Demise of the Linear Approach: Search Intent is Redefining the Marketing Funnel

Written by Sharoon Emmanuel

As the sales funnel has evolved over time, the linear stratagem has been replaced by search intent. The new path from awareness to consideration to purchase now allows people to see results based on their intent.

The customer journey for each individual is different with multiple levels of research and various actions performed uniquely at different points. The challenge now for brands is to identifying best mediums and practices for communication, engagement, and delighting to sustain long term business relations.

The Evolution from the Linear Customer Journey

The earlier funnel focused on leading customers from the first point of communication to the final purchase. This previous approach focused on the buying behavior of a similar set of audience negating the fact that each buyer is different and attention is required even after the initial purchase is made.

Since no two individuals process information in the same manner, each customer’s journey requires a different approach in order for them to be catered effectively. This is where search intent comes into play.

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The Relation of Customer Journey & Intent

Customer journeys differ in ways through which they engage with you and your business. The decision making-process constitutes of numerous touchpoints where the customer defines, refines and consequently redefines their requirements.

During this process, the customer will be collecting and organizing data – often internally – and developing sympathy for the best brands. The new approach of search intent centers on providing relevant and meaningful information along the customer’s unique journey.

The customer journey, however, doesn’t always stop with the initial purchase, it also covers the accompaniment of products or services that complement the initial purchase.

Re-Strategizing for the Future

Businesses can no longer depend on the traditional funnel approach for generating results since customers no longer take the linear route from awareness to purchase, they are likely to wander along the way.

The new formula of growth requires businesses to assist customers at every point of their journey. This meandering journey creates a perplexing conundrum but at the same time offers numerous opportunities for winning business.

Now, businesses need to anticipate customer intent to provide memorable experiences that resonate.

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Overcoming Challenges of Anticipating Intent

People indicate their intent with every move they make over the internet. The real challenge for businesses is to understand your customers deeply and that requires experience and reliance on data. Using high-level information and intuition, businesses can create relevant paths for different customers at different stages.

Key to winning customer trust is machine learning and marketing automation as it will allow to identify high potential customers, segment and engage them accordingly. Automation will enable businesses to communicate in real-time whereas machine learning will allow remaining relevant at all times.   

Tips to Mastering Intent

1.      Align Marketing Efforts with Business Goals

People expect to be assisted online, therefore, it is important to understand your customers desire and identify how you can deliver better. This translates to building your capacity to monitor and measure at individual levels thus ensuring a better understanding of your customers’ intentions, how they prefer to interact, and which kind of interactions drives conversions.

2.      Market Your Business with Meaningful content

People will interact with your brand if you respond and add value at each stage of the journey. Brands are required to produce relevant content to gain a competitive advantage and develop a decent online reputation. While creating content, it is important to know the searching behaviors of your consumer base, what engages and encourages them to convert.

Points to consider while curating content: -

  • Identifying and updating buyer personas
  • Demographics
  • When to market
  • Mediums to market on
  • Content types
  • Marketing strategy
  • Pain points
  • Motivations
  • How are you solving their problems?

3.      Marketing Automation and Machine Learning Utilization

Marketing in the digital age calls for immediacy and laser targeting at the right time. Implementing Machine Learning will enable businesses to develop predictive capacity and understand customer intentions from their actions. Acting upon these intentions is only possible in an automated environment with constant learning and optimization.

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If you are having problems converting your customer then you’re probably not on the right track, share “your biggest marketing challenge” in the comment section and we’ll definitely cover it in our next post.

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Originally Published April 11, 2019 12:00 AM, Updated July 30, 2019.

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