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Incorporating Intent into the Campaign Planning Process

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14 September 2021

There’s nothing that teaches planning better than caring for an infant. Specifically, preparing to leave the house with said infant. In this situation, planning takes on a life of its own as caregivers brainstorm every eventuality.

Carsick? Change of clothing.
Diaper malfunction? Change of clothing.
Sudden drop in blood sugar? Snacks, snacks and more snacks.
Unexpected traffic jam? Cocomelon on the iPad. 

Caregivers think through each scenario, and have a commensurate solution or way to handle whatever might happen. The same idea applies to incorporating intent data into the campaign planning process. 

Activating buyer intent can be challenging – It means you need an agile B2B campaign strategy. However, if your intent monitoring is factored into the campaign planning process, you can establish intent-driven plays as part of the campaigns infrastructure, so you’ll be ready when intent surges. 

After all, there’s tracking buyer intent, and then there’s tracking and capitalizing on buyer intent.  

Anticipating Buyer Needs from Awareness to Purchase

We’ve already covered the idea that you should build your organizational structure around the buyer’s journey. Your B2B campaign planning should be organized around the buyer’s journey, too.

You can split your campaign planning into three functional categories:

  1. Awareness: What will attract an audience and keep them interested?
  2. Evaluation: What research and product demos will help convince buyers your product is right for them?
  3. Purchase: What will it take for your lead to convert to a customer?

Your campaign planning should start by mapping the buyer’s journey from beginning to end and anticipating buyer needs throughout the process. Effective B2B campaign planning should be proactive, not reactive.

How to Capture Intent

Once you have the buyer’s journey mapped, the next step is to capture buyer intent. There are several ways to do this.

  1. Track customer touchpoints. A customer’s digital footprint can not only give you fuller account coverage but also help you understand where they are in the buying funnel and how close they are to reaching the purchase stage.
  2. Use third-party intent data. Third-party data—on who is searching for your content, how they’re using and sharing it, and how users review products—provides valuable insight into the individual buyer journey.
  3. Map and monitor keywords. Keywords are a critical third-party B2B metric. Part of your campaign plan should track keywords associated with the content you anticipate your buyers will demand at each stage of the funnel. 

Tuning into buyer intent allows you to track intent surges and supplement buyer’s searches with your own first-party content. 

Leveraging Surges in Intent

Buyer intent should directly inform your content strategy. What are buyers searching for at each stage of the journey? How can you plan content that meets buyers where they’re at instead of simply letting competitors capture leads?

Intent data can help you capture how leads spend time on third-party websites and create content that captures buyer interest. It’s also valuable for planning content that stays relevant to buyer needs. Buyer search behavior changes over time; your content strategy should change in tandem. A proactive campaign plan will incorporate planned content based on buyer intent that captures leads based on buyer searches.

Most campaigns will have times of plenty and times of famine. So when leads dry up or your campaign plan doesn’t produce the results you predicted, you may leverage the intent data you’ve collected to retarget and re-engage leads. For example, if leads are researching competitors’ products, it’s time to pull out planned content that captures their searches. 

Intent data can also be used to support your ABM strategy directly. If you know exactly where leads are in the buying process, you can directly target them with individualized content. 2020’s most creative B2B marketing campaigns provide an excellent example of audience activation strategies: personalized plain-text emails, LinkedIn messages, and appropriate proprietary content to match buyer needs, with telemarketing to close the loop.

Intent-driven campaigns pay off, with higher conversion rates, better organic search rankings, and ultimately, an increased ROI. They also help you move from reactive marketing to a more strategic, targeted plan.

Ashley Shailer
By: Ashley Shailer
VICE PRESIDENT,
MARKETING
Ashley has spent more than ten years designing and implementing world-class demand creation and lead management strategies that leverage the latest in marketing technology. She’s held client-side and analyst roles in marketing systems and marketing operations, and consulting roles that leverage her unique expertise in lead nurturing, account-based plays, content, messaging, and social media strategy for more than 40 clients.

In her spare time, she can be found enjoying a good super hero movie, a solid single malt, and dessert (not necessarily in that order).
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Ashley Shailer
By: Ashley Shailer
VICE PRESIDENT,
MARKETING

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