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How Individuals Search For Answers, Not Information

Marketers need to start thinking more like consumers and consider the devices they use to find information and request answers and the types of technologies connected to the network. Doing the prep work before launching the campaign could produce better results. Here's why. 

Research suggests there are nearly as many search query combinations as there are combinations of DNA that make up the human genome. In fact, Nathan Safran, Blue Nile Research CEO and former Forrester Research analyst, uses this metaphor to explain the unpredictable factors that make up the way an individual phrases a search query.

A study from Blue Nile Research released Tuesday analyzes how online users choose to phrase their searches. The findings reveal that half of searchers are forming full sentences, while the other half search in fragments -- for example, what is the cause of a shooting pain in the right leg vs. shooting pain right leg. When analyzing the way individuals phase queries based on questions or statement, 27% of respondents phrased their query in the form of a question, with "How" being the most commonly used prefix.

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Marketers need to take a moment longer to think about how the individual will phrase words to form a query, especially since searches vary widely. Safran said the research shows the average person performs 129 searches monthly. Usually, search marketers use keywords research tools to discover keywords relevant to their industry that they want to optimize. This approach proves useful, but flawed. Initial assumptions about how the user might search for products and services are perpetuated through the keyword search process.

For example, entering the phrase "coffee maker won't turn on" in the Google Keyword Tools returns generic query results such as "best coffee makers" or "coffee maker reviews," which is a far cry from the way consumers typically query this problem -- "Why will my coffee maker not turn on." A disconnect exists between the consumer problem and the way that marketers perceive consumers will search for an answer.

Searchers most often used "How" (44%), and "What" was used least (12%). This reveals a desire by searchers for immediate answers such as "how do I fix my coffee maker" rather than an investigative question like "why is my coffee maker not working."

The findings should prompt marketers to think like their potential and existing customers more often.

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