What is Buyer-Level Intent? Everything B2B Marketers Need to Know

Intent data is one of the hottest topics in the marketing world.

As COVID-19 forced us apart, employees dispersed from centralized offices, creating a new type of challenge for businesses: How do we reach buyers when they’re not gathered in one location?

Fortunately, we know the solution: Studying and understanding buyer-level intent data.

NetLine’s Intent Discovery capabilities package all of this data into actionable insights for B2B Marketing and Sales teams.

What is Intent Discovery?

NetLine’s Intent Discovery is a sales acceleration tool designed to capture first-party intent data at the buyer-level generated by the collective consumption behavior occurring across 13k+ pieces of gated content. 

Intent Discovery delivers actionable insights into your target accounts, providing Marketers with dramatic scale beyond the limitations of their own contentdelivering first-party sourced intent-rich data to accelerate sales outcomes. 

Through Buyer-Level Intent Discovery, you can tap into our networks’ entire universe: 

  • Access to each one of our 13k+ content assets
  • 35,925,120 different ways of filtering buyers actively performing research
  • Billions of data points

Answering the question of “who” a given prospect has long been an obstacle for Marketers. Sales, understandably, wants as much data as possible on each lead. However, getting this type of granular information has long been a challenge for Marketers. 

To better understand the kind of insights NetLine’s Intent Discovery delivers, let’s further define buyer-level intent.

What is Buyer-Level Intent?

Buyer-level intent, or buyer intent data, is an amalgam of information indicating a specific individual prospect is in their buying cycle and preparing to make a purchase decision.

This measurement is based on a group of signals presented by a prospect over the course of their digital buying journey. 

What is a Buyer-Level Intent Signal?

A buyer-level intent signal is the measure of an individual prospect’s readiness to make a purchase based on specific actions taken online and/or offline within a given timeframe.

What’s the Difference Between Buyer-Level Intent and Company-Level Intent?

If buyer-level intent is based on an individual prospect’s readiness to make a purchase in a given timeframe (which it is), then company-level intent, or account-level intent, is the measurement of a group of prospects working within the same organization.

For years, we have had visibility into company-level intent data, thanks to IP address information and the social web. Today, there is a much greater emphasis on knowing who a buyer is versus knowing which company is interested. The reason for this shift is simple: Businesses don’t make decisions—people do.

Ahrefs reports that in the past five years web pages focused on intent data rose by 2,739.1%. Despite this staggering figure, the attention placed on buyer-level intent data dwarfs its parent topic, increasing 13,609.7% over the same time frame (and 1365.5% since March 2020).

Google Trends highlights this shift, as well, as searches for buyer intent have become far more frequent since March 2020. 

With the shift towards remote work, Sales teams aren’t interested in guessing which contact is interested in their products or services—and it’s on Marketing to deliver. 

How NetLine’s Always-On Intent Discovery Delivers Actionable Insights

NetLine’s Intent Discovery product features an Always-On segment that gives us visibility into the changing needs of a given customer profile. For this example, we analyzed responses from our Human Resources and Project Management segments to highlight the unparalleled insights Intent Discovery offers.

Human Resources

The majority of respondents (77.82%) were looking to make a decision regarding additional investment in HR-related software beyond the next 12 months. However, that still leaves more than 20% of an entire market that’s looking to make a buying decision in the next 12 months:

Human Resources

What’s your timeline to make additional investment in HR-related software within the next 12 months?

Respondent’s Investment Timeline Percentage of Respondents
0-3 Months 4.7%
3-6 Months 5.14%
6-12 Months 12.34%
  • When asked about which top HR priorities respondents were allocating resources towards, 34.8% said Performance Management, making respondents 56.8% more likely to say it was their top priority over the second most popular answer, Talent Management Systems.
  • Respondents in the Healthcare/Medical field were the most likely to state that Performance Management was their top priority (36.56%), which is essentially identical to the response rate of Senior Human Resources Directors in the same industry (36.55%), enough to make this group 5.1% more likely to prioritize Performance Management than any other Job Function, Job Level, and Industry combination.
  • Responses from professionals in the field of Agriculture and Education also highlight the benefits of knowing who isn’t in-market, as they were the least likely to respond to any of these questions. 

Project Management

Similar to the responses seen within our HR Intent campaign, most of the respondents (67.73%) were looking to make a decision regarding additional investment in HR-related software beyond the next 12 months. Unlike the HR respondents, however, there was a greater share of professionals looking to make additional investments within the next 12 months:

Project Management

What’s your timeline to make additional investment in Project Management-related software within the next 12 months?

