Best Practices

How To Spot Your Most Sales-Ready Buyers With Real Content Insight

Which prospects are truly worthy of your sales team’s time and effort? It’s one of the most central and divisive questions in B2B marketing. Get it right, and you’re filling the pipeline, hitting your numbers – everybody’s happy. Get it wrong, and you see conversion rates suffer, you’re not hitting your revenue goals, and worst of all, it drives a divide between sales and marketing teams.

It sounds so simple in theory: focus on the hot prospects that meet your ideal customer profile. Yet we often don’t focus on the right kind of Content Insight and completely miss the mark. That’s why the average MQL conversion rate is a mere 4%.

What makes a lead qualified?

The ingredients of a qualified lead can be boiled down to two things: fit and intent.


Fit is pretty basic: it’s how closely a prospect meets your ideal customer profile. This could be demographic, firmographic, or technographic. For example, are they the right company size? Do they fall into the right revenue band? Are they in the right industry?

It’s about finding the companies that you know you can sell to. Fit is important, but fit alone doesn’t indicate readiness to buy.


Intent is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Intent is the signal of sales readiness, of interest, openness, and true opportunity. It tells you if a company is actually in the market for your solution.

When you combine fit with intent, it’s incredibly powerful. Think of it as an equation:

Fit x Intent = Opportunity, beige oval with blue writing and border

If either of those values are zero, the sum is zero. Great fit but no intent? That’s not going anywhere. Tons of interest but not a great fit? You’re not moving that forward either.

What you’re looking for is a company that is a great fit, and is also showing signals of interest and intent. That’s when the opportunity is enormous.

Fit is pretty objective–it’s an easily-observed thing. Either a company is a good fit or it’s not. They meet your ideal customer profile or they don’t.

Intent is trickier. People don’t necessarily declare their intent to buy. You have to infer it from a variety of signals.

What qualifies as ‘real’ Content Insight?

Real Content Insight comes down to the buying signals you’re tracking. And not all signals are created equal. Before we look at what good buying signals are, let’s look at some weaker ones:

  • If somebody searches for “enterprise manufacturing software” on Google, that’s a signal of intent. But the question is, how strong is that signal?
  • You can track all the people who come to your website or download your content, and match them up against your ideal customer profile. But isn’t that more about fit than intent?
  • Behavioral intent signals look at how people are downloading content and infer intent from that. But downloading a piece of content doesn’t necessarily mean that someone consumed it.

What search, behavioral intent, and some other signals miss is what happens after the click or download. Did that person actually spend meaningful time and become better educated and qualified as the result of spending time with your content? That’s where Engaged Intent comes in.

Engaged Intent is the best indicator for B2B marketers to know whether a prospect is truly engaged and ready to advance in a buying process. So what does Engaged Intent look like?

4 signals of Engaged Intent

Appetite for information

How hungry is your prospect? This is all about how much content people are consuming and how much time they’re spending on it–not just about how many assets they’re clicking on. Sally might click and spend two seconds with your content before bouncing, while Steve might click and spend 25 minutes consuming multiple assets in one session. They both clicked, but only Steve is truly engaged, doing research, and trying to advance in the buyer’s journey.

Specific interest

What kind of content is your prospect looking at? What topics are they looking at? For example, if somebody is consuming multiple assets on account-based marketing, that’s an important piece of information for you and your sales team to know. You can do a lot with that information.

Self-education stage

Exactly where is your buyer on their journey? Are they consuming lots of top-of-funnel content, or are they way down in the weeds, looking at customer reviews and product specs? Knowing this information allows you to get very prescriptive in terms of how you move them forward and how you engage with them.

Openness to your company

If a prospect chooses to consume your content, they’ve made a conscious decision to do that. They’re demonstrating an openness to hear from you rather than other sources of information. The ability to measure how much time a prospect is spending with content about your company versus others is incredibly empowering.

Benefits of Engaged Intent

Engaged Intent is powerful. It allows you to surface a better class of leads to your sales team.

Not only that, by tracking Engaged Intent:

  • You have incredible insight into the motivation of your buyers.
  • You know exactly when they’re ready to have a conversation with sales, so sales reps can take action on that lead right away.
  • You can guide the conversation by letting your sales team know what the last pieces of content they consumed were and how much time they spent with them.
  • You have insight into what kind of research they’re doing.
  • For content marketers, it makes it easy to understand what topics are resonating with your buyers, so you know what to create more (and less) of.
  • You can start to understand which prospects are very engaged, and which ones need to be guided and nurtured a little bit further.

So let’s review: marketing and sales need to see two things to be excited about a prospect–fit and intent. Fit is easy. We’ve been nailing that for a long time. But intent is harder and a lot less understood.

The four signals mentioned above are the most powerful buying signals available to B2B marketers today and can tell you much more than about your buyers than a click or a download, or someone browsing the internet, or searching for something on Google.

Engaged Intent lets you pinpoint who you want to talk to, when you should talk to them, what content you should serve them, and what content you should create more of. This is really powerful stuff.

Welcome to the future of B2B marketing.

(This post was originally published on the PathFactory blog on May 30, 2018.)