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Which is better for your demand generation strategy: first, second, or third-party Intent data?

Intent data can give great insights into customer behavior and improve your sales and marketing. Some businesses layer multiple datasets to create a holistic picture of their customers and prospects. So if you’re a beginner to Intent data, let’s walk through why it’s important, the differences between Intent data types, and how to choose which works for your demand generation strategy.

What is Intent data?

Intent data is information that can help you understand if a person or business is interested in what you offer. While commonly talked about in the B2B market, it can also be used by B2C companies to identify who’s ready to purchase.

Intent data tells you when buyers are actively researching online for a solution and which products and services they are interested in based on the web content they consume. 

Intent data for your demand generation strategy

A demand generation strategy is focused around building genuine brand awareness and interest for prospects who may not even be problem aware — it’s a heavier content marketing play where you’re literally generating the actual demand for your product or service. 

So where and how does Intent data come into play?

There are different types of Intent data, each with its own advantages and uses for your business and your demand generation strategy. It’s important to understand they are not equal in terms of data quality, ease of implementation, or privacy compliance. Let’s take a brief look.

First-party Intent data

First-party data, also known as internal Intent data, is data that gives specific insights into user behavior. This is data collected through your own channels, such as your website, and is typically available to you right in your marketing automation platform or CRM. If someone types in the search bar of your influencer marketing company ‘find a brand ambassador’, then you’ll know about it, who they are, and where they came from. 


  • Insight into the performance of your digital marketing campaigns
  • Gives you an idea of how engaging your website is


  • Filling out a form on your site
  • Adding an item to the cart
  • Open rates, bounce rates, click rates

Second-party Intent data

Second-party Intent data is data taken from another source’s first-party data. The data provider may collect and provide data from their audience for your business. 


  • Insights into prospects’ reviews, product comparisons, etc.
  • Gives access to information you may not have been able to research on your own


  • Customer surveys
  • Reviews sites like G2 or TrustRadius

Third-party Intent data

Third-party data is data that’s from everywhere else, so you can gather a more holistic view of your prospect’s activities. 


  • Access to a wider audience 
  • Shows you the entire customer journey path taken
  • A large volume of data can be collected


Third-party Intent data providers monitor which of your potential customers are actively searching elsewhere online and this data is usually collected via a data co-op or through the Bidstream.

GDPR and other data regulations have been put in place to stop businesses from giving away customer information without their consent, but organizations using and leveraging Bidstream data risk penalties if the data collection violates compliance guidelines under GDPR.

So you’ll want to partner with a data co-op.

And there’s actually only one Intent data co-op comprising 5,000+ of the top B2B sites on the web. This ensures you get the most accurate reflection of the buyers’ digital journey and understand their intensity of purchase Intent.

First-party and third-party Intent data

Putting Intent data into action

So now that you have a better idea of what Intent data is, let’s get a better idea as to how it can be used for sustainable demand generation strategies:

Insights to better understand a buyer’s journey

Rather than just looking at basic stats like how often an account visited your website during a certain period, Intent data gives you access to more valuable buyer insights. For example, Bombora’s Intent data understands when a business is consuming content around a topic in our taxonomy more than they usually do. This is a buying intent signal that indicates when a business may be in-market for a particular product or service. This kind of insight lets you understand the journey of your potential buyer before they contact you — or a competitor!

Prioritization of outreach efforts

Intent data helps your sales and marketing team create a more focused lead generation and demand generation strategy. Knowing which accounts are actively researching what you offer can better identify those in-market. With this information in hand, your team can prioritize who to focus on. Rather than approaching blind, you’ll have an idea of what they’re interested in and can time your outreach appropriately. 

Personalization with content that resonates

Along with getting in front of your prospects at the right time, Intent data helps you personalize that message based on what they are researching. This can be done using specially curated content via email campaigns, custom landing pages, and targeted advertising.

For instance, if they searched for ‘cloud-based phone systems for businesses’, the prospect may have a clear end goal in mind for the solution they need. This creates an opportunity for you to present the prospect with specific content geared toward their challenges, like a blog post about how cloud phone systems can improve communication. 

How do you determine which Intent data to use?

So how do you determine which Intent data is right for your demand generation strategy? That all depends on your business and how you intend to use it. To establish which Intent data is right for your business’ demand generation strategy, ensure you fully understand what each data set can offer you — and what your intentions are for using it. 

The first step in seeing results with Intent data and measuring its value is understanding how your demand generation, marketing, and sales efforts are performing today. Consider:

  1. What is your sales cycle? If it’s long or complex, you may wish to utilize third-party data. It offers the most vast choice of customer behavior to analyze and can shorten the sales cycle.  
  2. What do you want to gain from it? If you are just using data to see how to improve user experience on your cloud PBX solutions website, then first-party data may be a good starting point. 
  3. What do your sales and marketing team need from you? In many cases, it may be a combination of all three. Many businesses will layer multiple datasets (first, second, and third-party data) to create a holistic view of their prospects and customers — even what initiates them to buy!

Effective outreach is the result of careful planning, defined processes, and using the right tools. You’ll want to work with data that’s privacy compliant and compatible across a variety of sales and marketing platforms they’re already familiar with so your team won’t have to skip a beat. It can sound like an overwhelming feat, but the results are worth it and we’ve got you covered. Check out these 10 questions to ask when evaluating B2B Intent data providers so you can feel confident as you assess different types of Intent data offerings. 

Check out more B2B Intent data resources

What top questions should you ask a B2B Intent data provider?

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Step 1 of Intent data: Establishing benchmarks for ROI

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Sample Intent data