The “We are what we Click: a Conversation With Bill Tancer” session at SES Chicago offered a vital discussion to shed intelligent and practical light into human Internet psyche, through the eyes of two seasoned Search Marketers.
Speakers Bill Tancer (General Manager, Global Research, Hitwise, Author of the book “Click”) and Kevin Ryan (SES Advisory Board Chair and CEO, Motivity Marketing) wasted no time in grabbing the bull by the horns as they asked “How do you bridge the gap between marketers and consumers?”
They agreed that a good place to start is with solid data, but consumer behavior data can be tricky, misleading, overwhelming and scary. “Observed consumer behavior is much different than surveyed consumer behavior.” People want to appear in the best possible light but what they search for and what they admit to searching for are 2 very different things.
Mr. Tancer elicited a good chuckle by stating “PPC does not stand for Porn, Pills and Casinos.” Search marketers need to step back and look at the data from a holistic sense. The use of survey data is important but it is imperative that search marketer’s factor in observed consumer behavior to get an accurate gauge of true consumer activity online and in the marketplace.
This will allow clients to more accurately mirror market factors and adjust campaigns to optimize traffic and ultimately drive better conversion numbers. Nimble models and consistent testing are necessary to react effectively to consumer behavior fluctuations. Consumers never fail to surprise, be prepared. Outside stimulus can effect internet behavior and that needs to be factored in to marketing strategies.
The conversation then shifted to a broad discussion framed as “Understanding how people search is the big disconnect.”
People are still trying to get more specific information and are turning more and more to social content based sites. Branding and revenue conversion is greatly affected by this activity. The web enhances the opportunities for interaction at an incredible rate.
People shop where they communalize and gather content. Speak to these “Communities.” This avoids ambiguity and deals in specifics as it relates to individuals and creates stronger relevancy. Branding and content language should gauge and mirror consumer language in regards to the metrics that determine action.
Amazon.com utilizes popularity ratings (as determined by consumers) along with traditional metrics to determine product ranks. These are new language factors that push consumers to convert.
Identify early adopters.
The speakers used the audience makeup of the first wave of YouTube users as an example of a trackable community. They were comprised of “Young digirati”, “Bohemian mix” and “Money and Brains”. The same 3 segments have shown up in most new progressive web 2.0 tool/applications.
But since the full commercialization and saturation of these applications, this group has migrated to sites that provide more depth in the form of an editorial layer. They are predictable in that they will evolve as a demographic to find depth and meet their needs.
Top points/takeaways to understand search behavior:
- Understand Search as it relates to and affects your brand. Make sure that there is measurability through testing.
- Look at Social Media and how it affects your brand. Consumers will engage your brand good or bad.
- Understand the changing economy. How is consumer behavior around my product changing based on market and economic trends and anomalies?
- Better landing page management and design is necessary to capture stronger conversions. Make it easier for people to see what is in your warehouse. Establish a better front door for the consumer.
The speakers also took time to comment on the plight of smaller businesses in the current economic climate. Small companies have a hard time staying on top of the trends due to a myriad of reasons, primarily financial.
- Own and analyze your own sites first and foremost
- Utilize the free tools available to you to establish the value of your information. Google trends is an excellent example. Measurement companies have a ton of blogs with a ton of free valuable data and advice. They are readily available, use them.
In the full picture data usages absolutely need to go beyond just tactical. Search marketers can glean valuable consumer insight to identify anomalies and quick trends to optimize and drive conversions and traffic. The information that is distilled form the acquired data should be pulled through the entire fabric of a marketing plan. There is no replacement for the human experience.