mobile mockup to help with cro and user intent

Conversion Rates and User Intent: Upping Your Marketing Game

What is user intent conversion optimization? How does it work? Learn what user intent and conversion rates have to do with each other, and how understanding one can improve the other.

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Marketing campaigns can be tricky. Looking at numbers like conversion rates, click-through rates, cost-per-click, user intent, and the like can be even more interesting. Your data reporting tools may have their wires mixed; you may be looking at the wrong data; you may even be misinterpreting what you see.

We recently had a client consult with us about their marketing campaign. “I’ve looked at everything I can find out about Facebook Ads,” he said. “Everybody gives click-through rates in the tenths of decimals – like .16% or something. I’m getting 5% CTR.”

Most people would be complaining about not getting enough…

“Well, I know what people say they should be, and I know what mine are. Mine are better than what people say the average is. And that makes me… suspicious. Either I’m doing a lot better at this advertising thing on accident than professionals are doing on purpose, or something’s wrong with my campaign.”

In other words, his campaign could be doing really well or the data he’s looking at is wrong. How do we figure out which is which? And what do we do if it turns out that the campaign is failing?

Verify Your Sales

Are you actually getting the conversion rates and sales your website is saying you should be getting? Sometimes, it’s as simple as doing the math.

  1. Google search console says your website impressions for a transactional web page are 10,000 a month.
  2. At a 12% average click-through rate, your organic website traffic to that page should be approximately 1200.
  3. 30% of those visits are through search queries with transactional intent. Transactional traffic, based on user searches, should be about 360.
  4. The product on that page is $250. Your data says that 20% of those transactional searches converted (72 people). 8% on nontransactional search terms converted (68 people).
  5. As you do the math, you’ll find that 140 people in total converted in the past month for this transactional web page. You’ll also find out that you should have $35,000 you can directly contribute to organic marketing.

Now, what does your financial reporting say? If you can see that $35,000, your data is correct. Your next step is to review your customer journey for that transactional web page, figure out how you managed an almost 12% conversion rate, and do it again for your next one.

If those numbers are skewed in any way, and can’t be verified, it’s time to look further.

Verify Your Click Through Rate (CTR)

The fact of the matter is that sometimes you just hit that sweet spot. The right time, on the right day, on the right platform with the right content for the right type of user intent. These are golden moments in marketing: unicorn ads. However, it’s also true that these happen once in a blue moon.

Trust your instincts. If it looks too good to be true and you get a nagging feeling that something’s off, it generally is.

When your campaign is off the charts, this is the first place to check. The average CTR of a Pay-per-Click (PPC) ad is between 4 – 6%, depending on the industry. If you have a reported click-through rate of 15% and you haven’t done any optimization, you’ve either snagged yourself a unicorn or something’s off.

Define Your Conversion(s)

According to WordStream, the average conversion rate in AdWords is 6.3% for the search network. At 12% conversion, you’re significantly outperforming a majority of advertisers. That’s quite a bit of difference. While you can make that difference – many do and then some – this isn’t the norm without some significant A/B testing and work.

One of the intricacies with marketing campaigns, and one of the biggest reasons people ditch campaigns that aren’t performing, is because there are so many possible paths people can take to the final sale. Especially in today’s day and age, with mobile, desktop, online, offline, and so on, it can get really convoluted.

Business owners often look at a less-than-satisfactory end result and say, “Meh, it’s not working,” and proceed to toss the whole campaign. While it may not be performing the way you want, you can’t just look at the bottom line. You need to define which part isn’t working before you decide to throw the whole thing out.

When something seems off, look at your conversion paths. How many are there? What are your desired actions at each point? Is there a point where the sales funnel stops or bottlenecks?

In a single transaction, there may be a number of micro-conversions. For example:

  • Conversion 1: Click through to the site from an ad
  • Conversion 2: Click on the button for the featured product
  • Conversion 3: Click buy more for the featured product
  • Conversion 4: Create an account with a sale
  • Conversion 5: Subscribe to your blog on checkout
  • Conversion 6: Follow you on Twitter after checkout

In short, a conversion is simply when people do what you want them to do. Increasing the conversion rate takes identifying the user’s intent at each level (more on user intent later), providing the correct user experience to match that intent, and leading them down the line to the next conversion event.

Identify Sales Funnel Bottlenecks and Fallouts

Once you have your conversion points identified, the next step is finding out which ones might be problematic. If your CTR is 5% and you’re only getting a small amount of sales, don’t automatically assume it’s all trash. Review your sales funnel for bottlenecks and places where people fall out of the sales funnel.

