“Intent data” is all the rage right now. But intent data can be misleading. To accurately surface buyer’s intent, focus first on self-solutioning content.

A Google search on the benefits of intent data offers promises about finding “the heartbeat of modern marketing,” “personalization at scale,” and “a new B2B lead generator.”

Despite these promises, there are two significant challenges in leveraging intent data. 

The first is data complexity. Data-activated marketing based on an individual buyer’s real-time needs, interests, and behaviors only works with an exceptionally sophisticated data strategy.

All streams of data, such as website traffic, email and social interactions, PPC and video, need to be collected, then integrated into a unique profile in order for the data to be actionable.  

It is nearly impossible without a 3rd-party customer data platform (CDP) and a substantial investment in modeling and analytics.

The second and related challenge is that the vast majority of buyer engagement with websites, social, and email channels is motivated by curiosity or content consumption, not buying intent.  

Unless you already have a “big data” set, it will take a long time to collect and model the tens of thousands of data records you need to filter out false positives.

So, here is a simple buyer intent hack – focus on self-solutioning content.

Outside of a sales conversation, the only genuine indicator of buyer intent is their proactive effort to apply your product or service to their issue.

Consider these five types of self-solutioning content that can indicate buyer intent:   

  • Use case landing pages: Link email, social, or digital outreach to landing pages with content focused on a specific use case. Let buyers click through and spend time consuming content 
  • Success stories: Buyers who engage with success stories are looking for evidence of success with their peers. Encourage downloads and engagement with stories
  • Benchmark data: Buyers who engage with peer benchmarks are implicitly self-solutioning by asking which parts of an offering are relevant. Let them share data or proactively send peer benchmark data where you have it
  • Diagnostic data: Similarly, create opportunities for diagnostics. Buyers that will share data for a diagnostic are also self-solutioning
  • Trials: The best evidence of self-solutioning is a buyer signing up for a trial. Make it easy, but also set expectations on converting a trial into a business relationship

Think about these five assets as a content hierarchy. Start with landing pages around specific use cases, make them rich with content and success stories, and then invite consumers of your content into benchmarking and diagnostic opportunities.

Getting buyer intent right is hard. As you work on building a full data model, consider starting with this simple hack by using self-solutioning content.