in identifying when target buyers were actively in-market for a particular solution. 

Still, there were underlying issues that deteriorated the intent engine’s effectiveness, namely the fact that it wasn’t a proprietary, native solution. After discovery, three key problems needed to be addressed: 

1. Problem #1: Creating a clearer, future-proof signal: 

There was too much noise in our legacy intent offer. In other words, there was too much data, which led to too many intent signals. It became difficult for customers to sift through the sea of signals to identify the most relevant companies exhibiting the strongest intent to purchase. 

Moreover, a ton of ongoing privacy legislation being discussed threatens to put cookie collection – aka the heart of the majority of intent providers’ secret sauce — at risk of being banned. 

And that’s the exact opposite desired effect of the product’s intention (see what I did there? Pun most definitely intended). 

The innovation: A combination of cookieless data collection has created a sustainable engine — here today, but built for tomorrow’s world. Toss in our Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine as the foundation for how we’re aggregating data, and we’re able to offer refined results that truly reflect buying behavior through spikes in relevant online consumption.  

With the heavy lifting out of the way, our data management team went to work: 

  • Researchers on ZoomInfo’s Scoops team provided an entirely new set of categories and topics with expertise in project intelligence and intent. 
  • The product management team identified tens of thousands of keywords that roll up to these topics to improve the ability to detect interest in them. 
  • The data team searched far and wide for the most comprehensive sources of raw intent data. 
  • Lastly, our world-class data science team built algorithms for scoring and flagging consumption signals across over half a million companies. These companies deliver over 3 million tailored intent signals per week.

2. Problem #2: Improving company targeting:

Customers faced limitations in how they prioritized companies signaling interest. Not every company is in your target market. For instance, if you sell collaboration software for small businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees, you probably don’t care if Walmart is surging on collaboration software. 

The innovation: With our native intent engine, we’re able to stack standard firmographics with advanced company attributes to only deliver signals on companies that actually match your best buyers.

3. Problem #3: Troubleshooting topic expansion:

ZoomInfo is unique in that its core customer base features any prospect with a need for B2B intelligence. While there are core companies that match ZoomInfo’s ideal customer profile (ICP), plenty of outliers exist who use ZoomInfo and often request new topics/keywords to cover within the intent product. Unfortunately, servicing requests in a timely manner proved difficult. External data providers restricted the legacy intent offering, causing slower turnaround times. 

The innovation: No more bottlenecks or intermediaries here when it comes to additional keyword or topic coverage. Simply put the request in, and we’ll begin establishing baselines for consumption within days, not weeks. 

What are you waiting for? Check out all we have to offer in the intent data space.