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Should Intent be Weighed Heavier than Demographics?

Posted on 6.05.2016

:: By David Allison, Hivewyre ::

Demographics have been the quintessential pieces of information since the dawn of digital marketing and print and media advertising, before that, which drive ad buys and marketing game planning; but even with the cleanest of data, a good conversion rate is still fairly low for online retailers (2-4 percent average).

If you (as an e-commerce owner), however, knew when a person went to shop on a competitor’s e-commerce site for a pair of shoes (the kind you also sell) and then decided not to finish the purchase on that site, wouldn't you want to get your e-commerce shoe store in front of this shopper to have a crack at making a sale? Of course you would. And would you care if the person on the other end of the screen who was looking to make this purchase was a man, woman, mother, father, 40-something or just turned 21 last week?

Maybe at some level you do, so your advertising messaging could be more geared toward this particular type of consumer; but due to this user’s behavior of going to online shoe stores, it is a good chance this individual’s intent, at this very moment (perhaps with credit card next to the keyboard), is to find the right pair of shoes to purchase online. All you are asking is to have an opportunity to show what sorts of shoes you sell within your e-commerce shop.

To drive this point home with some solid data, Lisa Gevelber, in a piece she wrote for Think Google cites some telling statistics in regard to what types of users are searching products on mobile devices:

• 30 percent of mobile searchers for video games are men ages 18-34*.

• 56 percent of sporting goods searchers on mobile are female**.

• 45 percent of home improvement searchers on mobile are women**.

• 68 percent of skin & body care influencers in the past six months were men***.

• 40 percent of all baby product purchases live in households without children****.

If 70 percent of people searching for video games on mobile are not 18-34 men and more than half of people searching for sports goods on mobile are women, then this turns the idea of strictly using demographic data to position effective advertising for products completely on its head.

Second-party data helps with intent

When it comes to intent, having access to second-party data could be a reliable piece to have handy in your digital marketing tool box.

A quick refresher on second-party data, which is plainly another company’s first-party data made directly available for other businesses to use (in this case, other e-commerce companies). This data can be made accessible via direct partnerships, data management platforms (DMPs) or a second-party data network.

So, how does second-party data help with knowing user’s intent? As with the aforementioned fictitious online shoe shopping example, imagine your e-commerce company had access to data that was pulled from online retail sites similar to yours. Unlike third-party data, where one is not completely certain on the newness of the data collected, where the information is being curated from or how accurate the demographics are being attributed to a particular user by this data (as written about in a previous blog post in Website Magazine), second-party data has none of these potential pitfalls.

Moreover, even if the third-party data demographics were 100 percent accurate, this would not mean that these users are presently in the market for the products you’re looking to sell them. Also, second-party data can be collected in real-time, in what are called data co-ops, where a bunch of similar or relational sites agree to share their first-party data (usually non-PII: non-personally-identifiable information) for the mutual benefit of all parties involved.

Correct messaging at the right time

A great way to make sure you are interacting with potential shoppers to your site is to create a variety of different content. Blogs should not only be about pushing your products to the masses, they should be helpful, add value or be entertaining to the reader.

Creating videos on a number of different topics related to your business, but not directly selling any of your products, again is adding value and trust within the consumer base on the whole. These could be how-to videos, reviews of products, proper care for products, etc.

While demographics will always be part of the equation when it comes to developing marketing and business strategies, today with the myriad amounts of analytics tools a company has access to, it’s easier more than ever to ascertain the intent of customers on your site. And by not tapping into the intent of customers is simply leaving a large gap within your digital marketing plan that no amount of demographic data will be able to fill.

About the Author

David Allison is the “Marketing Guy” at Hivewyre, which is an e-commerce data cooperative in Scottsdale, Arizona that deals solely in second-party data.


*Mobile search & video behavior analysis, Millward Brown Digital, U.S., January-June 2015, base = mobile video game searchers

**Mobile search & video behavior analysis, Millward Brown Digital, U.S., January-June 2015 //

***Mobile Purchasers & Influencers Report. Google / Ipsos MediaCT, Ipsos Online Omnibus, August 2015, N=5025 Online smartphone users 18+, skin & body care influencers in past 6 months

****Mobile Purchasers & Influencers Report. Google / Ipsos MediaCT, Ipsos Online Omnibus, August 2015, N=5025 Online smartphone users

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