Using Intent Data to Drive Customer Acquisition

A Little Data Can Go a Long Way – 4 proven ways to make your marketing efforts work harderFor B-to-C marketers, intent data — that is, information on individual customer behavior used by marketers to predict a customer’s intent to engage — is one of the most powerful means to drive their customer acquisition strategy. A recent study conducted by Forrester Research showed that 67 percent of surveyed marketers agree that using intent for prospecting and retention would give them an advantage over their competition — yet 54 percent of surveyed marketers are unable to integrate intent data into targeting technology.

Let’s talk a bit more specifically about intent data. This is an entire range of behaviors and activities — and includes a prospect providing an email address, opening the email, clicking links in the email, spending a certain amount of time on the website, visiting a brand’s social pages, visiting a page a certain number of times, and the frequency of returns to the website.

B-to-C marketers should think of intent data as behavioral bread crumbs — like Hansel and Gretel hoping to find their way home, consumers leave small tidbits of intent throughout their path-to-purchase, clues that could ensure this path leads to your successful customer acquisition. Despite the numbers, the good news is that using intent data to drive customer acquisition is not as hard as most marketers think.

There are two ways every B-to-C marketer should be using intent data to drive customer acquisition:

Boosting Performance from the Lead Source Level:
The most crucial step in improving customer acquisition is to start with high-quality leads. Identifying those lead sources who supply prospects with the highest intent to engage enables marketers to build active and fruitful email lists safely. Marketers should be ranking their lead sources based on an overall ‘intent to engage’ score – calculated based on percentage of converters, openers and website visitors in the first 24 hours after a prospect clicks on ad. In our experience with over 30 B-to-C brands, those who purchase media only from sources exhibiting a mid-level (top 60th percentile) ‘intent to engage’ score boost conversion rates more than 12 percent and those limiting to a high ‘intent to engage’ score (top 30th percentile) boost conversion rates more than 32 percent.

Narrowing down lead sources by intent to engage also significantly improves email activity rates, which has a positive impact on inbox delivery. By utilizing a lead source’s ‘intent to engage’ score over time, marketers could improve ROI by 25-75 percent within just six months of optimizing at the source level. The large range of ROI improvement is attributed to varying budget sizes; the larger the budget for an intent data strategy, the more lead sources that can be tested for their ‘intent to engage’ score. Typically, with a caveat of fairly large variations in different markets, about one-third of lead sources tested score a high intent to engage score. Essentially, marketers are wasting their budget with low-value leads two-thirds of the time by not stopping to evaluate the intent to engage at the lead source level.

Driving Email Retargeting:
When a consumer provides an email address, that itself is a strong indicator of intent to engage. However, sometimes, the interaction stops there — even though the prospect indicated initial interest. A lost cause? Not at all. Using intent factors to drive email retargeting, a strategy to reconnect with prospects who provided an email but then stopped short of converting, provides an opportunity to fully understand how to best nudge the prospect onto the next step. This data can help marketers determine how often to email the prospect, what time of day to send the email, and which products or services to offer in the email. Since the customer hasn’t necessarily left the funnel, why not take advantage of the means to return the most likely-to-convert customers toward the conversion path?

Insight from intent factors uncovers where in the sales funnel a prospect is, allowing marketers to segment their audience accordingly for email retargeting. Dividing up an email list by their intent data allows marketers to personalize their message responding to the prospects’ signal of intent to engage. Email retargeting driven by intent data can be used to as much as double the recapture and conversion rate of funnel abandoners.

By using intent data in these two ways, B-to-C marketers can fuel their customer acquisition strategy to successfully drive more prospects to conversion. It’s time marketers started paying attention to these bread crumbs of behavioral data to drive their company to success.

Neil M. Rosen is President and CEO of Fairfield, Conn.-based CertainSource, a B-to-C funnel acquisition management and email retargeting solution provider.