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6 Jul

Why the Evolution of Direct Mail Circulation Planning Focuses on Buyer Intent

Author: Allen Abbott

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Direct Mail

Buyer Intent and Why It Became a Top Priority for DIrect Mail

The one absolute in this modern era of abundant information is that consumers have more decision-making resources than ever before. They are empowered, informed and value the overall customer experience your company delivers. While this ultimately encourages the consumer to make a more well-informed purchase decision and remain loyal to a company who continues to provide excellent services and products, it also means that the days of a linear path to purchase are long gone. There is no one-stop shopping, so to speak, because most consumers will be exposed to multiple advertising efforts, both online and offline, before they decide to buy.

Even as the consumer has more resources available to make purchasing decisions, the modern direct marketer can gather more information about consumers to truly understand those buying behaviors. The insights you gain from this “buyer intent” data can dramatically enhance the effectiveness of your direct mail circulation plan. But what is buyer intent, and how can you use it effectively in your direct mail circulation planning?

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What Is Buyer Intent

Marketers have relied on data to learn about their customers for decades, but buyer intent goes a step beyond the typical accumulation and analysis of data. Instead of merely looking at a data set and drawing conclusions about what customers have already done, buyer intent is focused on determining what those customers might do in the future. Consider a consumer who routinely visits your website on Friday afternoons. While there’s a chance this individual is bored at work and wants to kill time before the weekend, there’s an even better chance this is a loyal, repeat customer who wants to know about your current promotions before hitting the stores on Saturday and Sunday.

Intent data is focused on answering those ambiguous questions about what a consumer really wants to know when they seek out your company online. It’s not about creepily spying on your customers, but  instead, about putting your company in the position to provide the best customer interaction possible by reaching your customer at the precise moment, with the exact mail piece, they need or want.

As is the case with all marketing concepts, buyer intent is all about reaching a deeper understanding of your customer base while enhancing your ability to deliver the right solution at the right time. Those customers who exhibit signs of making a purchase are raising their hands and are ready for you to reach out to them.

Why You Should Make the Most of Buyer Intent

According to a study done by Webmarketing123, nearly 40 percent of companies that use marketing automation do so with basic programming that’s not advanced enough to handle the analysis of buyer intent. That alone is a great reason to upgrade your company’s capabilities. By using buyer intent now, you’re almost guaranteed to be ahead of your competition.

But using buyer intent to its maximum potential has its own set of rewards. Solving the question of buyer intent answers another oft-unanswered question — what does my customer want from me? The responses from actual customers may be quite different from what you assumed. And if you can truly understand what the customer is looking for in each interaction with your company, you’re that much better equipped to provide the best possible solution. That type of consistent customer excellence is what drives long-term customer loyalty.

Buyer intent can also help you accurately segment the different portions of your audience.

While it would be easy if every customer were identical, the truth is that each unique group wants something different. Their motivations to purchase are different, and your marketing efforts must speak to those underlying purchasing motivations.  This is actually a positive development, because capturing the different intent data from these groups will help you to differentiate them, both internally and externally. That makes you a better marketer, and it enables your company to confidently take the necessary approach with each segment. And nothing builds customer satisfaction and brand advocacy like a consumer who feels understood and valued.

Another major benefit of buyer intent is that it can help you craft the perfect direct mail piece for each member of your audience. This goes beyond simple segmentation and moves into the most practical and effective offer for each individual recipient.

What Intent Data Should You Collect

Buyer intent can be inferred from any part of your website. However, you don’t want to get too carried away with over-analyzing every data point that comes your way. You’re best served sticking with some basic attributes where you can spot intent first. You can always expand your analysis at a later date when you’re looking for more advanced intent concepts.

It’s difficult to pin down where to begin understanding what attributes you are looking for and what data will provide the answers you’re looking for. A good place to start is by understanding how your consumers are using your website. Do the majority of your browsers head directly to the seasonal sales, do they click on special promotions first or do they come to your site only to perform an on-site search? These three actions can tell you at least part of the story of what your shoppers are looking for. Consumers who perform on-site searches are highly motivated and are looking for specific products or services. If you have what they’re looking for, they’ll be more motivated to buy from you. But these buyers may not be impulse shoppers. They make purchases based on need and may not spend any time browsing other pages on your site.

You should also keep tabs on how frequently people visit your site. This reveals another piece of the story. Repeat visits almost always indicate strong interest from the browser. This is especially true if those visits occur within a short period of time. This may indicate the end user going back to check out some details on your site, or it may be an individual showing a friend or significant other a product before moving in to make a purchase. In either case, a repeat visitor is likely a motivated potential buyer.

By understanding how your shoppers are using your site, you can begin to gain insights into what motivates them to buy from you, what they’re looking for and how you can create a direct mail piece that speaks to those desires.

How to Use Intent Data for Direct Mail Circulation Planning

The ultimate question for direct marketers is how they can use buyer intent data to bolster their direct mail circulation. The most obvious way in which data influences direct mail distribution is the real-time assessment of interest that can transpire as a result of analyzing buyer intent. Intent data is a direct reflection of a consumer’s current interest in your company. Intent data can also help you to gain a true understanding of what motivates actual consumers. Working in a vacuum without using all the information available to you will give you a limited look at consumer behavior. Basing direct mail success on response or no response is a binary way of looking at things. Intent data can help you understand how customers actually interact with your company and your website. The applications for this revelation are limitless. And because this predictive analysis is based solely on interactions with your company, you will have custom insights into your consumers that no one else can see

The proper capture, analysis and use of intent data will help every part of your company, not only your marketing department. It’s a powerful new development with untapped potential. And if your company can harness the power of buyer intent, the sky’s the limit for your direct mail marketing capabilities.

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