I’ve been in search marketing for 10 years and it took a recent multi-month break to truly understand its influence and where advertisers are falling short.
This past Fall, I was blessed with the birth of my healthy and happy baby and several months to spend caring for him - thanks to our wonderful iProspect parental leave policy. It was a Fall of firsts for me: my first child, first extended break from work, first successful attempt at becoming a “morning person” and a completely new subject matter to research (emphasis on the “search”).
On maternity leave, I replaced my normal day job with a new job spanning 24 hours-a-day. The ‘leave’ in maternity leave represents the little time left for much else, including laundry and time to find the best gear, tools and tricks to care for our little bundle of joy. I was in completely new territory, equipped only with an uncomfortably small amount of time to research this newness.
Maternity leave momentarily freed me from my work laptop, but it couldn’t cure my search curiosity. Here are a few highlights from my fresh-perspective search landscape epiphanies:
- As your search marketing experts, we haven’t been lying or exaggerating: mobile search is growing and now more than 40% of online transactions are on mobile devices. I didn’t search on a computer web browser for weeks. Weeks. Everything I did was on my phone.
- The voice search revolution is real: As a parent, I use voice search and voice technology more than I believed anyone could or did (previously I rarely did). Besides always having and using my phone (see point one), possessing only one free hand means using my voice to create text messages to communicate with family and friends. Because I used my voice more to communicate, I started using it more to search.
- I searched (voice and text) with a mix of long tail, short tail, questions and no questions. But I used “vs” and “comparison” and “or” frequently for sure.
- Ad extensions don’t get enough credit. They’re more than just a way to boost AdWords quality score – if you make them truly useful to potential customers. I responded to ads providing additional information that saved me time. Your brand offers quick shipping? Your brand has exclusive products only available on your site (so I stop looking elsewhere)? You mention multiple times how easy something is? You have an easy-to-use product guide to help me compare your products and features? Click, click, click.
- Advertisers can use paid ads as a response to organic results for their brand. I was researching custom baby photo books and found Mixbook promoted the “New Mixbook” and updated design in a paid ad, just a few slots above a mommy blogger’s post from some time ago on her unhappiness with the old design. The result: Mixbook’s ad changed my perspective enough to click and sign up!
- As a new parent, I searched all hours of the day. Including after midnight. Outside of time behavior pattern shifts, I searched and responded to ads differently as a parent than myself as a consumer in the past. A parent searching for something midday is in a completely different state of mind than a desperate parent at 3am. These parental creatures of the night may be more likely to convert quickly than at other times of day.
- Keywords (compare, vs, for kids, for baby), ad schedule bid adjustments and demographic targeting options for search can help advertisers better target parents in search. The new AdWords interface allows for even easier bid adjustments by age and gender combinations.
- Another thing we’re not exaggerating: If you sell on Amazon, it’s imperative to optimize your Amazon page and feature your products in Amazon Marketing Services campaigns. How important is your presence in Amazon? Almost 50% of product searches start on Amazon.
- I bought something almost every day for our household on Amazon Prime… on my phone.
- Even in Google, consumers have Amazon intent. We are increasingly seeing search queries in Google with + Amazon across client product offerings: Laptops Amazon, Mother’s Day gifts Amazon, Amazon baby clothing
- As a brand, you need to improve your presence on Amazon because Amazon is on Amazon with their own brand of products, ranging from diapers to clothing brands to try-before-you-buy clothes shopping programs.
- There’s more to promoted placements on Amazon than just search results advertising. Ads on product detail pages provide additional opportunity for potential buyers to find your brand and products.
- Sponsored products are crucial for highly mobile shopping behavior. As a consumer/parent shopping for convenience on Amazon, I can guarantee you: I scroll to the bottom of a product detail page to look at reviews and click on additional products. I don’t always notice or don’t always care if I click on a product in the “Sponsored Products” or “Customers who bought this also bought,” as these ad units blend seamlessly into more native looking placements.
- For organic content on Amazon, instead of overwhelming with features and text, focus on details that save consumers time on their research journey. Provide product guides, FAQ and answer questions to assist quick purchasing.
(Dear Fisher-Price: will we ever understand the difference between your Cradle ‘N Swing models? I’m still confused.)
So, what steps can you take to save potential customer’s time and help them cut through the clutter to complete their research and purchase journey within your site or Amazon experience?
- Build and optimize a better mobile experience.
- Anticipate and answer potential customers’ questions in both SEO, traditional SEM and Amazon.
- Highlight new features or updates to counteract unflattering or old product reviews.
- Re-evaluate the features you highlight in ads and extensions. Does your ad and site make decisions easier for potential buyers?
- Utilize the rich signals your potential customers give you from how and what they search, time of day, if they are looking for comparisons guides, and what search engines glean with audience and demographic targeting and reporting.
- Make it easier for customers to buy from you – consider “easy” payment options for consumers like Amazon payments, Apple Pay and Paypal.
Update: May 12, 2019
About a year later, Maggie Siegler follows-up on the topic:
My advice still stands, although, I am realizing that I have even less time with a talking, walking, running toddler! As he gets older, I am positive I will feel the same as he gets busier.
Additionally, I have even less time to be on a computer around him because he wants to type the keys too. That goes with phone time too. I’m mainly searching on my phone while he’s asleep (which is all through the night now). When he’s awake, he wants to use my phone to talk or FaceTime friends and family.
When I am searching – in the now smaller window of time I have – I have a changed SERP landscape. There are more Google Shopping ad units than I remember early last year and I am now seeing more Showcase ad units. This tells me that it is essential for brands to have coverage across all ad types, organic and social, in order to connect with me.