With the abundance of options available to consumers these days, it's the attention to detail that people remember most. Our expectations are higher. We're all craving convenience, personalisation and just enough facts to make us feel confident about our purchase.
Consumer search is the gateway to the shopping experience, but it's becoming increasingly hard to have your products found by the present-day impatient shopper. Within a few short seconds of landing on your site, consumers will decide if they're going to be able to find what they're looking for. If they made it that far, it would be a shame to lose them to poor performance.
If you're an online-based business, this is crucial — but after the worldwide craziness of 2020, we can agree that almost every business needs to adapt to being digital. Even if the purchase isn't completed online, most buying decisions begin with a search.
Digital Consumer Behaviour
Once consumers decide on a good or service they need, they'll spend more time researching and analysing than before smartphones. Hard not to with so much data at our fingertips.
Impulse buying is seeing a decrease as more buyers are taking their time to compare prices and details. Consumers are empowered with choices, which has also raised expectations and made buyers more demanding.
To meet the needs of today's customers, you have to understand why they operate the way they do. You'll hear consumer behaviour broken down in various ways, but here we'll review the following three and how they relate to site search.
Curious Consumer: researching details of products or services
Demanding Consumer: expecting personalised experiences just for them
Impatient Consumer: people who want it now
That list doesn't portray consumers in the best light, but it's the reality of how search has changed the buyer's journey. It can feel a little intimidating to be on the seller's side, but site search gives us the advantage of meeting customer demands.
When we look at the data, we realise every decision warrants some research beforehand. With so much access to information, we want every commitment — both big and small — to be an informed one.
A Google study showed over 100% growth in mobile searches for "best toothbrush" in 2017.
Consumers are now looking for personalised shopping experiences when searching online. As AI assistants have increased in homes, buyers feel like they have their advisors. As a result, we've noticed a trend in searches looking for advice, such as "comfortable shoes for a wedding" versus a search for "wedding shoes" we would've seen a few years back.
According to Google, mobile searches for "____ shoes for ____" increased by over 120% between 2015-2017.
Regarding the buyer who doesn't need to do research — they know what they want, and they want it now. This behaviour is typically seen in users looking for a good or service they already used before. Searches like "open" or "near me" have skyrocketed in recent years.
Most people are expecting to find the information they need online, right when they need it. If your brand can be found in that critical moment, you'll build trust and earn business.
Make Mobile a Priority
The majority of searches are from smartphones, and people expect the results to be quick and relevant. Therefore, your site should be mobile-friendly and load in no more than two seconds to keep up. Studies have shown a direct correlation with a fast load speed to a higher conversion rate.
Consumers are all about convenience in this age of AI assistance. Many shoppers today prefer to use their smart device through the entire buying process, but unfortunately, a lot of carts are abandoned due to a poor mobile checkout feature. It's important to test functionality across all platforms to confirm everything is rendered correctly and working smoothly.
Sellers are expected to provide a consistent experience anywhere their brand can be found. This omnichannel world of connection requires you to be available and ready to influence a buyer's decision wherever they may be searching — including offline.
Target Local Searchers
Just because the world has embraced digital doesn't mean in-person sales are dead. As we mentioned, when people know what they're looking for, they don't want to wait around for it. If you want to compete with other local businesses, users need to find you on the map.
A whopping 80% of local searches from smartphones turn into a transaction. So even if you're not a numbers person, it's plain to see there is value there.
Optimising your brand for local search will improve your visibility for all local searches on major search engines and other knowledge networks. To better serve the impatient customer looking for "____ near me," your business needs to be accessible on various major platforms like Google Maps, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
Consumers want to see the full picture before they commit, and boy, do we love a review.
Leverage Business Reviews
Curious consumers love to read online reviews. Reviews are a powerful marketing tool because consumers trust them, and it gives an idea of what to expect.
You might dread customer reviews because there is always that one customer you just can't seem to make happy, but you'll be surprised to know that even negative reviews can be good for business sometimes.
If your brand appears to be too squeaky clean online, users may find it skeptical. It's better to address negative reviews to maintain an authentic brand identity quickly.
We came across research that suggests consumers spend five times as long on a website when they interact with negative reviews and offer an 85% increase in conversion rate.
Optimise for Voice Search
Technology has become more intuitive over the years, which has changed the relationship users have with search. For example, as more people search through a voice-activated speaker, they use more conversational queries, resulting in a more personal and specific experience.
To optimise your site for voice-prompted searches, you should use a more conversational tone in your content. You can begin with the standard questions you know consumers will be looking for. As you get your site dialled in, you can look at the search analytics to better understand exactly how users ask for what they need.
A Q & Page can be helpful because it naturally answers questions conversationally. This will make it easier for voice-enabled devices to locate your content. In addition, users find this extra helpful since they can easily find the information they need instead of reaching out to customer service.
As consumers continue to be more digitally driven, it's important to stay consistent across all marketing channels. It's likely that users will be interacting with your brand across mediums other than your website, and they're expecting a dependable experience.
Keep the overall message the same across your social media platforms, email marketing, mobile apps and so on. Of course, you'll want to deliver that message suitably for that particular channel, but the goal is for users to feel like they can seamlessly transition from one channel to the next without disruption.
Technology has become more accessible and more intuitive than ever. As the digital world has evolved, so has the consumer. For sellers to continue meeting their customer's needs, they'll need to incorporate internal search into their business plan.
Once you understand consumer behaviour, you can strategise how your brand can be there in moments of need throughout the buyer's journey. For a buyer to choose you, they have to be able to find you.
But that's not enough. After a user lands on your site or listing, they should find all the relevant information they need to make an educated decision. If it's not right there, they should see a clear call to action leading them to the right place.
Creating mobile-friendly content is essential to providing a seamless experience. A sizable chunk of traffic originates from mobile searches, so brands need to cater to their needs. Make sure your business can be found on Google Maps, quickly respond to reviews, and create conversational content so major search engines can easily find it.