Respondent’s Investment Timeline Percentage of Respondents
0-3 Months 8.67%
3-6 Months 8.51%
6-12 Months 15.08%
  • So what were the top Project Management priorities respondents were allocating resources towards? Would it surprise you that 25.65% (including 38.9% of Agriculture professionals) said Project Planning was their top priority in Project Management? It certainly shouldn’t! 
    • Respondents were 300% more likely to select Project Planning as their top priority compared to Budgeting and Expense Reporting, the least popular choice.
  • 28.26% of respondents said Organizational Adoption was their top challenge when it came to managing and using Project Management Software, making this the top selection.
    • Senior Management professionals (represented mostly by the Non-Profit/Organizations, Information Technology, Finance, and Manufacturing trades) accounted for 32.9% of all responses.
  • 75% of C-Level professionals leading Information Technology organizations of 1,000 – 2,499 employees were 579% more likely to state that Project Planning was their organization’s top challenge in managing and using Project Management Software.
  • C-Level Information Technology professionals operating organizations of between 25 – 49 employees were the most likely to say their timeline for additional investment extended beyond the next 12 months—making them 77.42% more likely to make this statement compared to the rest of their Senior Management peers.

How to Follow-up on Intent-Rich Leads

Once you’ve added buyer-level intent data to your repertoire, understanding how to take the next step is critical. Remember: Intent Discovery is not a traditional lead generation vehicle. Instead, Intent Discovery is focused on delivering insights beyond first-party data captured from a client’s content. 

This means that Marketing and Sales teams need to be keenly aware of how to best utilize and leverage these insights for your (and your prospect’s) benefit.

How Marketing Can Best Put Buyer-Level Intent Insights to Use

Thanks to buyer-level intent data, Marketers have a multiplier to the intent use cases marketers know and love…only better. By knowing “Who” their target audiences and buyers are more completely now than ever before, Marketers have significant opportunities in front of them.

Here are a few:

Personalize Dialogue in Sales and Marketing Outreach
How often have you responded to an email that began with, “Hey COMPANY NAME,”? If the answer is any higher than zero times, I’d be stunned.

Buyer-level intent data allows you to go beyond company-level personalization and embrace the knowledge of truly knowing who is actively exhibiting intent within the account. ​While intent data is not exclusively the same as a lead, it should be treated with the same reverence

Tailor Campaign and Content Messaging
If you knew that a Project Marketing Manager was struggling with keeping their projects organized, you wouldn’t subject them to messaging that focused on an entirely different project management software solution.

Once you know about a prospect’s needs, you need to immediately pivot and consider the additional variables your prospect will need: What type of unique content is needed to move them closer to a buying decision? Who else is involved in the buying committee? Who is the ultimate decision-maker?

Identify Likely-to-Buy Accounts
Buyer-level intent information is chock full of data your Marketing and Sales colleagues can seize on. However, just because you have additional intent data at your disposal doesn’t automatically mean these are the best buyers for you.

Matrix buyer-level intent data against existing internal signals to identify which accounts are not only actively exhibiting first-party intent but also align with your core buying indicators.​

Inform and Augment Content-Centric Lead Generation Campaign Targets
Sometimes, no matter how hard we work on our content, it’s just not what our ideal buyers are looking for. 

As we learned in our 2022 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand Report for Marketers, while eBooks are the most popular content format by registration volume, White Papers and Webinars registrations are far better at suggesting a buyer is preparing to make a purchase decision. By using Buyer-Level intent, you can close the loop on your content syndication campaigns and gain increased levels of refinement.

How Sales Can Best Put Buyer-Level Intent Insights to Use

Intent Discovery offers Sales organizations the ability to prioritize efforts based on responses captured vs. randomly tossing onto the pile. ​

Perhaps the best way Sales can leverage buyer-level intent data is by focusing on one word: Who.

Knowing “Who” you’re reaching out to certainly eliminates guesswork and therefore streamlines your engagement process. Intent Discovery exposes the “Who” within given accounts and, as we’ve shown in the examples above, simultaneously delivers real-time insights into their intent, pain points, and needs. Knowing “Who” is in-market is the ultimate ace in the hole for Sales professionals.

By acting upon these insights, Sales can fast-track its dialogue with prospects, ​much like a leading Revenue Growth Platform did.

When our client was looking to improve the success rates of their demos, they initially used NetLine’s leveraged lead gen offerings. However, by leveraging NetLine’s Always-On Buyer Level intent program to their online registration forms, registration and in-person demos rose dramatically, resulting in a 71% increase in demo attendance and a 20% lift in won business.

Seeing success from Intent Discovery means having process and personnel responsible for the duty of follow-up action after lead retrieval. The vendor was able to capitalize on signals real users were sharing across NetLine’s vast content library by having a member on their team actively following up with leads, When the platform found an ideal, in-market buyer, they were ready to seize the opportunity to engage and nurture their newest (and possibly best) lead.

Getting the Most Out of Buyer-Intent Data

Buyer-level intent data is one of the best resources B2B organizations now have at their disposal. By using it strategically, you can enhance your lead generation program and become the efficient machine you’ve always aspired to be. 

Remove the guesswork and find out “Who” your in-market buyers are by leveraging buyer-level intent data!