Turning Intentions into Conversions

By Michael Kahn, Global CEO, Performics Worldwide

Today, consumers move seamlessly and simultaneously across channels and devices in the path-to-purchase. Every brand touchpoint--whether it's a search result, social post, content piece, or TV ad--is part of a holistic, omni-channel shopping journey. The lines between physical and virtual shopping have even blurred, with mobile as the key integrator. No matter where, each and every moment could be "shoppable."

Throughout this continuous and connected journey, consumers have come to expect highly personalized experiences, aligned with their wants and needs, in specific moments. In a world where media is personalized and contextual, delivering the right experience, at the right moment, is critical. Yet, many advertisers still treat every customer and moment the same. Advertisers must move from mass marketing to moment marketing, and pull strategy to predictive strategy. To create connected experiences that are built to engage, every touchpoint must align with consumer intent.

Intent is the largest marketing variable. It shapes how people discover content, dictates paths-to-purchase and mediates meaningful interactions with brands, regardless of media type. In today's landscape, successful advertisers are identifying intent at each consumer decision point, matching that intent and turning it into conversions.

Understanding and Activating Intent

Understanding consumer intent requires brands to extract meaning from data including: consumer journeys, search keywords, device, geo, demographics, interests, time, prior brand connections, CRM, competitive insights, marketplace landscape, seasonality, etc. In particular, search keywords have always been a great way to identify and serve intent, as they reveal a clear glimpse into the searcher's need. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis will enable you to create an initial intent hypothesis, a vision of experiences that you think will best engage each of your audiences. In-market data (clicks, leads, conversions)--powered by advanced analytics--will then enable you to continually validate and refine your intent hypothesis.

In your intent-based planning process, you'll uncover the varying intents of each of your audience segments (e.g. prospects vs. customers). You can then deliver highly personalized/dynamic messages, targeting strategies and landing page experiences to each intent. Every little insight into consumer intent can greatly influence performance. To illustrate, a technology brand client recently launched a new product amongst much buzz. Consumers turned to Google to search for the product name. But what were their exact intentions? Were they existing customers looking to upgrade to the new product; or new customers? CRM data--as it often does--held the key to intent, enabling the brand to (1) identify new vs. existing customers and (2) predictively deliver differing ad messages to each segment. The brand realized an 800+ percent conversion boost year-over-year through this strategy.

As devices and channels continually proliferate--and shopping journeys increase in complexity--catering to consumer intent will only grow in importance. Heading into the 2016 planning season, it's critical for brands to reassess their operating assumptions, strategies and objectives. Intent should have a place in every plan. What are your intentions?

About the Author

Michael Kahn is CEO, Performics Worldwide, the global performance marketing agency inside ZenithOptimedia. With a passion to move clients' businesses ahead every day, Michael motivates the organization to set the standard for strategic leadership, proactive service and sustained innovation.