We’re living both the best and the worst of times for marketers.
There have never been more data and tools to explore and use as we have today.
Take a step back. Look at our current context. Notice how rich it is with opportunities to find what people really need and want from companies!
Now more than ever, marketers have a chance to trade in their assumptions for data-driven insights about what people truly want.
Caveats? There are some.
The challenge for marketers is to tread lightly when balancing personalization with users’ privacy. Getting the best of both worlds means:
- Customizing user experience without being Face… creepy and
- Capturing, storing, and managing data in a way that’s secure and GDPR-compliant (yes, I said it).
Which brings us to User Search Intent, one of the hottest topics in marketing, e-commerce, and media.
Why User Search Intent is key for growth
If your field is highly competitive (whose isn’t?)…
If your marketing budget is not unlimited (whose is?)…
If you want to break through the noise in a way that delights your customers…
Then it’s time you consider experimenting with User Search Intent.
Understanding why your users or customers search for certain types of information unlocks a world of growth opportunities.
Knowing their context helps focus your strategy, get a better ROI on your marketing budget, and deliver more relevant experiences.
In practice, you can improve a range of marketing metrics by leveraging User Search Intent:
- CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)
- CTR (Click-Through Rates)
- Customer Retention
- Time on Page
- Bounce Rate
- Conversion Rate and more.
What’s more, you get to be a helpful marketer who builds digital experiences people actually enjoy which is not necessarily the norm nowadays.
There are various ways to approach this optimization tactic:
- Manual analysis where you build up your keyword list and assign intent manually for each one
- A combination of manual analysis and using one or more tools to do the job — check out this guide, this one, and this third one too
- AI-enhanced analysis.
If you’re new to this, the theory may sound appealing but you’re probably more interested to know how other marketers use it IRL.
We talked to 10 marketers from both sides of the fence — agency and client — to discover how they integrate User Search Intent into their workflows. From opportunities to pitfalls, we have you covered!
How User Search Intent fits into these marketers’ strategies
User Search Intent helps you predict user behavior and meet real-life expectations
Michal Bohanes, Founder of Kontent360, has a very practical perspective of how you can apply User Search Intent analysis to delight your customers and attract their loyalty.
“Search intent is key to understanding what your users are looking for.
Once you know that, you can anticipate search queries and tailor your written content to it to maximise likelihood to land on the first results page.
Also, outside of SEO it’s key, especially as far as creating good headlines for articles is concerned. When an article title exactly hits home with your readers because you’ve done your search intent homework before and have delivered a title that’s perfectly aligned with a question mark in your prospect’s mind, you’ll get a loyal audience.”
Megan Meade, Marketing Specialist at Software Path, touches on how multiple marketing tactics (SEO, content marketing, CRO, etc.) come together to serve the users’ interests:
“Search intent is a massive indicator to our audience’s mindset when approaching content, and informs a significant portion of a well-planned content strategy.
Most discussion on search intent currently is focused on conjecture or hypotheses depending on interaction with content types, but a more accurate picture of actual search intent can be more accurately garnered from survey data.
A dedicated resource to this would be able to answer many questions about content; i.e. what pieces are most valuable to customers in our space, and enable us to more accurately engage and education our audience.
Being able to provide an audience with exactly what they’re looking is every marketer’s dream as it will inevitably lead to a higher SERP position, more sessions as the content will be highly relevant, and therefore, a higher conversion rate.”
Use it both to create targeted content and to optimize old content
Irina Nica, Senior Marketing Manager at Hubspot, provides a helpful reminder that insights from User Search Intent analysis are also a goldmine for refreshing old content that performs well but has plateaued in terms of performance.
“If I go back to the core values of HubSpot, matching user search intent is really aligned with our core value of delighting customers and readers. That means we’re super keen on making sure we’re there, where users search for solutions to their problems, with the right content.
So we’re thinking about user search intent in almost everything we do, whether we’re planning to publish new articles on the blog (and win Google’s featured snippets), we’re optimizing old content, or launching a new marketing course.”
User Search Intent comes before content briefs
Veronika Baranovska, Inbound Marketing Manager at Sendible, highlights the importance of using a variety of tactics to truly get to know your customers. The richer the context, the better informed your marketing decisions.
“User intent is crucial for us when we create content for our company blog, Sendible Insights, as well as downloadable resources for lead generation and nurturing. For the last few years, our primary focus has been to provide value to marketers and help them be more productive.
And this would be difficult to do without understanding their pain points or intent. Before we start doing keyword research or writing briefs, we focus on:
the core pain points of our buyer personas
which stage of the journey they are more likely to be in (awareness, consideration, decision), and
what they aim to find when they look for a said phrase or question.
While we use a keyword tool, we don’t use any specific tools to predict what the user intent is at the moment.
However, we can get a good grasp of what the intent behind the search could be as we intimately know our buyer personas and speak to our customers and prospects regularly.
My advice here is to truly understand your buyer persona’s, their pain points, and how that relates to the solutions the business provides. For us, these are digital marketing agency owners and marketers.
As for inbound marketing, we measure how well our content performs not only in terms of traffic or leads generated; we also look at how visitors engage with our content and what their next steps are to understand intent better. ”
Kristen Poli, Manager of Content Strategy Services at Contently, also emphasizes the importance of factoring in potential search traffic in the planning stages. Delivering compelling, useful content depends on thinking one step ahead at all times.
“It’s crucial that you develop your content strategy with search performance in mind. We use search data to ensure the content pieces we’re recommending make sense for the end user at each stage, while thinking about how they’re going to find that content. We’re continuously developing the way we approach keyword research, story ideation, and development.”
Monitoring how User Search Intent evolves to uncover growth opportunities
Alin Vlad, Chief Marketing Officer at CyberGhost, points out an essential aspect: “search intent changes as the industry matures” so making it a habit to keep an eye on this evolution keep your marketing strategy agile and relevant.
“We use search intent for creating and optimizing marketing assets throughout the entire customer journey.
Whether it’s TOFU, MOFU or BOFU, we pay close attention to the users’ context. User intent helps guide our decisions in terms of formats and messaging.
For example, in terms of informational intent, we plan and roll our a certain structure for the articles on the CyberGhost Privacy Hub. When it comes to our PPC campaigns, search intent plays a big part in how we frame the product benefits to fit specific use cases.
It’s also important to track and adjust to how intent changes for keywords over time. For example, 2–3 years ago, SERPs for “VPN” were mostly informational because VPNs were regarded as tools that mostly techies used.
This has changed over the last few years, with more SEPRs becoming more specific as mass adoption for VPNs grows worldwide. Now results for “VPN” include lists of top-rated products, for instance.
Search intent changes as the industry matures and as products progress through different adoption cycles. Marketers can certainly benefit from keeping a close eye on this.“