Intent-driven Marketing: Targeting the Fragmented Consumer Journey

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The advent of mobile has changed the way consumers consume both information and products. Brands have realised this and are constantly conceiving new ways to market to constantly connected consumers, so much so that the number of touchpoints connecting consumers to brands have increased exponentially.  

Sales-driven messages may have worked well in the past, but with consumers staying connected round the clock, these messages have more or less become nothing more than today’s equivalent of letterbox spam

More and more brand owners today are beginning to understand this and they have started focusing their marketing efforts on the consumer’s psyche. The results? Consumer-centric brands that craft their message around clear intent (hint: AKIN!).  

Here’s a familiar scenario that may help you picture it.  

A Day in The Life of Regina

(Image: Google)

While waiting for the barista to be done with her morning latte at Starbucks, Regina scrolls through her Facebook feed on her phone. An ad from cosmetics brand Benefit catches her eye – introducing the latest Benefit Brow collection. She is suddenly reminded that her eyebrow pencil is almost running out. But before she can explore further, her latte is ready, and she puts her phone away and heads back to the office.

While taking a break at work, she is on her desktop and Googles for the latest “Benefit Brow Collection”. She much prefers to do her research on a larger screen as she’ll be able to compare more information at once. The reviews online also sound good to her, but she has some work to rush. “I’ll just buy it at home tonight.”

Before she turns in for the night, she browses on her iPad and tries to find the best deal for the item she wants. She checks out at Sephora’s website, but realises that her credit card is in her wallet in the living room. “Urgh, I’m all comfortable now. Let me just get it tomorrow.

The next day, Regina remembers that she has to fly to Jakarta for a business trip two weeks later. “I’ll buy it at the airport instead.”

A fragmented journey

(Image: Google)

We’re all “Reginas” in each of our own purchasing journeys. We use different platforms for different intents, and have different objectives at different times of the day. If Regina had been pushed with a promotional code for the Benefit Brow Collection right from the start, she might have checked out immediately with the added incentive. 

Brands have to start seeing the potential of mobile platforms and social media as more than just a sales promoter and digital billboards; they are valuable touchpoints and shopping assistants to their customers. 

While the total number of sales seem tempting and logical to be the sole KPI, not all platforms are suitable for sales, sales, sales. As customer ourselves, we know for certain that nobody appreciates a brand that post nothing but sales content. 

In order to be of value to customers, we need to be pushing the right message to the right people at the right time. As with Regina’s example, consumers take many routes before their actual purchase. Brands need to think about how they are able to aid customers at each stage of this process.  

Discover the micro-moments

Now armed with supercomputers in our pockets, our lives pretty much revolves around our mobile phones. Almost a third of us admit to getting anxious when our phones aren’t with us (#confessions: the number’s definitely a lot larger than just 30% around our office). 

With our phones by our side all days (and all night), we have developed a habit of checking our phone up to 150 times a day, but only for an average of slightly more than a minute each time. Google has described this behaviour as “micro-moments.  

Micro-moments are not linear in nature, and consumers can experience a mish-mash of micro-moments in their purchasing journeys — anytime, anywhere. There are four types of moments: 

(Image: Google) 

1. 'I-want-to-know' moments

Whenever we’re faced with doubt, or if we require more facts, we’d typically whip out our phones and hit search on Google almost immediately. These include searching for quick reviews of a particular product while holding the product in the physical retail store, or speed comparing between products to see which matches their needs best.  

How can brands capitalise on these: 

Brands should make use of this by offering bite-sized content in mobile-optimised formats. This ensures that users can easily find the right amount of information they need at any point in time.  

Digital ads can also be used to target such behaviours. In the Regina example, keywords like “patchy eyebrows”, “perfect eyebrows” can be possible targeting options, leading these keen users with a high info-seeking intent straight to your websites. 69% of users are more likely to purchase from a brand that answers their questions directly!  

If much of your target market is still on traditional media such as TV and the radio, 66% of users turn to their smartphones to learn more about a product they just saw or heard about.  

Consumers are curious, and it’s up to us to feed them the right information.  

(Image: Google)

2. 'I-want-to-go' moments

Think about the last time you were in a new neighbourhood and you’re unsure what to have for lunch. Chances are you searched for “restaurants near me” on Google right away. Such “near me” searches has increased by two-fold just over the past year, and we can be sure that this would continue to climb with the constant advancements in location-based technologies.

How can brands capitalise:

Location-targeting ads can be used to ride on the momentum of such behaviours. 

Studies have shown that a brand can increase awareness by as much as 46% by appearing in a mobile search ad results, regardless of click-through. Such ads also aid brands to reach out to a completely new audience, with more than half of them discovering a new company or product by searching on their smartphones. 

(Image: Google) 

3. 'I-want-to-do' moments

Most of us aren’t experts at odd tasks — be it framing a picture, fixing a faulty tap, or changing a spare tire. But with Google, we can seem like one! ‘How-to’ guides are very popular online, with a 70% increase in such tutorials searches on YouTube year-on-year. 

How can brands capitalise: 

By offering related ‘how-tos’, Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) and tutorial videos, brands can increase the value they provide their consumers. In the case of the Regina example, some useful guides include ‘How to draw the perfect eyebrow freehand’ or ‘How to best match your eyebrow to your hair colour’ (they sound really interesting already!).  

 At times, these valuable information can also be used as an lead generation machine, asking for consumers to share their email address in exchange for pro tips!  

(Image: Google) 

4. 'I-want-to-buy' moments

A consumer’s decisions to purchase are no longer restricted to just a POS machine at your physical store. They could be at home, in the car, at work, or on vacation. There hasn’t been a time where customers are more like kings than they are today, and business have to cater to this new empowerment, offering different ways of purchasing that best suits customers at the moment.  

How can brands capitalise:

Every action and non-action on your website can provide data about your customer’s purchasing intent. You can track these behaviours and devise a simple automated workflow to fire emails, with the appropriate content or even a discount, to slowly nurture them. This helps to nudge users down the desired process to become loyal customers.  

Even if most of your customers prefer to head down to your physical store, it is still important to close this digital loop. 82% of all users turn to online for more information while in-store and mid-decision through their purchase. 

Connecting the Dots

A consumer’s decision is made up of a string of these critical micro-moments, interweaving between the many channels. Even though these micro-moments reflect the now of actual consumer behaviours, most brands still neglect connecting the dots across all their platforms.  

Catering for micro-moments is not platform-specific nor even department-specific. It focuses on intent and follows along the consumer’s journey, making it everyone’s job. A traditional marketing funnel simply wouldn’t work anymore.  

What are your micro-moments? 

Check out our blog for more of such thought pieces.  

Written by Elizabeth Tan 

Updated by Hanson Ng (Nov 2019) 

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