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29 Jan 2019

The Evolution of Data: Creating Intent-Led Digital Strategies

Even though most people think that data-driven marketing is based on numbers, the focus is often misconstrued.  Data-driven marketing uses data to study what makes people connect.  It uses patterns to reveal to marketers the insights required to get customers to act.  

Data-driven marketing is changing the way digital marketers think about people. With the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we can gather thousands of terabytes of data on people’s habits and intent, which is a much more effective marketing technique than targeting someone by their age group or gender. Intent-based marketing is the future of digital marketing and here’s why.

Marketing to Intent

Intent-based marketing builds on the idea that you don’t care who your target audience is, you care about their behavior. With the amount of data collected by Google and Facebook, you can target intent-driven behavior by analyzing behavior that we want to cultivate among any demographic.

In fact, demographic and psychographic data should be incidental to your intent-based marketing strategy. Marketers who rely on demographic data alone risk missing 70% of potential shoppers who may fall outside of the target gender, age range, or any other myriad of factors. Intent beats identity always, so instead of targeting “baby boomers” or “millennials,” your marketing strategy should be intent-led.

For example, you may think of video games as a predominantly male-dominated habit. But analyzing Google’s search and video behavior analysis of the video game category, only 31% of mobile searchers are men between 18 and 34. It’s not as broad a category as you would assume, given the historical context of the industry. This is how intent-based marketing helps you reach people who may not have been in your sights through demographics targeting alone.

By delivering what the customer wants during their intent-led search, you’re more likely to generate product leads and conversions from anyone who is searching for your product, versus targeting a specific age group or gender based on previous demographic data.

Leveraging the Power of AI

80% of marketing executives believe that machine learning and artificial intelligence will completely revolutionize the way we think about digital marketing. That’s because by 2020, there will be 1.7MB of new information created every second for every single person on the planet. This amount of data is a treasure trove for creating intent-driven digital marketing strategies that capitalize on behavior and go beyond demographics.

One of the critical ways digital marketing will be revolutionized is through the use of machine learning. Machine learning is able to filter through sets of data at lightning speed, processing more data than we’ve ever been able to handle in the past. The result is an algorithm that can be taught to do just about anything, from identifying which plants in a field are weeds to directing self-driving cars.

This technology can be applied to digital marketing to create a laser-focused precision on precisely the type of behavior you want to reinforce. Scientists have been using neural networks and deep learning to teach machines to make inferences about a set of data to generate new data for marketing purposes.

AI software like TensorFlow is narrowing the gap between data collection and the deployment of marketing strategy, making it easier to get to the decision-making process of digital marketing. The best feature of AI software is the longer it is in use, the more accurate it gets in identifying patterns that are beneficial to marketers to target.

Analyzing Session Quality

Machine learning for neural networks helps digital marketers tell the difference between someone who is legitimately interested in the product versus someone just browsing around. This is done by analyzing the browser session of a user to determine its quality. Will that person return and complete the sale if they added things to the cart? By using machine learning to analyze session quality, marketers can determine if a discount coupon will push that sale through to conversion with near 90% accuracy.

With enough machine learning applied to a neural network, marketers can begin separating sessions that are just browsing versus those with the intent to buy or convert. The extra nudge needed to get that sale can be applied through an email campaign, chatbot, or another virtual agent that requires no human intervention. Deep learning can also be used to help generate ad copy, subject headlines, and calls to action. It’s estimated that by the end of 2018, 20% of commercial content will be created by machines.

By analyzing session quality, digital markets will be able to create a self-driven campaign that can examine whether someone will buy if given the right incentive, deploy that incentive, and watch conversions skyrocket based on intent-led data rather than demographics.

The Future of Digital Marketing

The artificial intelligence revolution is here, but it requires digital marketers being willing to embrace machine learning and neural networks as points of data aggregation. Currently, around 38% of digital marketers believe that predictive analysis will play a significant role in digital marketing moving forward. That number should be much higher, considering just how game-changing the use of big data can be when creating intent-driven marketing strategies.

Digital marketing firms should have a goal of getting 5% of their workforce training for machine learning by 2019. Machine learning should power 25% of business functions and 50% of digital analytics for any marketing firm serious about creating intent-led strategies. The simple truth about this industry is that you don’t need humans to sift through data anymore, you need humans who are capable of teaching a machine to analyze the intent of your site’s visitors.

Machine learning can help digital marketers rely less on customer acquisition stats and focus more on the all-important return on investment, which is the ultimate goal of any marketing campaign. Getting acquainted with open source software like TensorFlow can help give your business an edge in an industry that is rapidly changing its focus.

Demographics-driven data was never the best strategy, and the sooner digital marketers can break free from the mold of putting everyone into little boxes, the sooner they can begin marketing for intent-driven behavior that transcends the labels we put on everyone. If the primary goal is conversion, then deep learning will radically change what you thought you knew about your customer base. Demographics never tell the full picture, and with a data-driven marketing solution powered by machine learning, it will become possible to understand exactly the type of person who uses your products, no matter their physical demographics.

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Search engine marketing expert with 15 years of experience in the industry, working with small mom and pop shops as well as large corporate websites. I have experience with all aspects of inbound marketing, including SEO, Link Building, Social Shares, Usability, Conversions, PPC, Email Marketing, and more.