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Consumer Intent Vs. Demographics: Which is More Important?

February 9, 2016
By Phil Davis

consumer-intent-demographics.jpgLast month, Google published an article stating its research found “marketers who try to reach their audience solely on demographics risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile shoppers.” If you’re like most marketers, this likely caught you off guard. Aren’t demographics the quintessential type of consumer data? The foundation of all great campaigns?

Well … yes and no.

There’s no denying demographics are critical, but 70% is a large number to dispute. Is sticking with your current method really worth risking silencing yourself to nearly three-fourths of your audience? Of course not. But dropping demographics isn’t the answer either.

According to Google, the piece of the puzzle most marketers are missing is consumer intent. Today we’re going to talk about consumer intent, demographics and what matters most in attracting and engaging your audience.

What Does Consumer Intent Mean?

Consumer intent is what drives prospects to take action—whether that action is a purchase, research or contacting your brand with questions and comments. (Google calls these actions “micro-moments.”) In other words, it’s their purpose for seeking out a solution your brand offers.

For example, let’s say you work for a home improvement retail company. A good indication of intent might be a prospect who downloaded the guide “How to Paint Your Interior Like a Pro”. The idea is that by knowing intent, you can be there at the right place and time, with the right offer—such as 20% off all painting supplies.

Why Demographics Alone Won’t Cut It

Does this mean the entire industry is undergoing a paradigm shift to only consumer intent-fueled marketing and abandoning demographics altogether? Of course not. Demographics are essential. However, demographics alone won’t paint the full picture.

For example, as Google pointed out, 45% of home improvement searches on mobile came from women. If you spend most of your marketing efforts targeting men, you’d miss nearly half your audience.

Combining Consumer Intent and Demographics

So how can you make sure your marketing is most powerful? The best solution is to integrate the two.

Using the example of the home improvement store again, let’s assume you discover you have a large volume of traffic coming from Pinterest and Instructables. This tells you your audience is interested in DIY content. Combining this, along with your demographic information, helps you maximize engagement. For example, you can customize DIY content for segments of subscribers who have children, segments under 30 years of age, segments living in colder regions and so forth.

It’s important to consider all the data you can—from consumer intent to demographics, purchase history to referral traffic and trends. The more data you use to back your campaigns, the more likely your offers are to hit the mark and engage your audience.

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