How to Use Intent Data to Find Hot, In-market, and Qualified Buyers

2 minute read

Ryan and Kelly are two business owners exploring sales tools to automate outbound campaigns. A newbie sales rep would sell the solution to them in the same manner. A seasoned salesperson would focus on understanding their needs and timing and adjust their sales strategy accordingly. Who is more likely to make the sale? 

Intent to buy is the focal point of every customer-centric marketing strategy. It is quickly emerging as a valuable resource for sales and marketing teams.

Over 70% of B2B marketers are using or planning to use intent data for prospecting, account-based marketing, email marketing, and much more.

Figuring out buyer intent can take time and effort. It's not something you can deduce by reading through texts and emails. But when you can't rely on instincts, you rely on data.

We wrote this guide to help you understand how to use intent data to find the right buyers. 

What is Intent Data?

Buyer intent data is information gathered about your target account's or lead's online activities, indicating they are ready to purchase. Intent data derives from user behavior data such as research history, ad clicks, web searches, web visits, and page conversions. 

B2B buyer intent data provides insight into prospects' buying signs, whether passive or sure to buy, so that you can position your product as the best option.

sales funnel with buyer intent

87% of buyers research the products online before making a purchase. Nowadays, B2B buyers are almost through their buyer journey even before reaching out to a sales rep.

Using the firmographic details of your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), combined with intent data, gives more clarity to your targeting. Intent data, married with your ICP, can help you understand if prospects like your products and want to purchase.

Types of Intent Data

Marketers must educate themselves about each form of intent data and the many sources available for creating unique audiences. 

Intent data may come from multiple sources, through a publisher's website, third-party purchases, or another business's shared first-party data. Knowing where intent signals come from allows marketers to act on them efficiently. 

typers of buyer intent data

Here are the three types of intent data that can help improve your marketing campaigns:

First-party Intent Data

First-party intent data can be a combination of data collected directly from users interacting with your owned sources. These owned sources include website, blog posts, forms, questionnaires, subscriptions, social media, or a CRM system. 

First-party intent comes from users interacting directly with your content, giving you a clear picture of their intentions.


  • Direct control over the data and its collection
  • No additional cost to collect
  • Quality controlled to fit your business


  • Visibility is limited to your channel
  • Volume limited to your reach
  • It is not easy to collect data across channels for a predictive intent algorithm

Second-party Intent Data

Second-party intent data is for businesses looking to move beyond owned sources. They partner with another business that monetizes its first-party data. In simpler terms, it is first-party intent data sold by another company. This data is relatively new and used less frequently than first- or third-party intent data.

For instance, TrustRadius and G2 are review sites that offer second-party intent data. This goldmine of information contains detailed, actionable, down-the-funnel signs from actual buyers.


  • Tracking a wide range of behaviors spanning the entire marketing funnel
  • Expanded coverage with high quality, accuracy, and volume
  • More actionable insights and context


  • Additional cost for data collection
  • Requires additional technical support to incorporate with the stack
  • Limited coverage to monitor research behavior

Third-party Intent Data

Third-party intent data comes from external sources, representing topical searches and a prospect's content consumption. This kind of intent data comes from businesses that purchase intent signals from numerous websites and model the data to monetize. 

You can use it to reach more users near the top of the funnel. However, finding a reputable, transparent, reliable provider is crucial.


  • High market coverage
  • High volume
  • Topical intent informs keyword strategy


  • Additional cost for data collection
  • Limited to early-stage buying signals
  • Difficult to set up tracking, analyze signals, and act on the resulting insights

5 Best Intent Data Providers

Here are a few providers that stood out for us:


Bombora is a broadly recognized intent data provider that offers premium quality, up-to-date data built on consent. Bombora's data allows you to base your actions on knowing which businesses are in the market for your products and services.

Bombora tracks prospects' digital journey across a vast network. They collect and analyze data from various sources. Bombora identifies companies actively researching specific topics related to their products or services. This data empowers sales and marketing teams to focus their resources on companies in the market to buy.


6sense is a predictive intelligence platform that uses AI and big data to recognize prospects' intent signals. It identifies the best accounts, contacts, and time to reach out.

6sense discovers buying behavior, narrowing down accounts for marketing and sales and marketing. This enables them to engage resistant buying teams with personalized, multi-platform, multi-touch campaigns. It helps revenue teams know everything they need about their buyers. Thus, they can generate more opportunities sooner, increase the deal size, and win deals more often. 


