I came across a slightly older study (more than a year old, less than two years old) intended to show the consumer reaction to Inbound vs. Outbound marketing tactics. As I glanced over the data, I was able to extract a different understanding of the outcome than what the Moz/Fractl study had initially intended.
From this data, it seems that consumers rely on different search practices depending on the type of information they want to consume.
I know, SHOCKER, right? However, I think there is some merit in discussing this.
Why It’s Relevant
There has been lots of talk recently about how Internet search and digital content consumption has changed over the past couple years; how Mobile and Social Search are quickly becoming the go-to medium for consumers (including B2B researchers). While this is undoubtedly true, and something that we have talked about ourselves, it is important that we don’t confuse where we position our brands with how we position our brands.
This chart shows how those questioned would find out more about a company or product. First, what I don’t like about the way this question was stated is that it doesn’t fully draw a line between branded product, or generic. Searching for information about “running shoes” (a generic product) is far different than searching for information about “New Balance running shoes” (a branded product). However, because of the verbiage used, let’s assume they mean “branded product.”
As the chart shows, Top 3 are:
1. “Online Search” followed by,
2. “Visiting its (the company’s) Website” and then,
3. “Reading Customer Reviews”
Keep these results in mind, as we will come back to them later.
This chart, from the same study, shows how those being questioned would rank the influence of purchase.
“Customer Reviews” is the clear winner, with 85% being positively influenced.
While Customer Reviews came in at 3rd place in regards to product education, it trounced all others in regards to purchase influence. Why? Because normally we are in a completely different headspace (also known as steps in the buyer’s journey) when we are educating ourselves than when we are treating ourselves.
How it Relates
It makes sense. As you are gathering information about specific products, of course you want to hear what the company or manufacturer has to say. Who else knows the product the way they do? On the other hand, when you’re ready to put down your hard-earned cash, you want to hear more from people who have been in your position before. “Did this product deliver on its promises?”
What DID surprise me is the poor performance of social media, until I thought more about how we here at AHA Factory position our social media campaigns. In our own experience, we have found social media to be an excellent “top of the funnel” channel. That is, we rely on social media for the awareness stage and use it as more of a stepping stone for people to learn more on our website and blog. Rarely would we rely on social media to be the tipping factor for a purchase.
When all is said and done, what we are continually finding is that your marketing approach should:
- be multi-channel, multi-media
- be carefully designed with your customers buyer’s journey in mind
- gently guide them from awareness all the way through purchase with the use of content, landing pages and even freebies!
These 3 guideposts are leading to the most success.