One of the best things about content is that it’s so versatile you can use it to achieve pretty much any digital marketing goal. Good content can increase engagement. It can grab attention, generate leads, boost conversion rates, influence purchase intent. Not for nothing, but marketers would also say that it can deliver a nice return on investment.
If you want your content to do all of that, you have little room to make mistakes. According to Jason Valasek, the CEO of CloudLGS, marketers often forget for whom they are creating content. “When writing content for people first identify the intent you are trying to solve for. There are 4 types of searcher content — informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial investigation. Writing content to satisfy the needs of people rather than search engines becomes so much easier after you’ve identified the type of searcher intent you are producing content for.” And if you want to write for people, you should take their intent into account.
What Is Audience Intent?
Why do you think people decide to read or watch your content? It might be because it’s one of the top results that showed up after a search engine query. It also might be because they noticed it in their inbox or social media feed. People might also search specifically for your content. The bottom line, however, is that people consume the content that has something that they need or want.
The things that people want to achieve using content is their intent. If they are looking at product reviews, for example, they are doing it to make an informed purchase decision. If they’re reading articles, they are likely looking for information they’ll find useful or interesting. If they’re watching cat videos, chances are they are looking for entertainment and relaxation.
Demographics, SEO, and Intent
Content marketers use a variety of techniques to create and place content for maximum performance. Demographic research is necessary for precise targeting. Search engine optimization and related techniques are important if you want to ensure your content appears in search engine results.
Intent helps with both. It’s one of the characteristics you can use to improve targeting. In fact, Google started offering intent-based targeting for AdWords last year. Providing people what they want at the exact time they want it is a marketer’s dream.
Intent-influenced content will also perform better in search engines. Search engines are in the business of giving users results that match their search. If your content is relevant to a query, you can expect it to outperform the content that’s not as relevant. And you shouldn’t forget that people will engage with your content more if they find it useful, helpful, and need-fulfilling.
Intent’s Place in a Strategy
One of the more important steps in a content strategy is determining the goals. It will probably be the first step in your process. You need to understand the business for which you’re creating the content and its goals. Next, you need to determine what goals the content needs to achieve. Finally, you’ll need to understand what your audience wants to achieve by reading or watching the content.
Let’s say that you’re creating content for an online store of aftermarket parts for cars. The business goal is to increase sales. Your content strategy should support that goal, so the goal of your content could be, for example, to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of aftermarket parts. The audience’s intent, in that case, would be to find out about different ways they can customize their cars without breaking the bank. Or, it could be that they want to find out whether they can increase the value of their vehicle using aftermarket parts.
Figuring Out Audience Intent
Being considerate to audience’s needs as part of your content strategy is the easier part. Finding out what those needs are is often the difficult part. One way you can research audience intent is by researching keywords. Specifically, long-tail keywords can provide you with plenty of insights into what people are looking for online.
Keeping tabs on your audience also helps. You probably have some data on some parts of the audience from previous touch point. That means that you can find their place in the buyer’s cycle. The further they are along the way to complete a purchase, the more specific and transactional their queries become.
But it all comes down to knowing and understanding your audience. There are plenty of data analysis tools that will give you some insight into your audience’s behavior, which will go a long way in helping you determine their intent. In today’s content marketing, it pays off to make an effort and get to know your audience. Intent-driven content marketing is customer-focused. Your content strategy, as well as the content you end up producing, should reflect it if you want them to succeed.