Why Do People Search Online
Why Do People Search Online? If You Don’t Know, You’re Losing Sales.
Have you thought about why people search online? It may seem like the answer is obvious, but it’s an important question worth considering.
Once we understand why people search online, we know what needs they are trying to meet. And once we know that, we can begin to position our marketing and our websites to show how our business or service can fulfill that need.
In other words, when people search online, they have a specific reason for the search. And depending on the type of intent behind their search, we can position our messaging to best communicate that we have the solution to their problem.
And luckily, this is not a mystery.
How We Know Why People Search
We know the reasons why somebody searches online thanks to Google and the massive amounts of data they collect on people using their search engine.
The reasons that drive internet searches come down to four main categories. It doesn’t matter if they’re searching on YouTube, on social media, on Google, on Amazon, Best Buy, or anywhere on the Internet. The intent behind nearly every search will fit into one of these categories of need:
3. Commercial investigation
For a fuller explanation of how these are defined, read my post “why organic traffic is critical to your business”.
Using Customer Intent to Position and Target Your Marketing
Once you determine which category of search your customers fall into, you can position your business and website to help the customer fulfill that need. You can target your marketing specifically to the intent of your customer.
This is radically different from the way businesses market to customers for the last sixty or eighty years. Up to now, businesses have used mass media to broadcast their message to the marketplace. They hoped that enough of their prospects and ideal customers would see or hear their ad and then come to buy their product or service.
Retailers would send a mailer out to everyone in a zip code or region. Or they might even do a national campaign. Some would buy magazine or newspaper ads. Others would do radio or television ads on a local or national basis. Still, others would use billboards. The idea was to get the message seen and heard by as many people as possible.
But the downside of mass media is that it’s not specific to your prospect, to your ideal customer. The marketing messages are broadcast in the hope that the perfect customer sees the ad. The person performed whatever action the advertiser wanted them to take, whether it’s calling, setting an appointment, or coming to the store to make a purchase.
Compare those mass media strategies to what you can do with digital strategy to specifically target your ideal customer and focus on their specific intent.
Why Mass Media Doesn’t Work for Smaller Businesses, but the Big Brands All Do It
But you might be thinking that all the big brands are using mass media. The reason is simple. They have a big enough budget to make mass media campaigns effective. This approach requires a lot of money that small and medium-sized businesses don’t have.
The other reason big brands use mass media is they aren’t really expecting the people who see the ad to run and buy the product right then and there.
They are running the mass media campaigns more for brand awareness. They are competing against the other big brands. The goal is to etch their logo, jingle, name, colors, and branding into your brain. So that when you happen to want to buy something, you’ll tend to think of that store or brand first, simply because you heard about it a thousand times.
This is very different from how a small to medium size business would actually market. These businesses don’t have the luxury of big budgets just for awareness and brand recognition. So they need their marketing to speak directly to their customers and get the return on investment relatively quickly.
Use Customer Intent to Target Your Marketing
This brings us back to our understanding of customer intent. Instead of marketing wide, we can craft messages to best address the customer’s need, based on which of the four categories of search intent they fall into.
This becomes extremely powerful because it will change your marketing messaging to your consumer.
For example, consider television manufacturers. Most people searching for televisions have commercial investigation as the category of the intent behind their searches. They want to decide which product to buy, so they are looking for information to compare different brands.
So when a manufacturer introduces a new model, they’ll compare it to another brand’s model that’s a marquee product for that brand. They will compare the two models, covering their television’s brightness compared to the other one, the energy efficiency, the wattage on the speakers, the entertainment system, and how much memory it has. They will compare every feature line by line because they understand that someone who’s doing commercial investigation wants to know all these details to make an informed choice.
The category of a search depends on the type of business or industry you’re in. Simply consider what would be the search intent or the reason why someone is searching online for my product and service.
Let’s say you are a homeowner who wants to build a pool.
What questions are you going to have? You’ll want to know how long construction will take and how long your backyard will be torn up. You’ll want to see the cost. And how the shape of the pool will impact the price and the materials needed to construct it.
And then there are all the material questions. Plaster vs. tile vs. mosaic. How do those choices impact the pricing and maintenance? How much will maintenance cost over the life of the pool?
These are all critical questions to the homeowner. These questions fuel the homeowner’s intent when they search online for someone to build their pool.
But most pool building companies don’t address these on their websites.
Instead, the typical pool builder’s website is going to feature a home page or about page. They will talk about the company’s history, why they got into pool building, how long they’ve been building pools. They’ll have a gallery page or a bunch of pictures of all the different pools that they’ve built. Then they’ll have a contact page.
None of that is terrible. But it doesn’t fulfill the commercial investigation intent behind the search. Which means the person will look elsewhere for answers. Most likely, they’ll find them on your competitor’s website.
Whatever business you are in, you can implement this simple strategy. Just think about why your customers are searching online and make sure your website meets that need. Then you’ll see the power of this strategy and how it can bring more customers to your business.
If you’re not sure how to get started, just give us a call. We’ve done this for businesses all over the US and have made it work. Let us show you how understanding why people search online can translate to real growth in your business.m
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