Intent marketing is the practice of marketing a product or service based on a consumer's intent to make a purchase decision, as demonstrated by their actions. Put simply, it's about marketing to individuals whose behavior dictates that they are more likely to take a certain action or make a certain purchase.
So how do you determine consumer intent? With data. By analyzing your customers' behavior over time, you can identify trends — like recurring search engine queries, or certain types of content driving engagement on your website — that lead to conversion (be it a purchase, appointment, newsletter sign-up, job application, or in-store visit) and then target prospects who take those actions.
Consumers express intent in their search behavior billions of times each day. In addition to studying their own customer intent data, marketers should also track broader trends like intent indicators in search. For example, a customer searching "buy car insurance in Maryland" is likely looking to purchase insurance in the near term, while a user searching for "what kind of car insurance do I need?" will probably need to do a bit more research before making a purchase. Terms like "buy," "visit," and "purchase" express a clear intent to transact. It's a simple concept with a high payoff.
Why does intent marketing matter?
Today, consumers no longer follow a linear path to purchase. They turn to their devices to get instant answers, searching for exactly what they want — and they expect brands to be able to provide it. Each time they make these searches, they are expressing intent. The idea behind intent marketing is that searching for "car repair near me" (for example) is a better predictor of intent to get a car repair than simply having purchased a car in the past.
Understanding when someone is taking an action that expresses a strong intent to transact with your business is key. It empowers you to focus on the right customers, and reach them at the moment they're most likely to make a purchase. Intent marketing helps businesses maximize spend by driving more conversions than they would with more general tactics like demographic-based targeting alone.
If businesses can incorporate data to better understand consumer intent and then align marketing to business outcomes, they can reach customers in the moments that matter — and drive sales as a result.
"People now expect to be assisted everywhere, and that means it's critical that you're measuring and understanding the impact of your media touchpoints on the consumer journey," Think With Google states. Success today means, "helping your marketing team understand the intent, interactions, and signals that are driving long-term growth."