What is intent marketing and what are the benefits?
Intent marketing is the marketing of a product or service based on a consumer’s actions or activities that signal intent that they are preparing to make a purchase decision.
Can intent marketing provide the competitive edge your company needs to survive future upheaval? Only 25% of B2B companies surveyed in the Demand Gen Report’s ABM Benchmark Survey say they currently use intent data and monitoring tools. Another 35% of respondents answer that they “plan to use intent insight within the next 12 months.”
While data on the value of search intent has been around since 2007 or earlier, it wasn’t until 2015 when dramatic changes to Google’s algorithm pushed search intent to the front of the line. Although corporations realize there are benefits, many feel the dive into deep data is out of their reach. Others use intent data but fail to build it into every aspect of their organization.
Targeting the right audience at the right time in their journey far outweighs display and banner advertising, email, and direct mail that rely on demographics alone. Intent marketing forms the foundation for sales and strategy, resulting in B2B success.
1. Intent marketing is vital to content strategy
Although consumers don’t lack content options, they have no patience for unnecessary information. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising.” However, as customers become accustomed to personalized content, they click away from search results and websites that don’t meet their goals.
Your site loses traffic to competition that combines user demographics with purpose. The key to success in content strategy hinges on your ability to deliver suitable content at the right time. Intent data informs each aspect of your plan including,
- Buyer personas
- Buyer journey maps
- Content format, copy, and CTA
- Keyword strategy
Appropriate and well-timed content theme. Seasonal transactional content delivered in the right time frame converts leads. Therefore, knowing when buyers search gives you the advantage.
Relevant and comprehensive information. Purposeful content attracts qualified buyers resulting in more sales. Knowing what your buyer needs at that moment is far more valuable than clicks ending with dissatisfied searchers.
Well-developed buyer personas. Corporations who collect intent data and use it to define their ideal customers gain a more unobstructed view of their buyer’s needs and pain points.
Data-based buyer journey maps. The buyer’s journey isn’t linear. Instead, B2B buyers complete research on a variety of devices using multiple types of content before making a decision.
CTA’s matched to intent. A poorly timed call-to-action turns off corporate buyers. Match your CTA to your buyer’s stage and frame each element of your content to meet their goals.
Human and search engine optimization. Content marketing strategies require marketers to toe the line between search engines and humans. However, understanding a user’s purpose and behavior satisfies both.
A solid content strategy delivers leads while increasing sales and conversion rates. Intent marketing provides the competitive edge as it targets buyers with content they need at the right time in their journey.
2. Intent marketing forms the foundation of SEO campaigns
The State of Inbound Report finds, “61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.” However, it’s nearly impossible to get traction if you’re not focusing on search intent. That’s because Google makes it clear that search intent trumps keyword and synonym usage.
Marketers, armed with keyword research, can create and deliver valuable information. But, no one is going to read it if Google finds it irrelevant. By defining specific pain points and behavior, organizations provide content that meets the B2B buyers’ goals and needs.
Targeting the wrong keywords may temporarily increase your website traffic, but if it doesn’t match the web searcher’s purpose, then you’ll see a drop in SERP rank. Intent marketing separates keywords into distinct categories that signify when the buyer is ready to purchase. Instead of looking solely at volume, competition, and history, successful organizations segment keywords according to intent, then use that to inform their SEO strategy.
An Ahrefs study of 1.9 billion keywords, finds, “29.13% of keywords with 10,001+ monthly searches are made up of three or more words.” By looking beyond basic searches, you find out what the user wants and needs from the search.
Google identifies search intent as a high priority. In their guidelines, Google defines content that fails to meet their standards as “results that completely fail to meet the user intent, such as a lack of attention to an aspect of the query (or user location) that is important for satisfying user intent.” Focusing on intent first helps organizations protect their business from algorithm changes.
