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minute read
November 5, 2019

Purchase Intent: How Can You Use It to Your Advantage?

Written by
David Scott

Every B2B marketer knows about the power of good data and the effect it can have on campaign success.

But, two-thirds of marketers aren't even sure of the exact source of their data, which can lead to poor results without a clear reason why.

If you want to supercharge your campaigns, whether you're running PPC ads, to account-based marketing campaigns, then this article is for you.

We'll explain what purchase intent is, why you should consider using it, and how to target your ideal customers when they show purchase intent.

With that said, let's jump straight into the article.

What is Purchase Intent?

Purchase intent is when someone is showing signs of being ready to buy a product or service.

There are different ways to calculate purchase intent.

It usually takes into account a range of factors, such as demographics, company size, the actions they took on your site, interactions with your marketing campaigns, and more.

Generally speaking, purchase intent models use a core set of variables that includes factors like demographics, firmographics, engagement, past purchases, interaction with marketing messages, and more. All of these factors are combined to decide if someone is ready to buy or not.

Another popular term for purchase intent that is often used interchangeably is buyer intent.

Why Should I Target Buyers By Purchase Intent?

You're probably wondering what the main benefits of targeting by purchase intent are.

Well, when you understand purchase intent you'll have more understanding of your customer than ever before.

It will help you understand where they are in the buying cycle so you can customize messaging and content that will be truly relevant to them. You cut the guesswork out of the marketing equation.

It's one of the reasons that Amazon's Advertising capabilities are so powerful. When a shopper is browsing Amazon they will show clear intent about where they are in the buying cycle.

If they're clicking through to many products in a short time-span and reading product descriptions you can assume they're not quite ready to buy.

But, if they're spending more time on one product page, coming back to it regularly, and reading all the reviews, you can assume that they're almost ready to buy that product.

The same concept applies to B2B customers.

Despite longer sales cycles that often require more touchpoints before a lead converts, we can still calculate purchase intent based on a number of factors.

The average B2B buyer visits 3 sites before making a purchase, but 37% of them visit four or more during their buying process.

The average buyer visits 2-3 sites in the buying process, but a large proportion still visit many more than that

Other data shows that B2B buyers make 12 searches before choosing the best solution for them.

If you knew when and what they were searching for, you would have a huge advantage over your competitors as you could target them in a more granular and personalized way.

Once you have a source of intent data you can target leads at the best possible times, with the best content for them.

You'll see higher conversions on your marketing campaigns and will be able to optimize digital spend.

How to Target by Purchase Intent

In this section, we'll look at some of the most effective ways to target by purchase intent.

There are many ways to target based purchase intent. The right one for you will depend on your resources and specific use-case.

Let's take a look at how to target buyers based on purchase intent.

1. Work With an Intent Data Provider

Sourcing intent data can be a complicated task if you're new to it and don't already have a quality data source.

The first way you can get started with purchase intent is by working with an intent data provider like Internal Results.

We provide B2B businesses with intent data to help you improve targeting and give your team with insight into which leads are purchase-ready, and which still need nurturing.

Working with an intent data provider like Internal Results gives you huge insight into what companies are in their buying cycle

We track millions of online interactions that decision-makers are having, enabling you to find hidden opportunities that you wouldn't otherwise see.

We then determine how purchase-ready they are using a unique algorithm that takes into account factors such as:

  • How often they have been searching
  • How recently they were taking action
  • How much they are engaging with content on a particular topic

One of the first barriers to using purchase intent data is not having a reliable data source. If that's the case, we'd be happy to help. You can get started here to see how Internal Results can help.

2. Use Ad Tech to Help You Target By Purchase Intent

While we may not all like to admit it, advertising technology can be more effective at knowing when a buyer is purchase-ready than we are.

Not every visitor to your site will take action. You might hope that every visitor does something like:

  • Schedule a demo,
  • Fill out a contact form,
  • Start a free trial

Unfortunately, the reality is that not everyone will, even if they're a great fit for your business.

Just because someone doesn't take action now, you should write them off as a potential customer.

You can use tools such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or LinkedIn Ads to retarget website visitors based on the actions they took on your site.

