What is Intent Data?
Intent data is a collection of observed digital consumer behavior. This data can be used to gain a deeper understanding of your target audiences and reveal certain buyer behaviors that can indicate a lead’s movement through the sales cycle.
Once you understand buyer behavior at each point in the sales cycle, you may reveal the roadblocks that stop a lead from continuing down the funnel. Understanding their intent can lead to more relevant and engaging marketing for consumers at all stages of the cycle.
When you know more about what your customer is searching to find, you are better able to provide the right answers at the right time.
Digital marketing gives you access to an abundance of consumer data, which can become a hindrance to your overall strategy if you do not know how to parse through the massive amount of information at your disposal.
How we collect information about consumers and what metrics we prioritize has changed over the years. In the old days of face-to-face engagement, intent data might include event participation, body language, and phone calls. Today, we can collect even more insightful data through content and email engagement, social media interactions, competitor engagement, and online chatter.
Marketers can benefit from tracking these metrics:
1. Website Actions
You can learn a lot about a user based on how they interact with your website. There is also a copious amount of intent data you can gather just by examining how a user found your site and what they did after reaching it.
Intent data can be used to improve navigation and overall user experience on your website. How your website is set up will greatly impact whether or not a visitor continues through the site or clicks off. Improving navigation may be your first step in improving your bounce rate.
User behavior patterns will reveal the best pathways through your site and where users are dropping off. If you know the question a user arrived with, you want to make sure there is a clear path from the landing page to the important information they seek.
Overall, you want to create an engaging user experience. From the moment the visitor enters the site, you want their experience to be enjoyable; imagery, messaging, layout, menu setup, and navigation all have huge impacts on the user’s impression of your brand from the moment they click on your site.
2. Search Habits
Just like it is important to know what page the visitor lands on, how the visitor got to the page is also a major point of interest. Knowing the source of a user tells you exactly what it was that intrigued them enough to click the link; this is the first step to knowing what engages your audience.
Using UTM codes, you can track key data by simply changing the URL. You can track five elements:
- Campaign: groups together all content from the same campaign; for example, to track a specific promotion or deal
- Source: tracks the website the visitor originated from; for example, to track all traffic from Instagram
- Medium: tracks the medium your link was included in; for example, to track all traffic from email vs. social media
- Content: tracks types of content that lead to the same destination, used for PPC campaigns or identical links on one page; for example, if the user clicked on the link in the header versus the same link in the sidebar.
- Term: also known as keyword-based tracking, this code tracks the keywords paid for in PPC ads; for example, if you create a Google Ad for the phrase “intent data,” then you could add this code to the URL of your digital ad to track that phrase.
These metrics can all be tracked in any combination, so you can make sure you are getting just the data you need without overloading with information.
You can create your first custom campaign URL right now with Google’s simple tool, the URL Builder, to start tracking these parameters in Google Analytics.
How users are searching has also changed over the years. Recently, voice search has gained popularity among online consumers. This may require adjustments to your site messaging and layout in order to make your site and content more voice search-friendly.
3. Social Media Engagement
Social media is quickly becoming a cornerstone of content marketing. Nearly every demographic is using some form of social media, making it an effective and profitable marketing platform for every business.
The key to successful social media marketing is tailoring your content to your specific audience. Most social platforms make it easy for businesses to collect data from their audiences, meaning you don’t need to be a professional data analyst to make use of this invaluable information.
To find this intent data, analyze your audience’s typical online behavior. Track which influencers your leads follow, what topics they research, what events and news they care about most, the hashtags they use, and if they are following any of your competitors.
This information can all be used to gain a better understanding of how your audience behaves and identify patterns of behavior throughout the sales funnel. You will also be able to provide more personalized and relevant content for all stages of the funnel.
Social media platforms are the ideal place to share your content. Giving your audience opportunities to engage with content on your website through social media will increase traffic to your site while helping your overall SEO plan; hashtags and other uses of keywords will help to boost your search engine ranking.