For example, 300 click through from the ad. 250 click on the button for the featured product. 2 click the “buy more” button.

When you have a discrepancy like that, there’s something off about the page. This is a place for improvement, a chance to up your game. This is also where A/B testing comes into play. By testing three or four variations, you can find out which version works best for your visitors, and which converts.

Test and Tweak your Marketing Campaigns for Higher Conversion Rates

If it turns out that you aren’t getting the conversions you expected, it’s time to do something about it. Remember, while lower conversion rates are average, higher conversion rates are far from unheard of. It takes time and patience, tweaking and testing, but it’s quite possible to become part of the upper 10%.

A few things to remember along this road to better conversions:

  • A good conversion rate depends on the industry, customer base, and ad placement, among other things. A landing page for a webinar, for example, may convert better than one for an ebook, or vice versa.
  • Make changes carefully, and only one section at a time. It’s easy to want to change everything all at once but, if you do, you’ll have no way of knowing what changes made the campaign perform better/worse.
  • Sometimes, the best option is to stop the campaign. However, this should only be done after at least verifying that more than 50% of the campaign’s conversion points are failing.

Now, let’s talk about how understanding user intent can help you up your conversion rates.

What Is User Intent?

As mentioned in the beginning, part of conversion rate optimization (CRO) is researching user intent.

Marketing has evolved over the years, and the pace of technological advancement is admirable. The modern-day buyer has also changed and is more informed, persistent, and a little harder to please. It’s become extremely challenging for organizations to nurture a relationship with today’s tech-savvy buyers. One of the ways we overcome the business-to-consumer gap is through user intent.

User intent helps inform people about what the user is looking for when conducting a search. The concept of user intent in marketing is seeking to understand the content behind the keywords used in the search engine. Companies look at user intent to find out why customers are using a search engine and what they hope to find in the content that they look up.

User intent is a marketing tool that greatly benefits companies by allowing them to better understand how to meet the needs of their customers. The endpoint of user intent is conversion optimization. Look at the features that attract users. Focus on what drives traffic. Using conversion optimization, you’ll have a good idea of the user’s intent.

3 User Intent Types

User intent is a crucial concept in digital marketing and SEO, which refers to the goal a user has when typing a query into a search engine. Essentially, it’s the “why” behind a search. User intent can be classified into three major categories: navigational, informational, and transactional. By understanding these categories, you can optimize your website to meet users’ needs more effectively.

  • Navigational – This form of user intent occurs when a person knows which website they want to visit, but instead of typing the URL directly into the address bar, they use a search engine to find it. In these cases, users are aiming to reach a specific online destination, often a particular website or page. If you’re a website owner, your primary goal should be to ensure your site’s visibility and ease of access, facilitating a seamless navigational experience for these users.
  • Transactional – When a user’s search query involves a potential online transaction, this falls under transactional intent. These users are poised to make a purchase, sign up for a service, register for an event, or download a resource. They are actively seeking a platform where they can engage and complete an interaction. Your role, as a website owner or digital marketer, is to streamline this process, making it as easy as possible for users to complete their intended transactions on your site.
  • Informational – This category encapsulates the queries made by users in search of information. These individuals may be looking for answers to a question, solutions to a problem, or simply seeking to learn more about a specific topic. Your responsibility, in this context, is to provide rich, relevant, and accessible content that meets their informational needs. Whether it’s through blog posts, FAQs, or educational resources, your aim should be to become a reliable source of information for these users.

By understanding these three types of user intent, you can enhance your SEO strategy, better cater to your audience’s needs, and ultimately improve your website’s performance in terms of user engagement, retention, and conversion. It’s about consistently creating that “unicorn” experience: providing the right content, in the right place, at the right time, thus ensuring a satisfying user experience that encourages repeat visits and fosters customer loyalty.

6 Steps to Capture Leads Based on Intent

User intent helps organizations create a customer-focused culture and should not be overlooked in the conversion optimization process. By figuring out the informational intent of the customer, you can find out how to deliver excellent content, stronger calls-to-action, targeted search snippets, and a better site structure. In turn, this leads to more traffic and a healthier bottom line. Here are six steps you can take to capture leads based on intent.

