Intent MarketingMarketing strategies

The Blind Spot That Might Be Sabotaging Your Marketing Strategy – and How to Fix It

By Nadav Shemer
Thursday, August 8, 2019

Creating a digital marketing strategy can be a stressful business at the best of times and certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Nearly 70% of CEOs expect their chief marketing officer to lead revenue growth, according to the CMO Council. On the flip side, 89% of marketers do not think their digital marketing efforts are working, according to a joint survey by Demandbase and Wakefield Research.

One part of the problem is that many digital marketers are still wedded to demographic targeting. In 2019, targeting people based on age, gender, or income is like being a mortgage lender without an online presence: it’s outdated and won’t get you the best results. 

Thankfully, there is a surefire way to attract and convert users while expending fewer resources. And it only requires a simple strategy tweak.

Is Your Demographic Strategy Failing? A Simple Way to Check

Granted, demographic targeting can be a useful tool for raising brand awareness and growing your audience, but it isn’t a silver bullet for driving revenue.

“The problems of demographic targeting are two-fold,” explains Brock Kaye of Natural Intelligence. “Problem number 1 is that marketers end up messaging a lot of people who have no interest in their product. Problem 2 is the risk of missing out on a very big segment of the population.”

Here’s a good example:

A stereotypical gamer is a man aged 18-34. However, this cohort only accounts for 31% of mobile searches for video games (Think with Google).

Learn new marketing strategies for 2019
A stereotypical gamer is a man aged 18-34 (only 31% of them actually search for video games).

Two other examples: 

Women account for 45% of all mobile searches for home improvement. 

People living in households without children account for 40% of all baby product purchases.

So, if you only market baby products to families with babies, you’re missing almost half the market.

Until recently, digital marketers could get by only by targeting a portion of the market. But search engines have increasingly become a “pay-to-play game.” Paid ads typically capture the first 2 to 4 spots on Google search engine results pages, capturing around half of all clicks. Paid search has become increasingly more expensive, with keywords related to insurance, loans, and mortgages costing as much as $47-$55 per click, according to Wordstream. In this environment, marketers must focus on strategies that offer a better return on investment.

How to Drive ROI Without Blowing Your Budget on Paid Ads

The answer to the digital marketer’s dilemma is a discipline we mention a lot in this blog, called intent marketing.

While demographic marketing targets people based on who they are, intent marketing goes deeper by targeting users based on how they think, feel, and behave online.

Natural Intelligence commissioned a major study about user behavior and preferences involving thousands of participants. It found that consumers felt bombarded by all the products and services marketed to them. The findings confirmed what behavioral economists call choice overload—a process in which people have difficulty making a decision when faced with too many options.

Intent marketing is the best strategy for CMOs
Choice overload—a process in which people have difficulty making a decision when faced with too many options.

The best way to counteract choice overload is to present consumers with fewer options. This is something providers of 401(k) retirement plans clearly understood when they began offering each customer a default suggested portfolio; thirty-one flavors might work for Baskin and Robbins, but probably not for most other brands.

Although consumers want fewer choices, they still value their autonomy in the decision-making process. This forces brands to conduct a balancing act between having to offer the customer limited choices while still empowering the customer to compare and pick the best option on their own. As a 30-something consumer from New York said during a Natural Intelligence focus group, “Just bring the facts. I need to make my own decision.”

How to Identify User Intent Signals and Translate Them to Conversion

Users give away various signals regarding their intent while searching on Google. The higher the intent to purchase, the stronger the signal. Think of it like a peacock spreading its feathers to signal to a potential mate. When it comes to search queries, user intent and signals can be divided into 3 categories: navigational, informational, and transactional.

Whether you’re the CMO of a large firm or you are a hands-on marketing manager for a new start-up, capturing high-intent users could be just what you need to drive those revenues up a notch.
The higher the intent to purchase, the stronger the signal. Think of it like a peacock spreading its feathers to signal to a potential mate.

Let’s break them down:

Navigational: We’ve all been there; you need the phone number of a specific real estate agent, or to find out if your nearest grocery store is still open. The query is very straightforward. Something like “Trader Joe’s opening hours” or “sunglasses shop Harrisburg PA”.

Informational: When a user wishes to learn about a specific subject, they type search keywords such as “What is a mortgage.” This user is not necessarily in the market for a mortgage loan, but rather needs information regarding the concept of a mortgage. In this case, the first search result will probably be a Wikipedia entry.

Transactional: The intent to purchase is at its peak. There are 2 optional ways to search when in the transactional state. Either you type “State Farm auto insurance rates” or (and this is exactly where most marketers miss out on potential customers) a non-branded query such as “cheapest car insurance.”

Let’s take these 3 intent signals and look at the marketing potential they hold.

We recommend mapping these signals against brand consideration and purchase intent.

  • Navigational signals, (e.g.“State Farm” or “Progressive insurance rates”), indicate high brand consideration but reveal nothing about purchase intent. When it comes to branded search queries, companies can stick to their branded search campaigns and branded content.
  • Informational signals, (e.g. “What is non-standard auto?” or “Do I need life insurance?”), reveal nothing about brand consideration or purchase intent. Brands can win these customers over with the right combination of tactics, but there’s a high likelihood of the customer just bouncing between your site and competitors’ sites in a single session—just to learn.
  • Transactional signals, (e.g. “best coverage for new drivers” or “lowest car insurance rates”), indicate low brand consideration but high purchase intent. Transactional signals indicate that the user wants what they want as quickly, cheaply, and easily as possible. 

This is exactly where you, as a savvy marketer, can sweep in and reap the rewards: providing content, comparison charts, and reviews, and allowing the user to easily compare their options and make the right purchase decision.

Your Blind Spot: Transactional Signals

All too often, digital marketers overlook the transactional buying signals. Users that send transactional signals are low on brand loyalty but high on purchase intent—and they constitute the silent majority!

To demonstrate, Natural Intelligence looked at Google searches for auto insurance in June 2019. The top 5 search terms for Progressive Corp., the most searched car insurance provider in the US, amounted to a total of 272,000 user queries. By contrast, the top 5 non-branded searches for car insurance totaled 915,000 user queries—that’s more than 3.5 times the volume.

Natural Intelligence looked at Google searches for auto insurance in June 2019.
Users that send transactional signals are low on brand loyalty but high on purchase intent,

If you don’t take on this blind spot, you’re going to have a tough run driving up ROI.

What about you?

Are you capturing high-intent, transactional searches?

Whether you’re the CMO of a large firm or you are a hands-on marketing manager for a new start-up, capturing high-intent users could be just what you need to drive those revenues up a notch.

Our marketing specialists will gladly teach you how to tailor solutions to attract high-intent customers with immediate purchase intent—no matter what industry you operate in. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about our services.

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