A Google executive has said that businesses of all size should stop chasing customer intent and start predicting it using the wealth of consumer search data now available.
Speaking at an exclusive event for Optus My Business Awards winners and finalists at the Optus Innovation Hub, Google’s industry manager Nick Sargent explained that there is now a wealth of data that can be used to help businesses influence customer buying habits well before the point of sale.
Using his own recent experience of learning to sail, he said he used the search engine to look at how to tie knots, good places to go sailing nearby and sailing lessons.
As such, he suggested that sporting retailers and manufacturers could reliably predict that, in the near future, he would be needing to buy relevant kit, including shoes and gloves – presenting businesses with an opportunity to proactively reach out to him even before he realised he needed them.
Mr Sargent said that marketing in this way is more effective than mass advertising, as the leads are warm to hot.
He also urged businesses to “stop marketing to the average”. This, he suggested, is a waste of resources, partly because no one really fits the “average” mould, meaning they can easily be alienated, but also because different prospects will have different value to the business.
Hence, targeting prospects that can be predicted to be in need of a certain product or service delivers a much higher return on investment.
Explaining this point, Mr Sargent said US stationary retailer Papyrus noted that its high-value customers were worth three times more than the average customer, and so it refocused its core messaging to solely target those high-value customers and drive more sales from them.
According to Mr Sargent, Google is also working to refine how it tracks in-store sales conversions from online marketing, by using Google Maps to detect if and when a customer has gone to a store stocking a product in response to an advertisement.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.