5 tips for using intent-based marketing for targeted outreach

by | Jun 7, 2024 | Marketing, Public Relations

While it’s technically possible to make as much marketing content as possible and hope something sticks, that approach isn’t an efficient use of your resources. What works best is creating exactly the sort of content that will convert leads into customers.

But how?

Intent-based marketing lets you laser-focus your outreach. That’s why we’ll be exploring what makes intent-based marketing so useful, and how you can start implementing it with our best practices.

First, however, we’ve got to lay some groundwork in the form of a definition.

Understanding intent-based marketing

In the simplest terms, intent-based marketing involves using customer data to create a tailored approach that moves leads through your sales funnel.

It’s all about collecting as much information as you can on your leads’ internet habits. This gives you a detailed idea of where they are in the buying cycle; customers who spend a long time on your landing and product pages are more likely to make a purchase soon, for example.

Some of the habits that factor into this approach include the websites customers visit after they spend time on your pages, as well as their general browsing history.

Intent-based marketing generally places its central focus on people who are about to make a purchase. Those are the ones you’ll then target with promotions, special offers, advertising content, and other marketing media.

The principles of intent-based marketing

In order to start making the most of intent-based marketing, you’ve first got to understand the underlying principles that fuel this approach to driving conversions. These are the three most notable ones.

Fully understanding customers

First and foremost, intent-based marketing is all about deeply understanding your target audience.

Whether you’re aiming your products at an audience of tech professionals, or at the kinds of audiences that still struggle with understanding things like generative AI meaning, you’ll want to develop an in-depth understanding of their preferences and habits.

In other words, you need to study and carefully catalog audience behavior. Only then can you start properly gauging their intent and building a strategy around it.

Separating active and passive customers

The concepts of ‘passive’ and ‘active’ customers is very important to intent-based marketing. This is because it helps distinguish leads who aren’t too interested in your products from the ones who very much are.

Passive customers are the ones who may have come across your company before, but who aren’t particularly invested. They may have only seen your name a few times, or they may have scrolled past your products or ads on social media. Even if they know your name, they’re not likely to be making sudden purchases from you.

Enhancing social media engagement can transform passive viewers into active participants by encouraging more direct interactions on platforms where they spend their time. This increased engagement can provide deeper insights into their preferences and readiness to purchase.

Active customers are your purchase-ready audience. They’re actively looking up your products, not just the kinds of products you sell. By knowing how to identify these customers, you can deliberately target them, which is a core principle of intent-based marketing.

Creating distinct marketing stages

Any intent-based marketing approach relies heavily on separating your buying process into distinct stages. This is because each stage comes with its own media outreach protocols, so you’re always carefully targeting your audience rather than creating generalized content.

First, you’ll want to corner your niche audience. This often involves casting a wide net at first, so you can see what sorts of people engage with your content. To enhance this approach, local marketing strategies can be implemented to adapt promotions and engagements to the specific preferences and cultural aspects of different regions. You can then create profiles and target those groups more specifically.

After that comes the process of qualifying leads, followed by nurturing and eventually converting them. Each of these stages comes with its own specific strategy that targets specific customer intent. You might focus on promotion-based email marketing during the conversion stages, for example.

Why you need intent-based marketing

Creating an intent-based marketing strategy is hard work, so we’re going to tell you exactly why it’s worth your while.

The following benefits come with using intent marketing to your advantage, illustrating why you need it in the first place.

It lets you tactically direct your efforts

Knowing how to reach out to customers in the right way is half of the work of encouraging them along in their buying journey. And since intent-based marketing helps you pinpoint the leads that have shown signs of having buying intent, it also lets you effectively target those people in your marketing media outreach.

This is also a major reason why intent-based marketing empowers companies to build authentic relationships with their customers, since it helps you empathize with their buying experiences and always approach them with the right materials.

As a result, intent-based marketing is great for helping companies put effort into the right outreach approach for each lead or customer. This avoids wasting time and makes it easier to optimize productivity.

It saves you money

As mentioned, analyzing and understanding intent is a sure way to start reliably picking out engaged leads. That means you can avoid pouring money and resources into low-quality leads, and instead focus your efforts on higher-quality leads that will yield better return on investment (ROI).

This also means you can turn warm leads into buying customers with less work, as they’re already interested in your products. In other words, you can convert more leads in less time, optimizing your resource expenditure and ensuring you get great ROI.

This applies for both B2C and B2B leads.

Intent-based marketing also helps with boosting CLV (more on this shortly) and lowering customer churn. That means you’ll keep seeing ROI as time progresses, further balancing out the cost of customer acquisition with the rewards gained from each customer in the long term.

It helps you connect with customers

Imagine this: you’re a customer. You want to buy a new media monitoring solution for your company, so you can keep an eye on your own audience’s activities. When you reach out to a few providers, only one consistently sends you relevant material that helps you learn more about their services—and then, they follow that up with a well-timed special offer.

That’s the provider you would pick. And that’s the kind of experience you should aim to create for your current and potential customers.

Intent-based marketing puts a major focus on creating an optimized customer experience by understanding each customer better. When you can accurately respond to customer intent each time, you’re more likely to build meaningful connections with both your B2C and B2B customers, as they will feel you understand them and care about their specific needs.

