tracking ip address intent data

Here’s Why Tracking IP Addresses Improve Intent Data

21 June 2021

I have a confession — data is my love language. 

Spreadsheets, data visualization, pivot tables; they all make me incredibly happy. 

It can definitely get overwhelming — there's demographic data, engagement data, ad clicks, conversions….the list goes on. 

data confusion reaction

But this isn't just a love letter to data;  I actually want to talk about one specific type of data that a lot of marketers and salespeople don't make the most of — intent data.

Even more crucial is how tracking IP addresses can help businesses better understand intent data.

Why does all this matter? This beautiful data is what we use to power Leadfeeder.

Note: Want to maximize intent data hiding in your website? Try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to see how companies behave, which pages they are viewing, and what content they are clicking.

Wait, what is intent data again?

Intent data is a compilation of behavioral signals that indicate what an online user is likely to do next and where they are in the buying cycle.

Think about it this way — what if instead of asking your mom or partner what they wanted for the holidays, you could aggregate all their online activity and get personalized recommendations about what they want?

You'd be a gift-giving ninja. 

cool dab reaction

And, why should I care about intent data?

Besides helping you be the best gift-giver ever, intent data has some pretty incredible benefits for sales and marketing teams in the B2B space. 

Intent data is kinda like a crystal ball that tells you what your leads are likely to do in the future.

crystal ball reaction

In B2B marketing and sales, intent data usually refers to anonymous online activity, which is then matched with IP addresses to provide an amazingly powerful dataset that can super-charge your marketing and sales teams. 

With user intent and IP address, you can predict not just future behavior but see what prospect companies look at, how long they stayed on your page, what they clicked, and so forth. 

For example, you could see that someone who works for Microsoft visited your website, navigated to your pricing page, and then read a blog post about IP address tracking. 

Pretty awesome, right? 

Intent data provides context for online activity by showing you what information your leads are interested in and whether they are close to making a purchase decision. 

Marketing and sales teams can leverage that data to guide content creation, account-based marketing strategies, and outreach strategies. 

It's a little bit like magic. 

So, how do I get intent data?

Before we talk about where to get intent data, we've got to talk about the two main types of intent data — first-party intent data and third-party intent data.

First-party intent data is gathered internally from your own website using marketing tools like HubSpot or lead generation tools like Leadfeeder, which install a small piece of code on your website.

In general, first-party data collected from your site tends to be more accurate and is less likely to have privacy issues. (Yay!)

Third-party data is gathered by external tools that then sell that information to companies and brands. Third-party data can be less accurate, plus, there's a good chance your competitors have access to the same third-party data.

Whomp whomp. 

Do you need an IP address, and where do they come from?

Tracking intent data is a good first step —- but IP addresses are what turn those anonymous visitors into real companies you can target.

But what exactly are IP addresses and where do they come from?

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique, 128-bit code assigned to an electronic device when it connects with the internet and other networks. Your phone has an IP address, as does your computer, Apple TV, and tablet.

Internet providers provide IP addresses, in most cases.

IP addresses can be tracked in Google Analytics, your web host, and even tools like Leadfeeder. Remember, these aren't secret codes that no one is supposed to know — it's just an identifier for devices that access the internet.

There are two main types of IP addresses — static and dynamic.

So, what's the difference?

Static vs. dynamic IP addresses

The main difference between static and dynamic addresses is that static IP addresses don't change, while dynamic IP addresses can.

So static IP addresses are always associated with the same device, while dynamic IP addresses can change over time. Your home computer might have one IP address this month and a different one next month.

Comcast lets business users pay extra for static IP addresses, which is useful for businesses that want to limit access to their servers. Residential users are given dynamic IP addresses, which can change periodically. 

That's great news for B2B companies —- because it means that most of your leads will keep the same IP address, so you'll always know what they do on your website. 

So, is it legal to track an IP address for B2B?

I promise I wouldn't tell you to do anything illegal! 

Yes, it is legal to track IP addresses for B2B. 

But there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Gathering IP addresses from individuals does fall in a grey area when it comes to tracking people without their consent. Location matters here, of course (GDPR means Europe has stricter rules, for example.) 

But, in the B2B market, you aren't tracking individuals — you're tracking companies. So, the intent data isn't going to tell you that Joe Johnson at 1223 Main Street visited your site — it tells you that someone from Microsoft near Seattle visited your site. 

(Though I do recommend asking for consent with a cookie consent popup.) 

TL;DR: Yes, it is legal to track IP someone's addresses in B2B because you aren't monitoring people, but companies. (Which, despite what some think, are not people.)

Using IP tracking to identify the businesses visiting your website improves your intent data.

The key to success with intent data is to combine it with IP tracking using a tool like Leadfeeder. This provides your company with deep insights about which companies are visiting your site, where they go, and how long they spend on each page. 

Note: Want to maximize intent data hiding in your website? Try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to see how companies behave, which pages they are viewing, and what content they are clicking.

Anna Crowe
By Anna Crowe

Anna works as a SEO Consultant and writer for Search Engine Land. Over the last decade, Anna has successfully developed and implemented online marketing strategies, SEO, and conversion campaigns for 100+ businesses of all sizes; from the Fortune 500, to startups, and nonprofits. She enjoys burritos and puppies (in that order).

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