3. Intent data boost landing page conversion rates
Landing pages are an excellent source of leads and sales, which is why Marketo reports, “strategic landing pages are used by 68% of B2B businesses to acquire leads.” Not only can you move buyers through your funnel, but you can also weed out less interested sources.
Each component of your landing page should meet your buyer’s specific goals. For the best user experience, leverage intent data to tweak page elements for users with various needs and in different buying stages.
- The research institute, MarketingSherpa finds, “90% of visitors who read your headline will also read your CTA.” Instead of clickbait titles, keep your user’s purpose in mind.
- Images and video. Deliver pictures and video that help your B2B buyer reach their goal. For example, “buy now” text in images is useful during later stages, but it’s pointless for those in the consideration stage.
- Bullet points. A transactional search query demonstrates readiness to purchase. By understanding a buyer’s purpose, you’ll highlight the most relevant data.
- Bolded text. Variations in text attract attention. Make each word count by understanding how pages should look different based on intent.
- Links to more information. Relevant links increase user satisfaction. Intent-based links show that you know and care about your B2B buyer’s goals.
4. Personalized marketing automation increases revenue
According to Gartner, CMOs devote 29% of their budget to marketing technologies. Organizations realize that they don’t want their sales team spending hours entering data every day. Instead, artificial intelligence and machine learning compile data for your team. Then, once the buyer’s intent signifies purchase an automatic alert goes out to your sales reps.
Convince & Convert reports on Ascend2 data that shows, “mapping the customer experience and use of personalized content are deemed the most effective tactics for optimizing marketing automation.”
5. Intent marketing improves the ROI of paid search marketing
With all the statistics pointing out that people use ad blockers and avoid pop-ups, the fact is that if the ad itself, from headline to the meta description, fits the buyer’s search intent then they don’t care if it’s an ad. Blue Corona backs this up with research showing, “49% of people say they click on text ads.”
The key to results is delivering purposeful content that satisfies the needs of your B2B buyers. Search Engine Land says, “whether it’s SEM or SEO, the intent behind your keywords has an enormous effect on the success of your marketing.”
When choosing keywords for your ads, the volume of searches and competition are essential. However, it’s vital to look for keywords that deliver real value to searchers.
Bid on high-intent keywords with higher conversion rates
According to Google, “ads served with intent signals alone have 30% higher consideration lift and 40% higher purchase intent lift than when they’re served using demographic signals alone.” Combining buyer data, including behavior and purpose, boost revenue.
Leverage more accurate ad-targeting
Once you understand the intent behind specific keywords, then you can retarget those who visit your site by following them to social media. Trying to do this without intent data risks annoying or angering the consumer who isn’t in that buying stage, whereas going too far makes you look creepy. Instead, once you understand your B2B buyers’ purpose, you can place well-timed ads with high ROI.
6. Intent data strengthens local marketing efforts
Content that matches user intent while addressing their location demonstrates the authenticity that buyers crave. Since Google reports, “local searches lead 50% of mobile users to visit stores within one day,” nailing your local intent marketing increases your odds of success. For this to work, organizations align search intent with demographics to further define their:
- Product positioning
- Local PR
- Buyer offers
7. Intent marketing adds personalization to campaigns
Campaigns deliver consistency essential to brand visibility. However, intent data is the glue that connects your keywords to your buyers. For example, Inc. reports on Millward Brown data showing, “marketers that try to reach their audience solely on demographics risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile shoppers.”
From outbound campaigns to email campaigns, the right information at the right time is the difference between getting a click-through, or the user clicking unsubscribe. Unfortunately, Ascend2 finds, “51% of marketers say enriching contact data quality is their most significant barrier to achieving email marketing success.” A focus on intent data removes challenges associated with various campaigns.
Email and direct mail
Ascend2 also reports, “The ability to segment email lists and individualize email campaign messaging are the most effective personalization tactics for 51% and 50% of marketing influencers, respectively.” This makes sense considering MailChimp says, “recipients are 75% more likely to click on emails from segmented campaigns than non-segmented campaigns.”
