woman swimming in a lake
PHOTO: Todd Quackenbush

Data, data everywhere. We’re swimming in it, and at times it can feel like we’re drowning.

What’s the solution? We’ve got to learn to swim really well in different kinds of water. While most B2B marketers use data to get insights about buyer behavior, often we miss the opportunity to use some of the same types of data to learn about customers after they buy.

When it comes to ABM, the most commonly used types of data are firmographic, technographic, engagement and intent data. They’re all important, but of the four, intent data is arguably the most underused when it comes to elevating the customer experience. Consider this an advanced swimming lesson for how to use intent data to enhance the post-sale experience.

Prioritize Content Customers Will Care About

ABM is centered on identifying the best fit companies that buy what you sell. Intent data helps you take this idea further by identifying vital information about your target accounts’ research behaviors. Intent data allows you to prioritize marketing and selling efforts with more context about current behavior. The result? Marketing that is relevant, personalized, timely and positioned for success. Using this same approach post-sale can benefit you and your customer.

To paraphrase Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst at TOPO, “The key on intent is fit comes first. Figure out who fits your ideal customer profile. You create that target account list. Then, you use intent to decide when to go work on them. And then you use intent to figure out what they’re looking at, so you can actually create customized, personalized messaging along the way.”

How does this work post-sale? By paying attention to what your customers are paying attention to after they buy, you can do a better job of creating content and messages they’ll find valuable. Use intent data to prioritize what content to create and how to share it. With more engaging content, your customers will see more value from their relationship with you. This means better chances of retaining and growing that relationship down the road because your customers see that you anticipate their needs.

Related Article: The Key Elements of a Successful Intent Data Strategy

Find New Buying Groups to Expand Accounts

When you use intent data to further narrow down and prioritize your target accounts and customers, you expand your ability to hyper-personalize your approach. This starts by identifying which buying groups you need to reach. Next, segment accounts based on top research topics, and tailor your messaging with precision.

When we focus on messages based on what companies are doing in the moment, good things start to happen. First we improve leading indicator engagement metrics, like email open and click rates, website traffic and time on site, social media engagement, and programmatic display advertising click-through rates. Second, we can optimize spend since media budgets won’t be wasted on contacts from accounts that aren’t currently “in market” to buy our products or services. A combination of more engagement and more efficient investment to get that engagement should lead to better marketing ROI.

This helps sellers as well. When they can see changes in activity within their target accounts, it’s easier to prioritize which accounts and who in them to contact in a given day. Marketing can also serve up enablement on the relevant topics for those account teams so the overall experience of the customer is better. The conversations sales has with customers will be more meaningful and followup will be more relevant. Intent data helps to bridge the gap between marketing and sales to retain and expand business — and shows the customer they are heard and known.

Related Article: Account-Based Marketing: Digging Into Facts, Uprooting Myths

Maximize Timing — and Value — for All Parties

Timing in marketing is an underused, overlooked key to efficacy, and intent data helps give you a more complete view into its power. Intent information helps you understand your customers’ journey and get an idea of their current thoughts about your solution.

One often overlooked use (aka secret weapon) for intent data is to predict churn. Data about what companies are looking for and changes in behaviors can alert you to when a customer begins researching competitors or looking for other brands’ products. Armed with this information and the timing in which it’s happening, it’s easier to be proactive. Customer success and account management teams will get advance warning and can prioritize outreach to those customers showing interest in competitors. This gives you an increased chance of saving the relationship before the customer jumps ship. It also means you’ll take special care to meet the customer’s needs and address their concerns, which elevates their experience and builds loyalty.

Intent data can also help you discover the right time to cross-sell or upsell. One example is making sure existing customers know everything your solution can do. If customer intent data shows they’re seeking out competitors for a feature or need your business can support, there may be an expansion opportunity. It’s up to the go-to-market team to make sure they reach the people in the account who are part of that buying group. Customers looking to competitors for features or solutions you offer is also a reminder to improve messaging, onboarding or enablement for those areas. If a customer doesn’t know you do something, that’s a fixable problem.

Another example is to find cross-sell opportunities in new buying centers. Here’s how that might look: You have a customer using your accounting software and they like it. You know that if they integrated your HR software with it, they would save time and money in the long run. Maybe that customer has been resistant because of the price tag, but they start casually checking out the product’s webpage. You notice the account activity through intent data surge alerts, and set up outreach via sales and marketing to offer them a free trial of the HR software. This can be set up as an automated play so there is no delay in reaching that customer when you see the right signals.

Finally, your intent data can help you reach out simply for the sake of relationship building. As you monitor and review customer interest areas via intent data, when combined with other account insights it can help to tune your content and messaging agenda. You’ll be in touch with their interests and can show customer success and account management teams how to monitor interest areas to make ongoing customer check-ins more valuable, or great for discovering new needs.

So if you are looking to improve your customer experience it's time to tap into the power of intent data.