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Understanding how your customers use search will show you how to reach them


Google’s Head of Online in Australia, Julian Persaud, explains how search trends can reveal valuable insights about your customer and your market.

Imagine you’re a retailer of IT equipment, and you’re trying to attract customers to your mid-year sale. Would you promote ‘discount computers’ or ‘cheap computers’ in your marketing campaign? How would you know which term is likely to generate a better response?

There is an easy way to get real insights into how potential customers are looking for your product or service online. Many people aren’t familiar with the power of Google Insights for Search, a free market research tool that uncovers consumer search behaviours in specific geographic areas, within particular categories and at particular times of the year.

In this case, by looking on Google Insights for Search you would be able to tell that Australians search more for ‘cheap’ items than they do for ‘discount’ ones. With that information, you can put together more effective promotional material – both online and offline.

Researching how consumers search online is not only an effective way to decide the best language to use in your online marketing campaigns; it’s also useful to help you decide when to start marketing.

Many sectors experience seasonal spikes in demand. These are usually reflected by a jump in the volume of searches conducted by consumers online. You might be surprised to know that searches for Christmas gifts begin to climb as early as September. If you put on your ‘IT retailer’ hat once more, then that insight would be handy to know so you can start promoting your ‘Christmas laptop specials’ just as your potential customers begin thinking about what they’re going to buy for Christmas gifts.

In addition to shaping your campaign messaging and understanding seasonal trends, analysing search trends can help you build you keyword list for search marketing. By understanding which keywords are most popular and when, you can allocate your marketing budget more effectively and tailor your ads to convert consumer research into sales.

The beauty of online is that it reflects consumer trends in real time. And because these trends change rapidly, it’s imperative that you regularly update your keywords and monitor their performance.

Here are some tips to get the most out of Insights for Search:

  • Identify seasonal spikes in search terms that relate to your product or service. For example, in the lead-up to Christmas, there is a spike every year in searches foriPod. This will help you boost your online and offline marketing campaign around this timing.
  • Research your competitors. Compare search trends for your business and those of your competitors. Are people searching different related terms when they look for you versus a rival company? You can learn a lot about your customers based on how they’re searching for your competitors.
  • Respond to global news, trends and buzz words. How are global events and trends impacting the way people search and how can you take advantage of that? In light of the global economic crisis, for example, you might have considered promoting your budget offers as people became more concerned with their finances.
  • Test your keywords. Investigate rising searches and top searches in your category to make sure you’re including the keywords your customers are searching for.
  • Research your category in other geographic locations. Have a look at which states register the highest search volumes for terms that relate to your business. Do the rising searches give you any clues about what might be the next big thing in your market?

The more you understand about your customers’ search behaviour, the better you can respond to their motivations. This gives you enormous control over your online marketing and, most importantly, how you allocate your marketing budget.

Your customers are communicating with you in all sorts of ways – both directly and indirectly. It’s up to you to listen.

Julian Persaud is head of online for Google Australia.

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