Most markets today know their marketing efforts need to focus on the buyer journey. They are creating customer-centered marketing strategies to craft relevant and engaging content that drive leads into the sale funnel and delivering targeting messaging to nurture prospects until they are ready to convert.
While the content can be web pages, landing pages, blogs, videos, infographics, whitepapers, emails, social media, traditional advertising, or more, one strategy smart marketers are employing is targeting their efforts based on buyer intent.
What Is Buyer Intent?
Buyer intent is the goal a prospect has at each stage of the buying process. Although it may be different for different prospects, most buyers follow a fairly similar pattern as part of their decision-making process.
In the beginning, a prospect’s goal may be to understand their problem better or figure out if solutions are available. Their intent at this stage may be focused on education. As they move along the buyer journey, they may find the potential solution and research vendors or suppliers. At this stage, buyer intent may focus on specific features and, eventually, pricing. Before they make the final decision, they may be seeking information on warranties, contracts, and support.
If you don’t have the information and messaging to meet buyer intent at each stage of the buyer’s journey, you risk them going to your competitor. Discovering the buyer intent at each stage and uncovering what actions on your part move them to the next stage is crucial to an effective marketing strategy.
Why Is Buyer Intent Important?
It takes time and effort to build and maintain a strong lead generation plan, but without a way to assess buyer intent, sales teams can waste a lot of time chasing prospects that will never convert.
In today’s marketplace, data is central to any successful marketing campaign. One of the key metrics marketers need to examine is the data uncovering buyer intent. Buyer intent data lets marketing teams track buying signals. Leveraging data about past conversions, marketers can uncover the signals indicating a prospect is ready to move to the next stage of the buyer journey.
If you’re using automation, intent data will trigger the next stage in your content delivery to drive buyers through the customer lifecycle. This is especially important for those using Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategies targeted key decision-makers and high-value companies. When an event triggers buyer intent signals, it represents a significant opportunity with ABM. For example, when marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) display the behaviors that most typically lead to conversions, they become sales-qualified leads. It’s time for the sales team to engage.
Three-quarters of marketers are using some form of marketing automation in their organizations. More than half are using automation to drive email campaigns. Even if you’re not using automation as part of your marketing tech stack and you’re tracking leads in your CRM, using spreadsheets, or writing names on post-it notes, it’s crucial to know the triggers for your buyers.
Understanding buyer intent is more important than ever. B2B buyers are well through the buyer journey before they ever engage with a salesperson. They’ve done their research online and may have already decided on your competitor’s products before you even get a chance to sell. That’s why it’s so important to understand buyer intent even in the earliest stages.
B2C customers aren’t that much different. They may look at your products, but when they decide it’s time to buy, they’ll likely check out prices for comparable products against your competitors. Even if you’ve created the demand and motivated the B2C consumer to buy, you may still not get the sale. Understanding the buyer intent before customers get to the pricing level is essential. At earlier stages, you may be able to meet buyer intent for things that are important beyond pricing, such as free shipping, in-store returns for online purchases, customer support, or reputation to tip the odds in your favor.
What Is Buyer Intent Data Used For?
A January 2021 study of B2C and B2B marketers by Ascend2 and Research Partners showed how companies are using buyer intent data:
- 52% Identifying new accounts to target
- 45% Aligning sales and marketing
- 33% Prioritizing accounts for prospecting
- 32% Customizing messaging based on intent topics
- 30% Monitoring potential customer chum
- 27% Sales enablement
- 22% Optimize lead scoring models
Although marketers use buyer intent data in multiple ways, the top application is to identify new target accounts and generate leads.
How to Uncover Buyer Intent
The more data you have, the more sophisticated your insight will be. However, experienced markets and sales teams should already have a rough idea of what makes up buyer intent.
The best way is to start from your point of sale and work backward. By examining what actions buyers took immediately before making a purchase, you can start to understand the final piece that drove them to convert.
For example, your experience may show that asking for a formal quote or getting a product demo is the most common step before making a purchase. When a prospect does one of these things, they are sending clear buyer intent signals.
Now take a step back from there. What happened before a prospect asked for a quote or requested a demo. Was it reading an eBook, watching a video, or attending a webinar? Was it seeing a targeted ad for the tenth time? Was it a referral from another customer?
Every business may have different answers to those questions, but finding the triggers that moved customers from one stage of the buyer’s journey to the next is essential.
Customer Journey Mapping
Customer journey mapping is a process for tracking all of your customer touchpoints to find these actions. With a customer journey map, you create the framework for how buyers move from MQLs to SQLs to conversion.
As buyers move from the Awareness to Consideration to Decision stage of the buyer’s journey, it’s important to understand their emotions and triggers. As you know, much of sales is about identifying a customer’s pain point and then producing the solution that solves their problem. This happens at each stage of the buying journey.
Whether you track from first contact to conversion or work backward, it’s important to understand the buyer’s intent at each stage of the journey. In this way, you can design your marketing strategy to key in on buyer intent for awareness and lead generation, nurturing during the consideration phase, and conversion tactics during the decision stage.
Many salespeople still think of buyer intent as something that shows up just when the customer is ready to buy. That’s not the case. Buyers indicate intent at every stage of the customer journey. It’s only when you understand buyer intent at each stage that you can harness its power.
When you can deliver the best messaging designed around buyer intent at each customer touchpoint, you can significantly increase the odds of delivering the right content to the right buyer at the right time to move them to the next stage.
Using Buyer Intent to Drive Conversions
Today, prospects spend 50% of their time seeking information from third-party sources, according to Gartner. Rather than waiting for buyers to complete an action or fill out a lead gen form to show interest, buyer intent signals help uncover how customers find information and what they need. This buyer intent data becomes a powerful tool to create the content they’re looking for online.
