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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Don’t Be Crazy – You Need to Be in Search

If I told you that you could pay to enter into a conversation with a customer looking for your product or service how much would you pay? Now consider that it is this customer that is coming to you to get the information while they are in the purchase consideration cycle. How much more is that worth?

I bet you would pay a lot, you have a good understanding of your conversion and know based on the questions the customer is asking or the information they are looking for where they are in the purchase cycle.

Now I tell you that the above is what online search is, many of you and your clients all of a sudden loose interest. Don’t be crazy, today (not tomorrow) you need to make search part of your marketing portfolio. If you spend only a $1000 / year in advertising this needs to be one part of your strategy. By using search you can enter into the purchase consideration with the message you want to deliver and best of all you only pay for actual customer interactions.

It doesn’t matter what you sell or where you are in the supply chain you can improve sales by using this tool. Let’s take a manufacturer as an example, say a consumer is looking for a Panasonic HDTV. As Panasonic you want and need to be present, with your retailers, providing information on your offering. If I search Panasonic HDTV I should see an ad from Panasonic that leads to a site providing all of the information that is needed to complete my purchase decision. Is it really worth it, for Panasonic, for customers to go site that is off-brand and not providing them with the information they are looking for? I might even find info on a Sony HDTV that begins to take more mindshare and effects my end decision. I’m sure Panasonic has a site that provides everything I need but if I can’t find the info is it even of use or worth the money that was spent to build it.

Here is the result example and I guess I picked an example that furthers the discussion. Not only does Panasonic not show up in the sponsored ads but none of the Canadian retailers do either, which was a big surprise to me. Now here is where the debate can start, even through Panasonic shows up as the third organic result I feel it is very important to still purchase this term to that you can ensure you are communicating your message and guide the consumer to the information you feel is best suited.

Now this is a simple brand example but take this to the next step where Panasonic could, based on their market and customer understanding, expand the keywords to terms that consumers use when researching, understanding and looking for products. This can be a great way to ensure you are participating with the customer when they are the in purchase consideration cycle so get started.

Based on this example it looks like we have lots of work!


Dayton said...

Nice article Simon. I definitely thing that search can be a powerful tool in communicating back to a potential customer that has initiated a conversation.

I do think though that for brands to really leverage search, they need to continue the conversation where the customer left off, by linking them (the customer) to a place on the brand's site that is related to the search term.

It would almost defeat the purpose if the site that the sponsored link went to was the corporate homepage. It would almost feel like a call center rep asking you to verify your phone number even though you had to enter it four time just to talk to them.

I really think it would take some planning and effort on the part of the brand to really see the power of search. I guess buying prominent keywords would be a good place to start at least. Nice insight, great article. And a great blog too.

Darren Pereira said...

Great example, Simon. Here are a few questions for you that I'm hoping you can either answer here or follow-up with me directly.

If paid search is a strategy that a brand is willing to invest in, should they be concerned with lead generation paid searches?

Also - how should they deal with search results negatively associated with their brand?

Meandering Michael said...

I wanted to buy a Panasonic Toughbook, but was having a heck of a time finding a retailer. My search was so long and arduous that, by the time I found one, a friend had convinced me to purchase a different brand.

In my mind, I had already committed to buying a Toughbook - Panasonic lost my sale because it was just too hard to buy one.

Want to find out how hard it is to buy a Toughbook? Try it yourself!

Simon Rodrigue said...

Dayton, Darren,

Thanks for your posts.

First off I agree 100% that the conversation / tactic / strategy does end with the search click, you need to be guiding the consumer to the content they are expecting and is relevant to the question they are asking or problem they are looking to solve - you shouldn't be sending all of your search traffic to the same spot.

Darren for your need to have a metric in mind, some time of success event. You should then be using this to understand what keywords are working and which one needs adjustments.

As for the negative this is part of the game we all play. These conversations are taking place and will continue regards of what you do. So first off you can ensure that you have your positive message present. Secondly, enter into a conversation, if possible, with the negative comments, if you can turn it around it will be very powerful.