Search engine marketing continues to perform, both as part of the consumer’s path to purchase and as a continual way for customers to find you.  But there is more to it than driving traffic. We can learn a great deal about a consumer by the terms they use, and smart marketers should be thinking about how to leverage that data.

When a consumer searches for something, they are expecting a relevant result. And consumers have learned all by themselves that the more specific they are, the more relevant those results become. This is called the long tail of search. The more words we add, the more specific results we find. 

You will need to have focused content, containing keywords, phrases and maybe even frequent questions and answers – and not just a few sentences or even pages. We invest in search engine optimization to drive traffic.

The search terms themselves, however, unlock information. Valuable information that tells us some things about what the consumer or customer is looking for, what they care about and might tell you some surprising things you didn’t know.

Consumers ask questions while searching. You have the answers, or you may not. But those consumers are looking for an answer. This is more than making sure your answers are on your Web site. The answers might be great thought starters for direct mail pieces, emails, advertising campaigns, TV commercials and more. If enough consumers are asking questions that are relevant to your product, maybe you should be addressing it in your next campaign. This source of rich data is very similar to social listening.

Search data is nearly real-time. Like social monitoring, tools can tell us what people are searching for pretty quickly. Watching search terms is keeping a finger on the pulse of the consumer. When product issues start, a search engine may be the first stop for a user, looking to see if anyone else has the problem. This will allow you to address those issues, in your product packaging, your FAQ's or your call center.

Keywords are powerful data. Consumers use their own words when they search. Copywriters are always looking for ways to connect with the audience, to create an emotional connection with customers. Looking at how consumers use search engines and the words they use can provide a glimpse into the consumer’s mind. We don’t have to guess if it’s the right word; we can use search data, along with social conversations, to know exactly how to describe something. Looking for a new tag line? Look at what consumers say about you, and how they look for your products.

Tools can help you do this. Looking at your own web analytics data shows you people who found your site with their terms, but to be proactive, you need to look at the bigger picture. A whole variety of tools are available that help marketers uncover search trends. Some will give you a sense of volume of searches over a period of time to help you prioritize. Others have taxonomy that allows you to see similar terms, so that you don’t have to think of everything.

When talking about customer insights with marketers, it seems there is never enough market research data. But this data is available to you, and can help you have relevant and personal connections with your customers. It’s up to you on how you leverage it

AuthorJeannette Kocsis