Search Data Key To Intuit's Customer Approach

Intuit has developed a customer-first approach supported through search engine marketing. A data-intensive paid-search strategy allows the company to make customers the center of the strategy, using data to identify specific market segments.

Tapping into the data "makes search crazy intelligent," per Cezanne Huq, online acquisition and business strategist at Intuit. Speaking at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit, he said the company leverages real-time keyword data and integrates this back into search.

Data also helps to identify market segments -- for example, separating accountants from small- and-medium-sized businesses. "We would love for it to impact product listing ads similar to the way it does paid search."

The strategy relies on more than 55 third-party data providers that append Intuit's customer records and are fed proprietary data that is sent back to them. Datalogic, Bluekai and eXelate are among those data providers. Huq said the data improves the match rate because the industry standard remains low. Intuit's match rate sits at 40%.

The logic behind the matches remains simplistic -- for example, using if-and statements in a string of programming code. That binary thinking -- "Are you an accountant?" If yes, do this -- works to streamline the process. "Work with your analytics team," he said. "It took us a while to aggregate the data and make segmentation simple."

Data puts new opportunities on the table for Intuit. For each accountant that purchases its professional product, four SMBs also come on board. Understanding what accountants need has helped Intuit to grow its overall market, so it also did some research into their social influence.

"It's on the strategic road map," he said. "We think about [accountants] as pro advisers. I call them affectionately mother hens."

Aside from social media and an onslaught of third-party data providers, Intuit relies on selling its products through retailers or online, with more than 65 first-party data attributes collected through data management providers, as well as tracking hundreds of key pages across the enterprise.

Intuit defines keyword themes to reach customers and provide a better experience. If you're not partnering with offline and display teams to share the consumer path, you won't get as much potential Web site traffic. It's not just about the last mile, but rather how the marketer tells the complete customer story across the entire path, according to Ryan Durham, senior brand manager for digital at Dish Network, speaking on a panel about native advertising. "You can't allow the silos to stifle performance," he said.  

Huq reminded marketers to look to data for effective targeting and optimization, focus on strategies that leverage how customers show, buy and advocate the brand, and develop succession metrics to effectively measure and manage campaigns. 

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