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Google suggests intent more useful than demographics on mobile

While targeting specific demographics is a tried-and-true strategy for many mobile marketers, the key to driving sales and reaching new customers lies in identifying consumer intent, insists Google in a new analysis.

Google?s latest research aims to steer brands away from common misconceptions about marketing to specific demographics, instead introducing the notion of pinpointing customers? intent via micro-moments on mobile. Relying solely on demographics for targeted marketing is a tactic with limitations, and one that could cause many brands to miss out on potential customers and sales.

?For years we have relied on shopper insight managers to map the consumer journey outside the store and shopper marketing managers for our brand sales in the store,? said Gary Schwartz, president and CEO of Impact Mobile, New York. ?Life is not so simple anymore.

?Retailers and CPGs cannot rely on catch-all buckets such as demographics.?

Power of intent
Google is tapping Home Depot as a prime example of a brand approaching mobile marketing with the right methodology. The retailer discovered several years ago that many of its do-it-yourself fans were going to their smartphones to watch instructional YouTube videos, learning tasks such as tiling a bathroom floor to building an outdoor fire pit.

To better target these valuable consumers, Home Depot developed a content marketing strategy revolving around these how-to videos. Its current YouTube collection boasts hundreds of videos and more than 48 million views.

The brand claims the popularity of mobile has drastically transformed how it communicates with its customers. It now hopes to leverage digital strategy in a way that provides solutions to consumers' needs and improves their overall home improvement experience.

It would largely be a mistake for the brand to instead develop a series of mobile advertisements targeted toward men aged 24 to 44. Google reveals that retailers relying solely on demographics to guide their marketing are potentially missing out on 70 percent of mobile shoppers.

Demographics do not help marketers understand what customers are searching for in a particular moment, or where they are turning to find that information.

Immediacy has also proven to trump loyalty, meaning that consumers will primarily reach for their smartphone before turning to desktop when looking for the answer to an urgent question. Google refers to the process of turning to YouTube and mobile search to discover new things and finalize decisions as the process of engaging in micro-moments.

Consequently, brands must be thinking of these moments when rolling out new content on mobile.

Combatting demographic limitations
Demographics are hardly ever entirely accurate. For example, while one might think the primary mobile searchers for video games are men in the 18 to 34 age bracket, only 31 percent of that group actually are.

This means that any brand targeting this demographic would alienate 69 percent of mobile users interested in purchasing the next popular video game.

Many of these game fans can be found interacting with content on YouTube. However, marketers must keep in mind that everyone is coming with different intentions. Some users might seek advice on how to beat the next level while others look for product reviews.

Google also discovered that 45 percent of consumers who search for home improvement products are women, while 68 percent of influencers for skin and body care in the past half-year were male.

Another potentially surprising statistic shows that females make up 56 percent of sporting goods mobile searchers.

Ultimately, marketers must take care to pinpoint their consumers? intent, so that they can meet them in micro-moments and offer helpful content. Some brands may want to use Google Trends to uncover search trends and category queries.

Being useful in the moment is perhaps the most foolproof strategy for attracting new customers. This may include uploading how-to videos on YouTube, providing seamless mobile checkout with ?buy now? buttons and offering local inventory information to show which products are in stock close to a consumer?s location.

?It stands to reason that mobile path-to-purchase is incredibly data-rich and provides more information on the consumer intent to buy,? Mr. Schwartz said. ?Google and other big-data operators can follow this journey and understand that any mis-queue can drive abandonment of shopping intent. 

?Nail this mobile journey; however, and you have a sale.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York