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What Is Customer Intent And How To Use It In Your Marketing


Is customer intent just another buzzword floating around the marketing industry or is it something we should be sitting up and paying attention to? In this article, we’ll be diving into what exactly it is, why it’s important, and how we can use it in our day-to-day marketing.

Customer intent was the theme of our latest release, but we think it’s time to step back and understand what exactly we mean by the term, and what it means to our marketing strategies. For ecommerce brands, in particular, customer intent is the holy grail. It helps marketers identify which stages of the customer they need to understand and influence. 

What is customer intent?  

Customer intent is often confused with buyer’s intent – what is driving them along the path to purchase. An example of this might be the intent to buy an eco-friendly backpack or to purchase a red pair of jeans. For ecommerce brands understanding this is crucial. Brands can push customers to products and options that are most likely to convert them. 

 But this doesn’t take into consideration actions customers take when interacting with brands who deliver a service or experience. If customer intent is about the actions an email subscriber or website browser takes towards achieving a specific goal, then surely that applies to B2B and NFP organizations too.  

Therefore, customer intent should be defined as the actions and decisions a customer makes towards converting and completing set goals.  

Why is customer intent more powerful than demographics?  

Marketers who exclusively rely on demographic information to target customers risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile shoppers.  

Demographic information and marketing preferences are great tools to help marketers build a customer profile and understand what they want from you. Unfortunately, they offer little insight into what they’re looking for in the moment.  

When customers are looking for something; a product, a solution, a service, they go to the web. More often than not, they turn to their smartphones. These intent-filled micro-moments are what brands need to be targeting to connect with people. It is in these crucial moments that you need to target customers with relevant and personalized content that will drive them to convert.  

How do you identify customer intent? 

Identifying customer intent

Marketing is no longer as simple as ushering customers down the funnel. The customer journey isn’t linear but cyclical and chaotic. We expect browsers to repeatedly visit our sites and communicate with us on multiple channels before they’re ready to make a decision. 

So now we know that we’re looking for intent-filled interactions to signify customer intent, how do we determine what these moments are? 

1. Collect actionable data  

Demographic and preference data is essential for creating personalized, engaging marketing messages. However, you need to be collecting more than just customer data. Action such as category page views, product page views, registrations, on-site searches, and landing page clicks should all be measured.  

These can help you identify patterns in customer behavior before they convert. You will then be able to target specific high-intent actions to drive customers into completing your goal.  

2. Spot key customer starting points 

Your homepage might be the page most frequently landed on, but it doesn’t reveal real customer intent. Instead, you need to decide where you consider the customer journey to begin. Site searches are always good indicators of customer intent. Shoppers are looking for something specific so you should be acting on this and making the journey to conversion as simple as possible. 

Similarly, specific category pages or feature pages can be a very clear indication of what customers are looking for. If a customer knows what they’re after, then this is a vital place for you to track and target.  

3. Create pre-intent content 

Understanding customer intent goes hand-in-hand with understanding the pain points that have driven you to your website in the first place. By strategizing your content marketing to focus on these specific pain points, blogs and learning resource pages can capture customer intent before they realize yours is the solution they need.  

For example, if your brand offers a kitchen fitting service you can create content targeting first-time homeowners with a checklist of things they need to consider when renovating a kitchen. This will help you pre-emptively capture customers interested in finding out more about your service. You can then guide them through your customer journey and lead them to the point of conversion. 

Adding customer intent to marketing strategies

How to use customer intent in your marketing automation? 

Targeting intent-filled micro-moments can produce a significant rise in revenue. There are several scenarios where you can use customer intent to trigger timely, relevant, and personalized marketing messages. 

Abandoned browse and cart abandonment emails  

Active carts or high-intent page visits demonstrate clear intent. To turn these moments into opportunities you need to build abandoned cart or abandoned browse programs.  

Landing in the inbox within one hour of abandonment, these programs are guaranteed to make you money. Don’t give them time to forget you, drive customers back to your site as quickly as possible to maximize their potential.  

Repeat page hits  

As part of your work identifying customer intent, you should have a clear idea about which pages on your website are important in the customers’ journey. Using this intelligence, you can create automation programs that are triggered when a browser views the same page three times.  

For example, if you’re a furniture company and have noticed customers frequently visiting your payment plans page, you can use this insight to trigger a campaign. When a shopper views the page numerous times, a friendly ‘ask us anything’ email might be just the push they need to convert.  

Level of engagement 

Customer modeling tools such as eRFM and lead scoring help you measure how engaged subscribers are. You can identify which customers are actively interacting with your brand and which have lapsed.  

Using this customer model means you can trigger campaigns to begin when customers move between audience groups. So, when a customer stops engaging with your marketing and they fall into a needs-nurturing or lapsed group, you can automatically enroll them into a win-back campaign.  

Similarly, when an unengaged subscriber starts re-engaging, you can deliver a personalized campaign using data you already hold on them. Product recommendation block and dynamic content are just a couple of ways you can drive newly engaged customers to convert.  

Special thanks to our friends at dotdigital for their insights on this topic.
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