Why Brands Need to Stop Chasing Marketing Hype and Start Pursuing Audience Intent

Brands waste too much time and effort chas­ing the next, shiny mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy or buzz­word, think­ing it’s a sil­ver bul­let. Lead­ing with “intent” lets brands put their audi­ence first, and leaves the tac­ti­cal mar­ket­ing imple­men­ta­tion as a detail, not a key...

Christopher Hart By Christopher Hart from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 1 comment

Brands waste too much time and effort chas­ing the next, shiny mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy or buzz­word, think­ing it’s a sil­ver bul­let. Lead­ing with “intent” lets brands put their audi­ence first, and leaves the tac­ti­cal mar­ket­ing imple­men­ta­tion as a detail, not a key focus.

There are a lot of buzz­words in marketing—inbound, out­bound, native and the list goes on. And these buzz­words can lead to con­fu­sion, wast­ed time and even paral­y­sis for brands.

Which meth­ods are “right” for you? When weigh­ing your options, it’s less about the next buzz­word, and more about audi­ence intent and deliv­er­ing what your buy­er per­sona wants, in a way they want it, when they want it.

So essen­tial­ly, it’s real­ly not about you, the brand, at all.

When you look at the mar­ket­ing land­scape today from a bird’s eye view, the method of deliv­ery, the tactics—all of that—those are mere­ly the ves­sel to deliv­er the infor­ma­tion your tar­get audi­ence is look­ing for right now.

Not lead­ing with audi­ence intent can be dan­ger­ous. And so, let’s explore com­mon buzz-wor­thy mar­ket­ing strate­gies, how to strate­gi­cal­ly approach them, and why your strat­e­gy should lead with much more than just the buzz du jour.

Times, They Are A Changin’

There are rad­i­cal changes hap­pen­ing in tech­nol­o­gy right now that are reshap­ing how peo­ple con­sume media and how brands do mar­ket­ing. Amongst these changes is a mind­set shift from tech­nol­o­gy first to peo­ple first.

Research shows that high-per­form­ing mar­keters empha­size peo­ple over data, tech­nol­o­gy and even strat­e­gy.

Con­sumers are demand­ing a per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ence, and that expe­ri­ence can come in any mar­ket­ing cam­paign, in any tech­nol­o­gy or device for all they care.

Not know­ing what your tar­get audi­ence wants can end up in lost rev­enue. Take NBC’s Olympics deba­cle and a pro­jec­tion that fell short and was blamed on Mil­len­ni­als.

When brands start blam­ing cus­tomers instead of bet­ter serv­ing them, they’ve got big­ger prob­lems. (Sor­ry NBC, you don’t have a “Mil­len­ni­al prob­lem.” You just have a 20th-cen­tu­ry busi­ness mod­el and the inter­net is going to eat it for lunch.)

So, What Are Some of These Buzz Marketing Strategies Brands Wrestle with Today?

It’s worth get­ting into some of the big buzz-wor­thy mar­ket­ing strate­gies that a lot of brands think they want or need with­out ful­ly under­stand­ing what it is or how to real­ly be suc­cess­ful.

Again, it’s not real­ly about the thing you choose to do—that’s too sim­plis­tic. You don’t just “do” inbound mar­ket­ing or native adver­tis­ing and expect results. What you do is dis­cov­er where your audi­ence is and what expe­ri­ences they want, then uncov­er the meth­ods to help you facil­i­tate that.

Nonethe­less, a basic under­stand­ing of some of these strate­gies helps frame the con­ver­sa­tion of what tac­tics are at your fin­ger­tips to be where your audi­ence is.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound mar­ket­ing is a blan­ket term for a set of mar­ket­ing strate­gies designed to attract your tar­get audi­ence online. This can include things like hav­ing a thriv­ing blog attached to your web­site, social media mar­ket­ing, search engine optimization—basically any­thing that dri­ves tar­get­ed traf­fic to your web­site.

Many believe that inbound mar­ket­ing shouldn’t stop at just dri­ving traf­fic. Once you get vis­i­tors to your web­site, it has a job to do: con­vert them—whatever a con­ver­sion means to your busi­ness. It can be a form fill, a sale, a phone call or some­thing else.

The one thing all of these activ­i­ties have in com­mon is that they are cen­tered on cre­at­ing use­ful con­tent for your tar­get audi­ence. The dig­i­tal land­scape has shift­ed the way busi­ness­es com­mu­ni­cate with their prospects, and con­tent is king.

Outbound Marketing

Out­bound mar­ket­ing was more pop­u­lar before dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, though it still has its place. This is a term that com­pris­es some of the more tra­di­tion­al mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties such as trade shows and con­fer­ences, cold call­ing poten­tial leads, direct mail and even tele­vi­sion.

