A Goldmine 95% of Startups are Sitting On: First-Party Intent Data

2 minute read

Intent data is the goldmine that startups have been overlooking. The data shows who is interested in your product or service, even before they reach out to you. And it's worth its weight in gold….. and sales!

A staggering 95% of startups remain oblivious to the potential of intent data capture. In fact, a study by SiriusDecisions found that companies that use intent data generate 50% more leads and 30% more sales than those that don't.

Intent data can help you seize the opportunity to propel your sales to new heights by leveraging the direct correlation between intent data and revenue.

In this blog, learn how you can embrace the power of intent and equip yourself with comprehensive insights on what it entails, its practical applications, and the vital criteria for selecting the finest intent tools available in the market. Prepare to unlock a world of possibilities, possible intent that is.

What is First Party Intent

Intent, also known as Buying Intention, Buyer Intent, or sometimes Intent Data, is the information collected about your audience to help predict who is in-market to buy your product. Signals such as topical research, reading content, comparing products, and visiting websites indicate intent to purchase. 

Intent can be classified in several ways. One of the common ways is into first-party intent, second-party intent, and third-party intent. Knowing the difference teaches you when to use each type and how to pick the best for your startup.

First-Party Intent

First-party intent is the information you collect from your digital properties. These are website visits, form fills, social media interactions, webinar registrations, gated content downloads, etc. A clear way to think of first-party intent data is that the 'party' is at your house. It is on the property you entirely own. 

Second-Party Intent

Second-party intent refers to intent data from a shared property you have some part or control of. Such as when you own the content, thus the data, that results from a publication on another website, such as review sites and publishing networks, G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius With second-party intent, it is a party you helped host and arrange. Still, it's at someone else's house.

Third-Party Intent

Third-party Intent is nearly infinite. It is the miasma of confusion that results from mass available data. This weltering, endless stream is what is most often talked of when discussing intent data. Third-party data is the aggregation and analysis of large quantities of purchase data, search history, ad bidding stats, social posts, visits to industry publications, reading external blogs, etc. With third-party intent data, also called external buyer intent data, you just attend the street party with everyone else. 

Why Tracking Intent Matters

Investing in intent data gets you an invitation to the party. Why join the party? In most selling deals, 50% of buyers will go with the first company to present a solution. In other words, those 95% of startups are handing off first-turn advantage to their competition.

There is a significant first-turn advantage in being present early in the buyer's decision-making process. They will invest in the first solution with the idea of potentially changing later if the solution does not fit. However, that changeover is slow or, more likely, never. SaaS solutions retention is often 90% and up!

Another Way to Classify Active vs. Passive Intent

Active Buyers Intent

Active buyer intent is a prospect with a clear signal for buying. This B2B intent data shows someone is currently in the market. They are actively looking for a product or service to solve a challenge. Examples include reading blogs, downloading materials about the product, comparing products, and booking demos. These people have identified a problem and are looking for a solution.

Passive Buyers Intent

A passive high-intent prospect might need a product or service but isn't actively performing any actions that indicate interest. These prospects are often unaware of a solution or otherwise feel unready to make a change. These prospects would be interested if they knew a solution existed. Brand and product awareness is the key to change for Passive Buyers.

When Passive Turns Active

Passive buying intention signals often precede active buying intent signals, and tracking them will help your pipeline. This is due to the 50% advantage of the buyer choosing the first company to present a solution. By tracking passive intent, you have a higher chance of being the first to present your solution. 

Tracking passive intent usually involves using third-party intent data to acquire signals from prospects in the same industry or with similar business interests as your current clients. Passive intent signals are more subtle, but they can include things such as subscribing to certain trade publications and keyword searches for adjacent topics. 

Think through the actions you might take before googling a specific product or company. You might google 'ideas for house parties' or 'wedding venues', before finding a specific website for creating your custom invitations.

The use of your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) is critical in sifting this data. Because passive intent signals vary wildly by product type, the tighter your knowledge of your ICP, the more predictive you can become in discovering passive intent signals. 

Real-world Success Stories about First-Party Intent

Triblio Increase AE Close Rate by 28%

In 2019, Triblio, an ABM marketing platform, used first-party intent data as well as a more extensive intent database to develop sales activation plays and got results. Double the engaged leads per account, 18% increase in SDR revenue influence, and 28% higher AE close rate.

Imprivata registered at 430% ROI

Imprivata, a global healthcare IT security company, had an overhaul to an ABM model, and using intent data along with structural changes led to a 430% ROI.

The Economic Impact of Intent

Forrester and Bombora published a full TEI study that included insights such as a 335% ROI attributed to optimizing CPM and other digital campaign work through the use of intent data.

How Do You Assess Buying Intention

You assess buyer intent by collecting, filtering, and sorting intent data. Digital intent data assessment is the 'shop assistant' to the modern age. It is there to see which display case your potential customer is looking into and answer unasked questions. 

What data to collect for measurement and how

1. Forms

Lead capture forms are the most basic and straightforward way of capturing first-party intent data. The example you have likely seen and filled out yourself are; book a demo, free trials, gated resources such as free eBooks, webinar registrations, and newsletter subscriptions. This would be an example of a form. Form fills are a reliable way to capture high-intent leads. These leads are active and first-party.* Sadly, they only scratch about 1-5% of people who stop by your website. A higher % is found through IP Deanonomyization. 

