If you’re reading this, you should already know that no marketing channel operates in a vacuum. Communications and campaigns these days are all “integrated” with messages playing out over various media and platforms. Search is no different.
In a new report, search and social marketing agency Catalyst finds consumers use both search and social media throughout their entire customer journey, and they have complementary roles. Used together, the report finds, they can be powerful tools for any marketer.
“The challenge is getting the right mix of each,” Beth LeTendre, Catalyst’s CEO, tells Search Insider. “This study provides a look at how consumers use search and how and why.”
The study, commissioned by Catalyst and conducted by Forrester, finds that search — whether it be through traditional engines such as Google and Yahoo! or through other areas such as retailers’ Web sites or social media — is a primary tool throughout the entire customer journey. According to the study, 90% of customers use search to discover, explore and engage with brands. It is also heavily trusted, with 72% of consumers saying they trusted their search results.
“Search, wherever it happens, is a critical component to a larger effort,” says Chris Humber, head of the agency’s search practice. “It’s important that marketers understand that [search] is not the ultimate destination, it’s the point of departure that consumers use [on an informational journey].”
At the same time, social is its own powerful tool. According to the study, more than 85% of customers use social for discovery and purchase consideration. In fact, 81% of customers reported that they purchased a product after initially hearing about it through their social connections (which can include brands: 43% of consumers said the purchase was influenced by a company’s social post when shopping, and 30% said they were influenced by paid social advertising).
“When [a social post] comes from a friend, there’s an implied endorsement,” Chris says. “When they see that and it catches their interest, it moves them into a consideration set.”
But here’s the kicker: The study finds that consumers who encountered both social and search advertising in their search spend more than those who don’t (as much as $250 more over the past three months) and are 9% more likely to act as brand advocates. Thus, it’s imperative for search and social marketing efforts to be aligned with each other before encountering the consumer.
“You don’t want people confused,” says Caitlin Francke, head of Catalyst’s social practice. “You want them clear as day when they’re going to buy your products.”