“Any third party intent data source can get brands in earlier on some deals, but top-funnel data won’t help them close those deals. That’s why it’s crucial to gather intent signals throughout the buyer’s journey—especially later when they’re getting ready to make a purchase,” says Vinay Bhagat, Founder and CEO, TrustRadius, in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO.
TCMO Bureau: Can downstream data influence top funnel intent data for future buyers?
Vinay Bhagat: The best way to incorporate intent data into a market strategy is to layer insights from various sources throughout the funnel. For example, 3rd party intent data is top-funnel and helps brands get in on deals early. But it is not much relevant for finding people who are further down the funnel and closer to a purchase decision.
When a company has the resources, it’s more effective to combine top, mid, and bottom-funnel insights. If the brand is not equipped to invest, it’s important to reassess their strategy with questions like, where do their funds best serve to prove ROI with intent data? Is it at the top-funnel consideration stage, or downstream? Where can their current resources be deployed most effectively?
TCMO Bureau: For B2B intent data, does downstream data play a major role?
Vinay Bhagat: Absolutely. In the post-Covid world, B2B buying behaviour is almost entirely digital, and the brand’s focus on those channels becomes much more important. Most buyers are researching products in the shadows outside the brand’s circle of influence. They are looking for the best source of truth—which they usually get from the experience of their peers. B2B marketers cannot ignore the insights that come from intent data.
Some brands might have already started to use intent data signals to gain a competitive edge. Many executives think it’s hard to turn intent data into revenue—but that’s mainly because with top-funnel sources, it’s hard to tell how serious a prospect is about buying a product.
If a prospect is comparing a brand product to another on a feature-by-feature basis and spending 12 minutes reading reviews, those are a much stronger signal that indicates intent to purchase. That’s why more and more B2B marketers and revenue teams are realizing the value of downstream intent.
TCMO Bureau: Do you foresee any challenges that downstream data could face in the future?
Vinay Bhagat: The biggest challenge for downstream data is perception. There is currently a lack of understanding around how downstream intent is notably different from 3rd party data that’s aggregated from hundreds of publications.
Furthermore, some 2nd party intent data providers are tempted to engage in lead arbitrage—where they sell the identity of these users to the highest bidder. This can discourage people from trusting such providers with their data and seeing them as credible. It’s crucial for review sites and data providers to maintain that level of integrity.
TCMO Bureau: Although downstream data picks up on the buyer’s actual purchase intentions better than top-funnel data, how does it help the marketers at this stage?
Vinay Bhagat: Successful marketers put downstream intent data to action in a few ways:
Brands can use downstream intent data to boost the success of their ABM program by timing their outreach to the accounts that are researching the entire category VS those that are researching the product or the brand’s competitors. Marketers can use this information to produce better-targeted ads on social media. Companies like Optimizely filter intent data insights into a chatbot to increase leads and overall conversion.
Empowering sales teams
Sales enablement is a crucial component of a successful intent data program. Downstream intent helps a sales team create new target account lists filtered down to the company’s ICP (ideal customer profile) for outbound outreach, which will help influence pipeline and drive revenue. With the right intent signals, the sales reps can make personalized plays to close open opportunities based on which accounts are active. Downstream intent also offers the unique opportunity to identify and close cross-sell opportunities.
Finally, companies can use downstream intent data to identify and save accounts with potential risk of churning. If they notice customers researching competitors’ products through downstream intent signals, that’s a clear sign for the account management team to act on.
TCMO Bureau: Why should brands give downstream data a chance if they get enough sales from third party intent data?
Vinay Bhagat: Driving more revenue and doing it more efficiently is always a driving factor for any organization that seeks to survive and grow. The truth is, 87% of today’s technology buyers want to self-serve. And they tend to leave brands in the dark for most of their buying journey. There’s a ton of buyer activity happening behind the marketers back, with almost ⅔ of the buyer’s journey being complete before the buyer even talks to a sales person. Buyers are forming opinions on the brand product based on what they read and self-serve online.
Any third party intent data source can get brands in earlier on some deals, but top-funnel data won’t help them close those deals. That’s why it’s crucial to gather intent signals throughout the buyer’s journey—especially later when they’re getting ready to make a purchase.
Vinay founded TrustRadius in 2012 to solve challenges he experienced while buying enterprise solutions at Convio—his last venture, the leading SaaS platform for nonprofits. In April 2010, Convio became a public company, and was acquired in May 2012 for $325 million. Vinay holds an MBA from Harvard Business School where he graduated as a Baker Scholar, an MS Engineering Economic Systems from Stanford University, and a MA Engineering Information Sciences from Cambridge University with First Class Honors. When he’s not working, Vinay loves playing with his kids, swimming and the occasional squash game.