The dark side of forms

Too many forms or gates between people and information often trigger 'walkaways'. Some people are highly bothered by them, while most see them as the status quo. Knowing which attitude is more common in your ICPs might help improve your form game.

2. IP-based Deanonymization

This is a script you embed in your website, usually along with the 'accept cookies' pop-up. This tool collects visitors' IP addresses and tracks them back to clusters such as a company. This tracking is beneficial for ABM (Account-Based Marketing) and others. For more on this topic, check out our deep dive blog.

3. Social Media

All social media, particularly LinkedIn, has tools to measure the audience's engagement with your content. Social media, especially LinkedIn, offers tools that help you track and collect leads. These are people directly interacting with your social media content. The 'likes' and 'shares'. Social media platforms come with analytics, or you can hook analytics into them. The data reports can provide insight into who is showing interest. The Harvard Business Review shared this wisdom "84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions." Social media is the top place for this type of link sharing and peer referral requests,

4. Chatbots

Pop-up chatbots, a conversational marketing tool, are a great way to get website visitors to initiate conversations and collect first-party intent data. 36% of companies use them in their lead gen, with 67% saying chatbots improve sales. 

The superpower of chatbots is triggered when you incorporate the intent data gathered through them to personalize the user experience. 

The doom of chatbots is if they are slow to respond and flat or robotic sounding. 

Improving the Chatbot potential

An option to automatically handover the conversation to a human is often the best practice for high-end products. The initial outreach and response are automated, but complex queries are quickly linked to a real human on the other end. That level of customer service leads to a striking first impression.

How to Pick Buying Intent Tools

It is important to understand the needs of your particular business and product regarding intent. Knowledge of buyer intent can aid most businesses, but it requires time, money, and effort. 

How to Evaluate Buying Intent Tools


Different tools cover different levels of intent data. First-party intent tools gather website-based traffic through scripts and a deanonymization tool. Second-party tools are similar though data from this source often comes from data sharing by agreement. Third-party intent tools track mass available data such as searches and transactions. Third-party intent tools need to be heavily judged on filtering, accuracy, and fidelity, which are the fundamental problems with this data type overall. 

Data Accuracy/Data Fidelity

Inaccurate data is a massive problem with intent tools. Third-party intent tools are often the largest suspect due to the way such massive amounts of data can be parsed and interpreted. 

The best third-party intent tools use AI. The machine learning aspect and resulting continuous improvement can yield higher accuracy. Some say over 90% accuracy. Intent has a very subjective outlook. Hence even a 60% accuracy is deemed to be good. In the end, accuracy often comes down to what you are looking for and your ability to filter within the tool. With AI getting better and better at pattern recognition and understanding the data, the accuracy of intent data will keep on improving. 

The fidelity of data is judged by the criteria of being:

Traceable: How easily you can track data to its source.

Accurate: Gaps and inconsistencies should be identifiable and fixable.

Secure: The data must be managed securely to ensure access for authorized users only.

Contact Information

Accurate and current contact information is the end goal of buying intention data. In B2B sales, contact information is the beginning of a prospect and key to the continued health of a buying relationship. Good intent tools will return information. Even that data is sometimes not enough to reach the decision-maker of an organization. 

A tool like Plena which can plug into your data, will remove duplicates and use multipoint verification to ensure you have current and accurate contact information. 

Customer Service

Customer service departments or client representatives are at the core of your day-to-day experience. You want to partner with a company that will help train you and your team. You want a company that is solution focused and cares about the needs and voice of its customers when it comes to the development of features. 

The Future of Buying Intent

The future is now with buyer intent. We have B2B buyer intent data in an endless flow. We have the ability to deanonymize the IPs and run outreach campaigns. With purchase intent knowledge, feed the first-party and third-party intent data into inbound marketing campaigns. What more could we ask for?

A lot. We should be asking for a lot more. Purchase intent is still a full party of people who wandered into the party by accident. They may have researched a term they heard from a friend. Or are they writing a school paper? Have you ever fumble-fingered a Facebook ad and then been inundated for a week with thirty of that same ad? While the fidelity of B2B buyer intent data is very high for some things, a 200lb pasteurizing cheese vat, for example. In general, your purchase intent data isn't perfect. In other words, they didn't want to attend the party. If you invite them to the party again, they will be a no-show. 

The answer is to use data verification and data cleaning tools. While there are many options, the one that can return the most detailed, multi-sourced comparison will yield both the shortest list with the best possibility of results. See this blog on why shorter lists can make you more money in B2B sales. 


Buyer's intent data can improve your business. The level of investment into that data needs to fit your needs and ability to take action on that data. Some level of investment is necessary to improve B2B sales. 

If your company is invested in an intent tool, then learning how to use it best is worth your time. That time will also let you know if you need to invest elsewhere. The world of intent data evolves as data gathering and buying habits evolve. Let intent data keep you on top.

Each day without Plena = Lost Sales

With Plena — list building, contact enrichment and scalable multi-channel outreach is a breeze.