However, targeting demographics isn’t enough. Successful organizations pinpoint their users needs right now and deliver content that matches more than their generation or location. For example, “transactional emails receive eight times as many opens compared to regular marketing emails.” So, knowing when your buyer reaches that stage is critical to delivering your email at the right time.
With intent data, companies have access to information that alerts them when a cold prospect starts clicking on similar topics again. This opens up a world of lost leads. Instead of relying on marketers to go back into the system and send out warm emails, you can identify buyers who are back in the game and be first in line to engage with them.
Outbound marketing campaigns
Intent data is more than how users interact with your website, social media, ads, and keywords. Artificial intelligence and machine learning deliver information about buyers who visit a competitor’s website, read reviews site, or complete intent-based actions on social media.
8. Access to intent data increases sales opportunities
At each stage of the buyer journey, intent delivers more value to your business. This value comes by way of increased conversions on landing pages, a boost in sales, and more overall traffic and qualified leads to your website. Google finds, “51% of smartphone users have purchased from a company/brand other than the one they intended to because the information provided was useful.” Organizations that focus on their B2B buyer’s goals snag new leads. Intent data:
- Provides information that can be used to recruit engaged prospects to sales events and demos. Plus, it gives insight resulting in successful sales phone calls.
- Helps sales teams prioritize leads and rank accounts. Knowing your B2B buyers intent enables reps to focus on the right leads at the best times.
9. Intent marketing encourages collaboration between departments
Sharing data across silos is vital to business success. Intent data provides each department with shared goals. Information from your customer service team helps your marketing crew develop content to address those questions. Which results in more qualified leads for your sales teams. Organizations that eliminate the divide among departments and focus on buyer intent can increase:
- Customer loyalty
- Brand recognition
- New sales leads
- Knowledge of trends
- Lifetime value
10. Vital to enhancing the user experience
Above all, intent marketing is the key to your future B2B marketing success because it improves the user experience at every level. While social media users make light of Facebook’s ability to deliver ads that are relevant to their recent searches, the bottom line is that customer-focused advertisements get more clicks. People want and need that information and possibly that product.
Now, if your ad targets demographics and not their intent, then they’ll view it as spammy. With intent marketing, you’ll deliver a better user experience which strengthens your brand in every way possible.
How to define intent marketing for B2B marketing success
Develop a strategy that helps your organization understand your buyer at each step of their journey. A customer-centric approach starts with the needs of your buyer. Simply put, an intent marketing strategy uses data about your ideal clients’ online activity to develop targeted communications.
Gather data from various data sources.
Depending on the size of your business, you may use a variety of tools to gather and analyze your data. Machine learning technology allows you to analyze user data across a range of online platforms. Start with your website.
- Which keywords come up in organic search on your website analytics?
- How do your keywords compare to search terms people use offsite?
Then, access intent data from multiple sources for a complete picture. Intent marketing uses POS and CRM analytics, business reviews, social media data, and information from internal teams, like customer service.
Divide your data into the three types of intent.
Once you’ve collected information about your buyers, then you sort it into categories based on buyer intent. This is a crucial step that allows you to develop relevant content for all stages of the buyer journey.
- These keywords provide answers for those in the consideration stage, such as “best” or “how-to.”
- The intent in this category may be informational or commercial or both.
- This category includes high-intent keywords with modifiers like “buy” or “free shipping.”
- These are searches that include your brand name.
Once you’re able to connect the dots between what your B2B buyers need and the behavior that follows, then you can identify opportune moments to share specific content that helps them meet their goals.
Let’s face it; the data is out there. Google reports that “on average, B2B researchers do 12 searches before engaging on a specific brand’s site.” Each click equals information that nails down who they are and why they are searching. Organizations that demonstrate a deep understanding of their buyers’ pain points while delivering what they need, when they need it, edge out the competition.