Understanding when a potential customer is ready to buy is crucial to any business – big or small. This blog looks at how you can use intent data to grow your ROI and boost sales.
What is intent data?
Intent data is like an artist who paints a picture of each of your customers. Through an individual’s activity – offline and online – intent data gradually builds layer after layer as it composes a rounded image of what your customers are interested in.
And that is where the magic lies – intent data allows you to identify when a prospect is ready to buy.
The layers intent data works with is a whole range of marketing colours, such as:
- Google searches
- Websites and web pages visited
- Time spent on a page
- Scroll speed – did they read the content or skim it?
- Webform submissions
- Downloading a pdf
- Reading a case study
- Watching a video
- Attending a webinar
- Attending an event in person
95% of the time, when researching a product or solution, potential buyers aren’t in the buying state. This means your task as a marketing and sales team is to stimulate their memory when prospects are in the golden 5% zone.
This is why intent data is essential for marketing and sales. Using this data wisely allows you to focus your attention on the right people, saving time and money.
How to leverage intent data to drive growth, ROI and sales
Like pretty much everything in marketing, leveraging intent data to drive growth is all about content consumption and driving people to the right content and the right time.
How you do that will vary, based on:
- Who you’re target audience is
- The needs/fears/hopes/aspirations of your audience
- How your product makes your customers’ life better
Ideally, you want to build a content and conversion strategy around those three aims – one that’s linked to your revenue goals.
How to do that fully is a blog/eBook for another day, but once you have it in place, the picture you’re painting of your potential customers and website visitors becomes a fair bit clearer.
Based on online content activity and engagement, you can lead score visitors and place them into categories. From there, you can further service content based on where people are in your marketing funnel and what their interests are.
Unfortunately, intent data doesn’t always give us a clear picture. It works incredibly well for well-known bands or those in the top two Google listings.
Ok, let’s backtrack a little. What we’re doing here is splitting intent data into two areas:
- Search intent data – search terms that are product or service focussed, such as white trainers
- Brand intent data – search terms that feature a brand name, such as white Adidas trainers
When buying intent data doesn’t work
Intent data may also only provide you with cold prospects. Completing a web form, downloading a pdf or attending a webinar doesn’t mean prospects are now ready to sign up to your annual subscription package… even with one month free.
The cold hard truth is that if a prospect hasn’t heard of you, they’re more likely to ignore you than become a customer. To counter, you need to get inside their head.
We’ve written a blog on the psychology behind why new customers ignore and how you can fix it. The gist of the blog is the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also called the frequency illusion.
When you see something for the first time, such as the make or colour of a car or a song on the radio you’ll start to see it everywhere. This isn’t because everyone now owns the red car you like. It’s because you’re now aware of the red car.
If you’re looking for a new car you’re likely to be in the ready to buy zone for a red car.
So, how do you focus on those new customers that are ready to buy? How do you tap into that golden 5%? You find your niche and focus on brand intent data.
Focus on brand intent to dominate a niche
Brand intent data is very much like search intent data in that it works incredibly well if you’re Adidas or Nike. People know who you are and may have a deep connection with your brand.
Does that mean small businesses and startups don’t have a look in? Absolutely, not. But, they do have to focus their resources.
Going niche is all about focussing your efforts on one area as a business. You don’t want to be trying to please everybody all of the time. It’s not a new concept, but it’s a solid process, and it works.
When you apply that concept to marketing, it means focussing your efforts on one or two areas. The difficulty here is finding the best geographic zone to spend your time and money. After all, you can’t target everywhere or be the biggest brand on earth overnight.
You can, however, be the biggest brand on a particular street or a particular business park.
Location can be your superpower, especially when you choose the right one – doing so is how the big players started.
Facebook concentrated on Harvard. Uber focussed on San Francisco. Admittedly Uber a much larger budget than most after the two founders had sold their previous businesses – Akamai Technologies for $19 million and StumbleUpon for $75 million. But, that goes to show the theory works for startups with small and large resources to hand
By being niche with your location, you allow yourself to be very targeted with what you’re doing. Focussing on a select area of potential customers means you can seem a more significant player than you are. Your message will go further, but your resources – time, finances, etc – won’t be stretched.
It does mean you have to think outside the box a little to find all the ways you can target that area – online and offline. By syncing up an out-of-home bus and shelter campaign with a well-timed ppc campaign, you could very well put your brand on the lips of the core customers you’re looking to impress.
This approach can open you up to the powerful world of offline interactions. A world where casual conversations between friends and colleagues help your brand grows through word of mouth. You’re building your network organically, with zero extra cost.
Which, in turn, can help you move away from the high cost of paid advertising as you’re spending your money in an area where people are most likely to buy. They have high brand intent.
This is where the product research starts.
But you can’t see it.