Marketing automation has helped brands make incredible strides in B2B marketing. The aim of automated marketing is to create, track and optimize campaigns, allowing marketers to generate leads and guide these prospects swiftly and efficiently through the sales funnel. While automation platforms once relied heavily on email, they are now becoming truly multi-channel and multi-screen tools. However, marketing automation platforms are not a silver bullet solution.

Companies that are currently using top-shelf automation platforms can experience the same shortcomings that have plagued marketers using platforms that are scaled for smaller businesses. One such drawback – and it’s a big one – is that most leads that make it into the automation funnel become dormant and never interact with the brand again. Some of the marketers we have spoken to have told us that as much as 90% of their leads in MA are dormant and most have only had one interaction with them. Meaning they were dead on arrival.

I would argue that the lead isn’t dead, you simply don’t know what the buyer is in market for today and more importantly when are they going to be back in market for a product that you sell. Business buyers are always in market, it is just a matter of what and when. What most of today’s automation platforms are missing is intent data. Introducing intent data into the marketing mix makes it is easier to identify the real prospects among a sea of leads. Intent data taps into in-the-moment behavioral data by listening to content consumption signals transmitted by B2B buyers, enabling a business to classify a lead at the exact time that they are in-market. If your business is selling enterprise anti-malware software, the CIO reading up on the latest malware threats is going to be a better prospect than the CIO shopping for a new iPhone. The addition of intent data to an integrated marketing strategy simply makes automated technology smarter, and helps B2B marketers connect with potential clients at the exact moment that they are in-market.

Intent data helps businesses understand where in the sales funnel a potential customer resides, and allows a marketer to fine-tune their use of automated marketing platforms accordingly. Once a brand can identify that a potential client is conducting research on a specific product with intent to purchase, the company is better poised to serve relevant and targeted messages to that shopper. These messages are much more effective to in-market buyers than just serving ads based on demographic. A prospect’s interests and needs this week could differ completely from next week. For example, if a business executive is shopping for a town car service, it helps to know their position along the buyer journey. A person who has already contracted with a car service is most likely devoid of any intention to hire a new service. Simply put, intent data helps brands to serve the right messages, to the right people, at the right time.

This approach has become fairly common among B2C marketers, but is a relatively untapped resource in the B2B world. The potential is monumental for B2B marketers, who often have access to registration data. This data can be used in conjunction with cookie data to identify online audiences, who are expressing intent to purchase a product or service. For instance, when a prospect fills out a registration form in order to download a white paper, a marketer can match that user-generated data to existing cookied information and feed it into their ad network and marketing automation platform. What it boils down to is that a B2B marketer can serve a retargeted display ad within minutes after the white paper was originally downloaded.

Normally, a B2B marketer will input prospect data into a traditional lead management system, in order to follow-up with that lead via phone or email several days later. By overlaying intent data, marketers are now given the ability to retarget their prospects in real-time. This gives the business a jump on the competition and helps them deliver relevant messaging at the time that the ad would be most effective. Intent data can even be used to serve ads to other potential leads within the same company. In this case, a marketer can send relevant messages to executives who have raised their hands and expressed an interest in a service at the very time that they are in-market to buy.

Introducing intent driven tools to the marketing formula is like adding premium grade fuel to a high-powered engine. An automation platform can still run without intent data, but there would be an enormous amount of untapped potential left on the table. Intent data helps B2B marketers identify leads in real-time in a way that they have not been able to do in the past. This approach makes online messaging more effective and empowers marketers to super-charge the tools that are already in their repertoire.


By Erik Matlick, CEO of Madison Logic

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