The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. It was a historic milestone that mapped human DNA. While the implications for medicine are enormous, we're still very much in the dark when it comes to human behavior; it's 2016, and we are still pretty much guessing about click or converting behaviors. We get it right, sometimes. Welcome to the new marketing frontier, Customer Search Intent (CSI), as it applies to internet search behavior. Google is naturally way ahead of the curve - they 'own' behavioral data which combines historical search behavior with location mapping (yes, that "location is on" feature of your mobile phone). For example, my recent 'behavior' of visiting the pet store, Starbucks, my car dealership and a restaurant, when done on a consistent basis, 'profiles' me as a particular 'type' of a customer. When I enter a search phrase into Google, my 'search intent' may be obvious. Oh, did I mention that as a Google user, my inbox is scanned, and Google can 'follow' my life based on keywords that appear in my Gmail account(s)?
By the way, I am very cool with all of the above and the least bit paranoid. I don't' mind Google spying on me as long as it delivers relevant search results that save me time. Google isn't quite there yet, but I am willing to wait. "Time is money" and sifting through piles of search results junk is both wasteful and frustrating.
Enter the world of small business marketing and how we can learn from Google's search intent AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms - yes, you too can benefit from valuable data about customers but the best news is that it is right there for the taking - all you have to do is stop chasing the lazy marketer's hack-of-the-day and just look at your own data.
We are talking about the lost art of getting to know your clients by asking a few questions:
- What many customers complained last week?
- How many repeat purchases have we had?
- How many new accounts were opened? By Whom? How did they find us?
- How many returns? How many discounts?
- How many reviews? Positive vs. negative? How did we respond?
Here's the thing: We don't have to map our customers' genome, we just have to observe, listen, engage and look at the data. While Google tries to figure out search 'intent', our customers tell us everything we need to know; complaints, returns, repeat purchases, and reviews aren't intentions - these are simple behaviors begging to be understood.
I don't know about you but I like simple; big data is for big companies with lots of analysts, agencies and bodies that are there to justify their existence. For us entrepreneurs, nothing should ever replace connecting with anyone who chooses to buy from us.
A genuine connection isn't an email survey; instead, how about picking up the phone sometimes and saying "Hi, just wanted to say thanks and ask if there is anything else we can do to continue and earn your business?"
Much of today's modern marketing jargon was invented by those selling solutions to something that isn't necessarily complicated.
Simple is good, like trying to hold on to a local grocery store in the 1960s.
When customers search, their intent has not changed because they are typing into a search box:
I am looking for a product or service that can solve my problem I want to feel confident that it will deliver on a promise I want to buy it for a fair price I want to feel appreciated and valued when I make my purchase decision If something goes wrong, and it will sometimes, I don't want excuses, I want a solution and genuine apology If you deliver on all of the above, I will tell my friends about you and I will come back for more.
And that in a nutshell is what marketing is all about.