Reach Your Maximum Potential With Intent Data

Are you using intent data as effectively as you could be? Columnist James Green breaks down the hurdles marketers face in using intent data to its full potential.


Just a few short years ago, the marketing industry was focused on understanding and leveraging the surplus of digital technologies rapidly being developed to help improve customer retention and acquisition. While marketers have made huge strides since the birth of e-commerce two decades ago, they’re still not utilizing the digital space to its full potential.

Digital analyst Brian Solis found that while 88% of companies report undergoing a digital transformation, only 25% have mapped the digital customer journey and have an understanding of new or under-performing digital touch points. One of the best ways for marketers to use digital to its greatest potential is by garnering insights across the consumer lifecycle.

This insight includes “intent data,” which is defined by first- and third-party data that signals intent to purchase. Site level interactions and search activity are prime examples of intent, which can undoubtedly drive your success rate when used appropriately for prospecting and retention strategies.

In a recent Forrester study commissioned by Magnetic (my employer), 130 brand marketers across the US, UK, Germany and France were surveyed to determine the efficacy of intent data. Interestingly, the majority of marketers surveyed acknowledged that leveraging various data types at different stages of the consumer life cycle is important and effective for acquisition and retention, with 67% percent agreeing that capturing search query information and using it for retargeting is valuable.

However, the survey results indicated that data sources were typically either over- or underutilized, signaling that there are still hurdles standing in the way of intent data’s success.

According to the Forrester report, here are a few of the key challenges marketers are facing when it comes to intent data:

Data’s Limitations

In the survey, respondents indicated that issues of data quality and data integration hold them back from being able to reach their full potential. From inaccurate data to a limited ability to integrate first- and third-party data, marketers are still looking for the best ways to seamlessly garner the type of data needed to support their prospecting strategy.

There is a ton of data out there — and more data than we know what to do with — but there is an opportunity to become smarter with data and use it effectively. This requires marketers to discover what information they have access to and define which data sets can help them get more customers, find new trends among their audience, predict what people are interested in, and even offer up the best outcome based on deep analysis.

If marketers can understand what areas of their data sources are lacking, they will know how to begin to refine and build their data strategy.

Technology’s Restrictions

Fifty-four percent of respondents surveyed said they are unable to integrate intent data into targeting technology. In addition, almost half of respondents lack the technology used to acquire and retain customers.

Historically, marketers have had to use different systems for customer loyalty and reaching new people, which meant that data lived in separate systems and that their customer strategy was siloed. For example, ad tech companies have traditionally stayed outside the corporate firewalls, focusing on external audiences, whereas marketing tech companies have focused on internal marketing automation and leveraging CRM systems.

If we can combine the two forces, we can break free from traditional marketing silos and limit a lot of technology restrictions that marketers face today. Ultimately, this will allow marketers to have a holistic view of people and their data sources, and in turn, be able to deliver the information that people want, when and where they want it.

Lack Of Expertise

Fifty-two percent have limited headcount and expertise to use intent data to connect with users at critical points of the customer journey. Roles within marketing and advertising organizations have evolved, as data becomes a critical component to a brand’s strategy.

A majority of marketers today use systems (some more robust than others) to determine the right time and place to deliver content and information to people. While strategies have become highly technical, the systems we use have become more complex and oftentimes, complicated.

If we can simplify the complexities that come with using data to reach people throughout their journey, marketers will gain confidence and be in a better position to develop the expertise that they need to make use of information and technology to identify, create, implement and analyze marketing strategies.

Marketers appreciate that intent data can strengthen their marketing efforts, but challenges stand in the way of using it to its full potential. As we break down the walls between ad tech and marketing tech and combine the best sources of data, we’ll be able to use intent to effectively and efficiently deliver relevant and meaningful brand experiences that influence new and existing consumers.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

James Green is chief executive officer at search retargeting leader Magnetic charged with driving overall company expansion and building out Magnetic’s search retargeting infrastructure.

(Some images used under license from


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