Study:Consumers Twice As Likely To Click Paid-Search Product Listings

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Brands that buy rankings through paid search on engines powering retail Web sites experience better sales. After searching for a product on a retail Web site, most shoppers click the top results on the page. In fact, about 94% of shoppers click on the first to tenth product to look for lower prices, key product features and preferred brands. So say findings from a joint study conducted by comScore for Searchandise Commerce and iProspect released Tuesday.

The study aimed to determine whether search-ranking position secures a higher percentage of clicks. Paid search supports the backbone of Google's business model. But does that business model carry through to retail site search -- and do premium positions in search rankings garner a higher percentage of click share? It turns out that consumers are twice as likely to use the site search box to find additional product category, brand or model information as to browse the initial landing page.

Aside from attempting to determine if the basic search engine ranking structure applies to site search on retail search engines, Searchandise set out to confirm whether consumers rely on retail Web sites for product information.

While shoppers tend to vary the order, retail Web sites and search engines are typically either the first or the second step in the shopping process. The study suggests that retail Web sites are used as a source of price and brand options, promotions and sales. Many look for customer and expert reviews, price, and recommendations. Moving the ability to rank higher in the on-site search feature of a retail Web site would naturally give the consumer products goods (CPGs) company an edge.

Landing listings at the top of the search ranking make it easier for consumers to find information about a company's products and services, and two-thirds of shoppers compare product and price information or read product descriptions on retail Web sites before making purchases. But while many begin the shopping process online, nearly half still purchase offline.

That works, too, according to John Federman, president and chief executive officer at Searchandise. He says more than half the people who research products online buy them in the store.

Although more consumers are beginning the process online, shoppers still want to see, touch and interact with the products in a physical store prior to purchase. Consumers turn to the online channel for ease of comparison, 61%; breadth of information, 47%; and convenience, 51%, while 62% of consumers admit that the physical stores provide the tactile in-person experience.

Of those shoppers who purchase offline, 57% say pricing is one of the main motivators for purchasing online, followed by free shipping at 57%, promotions and discounts at 50%, and item availability at 32%.

The study also made recommendations for marketers. Pricing factors tend to attract online shoppers, but the inability to see, touch, and feel the product tends to discourage shoppers. Retail sites become an opportunity for marketers to showcase CPG items not only through text, but video and other forms of media.

The study took two approaches: FocusSite Analysis, and Survey-Based Analysis. The qualitative phase consisted of two online focus groups hosted in April 2010. It lasted two days. The survey analysis defined the path through the purchase funnel during each stage in the process.


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