ZoomInfo provides real-time B2B intent data signals, allowing businesses to build automated workflows that integrate into the tech stack. 

They provide data about recent news and events related to businesses. 

This can give you some insights into their activities and potential intent. However, ZoomInfo focuses more on providing contact and company data.


Lead411 is a platform that provides accurate and up-to-date contact and company info for sales and marketing teams. It gives real-time triggers like funding rounds, executive changes, and product launches. This data alerts customers when key events happen at businesses they're interested in.

Lead411 provides information about the technologies that businesses are using. This can help the customers identify companies actively investing in specific technologies, indicating an intent to explore related solutions.


Plena is an AI-based lead generation robot that automates sales prospecting. Plena empowers your sales strategy by identifying buyers with high intent. It pulls data from multiple sources using AI, cross-verifies and sends a high-intent filtered list for your pursual. 

You can then run personalized outreach campaigns on social channels or emails using Plena.

Book a demo today to see how to accelerate your selling strategy with Plena. 

8 Pitfalls of Intent Data

Buyer intent data is in vogue. However, without solid plans, marketers are prone to pitfalls.

The boom of leveraging intent data proves marketers are excited about its promise. But the flip side is that intent data will fail to provide results if not used correctly.

Inaccurate Data

Intent data may not always be precise, leading to false assumptions about a prospect's interests or readiness to buy. 

Mapping the intent data to your buyer's journey is extremely important. Buyers in different stages require different things. That means different stages will show different intent data or signals. Marketers need to think and evaluate what each aspect of intent data relates to on the buyer's journey.

Privacy Concerns

Gathering and using intent data can raise privacy issues, potentially leading to regulatory compliance challenges. You must lawfully store and use any data about your prospects, even though you collected the data compliantly.

Limited Context

Intent data provides insights into online behavior but may lack context about a prospect's needs and preferences. 

Businesses may misunderstand the intent and make incorrect assumptions without contextual knowledge of a prospect's needs, pain points, and goals.

Overwhelming Amounts of Data

The more data, the merrier, right? Not necessarily. Managing large volumes of intent data can be overwhelming and difficult to analyze effectively. 

While data from reliable sources is beneficial, it can be overwhelming. You must correctly summarize the data and align your sales and marketing teams to leverage it. 


Sales teams may misinterpret intent data, leading to misguided sales pitches and ineffective communication. 

Every provider gathers different data about online research activities from various sources. Some intent data vendors may use keyword-based collections, while others may monitor topic categories. There is a disparity between the two techniques, but at the same time, both hold value. 

So, it's vital to understand the differences and when and how to use them effectively.

Lack of Real-Time Updates

Intent data is amongst the most time-sensitive data forms, with a limited time frame for action. 

If the intent data is not up-to-date, staying current with a prospect's changing interests is challenging. You must integrate the data decay concept if you store old buying signals.

Competitive Disadvantage

If every competitor has access to the same intent data, it may diminish its competitive advantage. When you look at intent data through keywords and topics, even competitor research, the intent is much more challenging. 

Interest in a subject does not necessarily imply intent to purchase. You need to track this information over time to know if there is real intent. Not all intent data solutions do that.

Customer Annoyance

Overusing intent data can make customers feel targeted and overwhelmed with sales efforts. 

Customers may feel overly targeted with compromised privacy if businesses use intent data without relevance and appropriate discretion. This leads to annoyance and undesirable perceptions of the brand.

Data Quality Issues

Poor quality or inaccurate intent data can lead to flawed decision-making. Ensuring the accuracy and quality of intent data is a continuous effort that requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance. Poor data quality issues will lead to incorrect insights and decisions, wasting valuable resources.

Wrapping it up

Understanding your buyer's intent can open more pipelines and new possibilities. If you're a B2B marketer not using intent data, you're missing out on a critical lever to increase a buyer's chances of converting. But remember that intent is dynamic and changes throughout a buyer's journey.

Leveraging intent data needs a comprehensive strategy, from collecting the data to qualifying it to having a clear plan for using it. A well-planned intent data strategy, implemented with vision and precision, will make intent data work for you, helping you turn more prospects into customers.

With Plena's AI robots automating the mundane work of your sales process and providing accurate intent data, that's close to reality. Talk to us today.

Each day without Plena = Lost Sales

With Plena — list building, contact enrichment and scalable multi-channel outreach is a breeze.