Search insights are becoming the future currency for marketers to identify, understand and communicate with a target audience. The reason search insights are so powerful is because they allow us to understand consumer’s intent through a deliberate and considered behaviour. Here are a few suggestions on how search data might be used to improve marketing strategies.
Seek out prospective audiences
Marketers can identify prospective audiences earlier and become more targeted in their execution. Using search data and a Microsoft panel of online users, Mi9 (Microsoft Australia’s search partner) has been able to define the duration of a consumer’s mindset across a number of key vertical industries. For example, people who download a new car brochure or book a test drive online will conduct their search on average two months’ prior with words relating to car parts or repairs. A similar study shows an average of 17 days for a consumer to renew or sign up to a home insurance policy. The process usually begins with searches for broad terms such as “cheapest rate on home insurance” or “compare home insurance”. A week later the search becomes more refined and brand specific leading to multiple site visitations. It is the search data which allows us to qualify disposed and relevant customers.
Choose the right channel for your message
Greater accountability can be created by overlaying search engagement across an entire marketing plan. It is possible to track and test audience responses for a number of campaign variables including the chosen medium, environment, time of day and even which creative performed best. Some forward thinking automotive clients are already starting to plan and buy their annual television sponsorship packages based on the programmes and seasons which result in the greatest uplift to their search activity. Search can be used to measure the effectiveness of all the other advertising channels and thus optimise the performance of a campaign towards those which generate a search response.
Measure and improve brand campaigns
Abstract elements such as emotion contribute to brand awareness and receptiveness but can be difficult to define. Search has the ability to unlock new ways of measuring factors which influence a brand’s value and impact. For example, a television commercial advertiser using an emotive backing track might measure search uplift of the song and artist to determine the effect it has had on an audience. An increased interest in the song would be a sign of a favourable attitude toward the brand or having created an emotional connection. Search has the power to shape new styles of metrics to which a campaign’s success can be accredited, by unlocking measurements for emotional responses to advertising.
Conversely, as a way to improve impact, brands are using search insights to develop creative messaging to suit their audience. Advertisers have the ability to choose appropriate copy for their above-the-line (ATL) activity by selecting the high converting search keywords unique to their brand or industry. This is noticeable in the way that brands are now developing search taglines as the call to action in their TV, radio and print campaigns. Search can therefore shape how messages cut through and communicate with their target audience.
Develop a more robust attribution model
Search behaviour can help distinguish the hierarchy-of-effects created by a campaign. It allows marketers to better understand the way a user researches and evaluates products before buying, placing greater emphasis on a consumer’s purchase journey. Eventually, it is search data which will allow marketers to construct an attribution model to accurately follow the consumer’s path to purchase from awareness of a brand through to conversion. Instead of measuring post-impression conversions, it would be far more effective to examine how many impressions it takes before a user conducts a search. With this method there is no question that the impressions cut through to the consumer. By applying a greater emphasis on search trends, marketers can formulate a more robust set of metrics to understand ‘intent’ at all stages of the purchase funnel.
Search is one of the most discerning signals that online users portray about their purchasing behaviour. By increasing the value we place in search insights marketers can seek out ways to improve advertising campaigns and ensure that budgets are spent effectively across the entire media plan.