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7 tips to win new potential customers with search

Key take-aways

Online shoppers are sophisticated consumers with complex needs and desires. From just one search, you or your competitor could win a new customer — and sometimes, a simple search can spark an entirely new idea, desire or need in the person browsing. Here are seven insights that could help you win prospective customers while they are searching online.

1. Consider location and convenience

2. Count on an informed customer

3. Expect that search will lead to discovery

4. Think about complementary categories

5. Prepare for the unexpected

6. Don't underestimate the power of reviews

7. Remember the world is mobile-first

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1. Consider location and convenience

Often, your prospective customers will have key priorities when they visit your website.

Take Marcus from Yorkshire, for example, who wants to buy his girlfriend a graduation gift. Marcus searches between local campus bookshops and Amazon. He wants to find the best possible gift but ideally wants to pick it up in Leeds right before the graduation ceremony.

In Marcus' search journey, he is concerned about both convenience and location—like many other prospective customers.

Over the past two years, there has been a 500% increase in the number of "near me" mobile searches that also contain "can I buy", "to buy" or a variant term. This shows that more and more consumers are seeking location information when they want to purchase a product or service.

When running ad campaigns with Google Ads, you can target by location to reach potential customers while they're on the go and based on where they are. This approach can be especially useful when using text ads, which appear alongside organic search results according to your chosen keywords.

People today expect to have everything at their fingertips and are more likely to buy from brands that offer flexible delivery and collection. Highlight attractive options in your messaging, and display your product inventory online so that potential customers can easily see what's in stock and where.

Campaign

A set of ad groups (ads, keywords, and bids) that share a budget, location targeting, and other settings. Campaigns are often used to organize categories of products or services that you offer

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2. Count on an informed consumer

With so much information available online, consumers are now more informed than ever before.

Take Liam, for example, a keen traveller who is planning his next trip. Over the course of a month, he has nearly 3,000 online interactions related to travel. Around one-third of them centre on London and he conducts nearly 100 searches about one specific hotel.

By the time Liam makes his travel bookings, he will have explored all of his options using search, user reviews, price comparison tools, social media, and more.

Today's consumers have the time and tools to access a huge amount of information before they commit. By embracing this new reality, businesses like yours can learn to anticipate potential customers' needs in advance. Aim to be useful to potential customers throughout the research process and establish your brand as a trusted resource from the start.

Remember that online ads don't always have to centre on a simple transaction like a sale. Consider a strategy focused on establishing brand recognition or garnering customer loyalty such as publishing your own web content. This could be optimised to collect user info, such as newsletter sign ups, and promoted to relevant potential customers via a Google Ads campaign to gain clicks and views.

Keywords

Words or phrases describing your product or service that you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear.

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3. Expect that search will lead to discovery

Many user searches begin without a particular destination in mind.

Stacy, for example, is a pregnant mother of two children. She wants to find a new car that will fit three car seats and plenty of supplies for family excursions.

She starts off looking at one vehicle brand but it becomes quickly becomes clear she's not committed to the idea. She uses search to seek guidance on the best options and ultimately finds an alternative minivan manufacturer that meets her requirements.

For Stacy, search is a means of discovery. She's open to ideas and a new product could capture her attention at any moment. As you refine your understanding of the customer journey, consider the moments you can use to capture potential customers every step of the way. By highlighting key or stand-out features, you have the best chance of appealing to the specific needs of potential customers when they're searching for products or services.

4. Think about complementary categories

Businesses that see the connection between what they offer and complementary categories will be better able to reach consumers when they're feeling receptive.

For example, Serenity is planning a trip to Bournemouth. She doesn't know much about Dorset, so she goes online to learn more.

Serenity searches specific restaurants, celebrity tours, and even what to wear there. This search behaviour shows a domino effect. Her travel plans lead to her wanting to know what people wear in Bournemouth, which leads her to shop for new clothes. This happens all the time.

Think about your customers holistically and keep in mind that one seemingly unrelated search could trigger interest in your brand. Consider which related brands or product in different — but connected — verticals reach similar audiences during search and use this information in your Google Ads campaigns when deciding on keywords and text ad copy.

5. Prepare for the unexpected

User behaviour is often unpredictable.

For example, Tiffany is a 37-year-old mother of three from Tamworth. During the festive season, she has hundreds of digital interactions with various retailers.

At the start of December, Tiffany moves from looking for a "leather sectional couch" to shopping for lamps when she realises that John Lewis and Next both sell those products. From there, Tiffany hunts for a lamp, browsing different brands and retailers, including John Lewis.com, as she looks for the best product at the best price.

Keep an eye on the customer journey and maximise your presence in those places where people may change course. One way to take advantage of this is using related products to guide your potential customer towards other product offerings.

6. Don't underestimate the power of reviews

Potential customers often show interest in numerous different products or brands before making a purchase. Reviews and ratings factor in heavily at this stage of the customer journey.

Leena, a 32-year-old from Manchester, regularly checks Groupon and other deal sites as she hunts for sales and coupons. When Leena runs out of mascara, she goes to eBay to look at different brands, then uses search to zero in on the brand she wants, reading reviews along the way.

Leena was looking for better value and a longer-lasting product than she could find at her local retailer. She decided on the Lancome brand, in part, because of the positive reviews in comparison to products from other brands.

Embrace the importance of ratings and consumer perceptions online to stay ahead of the competition. Pay close attention to your ratings and reviews, responding or making improvements to your products or services where necessary. Use the buzz in your digital marketing strategy by building positive feedback into your ads and messaging.

7. Remember the world is mobile-first

Mobile plays an important role in people's online research. Believe it or not, six in 10 internet users now start their shopping on one device but continue or finish on a different one.

Arthur, a 66-year-old retiree, enjoys going on cruises to faraway destinations with his wife. With a retirement income and time to spare, Arthur is always open to travel deals and impromptu getaways.

During a three-month period, Arthur has nearly 250 travel-related interactions online, with 50% of those occurring on mobile. Though he often books with a travel agent, Arthur regularly turns to the small screen for big plans.

Businesses can use the knowledge that potential customers will use mobile devices, or a range of devices, during their research by designing their messaging and targeting plans around this. Take advantage through responsive designs for your website and ad campaigns.

Potential customers are often in a receptive mindset when they use search, so embrace the opportunity to reach them with your products or services at the right moment. .

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