Why Intent Data is the Elixir of Personalization


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A historic challenge faces today’s marketing professionals. They are tasked with creating unique, valuable, relevant experiences in an environment where the number of messages and channels has reached unprecedented heights.

Traditional marketing strategies don’t cut it anymore. Demographics-based segmentation is so ubiquitous it feels neither relevant nor personal.

A new era is here, one in which marketing must speak to individual consumers and provide a customer experience tailored to their immediate circumstances and intent. 

Marketers know the change is here, and they’re embracing it. More than half (57 percent) are interested in trying personalized and intent-based marketing this year, according to a Pan Communications survey. 

That personalized marketing is at the top of many marketers’ minds is unsurprising. A summer 2015 CMO Council report showed higher response and engagement rates were the biggest reason for the shift to personalization. Nearly half of respondents to the study said personalized content led to more timely and relevant interactions. 

But even as personalization takes top priority for marketers, strategies for personalizing the customer experience are still in nascent stages. Forrester Research found that although 91 percent of marketers prioritized personalization in 2016, many were still relying on segmentation to do so.

For marketing to become truly personalized, the Forrester study found, the process has to evolve into one that leverages contextual signals to create real-time personalization based on the nuances of immediate customer intent – that is to say, in the moment when customers choose to engage with the brand. Fewer than 1 in 5 marketers currently have the ability to do this across all channels. 

Attempts to broadly personalize the experience across touch points have largely been scattershot, resulting in uncoordinated and inconsistent customer experiences. What’s missing from many of these efforts is a reliable, ongoing stream of user intent. 


Intent is key to getting personalization right

What the consumer wants to do now or what they plan to do in the future are key considerations of effective personalized marketing. The more marketers understand about user intent, the better their marketing efforts will be. Intent data ensures that only contextually relevant content gets through to the consumer. 

It’s imperative that marketers find the right balance between appropriateness, convenience, timing, frequency and consistency. The results are worth the effort. According to Forrester Research, 66 percent of consumers found that personalized content and offers had an effect on their decision to buy a product or service. 

But not all types of intent data are created equal. So here’s a look at the different ways you can capture user intent data and personalize the customer experience.  


Behavioral intent

Behavior-based marketing determines appropriate products and content based on information collected from a consumer’s browsing behavior. But to infer intent and target your marketing relying only on past behavior will only get you so far in being able to personalize the experience. That’s because previous behavior alone rarely offers a complete picture of a visitor’s true intent.

For example, behavioral-based intent data typically would categorize a visit to the cart as an indication of purchase intent. But according to iPerceptions’ research 56 percent of people who visit the cart have no immediate intent to purchase. To classify cart visitors as purchase intenders is to gravely misclassify these visitors in the wrong intent segment.

Consequently, they will be shown misaligned ads and content leading to a poor experience. 


Search-based intent

Until relatively recently, marketers used a number of different proxies to determine intent. Search keywords were among the most popular proxies. For example, you can infer a visitor’s intent based on the search terms they entered 

Segmenting keywords by intent, while still a popular tactic, leaves marketers with a host of problems. For one, it’s difficult to deal with keywords that fall into more than one category (informational, qualifier, criteria, intent to buy, etc.). And even when you do assign several keyword classifications, it still is inferring a visitor’s intent. 


Stated intent

The most accurate type of visitor intent is stated intent, directly from the customer. Showing relevant content is far easier when the focus shifts from visitor type to visit type. 

That’s why iPerceptions has developed Active Recognition, the only technology that recognizes the intent of anonymous website visitors in real-time without having to ask them. Active Recognition takes an ongoing representative sample of stated visitor intent captured by a survey from a small portion of your site visitors, usually less than 1 percent. Then we take this unique dataset and label live sessions with stated visitor intent in real-time.

Leveraging first-party stated intent like what iPerceptions can provide through our Active Recognition Technology can tighten retargeting strategies by recognizing purchase intenders and aligning messages with their needs to bolster the chances of conversion. Stated intent brings powerful precision to personalization. You can optimize on-site messaging to meet the needs of each individual visitor.

Intent data is a fundamental ingredient in the drive to enhance your digital marketing efforts. There might be various ways to get intent data but none as powerful as stated user intent.

Image source: Flickr

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Duff Anderson
Duff Anderson is a visionary in digital Voice of the Customer research with over 20 years' experience. As SVP and Co-founder at iPerceptions, Duff is responsible for providing expert advice to organizations on how to gain a competitive advantage across the digital customer lifecycle and become more customer-centric.


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