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What Is Intent Marketing Funnel (And How Does It Work?)


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Since 1898, marketing and sales professionals have used the intent marketing funnel to map out the journey that a buyer takes before purchasing a product. For over a century, professionals have considered this the backbone of marketing theory until recently. 

The current customer journey to making the final purchasing decision is not linear anymore. Consumers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, are now entering the funnel at any point through online and mobile shopping. 

Some consumers now travel backward, from purchase to comparison. Others engage with the brands they buy products from, even after making a purchase. This is why it’s now important to reshape the intent marketing funnel. 

What Is Intent Marketing?

Intent Marketing is the process of marketing a business, product, or service based on a buyer’s intent to make a purchase. In simpler terms, intent marketing is about marketing to individuals who show signs they would most likely make a purchase decision. 

With this process, businesses can now be empowered to focus on targeting their campaigns on the right customers and reach them at the moment they are most likely to purchase their products or services. 

Intent marketing can also help brands maximise their spending by driving more conversions than they would if they used more general tactics, such as demographic-based targeting. 

Outdated Vs. Intent Marketing Funnel

For centuries, potential customers have moved in a predictable pattern. Traditionally, marketers drew in a large group of people to a product and gradually whittled it down to a few potential buyers. 

The old marketing funnel revolved around three stages:

  • Awareness

Buyers become aware of your brand, products, and services

  • Evaluation

Buyers evaluate your products to ensure that it fits their needs and solves their problems

  • Sale

Buyers make purchases and move on

Unlike the old funnel, the Intent Marketing Funnel is broken into six stages. While marketing professionals have different names for each, the six stages are commonly referred to as awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase. 

The six stages of the intent marketing funnel can also be grouped into three broader categories: lead generation, lead nurturing, and sales. 

Lead Generation

This is the stage where a potential buyer becomes aware of your brand. This is where blogs and social media content draw potential customers who are searching for a solution to your business. 

There are many ways to increase brand awareness. This includes:

  • Marketing campaigns
  • Consumer research
  • Events
  • Advertising
  • Webinars
  • Direct Mail
  • Social Media
  • Media Mentions
Lead Nurturing

Once your leads get the information they need, they are pulled into a lead management system for nurturing down the funnel. The Lead Nurturing category includes three stages:

  • Interest

Leads learn more about the company and its products through information and research the business provides. In this stage, businesses have the opportunity to develop a connection with their leads through emails, newsletters, and targeted content. 

  • Consideration

In the consideration stages, the leads you generated through campaigns and advertisements are now considered prospective customers. Marketers can help potential buyers to the next stage by sending more information about their products. 

Some businesses also send exclusive deals and offer through an automated email campaign—besides targeted content and free trials. 

  • Intent

At this stage, your prospective buyers are now showing their interest in making purchase decisions. Marketers can collect more information about a person’s intent through surveys or product demos. 

Potential buyers also show their intent when they place a product in their shopping cart on an e-commerce website. This gives marketers the signal to make a strong case for why their product is better than its competitors. 

  • Evaluation

In this stage, buyers are now taking steps to research more about the product and are near making a decision on whether they should buy the brand’s product or services. 

Typically, marketers and sales personnel work together to create materials that would convince the buyer that their business’ product is the best choice available on the market. 

  • Purchase

The purchase stage is the last process in the intent marketing funnel. This is where your prospective client has already decided to buy your product or service. Giving your buyer a positive experience may lead to referrals or repurchase, which brings them to the top of the marketing funnel again. 

Foster a healthy relationship with your customers by sending them newsletters and opportunities to share their suggestions and feedback. 

Determining Marketing Intent

In the intent marketing funnel, potential buyers could enter at any stage. This means some buyers would start from the very top, while others could already be evaluating your product. 

To create the right content for your buyers, you first need to find user intent. Here are a few strategies you can implement. 

1.Creating a Buyer Persona

A buyer persona helps you understand who your user is. Is he a doctor? Is she a lawyer? Where are they located? 

To do this, go to your marketing research and use it to paint a picture of the potential customers you’re targeting. Once you know who they are, it’s now time to figure out how they find your business. What questions are they entering in search engines? Which platforms do they use to look for solutions to their answers?

Answering these questions will help you determine where they’re most likely to enter the intent marketing funnel and how they’ll likely move through it. 

2. Analyse keywords and entry pages

Tracking tools, such as Google Analytics, provide businesses tools they can use to determine where users are entering their site and what keywords they’re using to find your brand. 

If your potential customers find you through your blog, or your top keywords include questions, this means prospects are discovering you organically and are likely at the awareness stage of the funnel. 

If your prospects are finding you when comparing similar products, this means your keywords include the name of your competitor.

If analytics show that your top entry pages are your product pages, or your top keywords include the name of your business, product, or service, your prospects are more likely to be in the evaluation stage.