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Purchase Intent: What is it and why is it important for eCommerce growth strategy?

Customer purchase intent is such a crucial yet overlooked part of eCommerce strategy.

If your store is converting poorly, it is likely due to a lack of purchase intent from your visitors. This can be due to:

1. You’re bringing in the wrong customers

2. You’re bringing in the right customers but they have low purchase intent and thus need to be nurtured

There’s a lot that goes into digital marketing and regardless of how big your store is I am sure a lot of time is spent building buyer personas, developing marketing campaigns aimed at these buyer personas, improving sales promotion strategies and consistently A/B testing to get all of the above right.

All these efforts largely go in vain if you are bringing in the wrong customers or ones with low purchase intent.

Identifying customers with high purchase intent, learning from them and then focussing marketing efforts towards customer acquisition with high intent customers is key to eCommerce growth and profitability in 2022 and beyond.

What is Purchase Intent?

Customer purchase intent or otherwise called buyer intent is essentially a measure that looks into a customers propensity to purchase.

It can be described as: “The Sum total of cognitive, affective and behavioural towards adoption, purchase, and use of the product, services, ideas or certain behaviours” (*).

As described above you can see that a lot goes into understanding customer behaviour and determining someone's purchase intent. Therefore it isn’t as simple as a yes or no answer ie whether someone has intent to buy or not.

The following blog will look into what types of factors go into purchase intent, why purchase intent is important for eCommerce growth and how to measure it and make use of it.

Why Customer Purchase Intent Matter

Although customer purchase intent is hard to quantify, it is the most important variable for retailers to get right.

Think about it, building brand awareness, creating amazing content, building an integrated marketing campaign, SEO, posting on social media. There’s a lot that goes into driving traffic to your eCommerce site.

If all these efforts are largely driving traffic for those with low purchase intent, then a huge proportion of that time, effort and importantly money is being wasted.

Buyer personas attempt to drive more relevant traffic, especially when customers are segmented. However, segmentation alone is not enough. Google notes that marketers who try to reach their audience solely on demographics risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile shoppers.

Without taking into account customer intent, you are largely ignoring a vast majority of your potential customers. For example, Google identified that 40% of people who are purchasing baby products, do not actually have a baby in their household.

Taking into account customer purchase intent leads to a series of benefits such as:

  • Increasing margins

  • Ability to personalise customer experiences

  • Improving the percentage of conversions per visitor

  • Increasing average order value and revenue per visitor

  • Improving marketing channel ROI

  • Creating a stronger brand

How to Monitor Purchase Intent

We have discussed how difficult it is to understand purchase intent as it can vary so much from customer to customer, even if they fit into the same segment.

Market research firms typically try to measure purchase intent through purchase intent surveys.

These typically consist of:

  1. Likert Scale - A linear scale with varying degrees of intent. For example 5 may be “I would definitely use this product” whilst 1 may be “I would definitely not use this product”.

  2. Juster Scale - A larger scale that assigns a customer's intent to a number. For example, the question may be “On a scale of 1 to 10 how likely would you be to buy this product (with 1 being the least likely and 10 being the most likely).

At bazar, we believe that understanding someone's likelihood of purchasing a product only tells part of the story.

Understanding the Reason Behind Purchase Intent

Likert and Juster scales can only be so useful. For example, you may be able to segment your audience based on their likelihood of purchasing but each segment may have a very different reason for purchasing which helps truly understand your customer purchase intent.

Let’s take the baby example again. As we know from Google, around 40% of baby-related products purchased are from households without baby’s.

So to add more value to Likert and Juster scale type questions, you may want to find out why a certain segment is buying.

Using bazar, you can ask customers with high purchase intent, the reason they are buying baby products.

Is it for their own child? Is it for their grandchildren? Is it for friends or family?

You may find from the survey responses that different segments have different answers and also that different segments have different preferences for what they are choosing to buy.

With this information at hand, you can then launch new campaigns based on segments you previously neglected, increase ad spend on segments that show to have higher purchase intent and also tailor content based on what each segment is interested in.

The 4 Types of Customer Purchase Intent

Informational Intent

Information intent is focused on the awareness stage. During this stage consumers are focused on searching for information as they look for answers or educate themselves on a particular topic.

People looking to improve their health would fall into this category. They may stumble across this article from heights which looks into how to create healthy habits.

At this stage you want to be building brand awareness. The goal here is to educate your customers and provide them with more resources down the funnel.

Investigative Intent

During this stage customers are in the process of researching. They may have a product in mind that they want but are not quite ready to purchase. They may be looking into other options and comparison shopping, reading online reviews or looking through social media channels.

In this day and age, there are plentiful eCommerce options for just about anything someone wants to buy online. This means the investigative stage is taking up more of people's time and is thus becoming more relevant.

A lot of customer journey touch points fall into this stage so it is your job as a retailer to convince people that your offerings and brand are right for them.

During this customers are at the consideration stage of their buyer journey. The goal for retailers here is to gather information about your customers. Use this information for retargeting or re-marketing campaigns.

Here you want to be personalised product recommendations and show your customers what sets you out from the competition and sets your brand apart.

Navigational Intent

Navigational intent is usually specific to larger brands. It is for customers who are interested in visiting a specific retailer's web page or going directly to a brand's online store.

For example, Asos is known for having a wide selection of clothing at various price points and therefore if someone is in the market for a jumper they may go directly to Asos’ site

This category falls under consideration or conversion stage as it is assumed these type of customer have a higher buyer intent.

Therefore, the main responsibility of the retailer is to keep the customer browsing and convert them to sale. Here you need to engage your customer by providing them with personal messaging, a good customer experience and offering promotions that are specific to that customer at the right time.

Transactional Intent

Transactional intent the stage for those who have a high purchase intent. Essentially these people are interested and intend to buy a specific product or service.

Of course, there are different levels of purchase intent but customers at this stage are nearer to the conversion stage of the funnel.

Here, the priority for retailers is to make the sale. To do this, offering the customer a promotion at the right time might help them take action. That’s why at bazar, our promotional pop up opens when a customer adds something to their cart as it evidence a higher degree of purchase intent.

Making the Most of Purchase Intent

By now, we have discussed what purchase intent it is, the four types of purchase intent and why purchase intent is important.

Every eCommerce store can benefit from increasing the level of traffic they get from customers with high purchase intent.

The best way to do this is to learn from your current audience. Any website will always have a proportion of their customers with high purchase intent. So you want to learn from these people and then attract a similar audience.

Bazar lets you understand who has high purchase intent. Our discount pop up only opens when someone has added something to their cart (indicating initial purchase intent). The customer is then required to answer a survey to unlock a discount code.

Whether they go on to make a purchase or not, you know that going through the time and effort to complete the survey to unlock the discount indicates high purchase intent.

And, what better way to learn the characteristics that makes them have high purchase intent, than to survey them with the ability to ask your own questions on the bazar platform.

If you are interested to learn more about how bazar works, click here.



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