Steal my Strategy: Increasing Revenue by 144% with Intent Data

A big part of my job is helping our customers learn how to use intent data. Recently I wanted to give some advice and I realized… I know how I use intent data and how our customers use it, and in general, I have a good grasp of how other people use it. But it isn’t really anywhere in writing.

And here’s the thing. There are a lot of articles, including one we published last winter, about how to use intent data in theory, and even our own playbook on activating intent data.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that guide. But that’s a guide to the best practices. I want to hear how marketers are actually doing it every day, boots-on-the-ground style.

I want the nitty-gritty. The real stuff. How actual teams are using this in their workflows every day. Where it works. Where it doesn’t. How they set it up. How they optimize. The list goes on.

And very few sources could give me a real strategy about what they’re actually doing, straight from the horse’s mouth. So I’m here to be that metaphorical horse and tell you step by step what intent data looks like through our funnel.

I’ll preface all of this with two things.

  1. I might be just a little bit biased, but I’ll keep it as authentic as possible. You’ll get to hear the good and the bad.
  2. This is based on LeadSift intent data because that’s what we use. A lot of these tactics can be used to activate other providers’ intent as well, but the contact-level stuff might be tricky unless you’re a LeadSift customer (if you are, you rock and thank you and if you aren’t it’s not too late).

To skip to the juicy stuff, in the last year all of these efforts have allowed us to:

  • Grow revenue by 144%
  • Book more than 2x the meetings per quarter
  • Increase average contract value of direct customers by 145%

Marketing

This is my wheelhouse. My jam. My kind of party if you will. And honestly, this is where intent data gets to thrive the most in our process. (Don’t tell the sales team I said that).

Stack: HubSpot, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, sometimes LinkedIn Ads if I’m feeling fancy, Canva, Quuu

Intent-based ads

Let’s start with my personal favourite. Ads campaigns.

Using contact-level intent data to build custom audiences has been a game-changer for our ads. Right now it costs about $100-$150 CAD (about $80-$120 USD) to book an ICP fit meeting and our CAC based on paid media spend is about $480 CAD ($380 USD). It’s our most effective paid channel and holds a special place in my little marketing heart.

Here’s how I set up my intent stream for ads:

  1. Take a look at which keywords and topics are performing well on AdWords (this eventually becomes a full feedback loop between AdWords and my LeadSift setup) and make sure we have those topics plus any other adjacent keywords around intent, our best use cases, and basically any topic or problem an ICP customer might be engaging with or trying to solve.
  2. Next, I set up the persona I want to click on my ads within my LeadSift intent stream. I intentionally keep it a little broad. This serves two purposes. One is a brand play. Eventually, junior marketers move up or to other companies. I want to have a permanent home in their brain whenever they’re thinking about intent. The second is that word travels fast. Create a killer offer and let teams talk. Basically, any senior marketer, revenue, growth, or salesperson could end up in my audience.
  3. For my ads intent stream, I have the data delivery set to every Monday because I only optimize my ads audiences every two weeks or so. (This is what I like to tell myself. For the sake of honesty, sometimes it’s only once a month). It comes straight to my email as a CSV.
  4. Once I have the CSV I edit the columns to match exactly what the custom audience import instructions say in either Google, Facebook, or Linkedin (I primarily use Google, it’s where I see the best ROI) and fire away.

Content and webinar distribution

I’ll be honest with you. When it comes to my marketing channels, I love ads. I love email nurturing (recently I’ve seen better results with plain text emails, fun fact). But content distribution is my weakness.

But I know there’s an easier way to get content out there to people who actually give a damn about it.

It’s called sending it to people who are explicitly engaging with similar topics. So that’s what I’ve been working on. This part of my intent strategy is still running as an experiment but it basically involves building an intent stream (email, ads, target account, or a combination) focusing on our ICP titles, and with custom keywords around the topic the content focuses on.

For example, we just launched a super data-forward report with Intentsify on what % of your target market is actually looking to buy at any given time (you can access it here). I’d like to think the results were pretty universal, but we specifically looked at human resource technology, security, and data storage, so I built an intent stream with people working in those spaces engaging with intent and made sure the report got to them.

Or when we did our ABM webinar last fall, I built a custom intent audience with ICP leads engaging with ABM topics more so than just broader intent topics and invited those prospects to the webinar.

Sales

More often than not, our customers use intent day-to-day in their sales process. And so do we.

With LeadSift, we give you the actual contact information for the prospect showing intent, or a related contact that matches your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). If you use an intent data provider that only sends you intent at the account level my recommendation would be to stop reading this and go book a LeadSift demo right now to make the switch.

Kidding, of course. ( Unless….).

But honestly, if you are focused on account-level intent, my recommendation would be to find a reliable, consistent way of reaching the relevant people within those accounts. This is tricky and tedious, but not impossible. It is so important to reach the decision-maker, or at least the person showing intent, for your messaging to resonate.

