May 16, 2017
Do companies really know who you are? Does all of the data they track add up to anything that amounts to a meaningful picture of your life, your beliefs, your wants and desires? That is a hard question to answer, but in the world of digital marketing, we can say with a high degree of confidence that businesses are getting better at understanding intent.
What is intent? In the context of commerce, intent is a desire that a consumer is acting on. Intent is the stage in a purchasing life cycle where a shopper has gone from wanting something to deciding that they will purchase it — if, and only if, they can find something close to what they want.
Why Intent Matters
Intent is important for digital marketers to identify because if you know a customer is at a certain stage of the process, you will be able to market to them differently than to someone who merely wants something. Intent is the moment to pounce; to close; to make a final case of why they should buy your product.
Today, digital marketers are learning how to establish intent from digital footprints left by shoppers online.
“There are certain behaviors that individuals exhibit when engaging with a brand in the digital world that indicate different levels of intent,” said Ryan Urban, co-founder and CEO of Bounce Exchange, in a recent interview. “It’s the same way a person’s body language dictates their interest while shopping in a brick and mortar store. This digital body language — the actions individuals take while browsing — has thus far been overlooked by brands. This is primarily because the technology to track, decipher, and react to those actions has not existed.”
But not anymore. Technology now empowers brands to cut through the noise and isolate customer behaviors on an individual level. That allows marketers to focus on doing more than driving traffic and engagement, it allows them to focus on sales. In a very real sense, this closes the loop on the marketing to sales hand-off.
Previously, marketers only knew that if a browser looked at a product online and did not buy it, that they should be retargeted with an ad as they continued to browse the web. The ad would be generic, since they knew very little about what stage of the buying process that browser was in. Furthermore, if that browser switched to a different device, they might lose them altogether.
The Future of Digital
The standard for digital marketing is now much higher and there are platforms that gives them insight into customer behaviors, facilitates seamless remarketing across devices, and customizes ad creative to the customer’s actual interests. That means someone browsing for bedroom furniture in mahogany will be retargeted with ads of bedroom furniture in mahogany.
Behavioral marketing is the new frontier in digital marketing. It adapts the e-commerce experience to human buying tendencies, and to the degree that it is possible in a digital medium, to recreate the offline buying experience. By tapping into intent, behavioral marketers are increasing a company’s’ ability to connect customers with content, products, and services that they are actually looking for.
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