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How and Why to Create Content That Responds to Consumer Intent

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
How and Why to Create Content that Responds to Consumer Intent

What can salespeople do to stop wasting so much time handling leads that are not ready to buy? Many companies find that intention-centric marketing can help.

This article explains how to leverage a three-step process to introduce intent into your promotional efforts.

Step 1: Build Personas and Buyer Journeys

If you don’t understand your audience and their progression through your marketing and sales journey, you have little chance of influencing their choices through each step of it.

The best way to gain this understanding is through buyer personas and journeys. You don’t need a lot of them. Come up with one for each unique type of customer or journey you can identify. Ensure you can make the case for adding a persona. If two types of customers are relatively similar, or their purchase paths don’t vary significantly, you don’t need unique personas.

Your personas should include anything you need to know about your prospective customers to market and sell to them effectively, including demographic information, need or desire for what you sell, media habits, education, income, how they become aware of you, what you want them to think and feel when they experience your organization, and more. Some people create personas in table or bullet-point formats. However, in most cases, a written narrative results in more realized personas.

Step 2: Add Friction and Value to Your Customer Journeys

Take a fresh look at your marketing and sales journeys. Don’t necessarily set them up as a traditional smooth and direct path prospects take to make a purchase. Instead, identify places to introduce friction experiences where you give prospective customers sufficient value to get them to continue their journey or, if they don’t find value, to move on to a competitor.

For example, instead of identifying a broad step like awareness in your journey, be more specific. Create a step to help customers understand why the problem your products or services solve is one worth addressing soon. Paint a picture of a better life without the challenge, and they will want to move through the friction point and learn more.

Each step or friction point should have a marketing or sales experience attached to it and corresponding content, which could be a landing page, video, blog article, or experience.

Once you introduce your new journeys, including the friction points and marketing experiences, you can monitor your prospect’s choices at each of these junctures. It will help you understand the decisions each consumer makes throughout the marketing and sales process, which, when taken together, tell a story of ongoing intent.

Here are some scenarios to consider and what they might mean:

  • Has the prospect taken a step back in the marketing process since providing identifiable contact information? This could indicate uncertainty or waning interest in your products or services.

  • Did a website visitor offer up contact information quickly during a first visit? It could indicate a serious purchaser or someone kicking tires who wants to get information from a rep rather than explore online.

  • Maybe a prospective client takes a deliberate path through the journey, spending time at every friction point and engaging with content before moving on to offer up contact details. This consumer has done their due diligence and is probably serious about buying.

Tracking complex buyer journeys can help you fine-tune them so you get more consumers with low intent to buy to opt out and make those who are ready to buy easier to identify.

Prospect journey data should be easily accessible by salespeople so they can decide who to contact first and figure out the best sales messages to use with different potential buyers.

This friction or move-on-or-abandon approach is the one proven way to improve lead quality.

Step 3: Segment Marketing Content by Level of Intent

As already mentioned, the marketing experiences and content will need to be thought of differently in this model — by type of intent rather than a stage in the sales funnel. Some examples include:

  • Inspiration. Content, such as a video or Instagram post meant to inspire change. It might be an image of a fantastic kitchen to inspire the desire to remodel or maybe a healthy-eating video that inspires someone to book an appointment with a dietician. This type of content or experience inspires people who think they may have an issue to move into your marketing process to learn how you can help.

  • Implication. Content, such as a three-dimensional image or infographic, to help prospects understand what doing business with you could result in. Based on our previous examples, it might be a realistic rendering of a dream kitchen or an infographic revealing the benefits of eating healthy. Implication content paints a picture of a better future if someone does business with you.

  • Initiation. Content, such as a landing page or video that demonstrates how easy it is to make a change. It could be a video of a happy kitchen remodeling client describing the ease of the process and joy the new kitchen delivered or a landing page testimonial explaining how easy and satisfying it is to book an initial dietary consultation. Initiation content answers every question — and addresses any potential objection — a buyer might have.

Once you have your marketing and sales framework in place, you can more strategically deploy content and experiences that get the wrong prospects to self-select out and the right ones to move ahead to a purchase at a pace that’s ideal for them.

Check out additional ways to use human psychology to improve marketing.

Marketing to Consumer Intent: The Bottom Line

Intent-based marketing can be more challenging than traditional methods. However, it can deliver better leads, improve efficiency, and enhance the buying experience.

Don’t think of it as a more challenging way to approach marketing. Consider it a way to take your promotional game to the next level so you can win big with improved marketing results and sales numbers.

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