Stack: HubSpot, Linkedin Sales Navigator, Outreach, Phantom Buster

Setting up sales intent streams

Sales streams involve different setup criteria. Unlike our ads intent stream, our sales stream includes mostly lower funnel keywords and hyper-relevant roles. For example, instead of using “Senior Marketing” as a role filter, we use more specific titles like “Director, Demand Generation”, “VP, Marketing Operations”, or “Head of Marketing” (these are just a few examples).

This carries over to keywords and other growth signals as well. Especially because we take volume into consideration. For ads streams, the more the merrier (as long as they’re relevant), but for sales, we just can’t email everyone (and we wouldn’t want to, that’s kind of the point of intent). So we make sure our triggers are tailored.

High volume signals like “Hiring for SDR roles” are great in our ads streams, but bring in way too many leads for our sales team to tackle and prioritize. Don’t get me wrong, this is totally dependent on your team and your processes, but this is how we’re using it day to day as a small team.

In terms of data delivery — we get outbound intent leads daily directly into HubSpot. From there, we have automation running to notify Jess (our main outbound queen) about new leads and segment them into the different types of use cases so she knows exactly how to add value quickly.

Outbound

85% of our outbound leads come from LeadSift intent data. The others are from spontaneous lists we build from LinkedIn or ideas we want to test. But we rely on our daily intent deliveries to power our outbound process.

We have different intent streams for different purposes and prospect use cases. API, resellers, and direct customers are all segmented and prioritized in their individual intent streams and are prioritized based on the LeadSift scoring model.

Here’s a full breakdown of our campaign to target direct customers:

  • Intent category: Buyer Intent Data Tools
  • Custom keywords: #buyerintent, #buyingintent, abm data, b2b contact database, b2b demand gen, b2b intent data, b2b intent data, b2b lead, b2b leadgen, behavioral intent, behavioral intent data, bombora, buyer intent data, buyer intent platform, contact intent data, contact-level intent, customer intent, intent based leads, intent data, intent data marketing, intent data providers, intent data tools, lead generation, outbound sales, sales prospecting, sales prospecting tool, warm leads
  • Custom competitors: Bombora, 6 Sense, Demandbase, G2, ZoomInfo, Tech Target
  • Industries: Computer Software
  • Countries: Canada, United Kingdom, United States
  • Roles: Senior Demand Generation, Senior Revenue, Senior Marketing Operations

Here’s a happy little tragic anecdote I wanted to share about intent data and outbound.

Jess (from earlier) has been working her butt off to book meetings (as any SDR-like role does). Recently, she did a custom import of about 100 leads. All of them were able to be enrolled in sequences except for three. THREE. This was on July 19th, 2021. On July 20th, 2021, one out of those three un-enrollable leads booked a demo. From the perspective of an SDR trying to reach her goals, this sucks. But hey, I guess the data works!

Target Account Intelligence

We recently used intent for our target account lists to reach potential resellers. These are typically any company providing lead generation, content syndication, appointment setting, digital marketing or similar services that add on intent into their offering. I scraped a long list of all the companies that fit the bill (about 1,000 in this case), popped their domains into LeadSift, filtered by the relevant roles, and voila, sales!

Well, not quite. (Imagine if it was that easy).

Then, I built a target account stream with those domains to build our outreach strategy focusing on the accounts we want to reach, that also want to hear from us. Here’s what those triggers and filters looked like:

  • Custom keywords: #abm, #abmstrategy, #b2bmarketing, #b2btechsales, #bdr, #businesstobusiness, #buyerintent, #buyingintent, #coldcalling, #insidesales, #intentdata, #leadgen, #leadgeneration, #prospecting, #salesdevelopment, abm, abm campaign, abm campaigns, abm targeting, account based lead generation, account based sales development, account personalization, account-based personalization, ad buying, ad targeting, automated lead generation, b2b appointment setting, b2b intent, b2b intent data, b2b lead gen, b2b lead generation, b2b lead generation, b2b lead generation agency, b2b lead generation companies, b2b lead generation services, b2b lead generation services, b2b lead generation tactics, b2b sales lead generation, b2b targeting, b2bleadgeneration, bdr, behavioral intent, behavioral intent data, behavioral targeting, buyer intent, buyer intent data, buying intent, buyingintent, cold call, cold calling, contact intent data, contact-level intent, content syndication, customer intent, demand generation, first party intent, highly qualified lead, how to use intent, inside sales, intent based leads, intent data, intent data marketing, intent data tools, intent leads, lead conversion, lead generation, lead nurture, leadgeneration, marketing qualified lead, outbound digital marketing, outbound lead gen, outbound leads, outbound marketing, outbound prospect, outbound prospecting, outbound sales, outsourced bdr, outsourced sdr, pay per appointment, performance based appointment setting, pipeline acceleration, pipeline generation, prospecting, sales 3.0, sales development, sales qualified lead, target account list
  • Custom competitors: Bombora, 6 Sense, Demandbase, G2, ZoomInfo, Tech Target
  • Industries: Marketing and Advertising
  • Countries: Canada, United Kingdom, United States
  • Roles: Senior Marketing, Demand Generation, Senior Business Development, CEO, Director Sales

Plus they have a custom sequence they’re enrolled in within our HubSpot (if you want a sneak peek at this, email me at olivia@leadsift.com)

