Intent marketing is the hottest strategy in digital marketing leading into 2020, and there are some very good reasons for it. Although it might seem like just another option in a large marketing toolkit, marketing for intent is actually an extremely versatile marketing tactic that helps businesses acquire new customers with greater precision than ever.
Intent marketing encourages businesses to concentrate their efforts on high-intent users–and to throw out the old playbook of casting a net over broad segments of the population in the hope of attracting a few bites.
In this post we will explain why all businesses need to start marketing for intent, and how intent marketing can help you succeed in 2020.
What is Intent Marketing?
As its name suggests, intent marketing interprets, and responds to user intent.
These days, most people begin their customer journey by typing a query into Google or any other internet search engine/social media platform.
While the old demographic marketing strategy targets people based on who they are, intent marketing goes deeper by targeting users based on how they think, feel, and behave online.
Google uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to interpret search queries and deliver a better user experience. Predicting intent is how Google understands whether you want to see pizza recipes or pizza takeout places when you google ‘best pizza.’
But you don’t necessarily need AI to do intent marketing.
All you need is a simple understanding of SEO and human behavior, and you can easily identify what each user is looking for—and respond accordingly.
Insights into intent signals can power better and more personalized marketing campaigns that hit the right keywords, channels, and special offers that directly respond to your customers’ needs and desires.
Which Businesses Can Use Intent Marketing?
One of the best things about intent marketing is that it’s relevant for every single business. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, whether you sell high-turnover consumer goods or high-end luxury items, services or products–you can harness intent marketing to power your campaigns to success.
Intent marketing begins by dividing search queries into 3 categories: informational, transactional, and navigational. Once you know how to identify the 3 intent signals, it becomes much easier to concentrate your marketing efforts on satisfying user intent.
The first type is informational intent. This means that the user is looking for information, but hasn’t yet decided whether or not to make a purchase. For example, if you sell meal kits, a search for ‘Are there meal kits for vegans?,’ ‘How meal kit deliveries work?,’ or a visit to your website blog post about nutrition facts about meal kits–all show informational intent.
The next type is navigational intent. That’s when a customer has decided to buy a product/service and is determined on where to buy it. A Google search for ‘Mortgage Lending Tree’ shows that the customer intends to apply for a mortgage loan from Lending Tree.
The last type of intent is transactional (or commercial) intent.This is when a potential customer has decided to buy a specific product but might not have chosen where to buy it. A search for ‘best VPN providers 2020’ shows transactional intent, because the user wants to buy VPN services and is looking for the best provider.
They are looking to compare.
How Does Intent Marketing Help Businesses Succeed in 2020?
When you understand intent, you have a better shot at tapping into the estimated 2 billion people that will shop online in 2020.
Here are the steps every business need to take to optimize their marketing activities:
Define your ideal customer more accurately
With insight into the customer journey through intent marketing, you gain a more accurate understanding of your ideal customer, which means that your marketing materials can be far more accurate. Marketing that’s based on demographics risks overlooking key customers who don’t fit your assumptions–or, worse, spending loads of cash targeting customers who have no purchase intent. Here’s an example: according to research by Google, 40% of people who buy baby products live in a household without a baby. If all of your marketing materials are aimed at parents, you’ll spend a lot of money and miss out on more than half of the potential customers.
Hone your content
With so much content flooding the web, yours could easily get drowned out. Over 4 million blog posts are published every day! Content marketing is now a winner-takes-all situation—if a piece of content ranks highest on the SERP for a given query, it’ll get more visitors, which reinforces the search engine’s view of it as the most appropriate content to answer that question.
When you use intent marketing tools, you can tailor your content very accurately to provide the most appropriate answer to a given search query. This way your content ranks higher on the SERP, and it will rank highest for precisely those users who are most likely to convert.
Align your SEO content with your digital marketing strategy.
There used to be a tension between content marketing and other parts of a digital marketing strategy, but not anymore. Google now rewards content that addresses user queries. Nowadays, SEO executives instruct their teams to guide the content to the users because the search engines are smart enough to understand the SEO value of that.
Break out of the funnel.
You’re probably used to thinking about potential customers based on their position in the marketing funnel. The trouble is that this is based on the assumption that every customer follows more or less the same buyer journey—beginning by researching information about a product, then narrowing down their options to decide on the best product, and then making a purchase. These days, the average user takes a non-linear journey in which they research, choose a brand, then step back and research some more, and only make a purchase several days or weeks after. When you follow old marketing assumptions, you miss opportunities to convert potential buyers. Intent marketing gives clear signals that indicate when a user is ready to buy—and what types of actions can help users convert.
Deliver real-time personalization on a granular level.
Intent marketing harnesses machine learning so that you can personalize all of your marketing campaigns at scale. Deep personalization is the holy grail of marketing—being able to harmonize push notifications, email marketing, content marketing, social media ads, mobile ads, and more in a way that is fully customized to each user yet focused on the single goal of converting users.
Be the first to make contact with the customer.
According to research by Forrester, 85% of the time, the first business to make contact with a potential customer is the one that makes the sale. This makes it very valuable to be able to predict who is most likely to make a purchase from your business so that you can be the first touchpoint for that user as they begin their purchase journey. Intent marketing gives you that insight, so you can be the first port of call for the buyers who are most likely to convert. See an informational signal? There’s your opportunity to provide expert content and get in the customer’s head. Navigational signal? Best to stick to your branded search campaigns. Transactional signal? That’s the golden ticket, because the user is ready to purchase but hasn’t yet decided who to buy from.
2020 – The Year of Intent Marketing
Intent marketing offers a digital marketing toolkit that works across different industries, demographic segments, and countries. Because it’s more accurate at identifying potential customers, it brings a higher conversion rate and lower cost per customer acquisition. Intent marketing will continue to grow as an online marketing strategy in 2020 as businesses catch on to its effectiveness.
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