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How the Whole Customer Journey Runs Through Search

Customer JourneyRemaining relevant and visible is a top objective for any search marketer, which means maintaining prime positioning where online search factors into the customer journey.

However, the role of search has changed over time. In the past, search was seen as a bottom-of-the-funnel activity, rather than something that permeates every stage of the journey. Today, we know that isn't the case. Customers depend on search at every stage leading up to the transaction, which means search strategies must be built to account for these varied stages, too. A diversified approach is required for brands to generate positive results from across the spectrum of customer search activity.

Search Affects the Entire Funnel

Search's primary reputation, at least where commerce is concerned, has revolved around the initiation stage of the funnel. This is the first stage where customers look for solutions to their needs. Research from Forrester found that 71 percent of customers typically turn to search engines during this stage, so this reputation isn't without merit.

The problem is that search doesn't fall out of favor after a few preliminary queries. The same study found that 74 percent of customers use search engines when either comparing options or making a purchase. If anything, search becomes more important as the funnel narrows, instead of less relevant.

Unbranded Search Is Customer-focused

Search marketing often gives a lot of weight to branded searches, building strategies around brand keywords relevant to those customer queries. But many separate studies have found that non-branded search terms are critical at every stage of the customer journey.

One study by Bing, reported by Search Engine Land, found that 72 percent of brand ad clicks were driven by non-branded keywords. Appearing in these non-branded search queries provides a more direct way of competing with other brands and establishing your credibility alongside them.

Content marketing helps businesses rein in customers that they wouldn't otherwise have while keeping and converting more sales, explained Content Marketing Institute. Unbranded content may go against a company's inclination, but it's also customer-focused and directly responds to their needs and desires. This alone makes it an important component of your strategy.

Don't Underestimate Brand Awareness

Search marketers already know the importance of building brand awareness, and they recognize how search can contribute to these goals. But as Search Engine Land pointed out, the impact of brand awareness may be even greater than some recognize.

Further information from Bing showed that a branded ad increases unaided awareness by 24 percent while boosting purchase intent by 32 percent. These ads play a central role in establishing your company as a market leader. Simple exposure on search can enhance and reinforce brand perceptions for many customers, regardless of where they are in the funnel. This awareness provides value even after they've made a conversion.

Search marketing strategies are evolving, and it's creating a more diverse approach to reaching customers through search engines. Leverage search to capture business and prevent your competition from leaving you in the dust.

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