Search marketing used to be a simple idea: Create keyword strategies optimized for your products, buy those relevant keywords, and track and adjust accordingly. But the explosion of new devices and platforms (smartphones, social media, geo-fencing), have changed the equation fundamentally. The path-to-purchase is no longer a simple funnel. It’s more like a winding path that backtracks on itself with sudden hairpin turns that come out of nowhere.
With that in mind, Epiphany, a search marketing company out of London, set out to get a better understanding of consumer behavior. In the fall of 2016, the company (working with YouGov) surveyed a representative sample of 2,029 adults in the U.K. to understand their purchase behaviors.
“Attributing value to channels used to be much simpler because the user journey was fairly straightforward and linear,” according to the study. “Today’s consumers follow countless unique online paths before converting, which makes calculating the worth of each touch point difficult.”
Looking at the report, four findings stand out:
Search Is Still
According to the survey, almost half (47%) of consumers said they researched every option to find the perfect product for their needs. Search engines remain the most popular form of research; nearly three-quarters (74%) said they use a search engine before making a purchase.
… But So Are Other Sources
Younger consumers, in particular, are looking to a wide breadth of resources for information before making a purchase. Almost a quarter of 18-24 year-olds said they use social media — along with search engines — for their product research, and 55% of them said online reviews were an important factor when buying online. (Comparatively, only 27% of those over 55 said they felt reviews were important.) Additionally, 61% of younger consumers said they used brand Web sites for detailed research.
Relevant Information + Call To Action = Increased Likelihood Of
Catching a consumer in direct proximity is extremely helpful. According to the study, 28% of consumers said they were more likely to visit a store right away if they were met with an online advertisement while they were within walking distance. It’s even better if you can show them the product they’re looking for is in stock: 46% of all consumers said they would purchase from a store if a search result told them the product they wanted was immediately available. At the same time, more than half said they’re more likely to make a purchase if an online ad contains a discount or promotion.
Younger Consumers Are Willing To Meet You Halfway
Nearly 20% of younger Millennials indicated they would be willing to share personal data with companies if it meant more accurate search results. (On the flip side, however, consumers 55 and older were much less willing to give up such personal information.) If consumers are willing to give you the data, use it wisely to make their experience better. Today’s Millennial consumers are tomorrow’s brand loyalists. Lock them in now, while they’re willing to give you the information.
As you plan your search marketing strategies, keeping these insights in mind to better understand consumers can help you better understand, target and keep your customers (a “virtuous circle of activity,” according to the report), and make your marketing more effective overall.