Many companies are using internal data along with third-party (external) buyer intent data to discover the triggers that lead to conversions. By the end of 2022, 70% of B2B marketers, for example, plan to use external buyer intent data for targeting.
Buyer Intent Keywords
Buyer intent keywords are another powerful tool in meeting buyer intent. Buyer intent keywords are search queries that show someone is actively seeking information or looking to buy a product or service. Understanding the buyer’s intent can help you find the right buyer intent keywords to fuel your marketing messages.
When prospects are searching for information, what’s their first stop? A search engine. In most cases, it’s Google, which holds an astounding 93.4 % US market share. When they go to Google, they are typing in the keywords that often indicate their intent.
Take a look at these keywords and see if you can figure out potential buyer intent.
- How to fix my air conditioner
- Average home prices in [town name]
- Business loan rates
- Commercial cleaning services near me
Did you think these would be valuable buyer intent keywords for:
- My A/C went out and needs to be fixed.
- I’m thinking about buying or selling a home in [town name]
- I’m considering a business loan for my company
- I need help keeping my business clean
Think an HVAC contractor, real estate agent, business banker, or ad agency would be interested in connecting with people asking these questions? You bet they would.
Since more than 90% of online experiences start with a search engine, finding the keywords that indicate buyer intent is crucial. If you aren’t showing up on page one of a Google search, customers may never find you.
An effective content strategy, keyword optimization, and PPC (pay per click) marketing strategy can engage customers when they are searching.
In our example, potential customers are still in the research phase. Your content strategy might meet buyer intent with content such as:
- Website content: How-to videos or a guide on the most common reasons A/C units fail, how to fix them yourself, and when to call in a professional.
PPC ad: 24-hour emergency HVAC repair with no overtime charge.
- Website content: An article on homes for sale in [town name] with a breakdown of average costs by neighborhood.
PPC ad: Buy or sell your home with discounted commission fees.
- Website content: A list of current business loan rates and tips on how to find the best rates.
PPC ad: Apply online for a business loan and get approved in 15 minutes or less.
- Website content: A blog post on what you need to know to find the best commercial cleaner in your area.
PPC ad: First month of commercial cleaning free.
Each of these examples aligns with buyer intent. If you don’t have content that matches buyer intent, you’re driving potential customers right into someone else’s sales funnel.
Where it gets tricky is different customers at different stages of the buyer journey. That means you need a comprehensive marketing strategy to identify buyer intent, find the right buyer intent keywords, create content, employ keyword optimization, and manage and monitor results.
How Do I Find Buyer Intent Keywords?
Pull out your customer journey map and take a look at the actions buyers took at each stage of their journey. Look at what they did and think about how they found the information that led to that action. When you get in the minds of your customers, you can often figure out the questions they might ask.
Make a preliminary list of questions that match buyer intent, and then head over to Google.
Google Ads Keyword Planner
It won’t come as a surprise that Google has the best data regarding what people search for on their search engine. Sign up for a free Google Ads account. Even if you never place an ad on Google yourself, the Keyword Planning Tool is a great way to find high-value buyer intent keywords.
Once you’ve logged in, click on Tools & Settings on the top right and select discover new keywords. Type in one of your questions, and Google will generate a list of keywords based on search intent. It will show you top-performing buyer intent keywords, average monthly searches, trends, and typical pricing that wins bids.
You can try various combinations, add or subtract keywords, and even filter results by your competitors to see which keywords score best for them.
If you are using Google Analytics on your website, the Keywords report will show you which buyer intent keywords perform best on your website. If you’ve set up conversion tracking, you can also gauge how successful specific content pages were in getting buyers to take the next step in their buying journey. In other words, after landing on your page, did they take the action you wanted them to take?
High conversion rates indicate your content is working while low conversion rates — especially for high-value buyer intent keywords — show you places you can improve.
Online Keyword Research Tools
There are plenty of other keyword research tools online that can help you find high-value keywords and discern buyer intent. Here are a few of the more popular ones.
Keep in mind that some keyword tools are free, some offer free trials, and others require a monthly subscription fee.
Another useful tool is Answer the Public. Type in a keyword or phrase and see what people are searching for online. Answer the Public creates a “wheel” showing related keywords to your search terms and the questions people ask.
It’s always a good idea to ask your customers. Find out how they found you and what factors helped shape their journey. It might be as simple as asking what problem they were trying to solve or why they chose you rather than someone else.
Getting customers to articulate these items in their own words can help you craft buyer intent keywords. It also helps keep you focused on the way real people talk and search.
Hire an Expert
As you can probably tell, it can be a lot of work to figure all this out. Even if you get everything defined, there are two other key points you should know. Winning at search and using buyer intent keywords to drive conversions requires:
- Keyword optimization to continuously improve performance and ROI. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it type deal. It takes monitoring, tweaking, and A/B testing for continuous improvement.
- Search algorithms change constantly. Google changes its algorithms 500-600 times a year. It’s a full-time job to stay on top of changes and maximize your outcomes.
That’s why so many people rely on companies like Redstitch to provide turnkey digital marketing services that save you time, money, and get better (and faster) results. We have a team of experts and specialists dedicated to maximizing value and increasing your results.
With proven systems and a digital marketing platform enhanced by artificial intelligence, we create data-driven solutions that produce better outcomes. We’re so confident in our ability to improve your results that we guarantee we will double your conversions within the first year, or you’ll get up to 100% of your money back.
Contact Redstitch Digital to start growing your business today