1. Figure out what users want

The information you get will help you understand the user’s intent and pinpoint your website’s strengths and weaknesses. Answer these questions:

  • Why did the user visit your site?
  • What were they looking for before they landed on your page?
  • What term did they use to find your site?
  • How long did they stay on your site?
  • Where did they go after visiting your site?
  • Did they use your website’s search to gather more information? If so, what terms did they use?
  • What answers were they looking for on your page?

2. Create content that matches users’ needs

Once you identify what users look for, it’s now time to create new content or tweak your old content to be more relevant and match the intent. Relevant content is useful in morphing a new buyer into a regular buyer. Every time they search for something and land on your site, you can optimize the content for your users. Questions help reveal the intent of your users, so look to create content that addresses the primary questions that the people may have.

Once you have an idea of what people are searching for, you can create content that initiates dialogue. Place an emphasis on keywords. Creating content around keywords will lead to more variations of user intent.

3. Develop segmented landing pages and/or silos.

A “silo” can be thought of as a topic hub. You develop a topic with several pages; each page provides more in-depth information (think something like blog categories with related posts in them).

For landing pages, each page should match the user’s intent, not just a way to showcase a product. Without some variety, you will not be able to gain their conversion. Identify your primary set of ideas around your core topics. These concepts will make up the basis of all keywords and your content. The concepts should be tied to the problems that your customers ask.

4. Optimize

If your content fails to meet users’ expectations, then it’s time to optimize it. How do you do this? The best way to optimize is to tell your customers’ stories and share experiences. Ensure you use trust-building words and add factual information to validate your claim.

Modern buyers gravitate to businesses that offer exceptional customer experience, and optimizing will help you attract more traffic to your site. Make sure to read 5 Ways a Full SEO Audit Can Improve Your Bottom Line. An audit can help you pinpoint a lot of the issues your site may have that stop people from reaching your site and visitors from converting.

5. Fix all flaws

An audit helps you get an outside perspective on your organization, and investigating user intent will help you measure how customer-focused your website is. Once you pinpoint the flaws, take the time to fix them. We’ve had businesses come to us for optimization but didn’t do anything with the recommendations we gave them. It doesn’t do a whole lot of good if you don’t put what you find to good use.

6. Check back

Don’t just sit around and hope that intent-driven marketing will attract users for you. Check back with your analytics and see what worked and what didn’t work.

The same path that we ran through at the beginning to fault check your reporting information is useful for identifying issues as well:


What are your impressions? Are they dropping? Rising? If they’re dropping, what have you changed on your page? It could be that you’ve changed your signal for the search engines to understand what your page is about.

Organic Click-Through Rate

What is your organic CTR? Compared to previous months, how are you doing? If it’s dropped, what have you changed lately in terms of your search presence?

Key Phrases & User Intent

If you have a loss in CTR from search, what terms are coming in? See where the traffic has changed – generally, there is a loss in a section of terms rather than a singular one (for example, for us, it might be dropping for any term that involves “international”)

Offer & User Intent

If impressions and CTR haven’t dropped, your organic traffic to the page should be about the same. If your traffic is the same but conversions have dropped, something on the page has changed to the negative, or your product/service may be seasonal. Regardless, for some reason, your offer no longer calls out quite as well based on the user intent and you need to pinpoint why.

Final Thoughts

Intent-driven marketing is complicated, no doubt. One of the hardest jobs of a marketer is to put themselves in the customer’s shoes. What would I search to visit this site? What kind of language would encourage me to click this link or follow that call to action? What colors and placements would draw my eye to the “Learn More” button?

It’s not an insurmountable problem, however; it’s a matter of reading into data. When you decide to look at user intent for your website, make sure you have your data-diving clothes on. Grab your Excel pants, Google Analytics shirt, and Search shoes. It’s a long haul to really learn your visitors and potential customers, but it’s well worth the time spent (and the wardrobe upgrade).

While you’re working to acquire a part of the market and keep a high customer retention rate, you have to make sure your content is important to your readers and can be easily found in search engines. Using the right semantic keywords – based on user intent research – can help you save time and money when creating new content.

As we head into the future, user intent and quality are a “hand-in-hand” marketing approach to creating that customer-focused culture we talk about. Find out what the user wants, is looking for, and what type of action they may take, create the content that matches, and then practice conversion rate optimization. Your business will grow.

If you need help finding your data-diving wardrobe, contact Level343. We’ll help you step into your customers’ shoes for better website stickiness and conversions. 

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What is user intent conversion optimization? How does it work? Learn what user intent and conversion rates have to do with each other, and how understanding one can improve the other.

Today's Author


Interested in Guest Posting?
Read our guest posting guidelines.

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