Consumers are visiting brick-and-mortar stores with greater intent this holiday season, with mobile searches for “where to buy” a desired item up 85 percent over the last two years — and watch time of “store tour” videos on YouTube growing 10x since 2015, according to research from Think With Google.
The fact that consumers are doing more research and arriving in stores better prepared shouldn’t come as a shock to retailers: With people increasingly used to their smartphones — and their intelligent assistants — as tools to power most aspects of their lives, searches for “best of” have increased across categories. Additionally, an estimated 90 percent of consumers use their mobile devices while shopping in store for additional research, price comparisons and more.
Today’s customers want more information up front, and, as ever, they want to best products — and technology allows them to find the answers to their questions quickly and seamlessly. So, what does this mean for marketers over the holidays?
Answering Searchers’ Questions
As TWG’s blog post states, “not only do shoppers expect to do their research and find the answer on the go, they demand that those answers be super-relevant and tailored to their specific needs.”
In fact, people are increasingly specifying who they need gifts for this holiday season, searching for “gifts for coworkers” or “where to buy gifts for your boyfriend” expecting that they’ll get the right answer.
This means that retailers need to strategically optimize to answer these queries — especially for the escalating percentage made by voice. For example, a department store might have designed their SEO strategy such that they rank for keywords like “sweaters” or “Macy’s,” but they are less likely to show up in unbranded search situations — and especially unlikely to become discoverable as a featured snippet in Google’s results if they aren’t directly answering searchers’ questions in the copy on their page.
As Hilton’s Melissa Walner put it last month, ranking in voice search results in particular means crafting content that answers specific questions, understanding both the words and the intent behind the most common holiday shopping queries.
“Looking at different types of search query data is very helpful,” Walner said. “A lot of times, people will think they know what their customer is looking for, but then you find out later on — especially when it comes to using voice search — that they didn’t know the intent.
“If a customer wants to find [a hotel to stay in over the holidays] that is pet-friendly, for example, you have to make sure that you’ve got content on your website that is speaking to that. You can’t just be a pet-friendly hotel; you have to say it explicitly. This is the key: Knowing what your customers are looking for, knowing the intent behind it, and then making sure you’ve got accurate content on your site that specifically addresses and answers that.”