How to identify buyer intent in your target audience

Sep 25th, 2023

Buyer intent (or purchase intent) is the consumer’s likelihood to buy a product or service from a specific company; buyer intent differs depending on where the consumer is in the customer journey (see right):

Buyer intent can cover multiple types, but our top two are:

  • Active: An individual is actively exploring a specific product category on both online retail platforms and social media channels, indicating a strong likelihood of preparing for a purchase.
  • Passive: the individual is utilising a product or service that may not entirely meet their satisfaction, yet they remain unaware of better alternatives. Ironically, if they become aware of an alternative option, they are more likely to make a purchase faster than someone showing active intent.

Buyer intent data is information about your prospective customer. It includes relevant engagement with your content, product, and sales materials; and it comes from three different data categories:

  1. First-party: This is information that you have collected straight from the customer, for example through a contact form or by downloading gated-content on your website.
  2. Second-party: This is behavioural data provided by another organisation (or ‘party’) who have a direct relationship with the customer – most commonly seen through social media platforms.
  3. Third-party: Is provided by another organisation that only has indirect access to the customer, think along the lines of cookies.

Buyer intent data is crucial in order to really know your target audience, and can help you understand:

  • Who’s buying your products
  • Who’s responsible for the research (and the final buying decision)
  • Your ideal customer’s buying process and go-to sources of information

Your target audience refers to the specific group of consumers most likely to want your product or service.

An important step in understanding your target audience is to go beyond learning their demographic information, and understand what role they play in the path to purchase.

These roles are:

  1. Decision Maker: This is the person who ultimately makes the purchase decision.
  2. Supporter: This person influences the decision maker as to whether the item gets bought or not.

To identify your target audience you should at least:

  • Create buyer personas: Buyer personas are a fictional representation of who is buying from your business, they provide structure and context for your company through using market research and real data from your existing customer base.
  • Research your existing customer base: Understand which search queries are already bringing visitors to your site and resulting in conversions.
  • Define who your target audience isn’t: Be specific in determining who your audience is and who it isn’t.

Buyer intent keywords are the search terms people use when considering buying something.

Targeting high-volume keywords is essential for attracting more visitors to your site, but targeting terms with different levels of purchase intent will improve your ability to convert those visitors into paying customers.

Types of buyer intent keywords

Prospects at different stages of the AIDA funnel tend to have similar goals, problems, and informational needs.

Awareness-stage keywords

Users who are searching for these terms are seeking a deeper understanding of a challenge they are currently encountering or a specific objective they aim to accomplish. This is the stage at which they discover that businesses like yours may provide the solution they require.

Phrases include:

✅ “How to”

✅ “What is”

Interest-stage keywords

After prospects become aware of the available solutions to their issue, they progress to the interest stage. In this phase, they begin to assess various purchasing options.

Frequently, these prospects will actively seek out resources such as product comparison lists, comprehensive reviews, testimonials, case studies, and any other information that assists them in narrowing down the most suitable choice for their specific requirements.

Phrases include:

✅ “[Product name] reviews”

✅ “Best [product]”

Decision-stage keywords

This is where the user has reached a point where they’re ready to take action, but they still need an extra nudge to push them over the buying line. Decision-stage keywords express high levels of purchase intent.

Phrases include:

✅ “Buy now”

✅ “Discount”

Optimising buyer intent keywords

Consider using tools such as ahrefs, or SEMrush.

These tools offer a wealth of valuable information, including extensive keyword suggestions, search volume data, and insights into the difficulty of ranking for specific terms. This data allows you to identify keywords with significant potential.

Furthermore, these tools enable you to analyse which search queries are driving the most traffic to your competitors’ websites. This analysis empowers you to emulate the successful tactics that are working for your competitors, giving you a strategic advantage in your own marketing efforts.

Benefits of targeting buyer intent keywords

Ranking well for buyer intent keywords offers several clear advantages. First, it positions your website in front of potential customers who are actively contemplating a purchase. Which in turn, drives a higher number of visitors to your site who are ready to convert, ultimately bolstering your bottom line.

Yet, the benefits of securing a prominent place in Google’s search results extend beyond increased visibility; it also elevates your site’s perceived credibility. Users tend to associate high-ranking websites with trustworthiness, leading them to be more inclined to convert.

Focusing on buyer intent keywords that align with your niche serves the additional purpose of attracting more qualified visitors to your site. While a high volume of traffic is beneficial, the quality of that traffic has a more substantial impact on sales. By avoiding the allocation of resources to attract visitors with no genuine interest in your business, you can enhance your return on investment in SEO by targeting those actively seeking products and services like yours.

In essence, the stronger your website ranks for relevant buyer intent keywords, the more it will draw in and convert new, qualified customers. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to recognise that optimising for buyer intent keywords doesn’t imply exclusive targeting of users who are closest to making a purchase. The overarching goal should be to cater to potential buyers at every stage of awareness, with the aim of guiding them toward conversion.

Need help understanding your buyer intent & finding the right keywords?

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