3 Steps for Finding Customers Who Already Want to Buy

Intent-based marketing takes a lot of the guesswork out of prospecting for new customers.

January 2016

Digital marketing has made it possible to connect with customers who are already eager to buy what you’re selling. By making intent-based marketing part of your overall strategy, you can identify consumers who have shown interest in the product or service you offer through their past purchasing behavior.

Intent-based marketing can be a powerful way to discover new customers without having to invest heavily in advertising or a new marketing platform. Fortunately, technology and marketing tools are making it easier than ever for businesses of any size to find customers ready to buy, as long as you follow a few key guidelines.

Step 1: Tap into big data.

Big data is not just for big businesses anymore. In recent years, consumer databases tracking a wide range of behavior have grown to be more reliable, targeted and actionable for small business owners. The challenge is to determine what data are useful, and what to do with them.

First you need to determine the characteristics of your ideal customer. Elements such as age, location, education level and job title all should be considered—if you can isolate four to five characteristics (e.g., living in Minneapolis, earning more than $100,000 a year, in a C-suite position, and an occasional golfer), you will be well-positioned to find promising prospects. The Communication Trends Report from Hotwire finds that businesses are moving away from using age as a key data point to understand consumer behavior, in part because it is too broad to provide much value. Instead, marketers maintain that hobbies and personal interests prove more useful predictors of intent.

You can leverage your own data to help figure out which customers are the most promising. Using free self-service analytics tools such as IBM’s Watson Analytics or Google Analytics to gain data insight into sales and online traffic will allow you to recognize patterns in your customers’ behavior on your site. These services can show you the most-visited pages and which call-to-action buttons are effective, and lay out the path visitors take through your website. If you are just starting out with web analytics, check out Google Analytics Academy for a good introductory course.

A service like InsightSquared ($65/month) can help you find and target potential customers by tapping into your customer relationship management data to offer lead generation, tracking and activity monitoring. For a bit more of an investment ($250/month), you can use something like Canopy Labs’ 360-Degree Customer View feature, which provides details on customers’ behavior and can help you determine which ones are worth reaching out to for potentially driving greater business.

Step 2: Go where customers spend their time.

Once you have a clear picture of your ideal customers, figure out where these individuals spend time. This could mean finding key influencers in your space who are active on Twitter and launching campaigns aimed at their followers. To determine who is a key influencer, search Twitter by topics relevant to see who in your industry is making their voices heard. Next, you will want to take a look at the relevance of the potential influencers’ content, as well as their reach, or number of followers.

Major search engines factor social media influence into page rank. To confirm that you are identifying true influencers, a simple Google search will reveal the most popular influencers at the top of the results page.

“You can do something as simple as finding a few blogs popular with your target customers and sponsor them directly or create a display campaign in AdWords targeting them,” says John-Henry Scherck, a marketing strategist for B2B sales firm DocSend.

Step 3: Retarget and refine.

As you reach out to these prospects, use data analytics tools to see how your campaigns and promotions are performing, and adjust accordingly. For example, if using display ads, consider A/B testing to see which versions of your ads enjoy the strongest responses. If one spotlighting a perennial best-selling product tends to drive traffic to your site more than one promoting a new product, it might be wise to stick with what’s worked in the past.

The further you can personalize your messaging based on a prospect’s previous buying or search behavior, the better. According to Infosys, a majority of consumers are in favor of personalization in areas such as personalized coupons (67%), personalized offers or promotions based on previous experiences (62%), and product recommendations based on previous purchases (58%).

Another useful way to connect with consumers with a likely interest in your offerings is to target those who have already visited your website. Businesses with a strong web presence will want to consider investing in retargeting efforts. Retargeting, also referred to as remarketing, places a cookie on a visitor’s browser, so after they leave your site, that cookie notifies retargeting platforms to display specific ads for your business as he or she surfs the web.

Retargeting tactics involve using services such as AdRoll or SteelHouse to re-engage users who have gone to your website but may not have followed through with a purchase. Because these prospects already have shown interest in your offerings, re-approaching them is more likely to bear fruit than will a cold approach to new consumers.



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