Content and social media marketing aren’t B2C exclusives. B2B businesses are on social too, with 75% of B2B buyers using social media to search for information about a purchase. If you know your audience, you will know how to make content that is appropriate for your industry and brand.
4. Reviews and Comments
One of the best things about social media is it isn’t a one way street. You share content with your audience, and your audience provides content back in the form of comments and reviews.
Customer reviews are one of the most impactful factors in a buyer’s decision making process. Reviews can come the form of Yelp or Google reviews, or simply in the comments on your social posts. What other people are saying about you online matters; 79% of people say that user-generated content on social media significantly impacts their decisions; 92% trust the recommendations of friends and family and 85% trust consumer reviews online as much as a personal recommendation.
Managing these interactions serves your business in a number of ways. It gives insight into where you are currently missing the mark with your customers and may give suggestions to what actions should be taken. You will also get the chance to right any wrongs, showing accountability and dedication to customer satisfaction. In the end, consumers want to know that their best interest is in mind and that they are supporting transparent and honest business practices.
5. Content Consumption
Content marketing is a cycle that keeps on giving. When you share a piece of content, you are creating the opportunity to learn more about your audience, which can be used to further perfect your content marketing strategy.
Knowing what content your audience is engaging with will tell you what questions they have and what information they need. When you take this feedback and apply it to your next piece of content, you are more in tune with what your audience wants.
As you collect more data, you will notice patterns in the types of content certain leads are engaging with. This data can help you identify where you might be losing leads and explain why strong leads go cold. Knowing where your audience hits these roadblocks allows you to alter your marketing strategy to accommodate these leads.
Utilizing Intent Data
The data you gather can be used to optimize every aspect of your marketing strategy.
As technology advances and trends change, how your website is set up will also need to change. You want to make regular updates to your website to keep up with trends and avoid looking outdated.
Rising trends like voice search and chatbots might mean you have to rethink what format your content is in. More businesses are beginning to utilize chatbots to keep up with increasing customer demands for timely service and access to buyer information.
Simple additions and tweaks to your current site can provide you with insightful data while also improving user engagement on your site. For example, creating custom landing pages for certain promotions or advertising campaigns can tell you what messaging, imagery, location, and other factors are most impactful to your audience.
Making these changes based on user habits will ensure that you are creating a user experience your users actually want.
How, what, where, when, and why are all important questions to consider when creating content. How your audience finds your content; what content are they most engaged with; where they engage with your content; when in the buyer’s journey they look for this content; why they need that content at that point; these are all necessary to know to get the right content in front of the right customer at the right time.
Most of all, consumers want to support brands they can trust. Consistently providing relevant, accurate, and informative content will raise your credibility and help gain customer trust.
This content will also help with SEO; as you continue to add more content to your site, you are increasing your chances of appearing as a top result for a topic or question. Written content is an ideal place to include precise short and long-form keywords. Users today will often input their search queries as full questions; including these exact questions in your content, like a blog, will improve your ranking when that question is searched. Collecting data will reveal what other keywords and questions you should be focusing on.
3. Social Media
Social media is an extraordinary tool for businesses of all sizes. It provides a platform for you to share your content while also letting you engage directly with leads and customers.
Social platforms have data analysis tools built-in for businesses, making it easy for small businesses to dip their toes into data analytics. Platforms like Facebook can help you to identify which demographics are currently engaging with your brand, which will help you create content with the right audience in mind. Once you begin sharing content, you can use simple social metrics like likes, comments, and shares to determine how engaged your audience is.
Once you get comfortable using some of these basic metrics to assess your content, you can look deeper to see how your current social media strategy is impacting brand awareness, engagement, and influence.
Overall, intent data is one of the most powerful resources at your fingertips. Analytics reveal trends in consumer behavior that hold the answers to many of your marketing questions. Utilizing intent data will help you get to know your customers better so you can continue to anticipate their needs and provide what they need.
Thanks for reading,
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in May 2021 and has been edited and updated in March 2022.