…something that is intended; purpose; design; intention.
…the acto or fact of intending, as to do something.
…the state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object.
…meaning or significance.
You could say that Intent Data is the perfect intersection between Data Analytics, Big Data, The Social Web and Digital Marketing. We interpret Intent Data as the data or insight created as a result of a users online interactions either proactively stated by the consumer themselves in response to their need, wants, demands, desires or interests or as a result of their digital activity such as searching, visiting, viewing, downloading, usage of tools or undertaking some form of configuration which identifies potential future requirements and possibilities.
The data is an incredibly powerful means of profiling customers and ensuring they achieve their goals. A critical factor for the business interpreting the insight is it’s timeliness – typically data is only valid for as long as the potential customer still has an outstanding potential requirement. Equally however, Intentcasting provides a consumer with greater empowerment and the ability to no longer be seen as a targetable asset, but control themselves the way vendors engage with them – vendor relationship management over customer relationship management.
We are moving on from the era where marketers have solely pushed their products upon vast numbers of consumer’s aiming for a reaction in an often unpredictable fashion. Sales strategy based upon highly paid field-based business development executives and commoditised telemarketing teams are inefficient and increasingly ineffective. Advertisers are having to become increasingly innovative to differentiate themselves in global markets and ensure consumer interaction in the digital world we now live in.
The concept of intent orientated marketing is not necessarily new – it has existed in various guises offline – but the advent and continued expansion of the internet, it’s global reach and the real-time behaviour tracking capabilities of new mediums has vastly increased it’s potential and possibilities. Way back (!) in 1999 Seth Godin introduced us to Permission Marketing, in which marketers obtain permission before advancing to the next step in the purchasing cycle. This form of marketing requires that the prospective customer has either given explicit permission for the marketer to send their promotional message (like an email or catalog request) or implicit permission (like querying a search engine). This can be either via an online email opt-in form or by using search engines, which implies a request for information which can include that of a commercial nature. To illustrate, consider someone who searches for “buy shoes.” Online shoe stores have searchers’ permission to make an offer that solves their shoe problem.
Society has embraced the desire to express openly on the internet their thoughts – particularly via “like” and consumer feedback. Now the era of Intent led data is evolving as eCommerce Websites are embracing consumer’s expressions of concepts such as “want,” “intend to,” “need” and “name your price.” The Social graph is leading onto and embracing the Interest Graph. This website discusses all of these concepts.
The most prominent thought leader and advocate in this space is Harvard Professor, Doc Searls. Doc coined the term Intention Economy in an article for Linux Journal. He wrote: “The Intention Economy grows around buyers, not sellers. It leverages the simple fact that buyers are the first source of money, and that they come ready-made. You don’t need advertising to make them.”
The intention economy is an approach to viewing markets and economies focusing on buyers as a scarce commodity. The consumers’ intent to buy drives the production of goods to meet their specific needs. It is also the title of Doc Searls book:”The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge” published in May, 2012 and available in our book store.
Despite the advancements, internet businesses are still seller oriented. Even successful businesses like Google still have the point of view of the sellers, with their revenue coming nearly all from advertising. Searls describes the current condition as a series of silos. The only option a buyer has is merely moving from silo to silo. Nothing has fundamentally changed.
New startups such as Intently.co are coming to market though to embrace this space, and several established sites are starting to leverage Intent Data led interactions with their existing clients. For example flight booking services Priceline.com, which let users name their price for an airline ticket still functions like a “silo.” In an intention economy a site like Priceline might serve as an intermediary with the airline coordinating new flight dates and times that correspond around the buyers intentions. Companies need to be able to respond to a customers precise needs. “Mass customization, in a lot of areas it is no longer inherently necessary that I get the exact same thing as a million other people. A computer manufacturer can be geared for assembling a computer just for me, to my specifications. A travel agency can construct a travel plan particularly for me.” Searls gives an example of intention economy scenario: “A car rental customer should be able to say to the car rental market, ‘I’ll be skiing in Park City from March 20-25. I want to rent a 4-wheel drive SUV. I belong to Avis Wizard, Budget FastBreak and Hertz 1 Club. I don’t want to pay up front for gas or get any insurance. What can any of you companies do for me?’ — and have the sellers compete for the buyer’s business.”
As an alternative point of view, Trendwatching.com describes two problems with intention economy sites. “…Most of these ‘information brokers’ focus on only one product/category. Many of them also work (too) closely with a limited set of suppliers.” In their view sites haven’t yet fully embraced or optimised Intent Data in their business model, “Sites that seem to act like intention economy sites are not. For example Priceline which lets customers name their own price and then matches it with the (pre-set) minimum prices that airlines, hotels and rental car companies have provided Priceline.com with.” Clearly the greatest challenge for businesses leveraging Intent Data is truly interpreting the available tools, techniques and skills required to offer customers an accurate, valued, efficient, economical and often bespoke experience. The market clearly remains wide open for some from of 3rd party intention-brokers who can handle a variety of intentions per customer, and genuinely operate on behalf of those customers. We hope with IntentData.com we can help you all to achieve your goals.