The First-Party Intent Qualification

The First-Party Intent Qualification

| Marketing Technology

There are many sources of intent data, but the best intent comes from the data that you already have. Are you making the most of your first-party data?

The hardest problem in B2B marketing is working out when a lead is ready to buy. All too often, sales are only interested in speaking to leads with a defined business need and an active project. Anything else is dismissed as a time-waster. Yet, marketing has no real way of finding out whether accounts are currently in market at any given time. In many cases, even the buying group within an organisation will not know whether they're intending to purchase or merely researching potential options. It all depends on how procurement approval works within the business in question.

The safest approach is simply to wait until someone fills in a contact us form or a demo request. That's a definite buying signal, but also runs the risk of being too late. You always want to be the first person to speak to the prospective customer, as this significantly increases the chances of closing a deal. Ideally, you want to call the lead at the point they're picking up the phone. That requires looking beyond a single buying signal to see if there is an ongoing pattern of activity that is consistent with the middle stages of a buying journey.


Many data vendors would like you to believe that intent data is the magic bullet that will solve any questions around buyer readiness. The additional data source is indeed valuable, particularly in identifying the solutions areas of current interest in key accounts. However, purchasing data always comes with caveats around time lag and relevance. As with any third-party data source, the intent information you get about enterprise accounts in North America is far more comprehensive than the data you get about SMB accounts in Asia-Pacific. That's because it's easier for data vendors to aggregate data in the US, where data protection laws are still far more lax than in other regions.

Intent data does still have a valuable role in determining the level of buyer engagement. However, it is not a standalone solution. Intent data works by calculating the interest area for every online activity tracked by the data vendor, and then counting the number of times each account engages with a specific topic. That provides a real-time view of the most relevant interests within each account. If you're tracking the right topics, then it is possible to determine which accounts are in market for which solutions. However, intent data needs to be paired with your first-party activity data for a more rounded view of whether accounts have an interest in your specific solutions.


Many of the same methodologies used to collate third-party intent data can be used within the marketing team to create your own first-party intent. Through lead scoring, many marketers already track the number of times prospects engage with specific solutions. Many marketers already roll-up individual contact activity up to the account level as part of their ABM programs. By combining these two existing data management processes, marketers can create their own intent data solution that is far more targeted than any external data purchase.

Not only is first-party intent data more accurate; it's also more timely too. There is always a time lag in any third-party intent data provider. The data you're purchasing is often a week or two old, and can sometimes lead to wasted sales efforts as marketers chase prospects that have already purchased elsewhere. By pairing your own activity with third-party data that risk is minimised.

Given the increasingly strict privacy protections across the industry, first-party data is becoming even more important than in the past. Marketers have a goldmine of data at their disposal, but have rarely made the best use of it. For any business struggling to identify the right buyer stage or product interest, a deep dive into your existing customer data is a good starting point. Make sure to have a clear idea of the interests or keywords you're looking for in your database. From there, it can be surprisingly easy to build a list of relevant accounts for any business need.

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Written by
Marketing Operations Consultant at CRMT Digital specialising in marketing technology architecture. Advisor on marketing effectiveness and martech optimisation.