As the web becomes more crowded and “content shock” becomes more prevalent, reaching our target contacts is more and more challenging each and every day. The people we’re trying to reach are being inundated by a constant stream of messaging, 99 percent of which dissolves into white noise. So, how do we make sure our content is part of the 1 percent that makes it through? It starts with getting into the mindset of your target audience, and that starts with monitoring intent signals.
When you find yourself facing a business decision or a challenge, what’s the first thing you do? If you’re like most people, you turn to the web, and so do your target contacts. For B2B marketers who monitor intent signals, that online activity is the key that grants them access to the mindsets of their target audiences.
Intent monitoring provides a behind-the-scenes look at a target’s online activity — not only engagements with our own websites, but with any content on the internet. We can see which blogs they visit, which white papers they download, which articles they comment on and share. This data gives us an unprecedented insight into what’s on their minds, and those insights can form the foundation of powerful, personalized campaigns which cut through the noise.
It might sound complex, but using intent monitoring to build effective campaigns comes down to three simple steps.
Refine Your Target Personas
Most B2B marketers have a general idea of their target personas, which usually involve descriptions along the lines of “VPs of marketing at large e-commerce companies” or “accounts-payable managers at midsize corporations.” Intent data lets us dive deeper and learn the answers to questions such as:
- Who are our targets’ customers?
- What challenges do they face on a daily basis?
- Which topics do they search on the web, and how often?
- Which keywords and key phrases do they use when they search?
- Which search results are they most likely to click on?
With answers to these questions in place, we can paint a clearer picture of our target contacts and put ourselves in their shoes to uncover deeper insights.
Use Role-Play to Get Into the Mindset of Your Customer
Intent signal data gives us important information about what our targets are doing online, offering important clues about their mindsets. To go deeper, we need to exercise a bit of creativity.
Take a close look at the detailed persona you’ve just created and put yourself in this person’s shoes. Ask yourself questions like:
- “What specifically am I looking for when I search for information about a product or service?”
- “What would I need to see or hear to make me trust a company? What would turn me off?”
- “What are my top priorities in selecting a product or service? Price? Reputation? Ability to integrate with current systems or processes?”
- “How important is a company’s thought leadership in my decision to buy their product or not?”
Build Campaigns Around What You’ve Learned
You’ve done your homework; now it’s time to take the information you gathered and start building campaigns that cut through the noise.
The reason why many campaigns fail is that they’re based on a one-size-fits-all, “batch and blast” approach. When the recipient sees nothing in a message that speaks to his or her specific needs, interests, or challenges, that message fades into the background. By using the data we uncovered through intent monitoring, we can create laser-targeted campaigns that make our targets sit up and take notice.
Specifically, we can use what we’ve learned about our targets’ mindset to:
- Design messages specific to the topics they’ve been searching on the web;
- Incorporate words and phrases taken directly from their online searches;
- Promote the attributes of our brand that are most likely to resonate with them; and,
- Present next steps that anticipate what they want before they even know it.
Thinking Beyond the Campaign
The insights into the mindsets of targets that we gain from intent monitoring can form the foundation of powerful campaigns, and that’s just the beginning. We can continue monitoring intent signals to find out how well our approach is working … and if it’s not, we can see what is working to win their engagement.
Specifically, we can further use intent signal data to answer questions including:
- Are we responding to the need we discovered through intent monitoring? If so, we’re accomplishing our mission. If not, we can look at ways of better personalizing the target’s experience to speak to that need.
- If targets aren’t responding to our campaigns, why not? If campaign responses aren’t what we expected, we can return to our intent signal data to see what contacts are responding to, and we can fine-tune our approach accordingly.
- Which factors influence our targets’ buying decisions most strongly? We can look at the specific messages that elicit the strongest responses and use that intel to design future communications.
- Does our product or service fulfill the benefits the target is looking for? Those intent signals that first appeared on our radars were the beginning of a search for answers. If we discover our products or services don’t deliver the answers our targets needed, it might be time to start working with our product teams on improvements or new offerings.
Intent signal data is more than just information: it’s a key that grants us access to our targets’ mindsets. We have at our fingertips important clues about what they want, why they want it, where and when they want it, and how they want to get it. For the first time in the history of marketing, we have information that all the focus groups, surveys, and predictive models could ever yield. By using this information strategically, we can create personalized campaigns that cut through the noise and form the foundations of solid relationships — and we can continue using our data to keep those relationships going strong for years to come.