Ever wondered what the intention of your potential customers is when they are searching online (and hopefully find your business rather than your competitor’s)? If you knew, how would that inform your local search marketing strategy?
Comscore/TMP Directional Marketing released a study a few months ago with some very interesting data that provides insight into both of these questions.
I know…the legend requires a magnifying glass! Here’s a summary of the four search intention categories in the order presented (top down):
- “Looking for a particular business from which to buy from that I have already researched and identified.”
- “Comparing competitor businesses that I have already researched and identified.”
- “Looking for information about a specific product/service that I have already decided fulfills my needs.”
- “Researching to help decide which product or service will fulfill my needs.”
The columns show the breakdown of these search intentions for 2007 and 2008, both online and offline.
The key messages that this data presents are the following:
- Your potential customers are increasingly going online to find information about available products or services in their local communities to address their problem (an 11% increase between 2007 and 2008 alone).
- Their need for information at this stage implies an opportunity to educate them about the problem itself and your solution. This is a fantastic opportunity to help your future customer fully understand their problem and its implications, AND to introduce them to how your goods or services are the perfect solution to the problem. The emphasis here is on solving their problem…not selling to them.
- By connecting with them initially, you have the beginnings of a relationship. You can extend the initial connection to continue the dialogue and further the relationship over time. They may not be ready to buy immediately. And so whenever possible (and with their permission), you want to continue to send information to them that will be helpful to them to gain a better understanding of the problem and how to solve it. The focus needs to stay on helping them to solve their problem, and not on getting your next sale. But in the process, they come to know, like and trust you and become aware of how you can help them solve their problem.
- If you are successful in building a trusting relationship with them (and of course are able to solve their problem!), they are much less likely to spend time looking at your competitors, both online and offline, when it comes to making a purchase.
- If the customer doesn’t find your business in the early stages, it will be that much harder to intervene later, which may mean that a competitor with scoop the sale!
Consider these findings when you are looking at your organic local search marketing strategy. The good news is that if you know your business (as you should!) in the first place, you are already a qualified expert to speak to your customers’ problems. And there are lots of ways to leverage technology to easily deploy that knowledge and build these relationships without your ongoing intervention. How cool is that!
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