how law firms can use intent dataWhen people need a particular B2B service, they often read articles, visit websites, download whitepapers and attend webinars to get more information to help them make a decision. As the professional services landscape becomes increasingly competitive, law firms need to become more effective at using this trail of digital evidence, which is called intent data, to target their marketing campaigns at companies that are in the market for the services they provide.

Intent Data

As the name implies, intent data reveals a buyer’s or a group of buyers’ interest in a product or service and predicts what they are likely to purchase. By capturing and analyzing intent data, law firms can zero in on those prospects who are interested in a particular service and put customized advertisements and other content in front of them to move these prospects further along the continuum to becoming customers. There are different categories of intent data, which I’ll dive into below.

Implicit vs. Explicit

Intent data can be implicit, meaning it is inferred from the behavior of the user. For instance, if users from a particular company do several web searches and download a whitepaper on the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), it may be inferred that they want to learn more about how the newly expanded law will impact their company’s operations. Or intent data can be explicit, such as when someone comes to your website and fills out a contact form saying they need help with setting up a corporate entity.

First-Party vs. Third-Party

Intent data generated from prospects’ activity on your website is known as first-party data. For instance, if your firm holds a webinar on the CCPA and people register for it, the registration data is considered first-party. Conversely, third-party data is purchased from vendors who collect intent data from buyers’ activity on various publishers’ websites. For example, if someone goes on Law.com and reads an article on the CCPA or watches a video on the topic on the Thomson Reuters website, that data is available from a variety of third-party vendors. A law firm that advises companies on the CCPA can use both the first-party and third-party intent data to inform their marketing efforts to convert these prospects into clients.

Company vs. Individual Data

It’s important to note that third-party data is generally only available at the company level, as opposed to the individual level. Rather than knowing John Smith at Company ABC read an article or downloaded an eBook on partnership agreements from a third-party site, you will only know that someone or multiple people at Company ABC took those actions. By contrast, if John Smith goes onto your website and registers for a webinar or a newsletter, you can track his behavior on an individual level. But absent a registration, vendors can only provide intent data by company.

Gathering Data

To collect third-party intent data, intent data providers work in collaboration with content-rich publishers that place a pixel on their website or app so that when businesses come to view the content, their behavior will be trackable. With both first-party and third-party data sources, an automated process is used to tag content based on topics, track buyer interactions and build intent data based on these interactions. This data can help law firms generate leads from companies that are ready to buy but may not have directly interacted with them online. Intent data can also indicate when businesses are looking at competing law firms and their services. Law firms can use this information to prevent losing a client or compete for business they may otherwise lose.

Intent data providers such as Bombora or Demandbase collect data from their clients’ websites, large websites they have purchased their data from, or websites and domains they own themselves. These providers often include marketing or sales features, such as CRM integration and lead prediction, with their intent data offerings. When considering an intent data provider, law firms need to review the specific features of each one and select one that most closely matches their needs.

The Takeaway

Online marketing tools are becoming increasingly useful in helping law firms gain a competitive edge. By harnessing intent data, you can optimize your marketing efforts by providing prospects with meaningful content. Steer them to your website and develop a relationship with them before your competitors even know they’re in the market for legal services.

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This article was originally published on Forbes Agency Council on January 12, 2021 here.

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