Simply put, building content that targets consumer intent with ANSWERS produces MUCH BETTER business results! But what is the target consumer intent? How can we anticipate what that intent will be and then be there with the right answers when they search?
Nobody wakes up in the morning with a credit card and says, “just let me buy something.” That’s not the way that it works today. Especially not for more serious purchases, where consumers want to build confidence pre-purchase.
Nowadays they use their PCs & phones, in short bursts (= micro-moments), to explore and research what they will eventually want to buy. Many brands still make the mistake of waiting until the “I-want-to-buy” moment to make their pitch. To slug it out with everyone solely prepared for the “I-want-to-buy” part of the purchase funnel is the hardest place to compete!
A better strategy is to reach them before the competitor does, such as during the “I-want-to-know” moments, to establish confidence & brand affinity! Start at the top of the funnel, where the largest addressable audience is available and a pipeline of leads can be built! Establish a position as the authority and consumers will have this in mind as they progress on their purchase path. Tip: think about the long tail of search and serve it!
Consumer Search: Navigational, Informational & Transactional
Consumer searches are generally one of three things: they are navigational, informational, or transactional in nature. Based on this, we marketers must strive to meet that intent with the right responses via our content. And yes the content needs to be indexed in search engines, but this works for marketers because it works for the consumer!
In a time where consumers believe they can research anything they want, we need to consider earning their trust with the answers they seek! Why? Because consumers can be more loyal to an immediate need than they ever will be to a particular brand.
Brands Beware- NOT About You, It Is About Them!
According to Google, when conducting a search on their smartphones, 65% of those surveyed say they look for the most relevant information regardless of the company providing it. 51% of those same smartphone users purchased from a company/brand other than the one they know because the information it provided was useful. For the marketer, it means that investigating intent will help to focus in on more specific consumer information needs. Look into things like searches relevant to the product or service category offered that are trending.
Ask yourself if you are truly serving questions you would ask personally when YOU search for!? Identifying what’s most important to them and prioritizing the creation of answers for those intent-rich moments, where decisions are being made and preferences are established, is the key! When you provide helpful content in these moments, customers are more likely to keep you in mind as they progress on their purchase path.
What Are ‘Intent Questions’ We Should Anticipate?
- Think: what do they want to learn about your products or services?
- Why or under what circumstances do they want to learn about my services?
- What are they doing with my products or services (e.g., baking cookies, buying a home, recovering from an injury)?
- Would education and/ or instruction, maybe even ‘how-to’ instruction content’ support them?
In terms of content, are the answers to their questions available on your website?
Understanding Google’s Definition of Micro-Moments
Google introduced the concept of micro-moments broken down into I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do and I-want-to-buy moments to help marketers think about consumer intent. Again, 51% of smartphone users surveyed purchased from a company/brand other than the one they know because the information it provided was useful. Each of the different moments reflects different flavors of intent and calls for a specific content response, so the next step is to map out what keywords & questions (Keyword + Where, Which, Who, Why, What, How and Are) consumers will use in their path to conversion.
- Example I-want-to-go question searches could ( in the moment ) be “What to Do in San Francisco” or “Where to Stay in Miami.” Or maybe people are looking local and are considering buying a product at a local store. Serving this moment means getting your physical business address in their consideration in that moment. ‘Near me’ searches have grown to the degree 82% of smartphone users say they use them to find a local business.
- Example I-want-to-know moments are likely more exploring or researching than they are purchase moments. Useful information, maybe even inspiration is the answer; whereas this is not a moment for the hard sell. Google says 66% of smartphone users search on their smartphone to learn more about something they saw in a TV commercial.
- Example I-want-to-buy moments are huge, of course. Someone is ready to make the buy and need help deciding what or which one. Don’t ever assume they will seek you out so much as they will the right information. Interesting that 82% of smartphone users have consulted their cell-phone while in a store?! What do they want to know about your product? A poor example might be the fashion retailer who concentrates solely on I-want-to-buy moments — “I want to buy a blue dress” for example. With such a narrow focus on JUST checkout, they missed the chance to position their clothing for what-to-wear-in-an-interview or maybe what-to-wear-to-a-business-dinner moments, a potentially big segment for business wear and blue dresses.
- Example I-want-to-do moments can come before or after the purchase. In either case, these are ‘how to’ moments for getting things done or trying something new. Serving the right content is, again, the key. In fact, ‘how to’ searches continue to grow 70% year-over-year on YouTube. These are the I-need-to-fix-my-lawn-mower moments … the need is for immediate help with getting something done or learning how in these I-want-to-do moments. Because YouTube is so heavily trafficked video content can play a big role because it allows someone to learn at their own pace. Google says that 48% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose sites provide instructional video content!
Identify and prioritize the moments where questions can be answered, preferences can be established and then where decisions are being made! Do it before they get to checkout.
Your messaging and content choices should stem from consumer intent and MICRO MOMENTS!