As an individual, you may have noticed an interesting phenomenon. You recently browsed the web about a product or a service but stopped short of purchasing it. And suddenly the next time you logged onto the internet, out of nowhere, you started seeing content and advertisements related to that product or similar products flashing on almost all portals you went. Wondering how it happened? This is the magic of intent-based marketing.

Intent-based marketing is a digital marketing tactic that is gaining rapid steam in the B2B marketing and advertising world. If you are a digital marketer or an organization looking at creating highly targeted and effective campaigns and advertisements to your intended customers, then this is a concept you should know. So, let us get straight into it.

What is intent-based marketing?

The concept of intent-based marketing is very simple. It is simply offering the prospective buyer a relevant product or service based on what they are looking for i.e., when a person or corporate decision maker shows an intent of buying a particular product or service, organizations can gain insights into the person’s intent and can deliver product or service offerings to the user accordingly. Companies can predict the lead’s purchase intent either by capturing his/her behavioral data or the data obtained when the prospect explicitly makes a purchase intent but falls short of making the purchase for some reason.

Intent-based marketing brings down the overall cost of creating campaigns and leads to better ROI, as the organization does not have to take the person or decision maker through the entire buyer’s journey from the stage of awareness since the prospect is already at a consideration or decision level. The tactic is very powerful especially in inbound marketing as it makes use of content which is created around certain long-tail keywords the prospect is searching for. Hence, when a prospect looks for that particular keyword, it reveals tons about his intent. 

Having said that, just user intent is not sufficient if you need to find success with this tactic. For intent-based marketing to work, there are a few other parameters required. Here are a few things that are required to make intent-based marketing successful.

Prospect’s identity

The first thing a digital marketer needs to know even before creating a campaign is the prospect’s identity. Unless you know who it is that you should target the campaign at, there is no point in creating one. A marketer can obtain either direct data provided by the prospect while filling a form or from other external sources as well as validation of data records. The exercise of creating a user persona hugely helps in this regard.

Prospect’s interest

Once the marketer obtains the user identity, it is also necessary to tie that identity with their interests so that you can create a campaign that is relevant to them. Marketers can obtain this data by understanding user behavior or their activity on various channels such as activity on social media pages, the organization’s website such as eBook downloads, response to outbound emails, and blogs as well as third-party publishing platforms. Both 1st party data obtained through direct interaction with the customer and 3rd party data play an important role in understanding the prospect’s interests.

Making sense of data

A prospect’s purchase intent can be interpreted by tying up and analyzing the user identity, interests and behavior. Once the data is analyzed, it can be organized in a way that can be used to create campaigns. However, many times the data is vast and comes in an unstructured way from various sources. This is where big data analysis can help analyze this sort of data, while helping you make sense of it and utilize it to create the right offers.

Relevant content

To utilize the user intent obtained to create effective campaigns and offers, marketers need to utilize content effectively. Intent-based marketing is built on a premise of delivering content to the prospect at a point where he/she is looking for more information about the product. Hence, the content you create must not only be relevant but also resonate with the deep intent of the prospect so that it appears on top when the buyer is searching the web for information. This means that customer’s intent should be at the heart of the content you create.


Intent-based marketing does have a few challenges such as tying up the fragmented user information marketers receive from various channels. However, this can be mostly overcome in a B2B context by doing an in-depth research about your intended targets and creating effective user personas coupled with effective processes. If done right, you can prioritize your marketing spends effectively and reap great ROI through intent-based marketing.

Originally published , updated March 15 2018