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The Importance of Pairing Quantitative and Qualitative Data for Intent

If you’ve been in touch with the marketing industry, specifically the data and analytics side, at all over the past few decades, you’ve heard of Spiceworks Ziff Davis. And if you’ve been listening to the Corporate Data Show the past few weeks, you know that I got to sit down with SWZD’s VP of Product Management, Liz Ronco, and talk intent B2B data.

More accurately, I got to pick her brain on how to use this data even more effectively by pairing it with qualitative data. Luckily for you, I not only recorded that conversation, but I also decided to take a deeper dive into the topic here.

Collect with intent

First off, let’s get straight what intent B2B data even is. It’s a hot buzzword (Buzzphrase? Who knows?) in the industry, and more than a few of us have probably nodded along as others discussed it despite not being entirely clear about what it meant. 

At the most basic level, intent B2B data is data describing which products and services potential clients are searching for online, signaling that they may intend to purchase them. All intent B2B data has three main attributes that are important to consider:


The type refers to what kind of product or service the data deals with. This is obviously important at surface level, because you’re not going to pay attention to people searching for bike parts if you sell printing services, but it goes deeper than that.

To stick with the same example, let’s say you do indeed sell printing services and are looking for clients who may need signs, pamphlets, or anything else printed in large quantities. You don’t want your email database filled with people who just want to buy a new HP Laserjet, and you don’t want B2B data for people who just own some kind of business.

You want data for businesses that have shown through their online behavior that they are interested in outsourcing printing services, so that you can target them accordingly. This is why it’s important to have the right type of intent B2B data.

Signal Strength

The signal strength of intent B2B data describes the context as well as how significant the data is. In other words, have they just coincidentally searched a few key words that relate to your product, or have they actually gone so far as to add products or websites like yours to their carts or bookmarks?

Are they simply interested and need more convincing, or do they fully intend to take action and simply need to find the best option? This is what signal strength will tell you.


This one is fairly self explanatory; the timeliness of intent B2B data refers to how recently a potential client showed interest in your product or service. While you may be able to snag a couple customers targeting people who searched your services three years ago, you’re probably going to want to target those who have shown interest more recently, like within the past few weeks. So, timeliness is also a key aspect of good intent B2B data.

In addition to containing these three attributes, all intent B2B data also falls into or includes at least one of the following categories of data: static, observed, or inferred. These probably don’t warrant their own subheaders, but I’ll outline the basic gist real quick:

Static data refers to any unchanging (or very infrequently changing) piece of information, like demographics. 

Observed data refers to recorded behaviors that the potential clients in your B2B database have exhibited. 

Inferred data, as you may have already, well, inferred, draws conclusions based on static and observed datapoints.

Knowing all of this, it’s clear why intent B2B data is so valuable to marketers: it makes it much easier to target audiences who have already shown, whether they know it or not, that they are interested in buying whatever it is you’re selling. And because it allows you to target them in the right place at the right time, it declutters the marketplace by avoiding placing your ads in front of uninterested parties.

The nitty gritty stuff

While collecting massive amounts of data through the convenience of automation, pixels, and data tracking will help you acquire massive amounts of B2B data, Liz also pointed out that you should take the time to gather in-depth qualitative data as well.

Qualitative data, as you likely already know, is the more in-depth sibling of quantitative data. It deals much less with numbers and statistics, and much more with attitudes and opinions of consumers. So, qualitative data will tell you all about the lives of the people behind the names in your email database.

The collection and analysis of qualitative data gives you the ability not just to confirm potential clients’ and customers’ interest, but also to find out why they’re interested.

What problems within their business could you solve?

How can you do it better than your competitors?

Are they more likely to respond to visual or auditory messages?

All of this will help you tailor your marketing efforts to these audiences.

How qualitative data is collected

This can be achieved through any number of methods. If you’re short on time and really love the automation of data collection, you might opt to send out surveys to current or past customers asking them about some of the above points. Or maybe you have more time, and you can organize focus groups or one-on-one interviews based on the intent data you already have.

No matter how you do it, it’s crucial that you get an inside glimpse at what your target audience values and needs, so that you can address that when you address them.

My big fat data wedding

It is wedding season, and while this one may not have an open bar, it will make you some money. So grab a plus one, get your online ministry license, and marry your intent and qualitative B2B data for a combo sure to last till death do it part.

Having the names of businesses and people most interested in products or services like yours is great (obviously), but it doesn’t do you much good if you drop the ball delivering your message to them. That’s like landing a date with the head cheerleader or star quarterback, then spilling your drink on them 5 minutes in. And nobody wants that.

So, in addition to learning who is most interested in doing business with you, or at least someone like you, you need to learn how to talk to them. Once you can do that, you’re just a little ad spend and good copywriting away from a big trip to the bank.

Now, sell with intent

There you have it. You can now say really smart-sounding things to your coworkers about intent B2B data, and maybe even understand some of those things yourself. Then, once your coworkers have become as knowledgeable as you, your team can use intent B2B data to identify promising target audiences, and qualitative data to speak to them effectively.

And if all of your newfound success isn’t enough for you, you can always tune back into the Corporate Data Show for more money-making tips and tricks, shoot us an email, or listen to me ramble right here on our blog. In the meantime, play hard and work harder.