Intent Matters: How User Intent Impacts Success of Digital Ads

Published: May 20, 2021



One of the most common questions that we get when first engaging with a client is, inevitably: “Where is the best place to run my digital ads?”

That’s a fair question and one that we encourage our clients to think about. As the saying goes, “Not all channels are created equal.”

What is the primary differentiator that we look for, you may ask? It might be surprising to learn that, at BrandCraft, it’s not necessarily the channel that helps us direct our strategy. More importantly, it’s the user’s intent and where that fits in a company’s sales funnel.

Don’t worry. In this blog, we’ll explain what we mean.

User intent directly affects the success of digital ads. How and where a user engages with content is almost completely dependent on their level of intent. A user clicking on a Google Shopping ad, for instance, has a much higher level of intent than someone who randomly comes across a digital ad while strolling through Facebook.

It’s crucial for conversion-focused marketers to understand where user intent is during the buying journey and craft digital ads that best connect with that intent.

Digital Marketing in the Sales Funnel: How Does User Intent Impact Success of Digital Ads?

The impact of digital advertising can be substantial for many businesses, no matter how long you’ve been around. The question is: where does user intent come into play? Below, we’ll go over the different parts of a sales funnel. Plus how each component affects the success of digital ads.

example of how user intent is factored into each section of the sales funnel corresponding to digital ad channels

Top of the Funnel (Awareness)

A good way to look at digital ads at the top of the funnel is by introducing your business to a potential customer and explaining why they should care. Social media is one of the most effective channels to accomplish this introduction.

User intent in this channel is typically pretty low because users engaging in social media aren’t usually going there to buy a product. They’re most likely there to look at relatives’ pictures or memes of cats (or dogs–we don’t discriminate). 

Think of your interaction with social media. It’s most likely something you use while multitasking, and your intent isn’t to make a purchase.

Intent-focused marketers realize where their users are in the journey when they’re on social media. Therefore, they create content that engages users, addresses their potential needs, and offers a way for users to connect with the company by filling out a form for more information or signing up for an email list. This allows marketers to continue to engage the users through digital ads as they work their way through the sales funnel.

Middle of the Funnel (Consideration)

The next step down into the funnel and user intent is the consideration phase (or middle of the funnel). Users in this stage have, in most cases, seen your digital ad and should be familiar with your brand and business.

Retargeting can be a great way to get back in front of these users and capitalize on that first interaction. You can use retargeting lists in most channels. Additionally you can set them up using a user action on the site (adding items to the cart or signing up for an email list), visiting specific website pages, or engagement with media (video retargeting).

Because the user has already indicated that your products or services are relevant, serving the digital ads can have a great impact on conversions. It’s been reported that serving a digital ad as a retargeting tactic can increase conversions by 70 percent.

When creating retargeting ads, take the user intent into account, and remember that you’ve already interacted with them. Depending on the level of retargeting, you can show them the same products that they were looking at previously. Further, you can offer them additional value to get them to complete a purchase or sign up.

Want more tips on how to measure the success of an advertising campaign? Contact us here.

Bottom of the Funnel (Conversion)

The best-case scenario, for most marketers, is to serve digital ads for their product or service directly in front of users who are actively looking to purchase. Few channels capture that user intent better than Google Search and Shopping ads.

In most cases, when a user searches for specific topics on Google it’s because they have a need. They’re actively searching for a solution. By serving a well-timed Google Ad, you can drive a user already looking to buy directly to a purchase page and make it easy for them to complete the purchase.

When creating a well-optimized Google Search campaign, remember that your goal is to get in front of users who are looking for a solution. We recommend staying away from informational keywords, such as “what is” or “how-to,” and instead focusing on transactional keyword phrases, such as specific product names or “service near me” terms.


Concerning your digital ads strategy, keep in mind that revenue-focused businesses take user intent–and where they are within the sales funnel–into account. They also drive a majority of their budget to those channels. They either capitalize on user intent, or they’re designed to guide users farther down the sales funnel.

No matter your industry, remember this: the success of digital ads goes far beyond creating a great ad; it also ties into understanding how likely users are to buy (and what to do with that knowledge).

Now that you know a little more about how sales funnels work, are you interested in revamping your digital ad campaigns? BrandCraft is a full-service marketing agency that has the expertise you need and the creativity you desire. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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