Intent vs. Demographics: How to win micro-moments

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POSTED ON 27th October 2016

To avoid hit-and-miss marketing campaigns, marketers have traditionally used demographics to understand specific markets based on age, income, educational level, number of children, shopping habits, etc.

This has been a successful approach  for many years. With the explosion of mobile it’s now clear that demographics can no longer be the be-all-end-all of your marketing strategy.  Now it’s not so much about who you are, but what you are about to do.

Customer Intent

Mobile has forever changed the way consumers live, shop, and find information on the Internet. Understanding consumer behaviour requires more than just your usual demographics data.

According to Lisa Gevelber, Google’s VP of marketing, “Marketers who rely only on demographics to reach consumers risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile shoppers.” She stressed, demographics rarely tell the whole story. Instead, she urges brands and marketers to focus more on intent and immediacy. Consumer intent, according to her, is more powerful in unlocking a larger, and potentially more engaged audience. Whilst connecting with audience in their micro-moments is better than relying on customer loyalty.

Micro moments – what they are and why they’re important

Micro-moments occur when people automatically turn to a device, usually their smartphones, to act on a need. It could be to watch an instructional video on YouTube, search for a product, read a restaurant review, get directions to a place, or find out if an item is in stock.

These real-time, micro-moments are what brands and marketers need to understand in order to deliver relevant content at the precise moment the customer needs it. Brands who successfully do this get more eyeballs for their content and more sales.

Here are 3 micro-moments strategies you should keep in mind:

1. Be there. In your customers’ moments of need, be there. This is how you keep your competitive edge. Use Google Trends to explore search trends and queries in your category to understand what your potential consumers are looking for. Also, strategise content around pre-intent. Think what scenarios lead to ‘I want to buy’ moment and produce appropriate content to ensure you become the go-to place for your potential customers.

Example: A strategy employed by the car company FIAT.Intent vs demographics - FIATSource: Google’s Micro-Moments Playbook

2. Be useful. Collect actionable data. Measure and track every action your website visitor makes no matter how minor or repetitive they are. Use web analytics services like Google Analytics to capture purchase views, video or other rich content views, registrations, sharing, searching, and any other activity on your site. Consider unique and tangible ways your brand can help solve a problem or make life easier for a potential customer, in real-time during a micro-moment. Always deliver value with each interaction so as not to alienate your potential customers. Marketing activities you can consider:

  • Create how-to videos.
  • Give store directions.
  • Offer shortcuts to an app, login page, new blog, etc.
  • Provide local inventory information so they can see what’s in stock nearby.
  • Offer the ability for consumers to seamlessly check out with an “instant buy” button.

Example: Realtor.com created step-by-step videos to help consumers through home-buying process.Intent vs demographics - RealtorSource: Google’s Micro-Moments Playbook

3. Be quick. Consumers won’t wait for a clumsy mobile site or app. They expect to move at lightning speed. Studies show online users make purchase decisions more quickly than they did a few years ago. Use the PageSpeed Insights Tool to rate the load time of your website load time. Make improvements when needed. Keep in mind that a delay of few seconds can cause your potential customers to abandon your website and switch to your competitor. Also, reduce the extra steps for online purchasing by adding one-click functionality for easy sales and sign in, by using drop-down menus to reduce typing, and by utilising click-to-call buttons.

Demographics are still  important when it comes to  categorising and analysing consumers. They  can still help you identify your typical customer. However, to ensure that your potential customers get the right message, at the right time, you need to identify your customer intent. Insisting on using demographics only could leave huge holes in potential target audiences that savvy competitors will be happy to fill.

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