Despite the trust issues we may have with these advertisers, there's no denying that they're still effective tools in a B2B marketer's toolbox.

To effectively target by purchase intent using ads you'll need to create custom audiences and target ads towards them.

To make the most of your budget we'd recommend segmenting your audience into multiple segments. You can split audiences up based on how engaged they were, the pages they visit, and other relevant factors that signal purchase intent.

All sites are different, but people showing the highest amount of purchase intent will be the ones spending more time on the pages that directly influence their purchase decision, such as your Pricing Page, Case Studies, or your Product pages.

3. Target High Intent Keywords with SEO and Ads

Another effective way to target in-market buyers is to target buyer intent keywords.

These are keywords that you can link to buyer intent because they map to the bottom-of-the-funnel and signal that someone is in the market to buy.

So, how do you figure out which buyer intent keywords to target?

There's no right answer for this, as it will be based on your unique offering.

But, by having a clear picture of your customer you can discover keywords that lead to higher-than-average conversions, then target them with SEO or advertising campaigns.

You can use keyword research tools, as well as your Google Analytics, to find out which searches are worth targeting.

In general, keywords with high purchase intent are those like:

  • "Best tools for [problem/solution]"
  • "How to [solve a problem]"
  • "[Company] pricing"

As you can see, these keywords will be based on your knowledge of your customer pain points, industry, and solution. Therefore, discovering high intent keywords will require some qualitative research.

Another way to identify high-intent keywords is to find high keywords with high competition using Google Keyword Planner or a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush.

High intent keywords often have high competition and a high CPC for ads

High competition usually indicates that there is a return on investment to ranking well for that keyword (but not always!).

However, it's important to keep in mind that tools can only help you so much.

An in-depth understanding of your ideal customer profile will help far more than any keyword tool when it comes to figuring out the best keywords to target.

4. Create a Lead Scoring System

Lead scoring is an effective way to prioritize your sales and marketing work.

A good lead scoring system will help your team decide who to target and provide insight into how best to engage with them.

In fact, research has shown that teams with effective lead scoring can have a direct effect on close rates. B2B companies close 30% more deals when they have a lead scoring system in place.

Once you can assess how engaged leads are, you'll quickly be able to assess purchase intent in-house using your readily available data.

You can score leads within your CRM based on their engagement with your site and content, giving higher scores to those who engage more, and with higher value pages (such as pricing or your demo signup page).

You can also combine your own lead scoring system with intent data to gain even more insight and see who is truly purchase-ready.

5. Ask Your Leads and Customers

Our final recommendation is a tried and tested method that's still vastly underutilized.

Ask your customers about their buying journey, and ask your leads if they're ready to purchase.

5.1 Asking Existing Customers

You can implement customer surveys, exit-intent popups, as well as post-purchase email sequences to provide you with insight into how your customers viewed their buying journey.

Post-purchase is the perfect time to ask customers about why they choose you as a vendor, and how they found you. By learning from your best customers you can quickly find out the best channels to focus on, and the messaging that appeals to a certain type of customer.

5.2 Asking Leads

Another way to find out how purchase-ready leads are is to ask them directly.

Rather than leaving it to chance, most potential customers will be happy to answer your questions about their buyer journey.

There are a range of ways you can frame asking leads if they're ready to buy. It can include asking them directly when they'll be ready to buy. You could ask if there's anything stopping them from purchasing.

Your goal here is to find out how close they are to buying, and discover how you can help them take the next step and become a paying customer.

While face-to-face contact may seem old school compared to the methods we've already talked about, we highly recommend it.

Conclusion

If you want a deep understanding of your buyer journey and to focus on leads who are purchase ready, then being able to predict purchase intent is key.

Whether you source your intent data in-house or use a third-party data source, B2B marketers should always strive to learn more about their customer journey. Once you understand common routes to purchase, you can adapt your marketing accordingly.

You can judge purchase intent in many ways, and what may work best for some brands will not be as effective for other brands, and vice versa.

However, what all marketers who measure purchase intent have in common is that they can drive real business results thanks to a keen understanding of their customers' buying journey, pain points, and motivations.

If you want to start using purchase intent data in your sales and marketing campaigns to drive increased ROI, we'd love to help. You can get started here.

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