Author: Johanna Rivard / Source: Marketing Insider Group Individual users and businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on the inter
Individual users and businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on the internet as a research portal. This has led to changes in the way brands market their products and services.
If you’re familiar with the B2B buyer’s journey, then your business may benefit further from understanding the age-old but somehow underutilized concept of buyer intent. With a holistic understanding of buyer intent, your business can improve the lead qualification process and enhance sales conversions.
Buyer intent comes down to knowing what makes a great lead. And this means putting your customer’s needs, wants and interests at the center of all your sales and marketing campaigns.
Decades ago, it was all about how awesome your business is, how valuable your product is, and how brilliant your service is. Nowadays, it’s about how well you can deliver what your target market wants in terms of communication, products, and customer service.
This is the customer-centered approach that businesses and organizations aim for. Providing the right products and services, for the right people, at the right time, using the right channels, to address the right needs or wants, is what customer centricity is all about. The customer, their buyer’s journey, the sales funnel, and user behavior are at the core of a customer-centric approach to any marketing campaign.
So, What Is Buyer Intent?
These days, marketers use data analytics tools to measure the success of every marketing effort. Keyword searches, engagement rates, email open rates, behavioral data, and demographic information are some of the metrics that contribute to buyer intent. Simply put, buyer intent data is a collection of information about a company (or individual users in B2C cases) and their online activity.
With this data, you can get a clearer picture of where buyers are in the linear marketing funnel, a better understanding of how to keep their attention, and how to convert them into paying customers.
Directly, it refers to the intention of a user (or buyer) during the process of purchasing a product or service. With the help of modern data analytics tools, marketers can map out buyer intent and determine where buyers are in the buyer’s journey, which helps improve targeting.
Customer Touch Points
Gone are the days when buyers approach a company for services with little knowledge about their options. Pre-packaged sales solutions no longer work. These days, buyers do a lot of research and educate themselves about their problems and available solutions even before making an initial inquiry.
In doing so, buyers leave digital footprints called intent data. Every website they visit, every article they read, and every other online action can give you tidbits about their motivation and purpose. Businesses who capitalize upon and utilize this intent data gain a competitive advantage over those that do not.
According to Forrester, the first vendor who makes contact with an interested prospect closes the deal over 85% of the time. By determining buyer intent through these digital footprints and customer touch points, marketers can focus on engaging prospects who are most likely to buy.
Uncovering Buyer Intent
To uncover buyer intent, it’s important to trace the process that B2B buyers go through before committing to the actual purchase. As mentioned, buyers nowadays usually enter the sales funnel at a later stage, after being made aware of and identifying their problem.
Thus, the B2B buyer’s journey begins with a change in the status quo or the need to address a particular problem. Commitment to that change then follows when someone approves the project. After which, solutions are compared, and avenues are explored through extensive research. Once a solution has been decided upon, the organization then commits to that solution before finally making a decision to purchase a specific product or service.
There are variations in this process depending on the organization and industry. But generally speaking, this is the usual process that any business goes through when securing a specific service.
The length of time it takes before a business makes an actual purchase depends on company size and the urgency of their situation. For some, it can take just a couple of weeks, while bigger companies can easily take months or years to finalize a major purchase.
During initial research stages, analytics platforms can gather data on search behavior, content engagement, and social media behavior to provide buyer intent insights. Now that you have this data in your hands, you can actually uncover buyer intent by asking the right questions.
Ask Why, Not What.
To uncover true buyer intent, it’s important to begin with the ‘why’ instead of the ‘what.’ Traditionally, marketers are used to analyzing from the outside-in:
“What does Company A need?” → “How do they achieve this?” → “Why…