What is Intent Marketing?

Consumer behavior has changed. People have far more control over the media they use and the content (or advertising) they engage with. They want instant, easy access to business content and information that’s relevant to their needs at the moment. On their own time.

Intent Marketing is based on meeting this new consumer reality in the best way possible. It’s a pull marketing strategy that – unobtrusively – presents people just what they need to see in order to choose a business. Whether it be customer reviews or coupons, available product inventory or photos and videos, content remains king in people’s minds.

And this content needs to be shown on demand to people who have asked to receive it across the media channels they use the most including social media, traditional search media, mobile marketing, and voice search. 

Let’s take a deeper look.

Why is Intent Marketing Important?

The importance of intent marketing and its relevance in today’s world stands out when we study consumer purchase behavior and how it has evolved over the years. Let’s take this example: What do we do when we want to know more about a person that we’ve never heard of before? We run a search on Google about them, check out social media profiles that they own, and read blog posts they’ve authored—and by doing this, we gain a fair idea of who this person is and what they do. This is the standard of how we chase and consume information today, and it should come as no surprise that we learn about businesses the same way.

Consumers want to find information about businesses seamlessly, and they utilize search engines, voice search, social media, mobile apps to help them find exactly what they are looking for. Today’s consumers have significantly more control over the media channels than ever before. We’re long past the days when the Yellow Pages was the best way to reach and engage potential buyers.

Take a look at the graph below (Figure 1.0), which represents what media channels people are using to find and choose brands in today’s digital ecosystem. We’ve analyzed 165,000 businesses, surveyed 350 business owners, and interviewed over 1,700 consumers to identify these broad but enlightening trends. The Y axis is an approximation of media usage for business discover and selection from 0% to 100% consumer share of voice. The X axis is a 100-year timeline – from 1950 to 2050.

It may come as no surprise that traditional media was the number one media used by people to find and learn about local businesses for a long period of time. Think the Yellow Pages, newspaper circulars, local radio, and TV advertisements. People are moving in droves towards more digital means to find and choose businesses.

Next came the growth of the websites in the late 90s. This owned media source, which doesn’t include e-Commerce, was table stakes for brands to share store finders, basic contact information and maybe some photos. We’ve seen a big decline in consumer engagement with business websites and we don’t expect that trend to change in the coming years. Finally, you have the green line that represents a brand’s digital profiles. In just the last couple of years, this channel has skyrocketed. It’s ubiquitous, influential, and arguably the most important owned media channel a brand has in its arsenal.

Figure 1.0: Media Used for Business Discovery & Selection

This trend has largely been driven by smart device proliferation. And with more smart devices, comes changes in how consumers search and choose brands. Research shows that 83% of all searches are non-branded, which means that the overwhelming majority of searches are not going to carry any branded-keywords. We’re talking about searches as simple as “best burgers in Tampa Bay”, or “laser tag arenas near me”, to more direct inquiries like “things to do in NYC during the summer”.

When you look at the numbers—this is an enormous opportunity for brands. Google, which boasts over a 90% share of the global search engine market, runs approximately 5.6 billion searches for users every day. This, coupled with the fact that 43% of all Google searches carry local intent, and that 88% of consumers who run a local search on their smartphone visit or call a store within a day, is exactly why businesses need to focus on intent marketing now more than ever.

Waiting for customers to search for your brand in order to deliver your business content is no longer the way to go, and branded keywords no longer represent the entire spectrum of online consumer intent.

Using Intent Marketing to Your Advantage

Even if your brand is a household name, the one thing you need to remember is this: If you’re not found when customers are searching for products/services, you’re not going to be in the consideration set of these consumers. It’s human tendency to pick an option from what we’re presented, and scarcely do we think beyond what’s been laid out in front of us.

Whether a brand is discoverable when a consumer runs a search and how much it captures the customer’s attention when it shows up plays an instrumental role in brand awareness building and customer acquisition—and this is exactly where intent marketing comes into play.

Third-party digital profiles on traditional search, voice search, mobile apps, and social media channels can be great for driving traffic and revenue. Brands need to understand that digital profiles, much like their website or email, are owned media channels that they can control. Platforms like Yelp, Facebook and Google, that host these digital profiles, have evolved into rich sources of brand content and information that consumers use to find, engage with, and choose brands of all types.

That being said, it’s very difficult for brands to manage this on a platform-by-platform basis. Large brands have an overwhelming amount of data and content that they need to manage, which makes it nearly impossible for them to optimize all the digital profiles associated with their brand across locations and media channels. 

What brands need is a command-and-control center where they can curate, optimize, and distribute the business content critical to brand building and customer acquisition across all their digital profiles. This way, when a consumer looks for a brand on voice search, social media, or traditional search marketing, brand marketers show relevant content on their products and services, and have calls-to-action that will encourage a transaction from the visitor.

This serves the purpose of transforming a brand’s digital profiles – the means by which consumers are largely finding and choosing businesses – into the most effective owned media channel for brand awareness and customer acquisition.

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