How to leverage customer intent for ecommerce success

By Ian Nadeau on October 11, 2023

How to leverage customer intent for ecommerce success

Understanding customer intent is crucial for ecommerce success. Customer intent refers to the purpose behind a visitor’s actions and behaviors and it can be categorized into different types of signals. These signals can be explicit or implicit, with both providing valuable insights into what the visitor is looking for. 

Explicit signals include specific search queries, product reviews, and customer feedback. Implicit signals are derived from a customer’s behavior, such as browsing patterns, time spent on a website, and items added to the shopping cart. 

By analyzing these signals, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ intent and adjust their strategies accordingly.

The importance of customer intent 

Customer intent plays a pivotal role in driving ecommerce success. By understanding what your customers are looking for, you can optimize the experience with product recommendations, social proof, real-time incentives, and more. These efforts not only improve the overall customer experience, they can also increase the likelihood of conversions and repeat purchases.

Moreover, customer intent allows you to target the right audience with the right message at the right time. Instead of relying solely on generic marketing tactics, you can tailor your approach based on the specific intent signals your customers are exhibiting. The agility enabled by intent-based marketing creates more engaging and relevant experiences, fostering stronger customer relationships and brand loyalty.

Types of customer intent signals

Customer intent signals come in various forms. Here are some of the more common types:

  • Search queries: The keywords customers use when searching for products or information can reveal their intent. For example, someone searching for “best running shoes for women” is likely in the market for athletic footwear.
  • Browsing behavior: Monitoring how customers navigate through your website can provide insights into their intent. For instance, if a customer repeatedly visits the same category of products, they likely have a strong intent to purchase.
  • Social media interactions: Engagements on social media platforms, such as likes, comments, and shares can indicate customer intent. Pay attention to what customers are saying and how they engage with your brand online.
  • Purchase history: Analyzing past purchases can reveal patterns and preferences, helping businesses anticipate customer intent for future purchases.

By understanding the different types of customer intent signals, businesses can gather valuable data to inform their marketing strategies and optimize their ecommerce platforms.

Utilizing customer intent signals in your ecommerce strategy

Once you have identified customer intent signals, it’s time to incorporate them into your ecommerce strategy. Here are some effective ways to utilize customer intent signals:

Optimizing product descriptions 

Product descriptions play a vital role in capturing customer interest and driving conversions. By incorporating customer intent signals into your product descriptions, you can create content that resonates with your target audience and addresses their specific needs. Use the language, keywords, and features that align with the intent signals you have identified to make your product descriptions more compelling and relevant.

Consider the example of a customer searching for “sustainable clothing brands.” By highlighting the eco-friendly materials and production processes in your product descriptions, you can appeal to their interests and increase the likelihood of a purchase. 

Creating customer-centric landing pages

Landing pages are often the first point of contact between a customer and your ecommerce website. By creating customer-centric landing pages, you can align the content and design to match the intent signals of your target audience. Tailor the headline, images, and call-to-action to address the specific needs and desires of your customers. This enhances the user experience, increases engagement, and improves conversion rates.

Tailor the customer journey

By segmenting your audience based on intent signals, you can tailor your marketing campaigns for maximum impact. Use customer intent signals to deliver appropriate product recommendations, targeted emails, and relevant messaging.

For example, if a customer has shown intent to purchase hiking gear, send them a targeted email featuring your latest hiking gear collection along with a special incentive. By addressing their intent directly, you increase the chances of conversion and create a positive customer experience.

Measuring the effectiveness of your customer intent marketing strategy

To ensure the success of your customer intent marketing strategy, it’s essential to measure its effectiveness. Here are some key metrics to track:

  • Conversion rate: Measure the percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. 
  • Click-through rate (CTR): Monitor the percentage of users who click on a specific link or advertisement. 
  • Return on investment (ROI): Calculate the financial return on your marketing investment. By comparing the cost of your marketing campaigns to the revenue generated, you can determine the effectiveness of your customer intent marketing strategy.

By consistently measuring these metrics, you can identify areas for improvement, refine your customer intent marketing strategy, and drive greater ecommerce success.

In-session marketing for customer intent

In-session marketing fuses clickstream data and AI models to predict the purchase propensity of visitors in real-time. Within five clicks, an AI-powered in-session marketing platform can segment shoppers into one of three buckets.

  1. Likely to purchase: This segment is likely to buy from you regardless of being offered a discount. They account for 15% of scored visits and convert at 5X the site average.
  2. Unlikely to purchase: This segment most likely won’t make a purchase regardless of whether or not a discount is presented. They account for 20% of scored visits and convert at 1/10 the average.
  3. On-the-fence: This segment is highly influenceable, meaning give them an offer and they’re likely to purchase. They account for 65% of scored sessions and convert at ⅓ the site average.

Knowing what the customer is likely to do in that specific session allows online retailers  to target visitors with triggered actions that influence the session before the visitor leaves the site. 

Using in-session marketing to identify customer intent unlocks advanced targeting opportunities, including: 

  • Nudging on-the-fence shoppers with a single-use promo code.
  • Increasing average order value with tailored product recommendations at checkout for likely-to-buy shoppers.
  • Triggering email signup incentives for unlikely-to-buy shoppers for further nurturing.

Case study: National furniture retailer

A national furniture retailer upgraded its marketing efforts with real-time signals to determine how and when to use promotions. By only showing discounts to on-the-fence shoppers who needed an incentive to purchase, they were able to optimize their promotional spend — driving higher conversion and protecting margins.

With Session AI’s real-time predictions they were able to segment by customer intent, enabling the brand to target messaging, promotions, and incentives to the right visitors, while they’re actively shopping.  

This session-based segmentation uniquely allowed the retailer to increase CVR by 20% and sales by nearly $3 million without gathering personally identifiable information — a key capability that positions the retailer to grow its market share in an increasingly competitive and privacy-focused ecommerce market.

Customer intent is essential for ecommerce success. By understanding what motivates your customers and tailoring your marketing strategies to meet their needs, you can create a more engaging and tailored experience. Remember to analyze different types of customer intent signals, utilize tools and technologies for data analysis, and measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

By harnessing customer intent, you can drive conversions, foster customer loyalty, and achieve ecommerce success.

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