Why See, Think, Do, Care Is The Best Marketing Model For The Digital Era

Or why brands should stop sell­ing and start help­ing with intent-based con­tent.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 3 comments

Intent-based mar­ket­ing, or under­stand­ing the con­sumer intent that prompts search, is the con­cept behind Avinash Kaushik’s See, Think, Do, Care mar­ket­ing mod­el.

Kaushik is a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing evan­ge­list at Google and, in an inter­view with Acronym CMO Mike Gre­han in 2015, he said he hates stan­dard offline mar­ket­ing mod­els like aware­ness, con­sid­er­a­tion, pur­chase and loy­al­ty, so he cre­at­ed a new one. (And, per Gre­han in a recent inter­view, Care has since been append­ed as a fourth stage.)

Rather than think­ing self­ish­ly as a com­pa­ny, you have to think from a con­sumer per­spec­tive,” he told Gre­han.

Instead, Gre­han said brands some­times still use AIDA – Aware­ness, Inter­est, Desire and Action – even though it is a mod­el he said was devel­oped by a door-to-door cash reg­is­ter sales­man a cen­tu­ry ago and doesn’t apply to mod­ern mar­ket­ing.

So what is See, Think, Do, Care?

The See stage includes what Kaushik said is a brand’s largest qual­i­fied address­able audi­ence.

The Think stage is the seg­ment of con­sumers think­ing about a par­tic­u­lar thing.

And the Do stage includes con­sumers ready to buy.

And, per Gre­han, Care is the ongo­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion there­after that inspires repeat pur­chas­es.

Kaushik used the exam­ple of a car com­pa­ny to fur­ther explain See includes all the con­sumers who go from place to place and have mon­ey, Think includes those who are con­sid­er­ing a new car and Do is the con­sumers ready to buy now.

For his part, Gre­han likened See, Think, Do, Care to Andrei Broder’s Tax­on­o­my of Web Search, or what Gre­han called sem­i­nal research that deter­mined search engine queries are infor­ma­tion­al, nav­i­ga­tion­al and trans­ac­tion­al.

Why is this a better marketing model?

Fur­ther, the prob­lem, Kaushik said, is many sites still only cov­er Do, so they don’t address con­sumers in oth­er stages. That, in turn, means there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate con­tent ear­li­er in the con­sumer jour­ney to nur­ture these con­sumers at what­ev­er pace they want.

That includes dis­play ads, too.

When tar­get­ing the largest address­able qual­i­fied audi­ence with a dis­play cam­paign based on demo­graph­ics [and] psy­cho­graph­ics, dis­play ads are ‘buy now, buy now, buy now,’ [and] it’s not going to work,” Kaushik said.

Instead, brands should have dis­tinct dis­play strate­gies for See and Think as well.

Gre­han said he finds he still has to evan­ge­lize about these oth­er stages – and, he not­ed, many brands under­stand the con­cept, but want it for free. In oth­er words, the paid search bud­gets at most com­pa­nies are trans­ac­tion­al.

When it comes down to media spend, nobody spends mon­ey in the See/Think stages, only on the Do stage and that’s the hard­est place to come in…[but] the ear­li­er you can con­nect with a poten­tial cus­tomer, the soon­er the brand affin­i­ty begins,” Gre­han said. “Nobody is spend­ing mon­ey to reach [con­sumers] at the See stage, which is prob­a­bly cheap­er to cre­ate and present content…from a key­word point of view than it is to chal­lenge some­one at the Do stage.”

In fact, in a Q&A with Think with Google, Gre­han also said brands should not wait until the so-called I‑want-to-buy moment to make a pitch. Instead, they should come in ear­li­er when con­sumers are research­ing because in part it gets awful­ly crowd­ed in lat­er phas­es.

My advice to brands is: Don’t slug it out with every­one else sole­ly at the I‑want-to-buy part of the low­er fun­nel. Reach these cus­tomers long before your com­peti­tor does, such as dur­ing the I‑want-to-know moments, and build brand affin­i­ty,” Gre­han told Think with Google. “When you start at the top of the fun­nel, you have the largest address­able audi­ence and you can posi­tion your­self as the author­i­ty in the field so cus­tomers will have you in mind as they progress on their pur­chase path.”

That means think­ing more about con­sumer needs and how your prod­ucts solve their prob­lems. It may not gen­er­ate a sale in the imme­di­ate future, but it gen­er­ates good will and makes your brand front-of-mind when they are ready to pur­chase prod­ucts in your ver­ti­cal.

What’s more, Gre­han told Think with Google brands don’t have to be there for every moment – just those that are most impor­tant for their brands, such as where deci­sions and pref­er­ences are being made, which means invest­ing in ear­li­er stages to start a dia­logue.

Indeed, Kaushik agreed using behav­ior to dis­cern intent and sub­se­quent­ly tar­get­ing adver­tis­ing is a great way to exe­cute a See, Think, Do, Care strat­e­gy.

Stop selling, start helping’

But Gre­han also not­ed just because con­tent is rel­e­vant doesn’t mean it is use­ful – and length of engage­ment isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly the best barom­e­ter. That’s the case with, say, the weath­er, in which con­tent that pro­vides the tem­per­a­ture may quick­ly solve a need.

It’s not just about how long peo­ple engage with your con­tent – it’s about how use­ful it is in the moment,” Gre­han said. “That’s why I’m so much of a sup­port­er of micro-moments because they exist – they help on the path to pur­chase to get to that next point.”

Intent-dri­ven con­tent is also not nec­es­sar­i­ly tied to key­words.

If you were stuck with key­words and were search­ing for ‘fish tank,’ you would nev­er see ‘trop­i­cal fish aquar­i­um,’ which might be bet­ter,” Gre­han said. “It’s under­stand­ing the need of the end user in that par­tic­u­lar moment… ‘Stop sell­ing, start help­ing,’ is my new slo­gan now in that See/Think stage.”

But Kaushik also told Gre­han dig­i­tal mar­keters have not nec­es­sar­i­ly made the case that they can dis­cern intent through behav­ior, which is a much bet­ter way to tar­get and/or serve ads than psy­cho­graph­ics and demo­graph­ics – like a 98-year-old woman who wants an iPad.

Gre­han said that’s in part because some brands still cling to a more con­ven­tion­al per­spec­tive in which they try to push a broad­cast media mod­el onto dig­i­tal.

But nobody watch­es the Inter­net,” Gre­han said.

And that’s why search behav­ior is a bet­ter indi­ca­tor of what con­sumers want than demo­graph­ics. In oth­er words, if mar­keters try­ing to reach the afore­men­tioned 98-year-old woman used the con­ven­tion­al mod­el and sim­ply her age, she might only see ads for wheel­chairs. But mar­keters tap­ping into her search behav­ior around con­sumer elec­tron­ics would be bet­ter posi­tioned to deter­mine what she real­ly wants – and make the sale.

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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