How well do you know your target audience? They’re going to make or break your success so how well you can figure out their buyer intent may crush or skyrocket your success.

Marketing isn’t always a black and white operation. It requires patience, a nuanced approach and most importantly, the ability to determine buyer intent. Marketers can’t even begin to market to a customer if they have no idea what the customers want in the first place. Determining buyer intent used to be a complex and tedious endeavor, but in today’s digital world, determining buyer intent is much simpler. Buyers literally type what they are looking for into the google search query.

The data is there. It’s up to the marketer to decipher it, and it should be a primary focus of your SEO checklist.

Types of Search Queries

Search queries come in three forms with each specific search revealing a lot about the intent of the user, and how likely they are to make a transaction.

1) Transactional

Transactional searches are those that portray “commercial” or “transactional” intent. I.E. the intent to conduct some sort of transaction. Keywords like “discount”, “buy, “best” “coupon” and “deal” reveal that the user has already decided to make a transaction and is now simply looking for the best deal or offer for them.

2) Navigational

Navigational searches are intended to bring the user to a particular site. I.E “Facebook” or “Amazon” These searches reveal specifically what the user has searched for and can rarely be refined further.

3) Informational

Informational searches are intended to reveal information about a given product or service, and not necessarily make a transaction, such as, “what is the best webinar software” vs a more transactional search, such as “best webinar software.” Products or services that are able to rank for these searches are more likely to appear as experts or thought leaders in the given industry and are therefore seen as more trustworthy to potential customers.

Ranking on informational searches can be achieved by utilizing keywords on articles and online content that provide information to the user. Such as “Why webinars are more effective than seminars” or “10 ways to reduce your home’s environmental footprint.”

buyer intent

Path to Sale

The path to sale for nearly every product or service out there can be reduced to just a few simple steps. Determining the pain points of the target audience is absolutely necessary to providing the right ad for the right product or service for them to buy in order to solve said pain points. To do that, however, one must first conduct research as to what, how and why the target audience is searching for solutions to their pain points.

For example, users may run a search about teeth sensitivity and what products they can use to alleviate it. Users may utilize search phrases like “pain from sensitive teeth”, or “best toothbrush for sensitive teeth” to gather more information on products they can use to alleviate the pain from sensitive teeth.

In searching these phrases, however, the user can also encounter content on foods that are gentle on sensitive teeth and even medical content as to why some people of more sensitive teeth than others. Utilizing that educational content should be a part of any online marketing campaign.

Once research has been conducted it’s time to narrow down the search phrase. Keywords that express a comparison, or review a products quality or various features, are used to discover more about which model or service has met the standards of the target audience.

The last step on the path to a sale is risk reduction the audience has selected the specific item or service they would like to purchase they are nearly ready to conduct a transaction. For the potential customer, it’s now simply a manner of choosing which vendor they would like to purchase it from. It goes without saying that customers prefer vendors they can trust, which is why they search for the best price and terms they can prior to purchasing. This would be the time to include local keywords, like adding “Chicago” to “Jeep dealer” to create phrases like “Chicago Jeep Dealer” and “Jeep Dealers in Chicago”

Buyer Intent Sales

The path to success is never direct… but it can often be reduced to keyword searches.

High Intent Keyword

High intent keywords are utilized to convince the potential customer to take an action by offering additional incentives or portraying a sense of urgency.  These high intent keywords are referred to as “buy now” keywords and are usually utilized just moments before the user makes a purchase. Other high intent keywords such as “affordable”, “best”, “cheapest”, “review” and “top” are referred to as product searches and indicate that the user is shopping and comparing products and has the potential to make a transaction.  

Certain keywords are more valuable than others, depending on the likeness of eliciting a click from the user and the nature of the particular business or industry. Branded and product-specific keywords are the most lucrative but also the most competitive.

Targeting the Right Keywords

When utilizing keywords to solicit conversions it’s important to define and narrow the ad campaign to as specific of a demographic as possible. This notion runs counterintuitive to traditional marketers who were trained to pull in ad exposure from as large of an audience as possible. Marketers who understand the “customer’s path to purchase” will be able to target the right keywords to bring in the most qualified and transactionally willing customers.

When trying to determine what keywords are best to target the audience, consider what it’s like to search for the product from the customers perspective. What ways might they search to find what is being offered? What pain points need to be averted or solved before the customer can make a transaction.

Consider the search intent and the context behind a particular phrase used by the target audience. Avoid keyword stuffing and instead utilize keywords and synonyms to develop a relevant context around the selected keyword. Marketers who do this will provide the target audience with a more relevant and complete search experience and be more successful in maintaining their budget and less likely to exhaust that budget on ads targeting the wrong audience.

Determining buyer intent is critical to targeting the right keywords and is therefore essential to selling anything online. Marketers who use this guide to determine exactly what keywords invoke a response from users that generate the most revenue, and create the easiest path to sale, will not only run a successful marketing campaign but sell more of the right product to the right people at the right price.

Guest author Katrina Espinoza is a content strategist for When she’s not busy surfing the waves of Southern California, you can find her on Twitter.

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