This also improves customer loyalty, which in turn drives up your average customer lifetime value (CLV). With better CLV comes more sales, which means an even better bottom line.

It shortens the sales cycle

It can be tough to sell to customers when you don’t know what their buying signals look like, or when you’re unable to accurately separate cold leads from true prospective customers. This leads to longer, slower, and more stagnant sales cycles.

On the other hand, intent-based marketing lets you build and respond to ideal customer profiles. This means you can pinpoint the perfect customer the moment they appear based on their data alone, and since you’ll already have plans in place for how to engage them, sales can be completed a lot faster.

In other words, intent-based marketing lets you make accurate customer target matches in far less time. This shortens the sales cycle, which in turn helps you sell more products in shorter time frames.

Best practices for intent-based marketing

Lastly, we’ll be sharing some best practices that will help you use intent-based marketing to its full potential for crafting targeted media outreach approaches. Follow each of our tips, listed below in no particular order, to start your intent-based marketing plans off on the right foot.

Gather lots of data

First and foremost, the intent-based approach is a type of data-driven marketing. That means you’re going to need a lot of data, from various different sources you can trust.

When you’re searching for sources, don’t be afraid to consider third-party sources alongside any primary sources. Customer insights are more reliable when they’re created using a wide array of data, which is easier to access when you’re using external sources alongside data collected in-house.

Also, consider social listening as an intent data source. This is an accessible source of information that tells you directly what customers are saying, which reflects their sentiments and thoughts on their stage in the purchasing process. You can use this to better understand when and why customers make purchases with you.

Build detailed customer profiles

It’s difficult to accurately predict the user intent of a visitor to your company’s social media platforms in a vacuum. One user on their own is an isolated data point that can’t easily be worked with, and that goes doubly for anonymous users whose browser history you can’t reach.

On the other hand, if you’re well informed of the user behavior of lots of different types of social media-goers that interact with your brand, it becomes a lot easier to guess the intentions of users. You’re more likely to get it right, too.

That’s why you’ll want to create in-depth customer profiles. These help you determine which ads to show to which users, as well as which approach to take.

Use the right tools

If you wanted to send messages at work, you’d find business texting platforms to support you. In the same way, you need to use the right external platforms and tools to help you put together and execute the perfect intent-based marketing strategy.

These may range from programmatic advertising platforms, or other advertising platforms, to social platforms that help you reach out directly to customers. 

Additionally, incorporating secure email providers can ensure that your communication remains confidential and is only accessed by intended recipients, aligning with the security needs of your target audience.

Similarly, understanding how to set up Dolphin Proxy can significantly enhance your toolkit. This tool is invaluable for securely accessing geo-restricted content, opening up a wealth of data that can deepen your market research and broaden your insights. 

Just like you’d select specific platforms for direct customer outreach or secure communication, Dolphin Proxy helps ensure you’re not missing out on crucial information due to regional restrictions.

A good toolset for intent-based marketing should also include dedicated platforms for collecting and processing data. This makes it much simpler to go from deciding what information you’d like to use in your customer profiles, to having fully-fledged profiles ready for you to use.

An email finder extension can also be a crucial tool, especially when you need to quickly identify and connect with key decision-makers directly from their websites, streamlining your outreach efforts. 

Rely on AI

If you’re still asking questions like what is a machine learning model, it’s time to immerse yourself in the world of AI, because it’s one of the most useful intent-based marketing tools.

AI is great at collecting and synthesizing huge quantities of data. That means it can take a lot of work off the shoulders of your marketing teams, freeing up their schedules to fine-tune the perfect intent-based marketing strategy.

Thanks to machine learning, AIs also get better at building customer profiles the more often they do it. This makes it well worth your while to save room in the marketing budget for an AI-powered tool.

In addition to these AI capabilities, employing functional programming principles can further enhance the efficiency of data processing and system reliability, making it a valuable approach in developing sophisticated marketing algorithms.

Personalize your marketing content

As part of the tailoring process, you’ll be making content that directly targets customers at specific stages in the buying journey. So why not take that a step further and create more personalized messages that help show you value each customer as a unique individual?

You can do this by using customers’ names, adjusting your language based on factors like age groups, and more. The main idea is to hone your marketing media so it’s specifically suited for smaller groups or individuals, rather than sending out a more broad message to everyone.

Personalized content helps show customers you care. It also gives them a sense of your brand’s identity and values, both of which build stronger brand-customer connections.

Final thoughts

Intent-based marketing helps you tactically direct your media outreach efforts, so you’re always able to directly target the customers and leads you’re after. This empowers your marketing team to create dedicated, specifically-tailored content that drives conversions and attracts leads.

That’s all great news for the PR industry.

In PR, it’s always necessary to know which groups of people you need to connect with, and how those people think of your brand. Intent-based marketing focuses on the same principles. This leads to a more targeted outreach approach.

So, in short, intent-based marketing lets you purposefully shape the ways in which you connect with your audiences to get the best possible results.

Pohan Lin
Pohan Lin is the Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager at Databricks, a global Data and AI provider connecting the features of Databricks, unified data warehouse and data lakes to create lakehouse architecture. With over 18 years of experience in web marketing, online SaaS business, and ecommerce growth. Pohan is passionate about innovation and is dedicated to communicating the significant impact data has in marketing. Pohan Lin has also written for domains such as BigCommerce and SME-News.