Updated May 15, 2023: We refreshed the article by simplifying purchase intent explanations and giving more examples of why companies should consider using it to improve sales performance.
Knowing your audience is critical to the success of your digital strategy. The more you know about your potential customers the better the results of your targeting and engagement efforts will be.
Most sales and marketing tools give you demographic information: age, gender, interests, etc. Even if that data describes your website visitors, it doesn’t shed light on their story and context.
Are people interested in your solution? Do they need guidance or are they happy to research on their own? Would they benefit from tailored content or recommendations?
It’s easy to answer these questions if you know the purchase intent (also known as buying intent) of each website visitor.
Tip: Leverage purchase intent in your sales right now with Lift AI. This buyer-intent solution integrates into your marketing stack and identifies web visitors who already want to buy your offering, streamlining your sales process.
What Is Purchase Intent (Buying Intent)?
Purchase intent is a new but increasingly more effective metric for lead generation. It describes your leads in terms of the willingness to buy your solution, which can be measured continuously.
Unlike purely demographic indicators, purchase intent represents a holistic approach to analyzing your audience. It combines demographic and behavioral information to not only take into consideration who your leads are but also which actions they take to explore your offering.
As products and services get more complex, looking at your audience from different perspectives is becoming more important. Tracking purchase intent can even spread out over a few stages of your marketing funnel.
For example, a web visitor might show informational intent when they first become interested in your solution but don’t yet know enough to buy. Alternatively, you could see pure transactional intent, where someone has done all the research and goes straight to the sign up page or puts your product in the shopping cart.
It’s important to differentiate the intensity of purchase intent and direct your resources to where they would have the most impact.
How to Measure Purchase Intent
Measuring purchase intent is not easy. It involves identifying and evaluating the proper correlation between multiple inputs over large segments of your market.
Purchase intent needs data at scale. It’s not possible to get good results by extrapolating a few particular situations to the whole audience.
For example, you can’t solely rely on demographics. You need to monitor how your audience interacts with your website and your services. You need to know where visitors are coming from, how engaged they are, and whether their actions are intentional or situational (e.g. clicking on an ad banner).
Visitors who come to your website via your newsletter would have higher purchase intent than someone clicking on an ad. Not only do newsletter subscribers engage with your content, they’ve already shared their email address with you as well.
In a similar way, you can separate cohorts looking at different pages of your website. People who go to pricing and demo pages probably have a higher purchase intent than those who read about features or go to job openings.
Google Analytics and other similar analytics tools can help you uncover a few behavioral insights. The problem is that most do so after the fact, when visitors are long gone, and don’t take into account nearly enough metrics to make accurate predictions.
Location, for example, could say a lot about a visitor, which is why IP address lookup is a popular feature of data intelligence software. Using reverse IP address search, analytics tools can determine the company that any visitor works for and automatically highlight key accounts. That said, remote work has made IP address lookups somewhat less valuable.
But even when you see raw data in real time, it takes too long to compare results and take action. Besides, up to 98% of website visitors would remain completely anonymous. And if you only rely on following up with visitors who subscribe for a newsletter or request a demo, you’ll miss out the majority who are interested in your offering but are not yet convinced enough to engage.
That’s why to measure purchase intent, you need to be able to account for many inputs, process them in real time, and assign a score of that purchase intent to each visitor.
How to Assign Purchase Intent Scores
Measuring purchase intent is about determining user behavior: what do they read, which devices do they use, which channels do they come from, how much time do they spend on your website, what pages do they look at, etc.
This represents a complex path to purchase. For example, signing up for a demo is not a one-step process. People visit, read, leave, talk to coworkers, and come back at a later date. This is especially true for enterprise-level products or services with long-term commitments.
Each of these components in the user journey should influence (by adding or subtracting) the personal purchase intent score.
Now you understand why purchase intent scoring is not something a human can do in real time. There are too many inputs and variables to take into account. What you should do is delegate this processing to a machine-learning model instead.
What About Using Chat to Ask Users Directly?
A lot of companies today use chat on their website to directly ask visitors what they want.
Leveraging chat is a key tactic to identify anonymous website visitors, explain your product, and collect valuable feedback. When you’re connected to visitors, you can just ask everything you want to know, right?
Not quite. Not everyone wants to be chatted with. Even those who do only reveal tiny snippets of information in the chat. Additionally, the strategy of leveraging chat conversations works for your sales team only when your traffic is manageable. Otherwise, your team would get overwhelmed with sorting through visitors and trying to manually identify purchase intent.
Relying on chatbots to process every visitor is not ideal either. Chatbots have limited capacity for determining the most effective response and often miss out on opportunities where the human touch would have prevailed.
The reverse works much better. You should identify anonymous website visitors and determine their purchase intent before engaging with them in chat.
How can you do that at scale? You implement a tool like Lift AI.
Lift AI is a buyer intent solution that seamlessly integrates into your marketing stack and gives you accurate purchase intent indicators for every website visitor in real time.
The success of Lift AI can be attributed to a unique machine-learning model trained on billions of data points and millions of live sales interactions.
As a result, Lift AI will identify 9% of your website visitors who have the highest purchase intent and connect them directly to your sales team through any chat platform you already use (e.g. Drift). Lower-scoring visitors can be delegated to a self-help or nurturing bot, and still get valuable information without taking up your sales team’s time.
Lift AI customers report up to a 10 times increase in chat conversions within 90 days. PointClickCare, for example, increased conversions by 400%, adding over $1M in incremental revenue in one year. Formstack grew its sales pipeline by 420%.
Master purchase intent and grow your sales without learning new workflows or hiring new sales staff. With artificial intelligence, you can automate decisions that weren’t even possible before.