Many com­pa­nies bal­ance both inbound and out­bound mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties, while some indus­tries may be more prone to out­bound mar­ket­ing sim­ply due to the nature of their work—especially those that thrive on face-to-face com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Native Advertising

On the paid side of things, we have native adver­tis­ing. This type of adver­tis­ing seam­less­ly inte­grates with the expe­ri­ence of the web­site it’s fea­tured on—so much so that it often doesn’t feel like an adver­tise­ment at all.

One exam­ple of this in action is Face­book video ads. Nes­tled in a Face­book user’s News Feed along with all their oth­er updates from friends and fam­i­ly, these type of ads can be engag­ing and feel less dis­rup­tive.

Many adver­tis­ers see this poten­tial and are adopt­ing this for­mat more and more. One Face­book study fore­casts that native ads will make up 63 per­cent of mobile dis­play ad spend by 2020.

Interrupt Marketing/Advertising

The term out­bound mar­ket­ing and inter­rupt mar­ket­ing are often used inter­change­ably. For the pur­pos­es of this con­ver­sa­tion, inter­rupt mar­ket­ing con­sists of the type of mar­ket­ing that stops a per­son from what they are doing, and demands atten­tion.

Exam­ples of this include inter­sti­tial ads, pop-ups, videos set to auto-play with sound, and gen­er­al­ly any­thing that inter­rupts the expe­ri­ence a per­son is hav­ing online.

This type of mar­ket­ing can be annoy­ing to users but it can some­times be effec­tive, too. On one hand, inter­sti­tial pop-ups that com­plete­ly dis­rupt the expe­ri­ence are gen­er­al­ly frowned upon by Google. On the oth­er hand, some do see suc­cess with pop-ups intend­ed to dri­ve con­ver­sions like sign­ing up for a mail­ing list.

Lead the Marketing Strategy with Intent 

OK, now that we’ve got the logis­tics out of the way, let’s talk about how to pick a mar­ket­ing method that’s right for your audi­ence.

All too often, brands get roped into mar­ket­ing strate­gies because of the buzz. They’ve heard the term “inbound mar­ket­ing” or “native adver­tis­ing” so many times that they think it must be the thing they need to do.

As I’ve allud­ed to through­out this piece, there is no “right” mar­ket­ing channel—one that beats out the oth­er. This arti­cle does a nice job of show­ing how they all work together—inbound, out­bound, allbound—it’s real­ly all the same.

In oth­er words, they’re all designed to do a sim­i­lar thing: reach your audi­ence. What sep­a­rates them is the tac­ti­cal imple­men­ta­tion.

That’s why before any deci­sions are made about mar­ket­ing, it’s impor­tant that brands know what they’re get­ting into. This includes the logis­tics of some of the activ­i­ties I men­tioned ear­li­er.

Also, and this is key, know your brand’s intent. What you hope to achieve with “mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy X.” Know what’s involved, how to imple­ment it well and what com­mit­ment lev­el is need­ed to get results. Too many brands waste too much time and mon­ey on half-baked efforts in any giv­en area of mar­ket­ing.

Sec­ond, and more impor­tant­ly, lead with the intent of your audi­ence. Know where they spend their time, how they like to con­sume media today and how they will con­sume it a year from now.

Then, armed with audi­ence intent and types of mar­ket­ing strate­gies, cre­ate the mes­sag­ing, the con­tent and the expe­ri­ence in the for­mat your audi­ence wants it in, and then let your knowl­edge of the var­i­ous tac­ti­cal imple­men­ta­tions deliv­er that expe­ri­ence when they want it. 


To wrap up, here’s what you need to keep in mind as dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and audi­ence needs evolve:

  • While it’s tempt­ing to want to chase after a cer­tain type of mar­ket­ing, always, always under­stand what you’re get­ting your­self into, and how to real­ly be suc­cess­ful with it (mean­ing, what lev­el of com­mit­ment and effort is involved to see results).
  • Mar­ket­ing strate­gies and the tech­nol­o­gy that facil­i­tates them are going to con­tin­ue to change, so will audi­ence intent.
  • Stay­ing ahead of the curve means under­stand­ing what your audi­ence wants now, what they will want in the near future, and what technology/strategy/device/experience will match that.

In 2017, if we shift our mind­set just a lit­tle to lead with intent, we can shift our tac­tics and our bud­gets to bet­ter serve our audi­ence.

Christopher Hart

Written by Christopher Hart

Head of Client Development, US, Linkdex

Heading up the Linkdex office in LA, Christopher has been key in building an expert account management team that has both a thorough knowledge of the platform and a genuine understanding of client needs. Christopher brings a mix of in-house experience and agency expertise to the company, which he applies to ensure clients get what they need from the platform and from the Linkdex team. At Linkdex, Christopher is excited about the opportunity to work with a platform that is both effectively aligned with the needs of the latest SEO challenges, and modern digital marketing teams.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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