Another example of how we use intent in our target account efforts is what we did for our recent API launch. I found a bunch of super cool MarTech companies that have tools that intent could be built into nicely and built a target account list (TAL). However, for this one instead of an email intent stream I went the ads route with my TAL. It looked like this:

  • Custom keywords: account enrichment, api integration, api integration company, api integration platform, api integration services, b2b contact database, b2b intent data, behavioral intent data, buyer intent data, contact database, contact intent data, custom contact database, data cleansing and enrichment, data enrichment, database enrichment, intent data, intent data marketing, intent data platform, intent data providers, lead enrichment
  • Custom competitors: Bombora, 6 Sense, Demandbase, G2, ZoomInfo, Tech Target
  • Industries: Computer Software, Internet, Marketing and Advertising (looking back I’m realizing the industry filter doesn’t matter because I used a TAL)
  • Countries: this was left blank meaning all countries are fair game (mostly because I used a TAL so the country filter doesn’t really matter… again)
  • Roles: Senior Product Marketing, Senior Engineering, Senior Product Management, Senior IT, Senior Marketing, Senior Program & Product Management, CXO

Customer Success

At its current stage, we’re running this as an experiment. But I see potential here. The main goal is to be able to identify churn risks and upsell opportunities before they happen.

Setting up customer success intent streams

For CS, we use a tracked accounts campaign where we specifically track our direct customers. Here’s a breakdown of the triggers:

  • Keywords: super specific keywords about what we do. For example: buyer intent data, contact-level intent data, b2b demand generation, ad targeting, lead generation, the list goes on.
  • Competitors: here we track all the main, direct competitors, and competitors on extra features and add-ons we offer to keep an eye on expansion opportunities. For example, soon we’ll be adding direct dials so we’ve started tracking if any customers are engaging with tools that provide those services so we can get ahead of them.
  • Growth Signals: we track all growth signals. We want to know (and celebrate) whenever a customer raises funding, wins an award, or has major leadership changes. It’s a great time to reconnect plus we love our customers and want to see them thrive always.

As it stands today, this isn’t a super high volume intent stream (which is probably a good thing) and we’re still running it as an experiment. I’ll update this article or whip up a new one once we’ve figured out the nitty-gritty of optimizing this.

Optimization

I take a look into our intent streams monthly to make sure what I’m getting is still relevant for its specific use (ads, outbound, etc). This happens in a couple ways.

First, I look at the analytics. Are there any outliers? Any one or two triggers bringing in all the data? If yes, are they still good relevant keywords? Or am I wasting all my data on a keyword like “marketing”? Are there any companies showing up that aren’t a fit? If yes, I can add those to my suppression list.

For example in the picture below, a lot of the engagements are from prospects engaging with “lead generation”. From there, I’ll dive a little deeper, looking at what types of roles are engaging with this, and even what the scores look like to know if it’s worth keeping (in this case, it is).

I’ll go through the engagements and add any new triggers that I think are missing (either from customer feedback about the product or use case, market research, a new feature we’ve added, etc) and take out any that are swaying the data too much or aren’t relevant.

Next, I look at the actual data sets. Are all the roles relevant to my ICP? Is the volume where I want it to be? If not, I pop back into the platform, make any changes I need to, and I’m ready to roll with better data the next day.

Takeaways

Where it works

  • Ad targeting — if you’re running ads, this is a super effective way of using that ads budget to the best of its ability. To be honest, I didn’t even believe Facebook ads worked for B2B until I backed them with intent (my opinion is still that Facebook ads are more of an awareness play than a meeting booker)
  • Outbound prospecting — we save a ton of time every week getting the right people directly into our inbox and HubSpot. We get to focus on our email copy, adding value, and personalizing since the hunt for the right human is done for us.
  • ABM — I credit a lot of our API launch success to the tracked accounts stream we ran for targeting marketing and sales technology companies (if you are one, this is a shameless plug to check out the LeadSift Intent API)

Where it doesn’t

  • N/A — LeadSift is perfect and works for absolutely anyone with any imaginable process.

Just kidding.

  • Geographical targeting — if you target prospects based on the city they live in, I’m not saying intent won’t work for you but you might get volume too low for it to be worth it.
  • Cherry-picking — don’t buy contact-level intent data if you’re going to pick and choose one or two leads that you deem fit then say it doesn’t work when they don’t immediately buy. Good things take time, it’s a numbers game.
  • Lack of process — my favourite analogy is that LeadSift is like buying a gym membership. You can get great results, but not if you don’t show up and do the work. You need a solid process in place to activate the data or it’ll likely flop.

So that’s how we’re doing it. And so far, it’s working. If you want to dive deeper into this, grill me on my metrics, or brainstorm your own marketing strategy, shoot me a message.

If you read this and thought “I need contact-level intent data now” (or have general questions about it), also shoot me a message. Or skip the line and go straight to a demo.

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Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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I dig B2B Tech. I drink my coffee black, go to the park just to see the dogs, and try not to take myself too seriously.

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Olivia Kenney

Olivia Kenney

I dig B2B Tech. I drink my coffee black, go to the park just to see the dogs, and try not to take myself too seriously.

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