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Why Search is an Essential Tactic that Helps Marketers Connect Their Brands to Shoppers

July 31, 2019 by Search Mediacrossing

Managing the Sales Funnel and Engaging
Shoppers Along the Path to Purchase

Whether a shopper
is buying a high-consideration or low-consideration product/service, chances
are they’re online for a good portion of their path to purchase. Here’s how
marketers can maximize impact along the way with a customer-centric digital
marketing strategy.

search engine marketing for retail

When you make a significant purchase – like a new phone system or a TV – your journey probably looks something like this:

  • If your TV hasn’t actually died, you may see an
    ad for a new curved-screen or higher-level resolution model and decide it’s
    time for a change
  • You head to Google or Amazon to search up TVs with
    new features and look at models, narrowing your consideration set down to two
    or three
  • You may go to Consumer Reports, CNET, Best Buy
    or other sites that have trustworthy consumer and/or editorial reviews
  • You return to Amazon and may go to BestBuy.com
    and some local store sites to compare prices
  • You actually visit a few stores to look at
    models live and in-person
  • You go back and look at consumer-generated reviews
    from a myriad of sites to be sure the model you liked is has good reviews
  • Unlike the way TVs were purchased decades ago,
    you rely less on a store’s sale-person and instead go on a journey to capture
    lots of information about all the different models in your price-point with the
    features you’re looking for
  • After your search, you purchase a new TV either
    online or in-store

As you can see, there
are a lot of opportunities for both brands and retailers to reach you along
that path. There’s the “Zero Moment of
,” the
first touch point that inspires you to shop for a TV. There are many moments
during which you’re reading buyer’s guides and reviews. There are the times
you’re shopping online, whether that’s on your mobile or PC, whether you’re at
home or actually in the store.

The path to purchase
isn’t linear or predictable – shoppers now build their own path, combining
online and offline research and shopping to choose their own adventure, as
evidenced by the chart below.


What’s amazing is that 87 percent of
consumer purchases begin with a product search
. Currently more than half of
these searches are occurring on Amazon
, but Google still carries a significant percentage
of queries. These are important factors for a marketer to consider. Equally
important: 96 percent of the
visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy yet
. They’re looking for information – and a
reason to buy from YOU. That means it’s the marketer’s job to not only get them
to the site, but to provide the information and incentives the shopper needs to
complete a purchase on their next visit.

How Marketers Think About
Path to Purchase - The Sales Funnel 101

Top of Funnel (TOFU)

The top of the funnel
refers to that portion of the customer journey during which they’re looking for
information. The shopper is trying to figure out if they really want a new TV,
if they can afford a new model, and what the current models look like.
Marketers are wise to focus their TOFU campaigns on promoting awareness, aiming
to provide a first-touch introduction to the brand or business. Creative at
this stage might focus on slick images and top features and benefits – you’re
just letting the consumer know that you exist and have what they’re looking

Middle of Funnel (MOFU)

Once a shopper has shown some interest in your
product or brand, it’s incredibly important to keep them engaged in this
critical consideration period. Effective Middle of Funnel (MOFU) campaigns re-engage
previous visitors. In digital marketing, we can target the MOFU audience using defined
parameters, such as visitors who have visited a certain page and not completed
a purchase. An example in ecommerce would be shopping cart abandoners, those
who have added a product to their cart, but then jumped off to another site
before completing the checkout process.

This technique of re-engaging
customers in the MOFU stage with digital marketing translates to increased
conversions. Digital marketing guru Larry Kim conducted an experiment for a new
tool on Wordstream.com to measure the impact of remarketing campaigns. After
just 18 months, the results showed that retargeting
increased repeat visitors by 50 percent
, raised conversions by 51 percent, and
increase time on site by a full 300 percent.

They’re not the only
company seeing incredibly results: CPG leader Kimberly-Clark relies on retargeting, seeing 50 to 60 percent higher conversion
rates among consumers who have been retargeted by campaigns. According to creadits.com, tire company Tirendo used a Google Ads remarketing campaign to increase their conversion rate by 161 percent. Additionally,
the company saw a 43% decreased CPA (cost per acquisition), resulting in increased

To supplement
remarketing campaigns for those in the consideration period, marketers may add
additional lead nurturing tools such as a live chat.  When properly deployed, these additional lead
nurturing tools can further help increase conversion rates for your website.

Bottom of Funnel (BOFU)

At the bottom of the funnel, clients are ready to buy. They have done their research and now have high purchase intent. All communication at this stage should be designed to encourage conversion. 

Search connects brands to shoppers

Existing customers are more likely to convert than new, therefore, it’s important to keep a strategic eye on targeting your existing customers.

At this stage of the
funnel, aim to provide offers that can tip the scale – free shipping, product samples,
loyalty benefits. In terms of tactics, combine retargeting ads with a focus on longer-tail
keywords in search (high intent) and “near me” searches.  (Searches for
“shopping near me” have grown more than 200 percent
over the last few years.)

Back Through the
Funnel – Driving New Sales from Existing Customers

The funnel doesn’t
really end at the bottom – as we’ve pointed out, smart brands and organizations
recognize the value of their existing customers and endeavor to keep them
engaged and loyal by continuously providing them with new up-sale and
cross-sale opportunities. Once you know the precise attributes of those that
have transacted on your site you can then build a personalized relationship
with your customer by offering her the goods and services she is regularly
looking for.

The funnel or customer
journey, when managed correctly, is more like a waterslide where people loop
back up to get in line again.  Current customers
are more likely to purchase again, especially if you offer them an easy way to
transact and a good site user-experience. 

Now more than ever, digital is an important component of this journey for digital brands as well as brick-and-mortar businesses. Mobile searches have now become a tool that enhances the decision-making decision. The ‘second screen phenomenon' describes consumers’ use of mobile phones while interacting with another screen i.e., researching a product on your phone while watching a commercial for said product. Consumers are now conducting price checks while in store at brick-and-mortar locations, comparing deals, a practice known as “showrooming.” Marketing executives need to meet consumers where they are, taking advantage of digital marketing opportunities across the stages of the funnel.

Embrace Digital Evolution

As retail continues to
evolve and we see more and more
brick-and-mortar stores shutter for good
, the need for retailers to embrace digital
strategies comes into sharp focus. Agencies like MediaCrossing guide retailers through
the process of creating and activating integrated advertising campaigns that
support the stages of their sales funnels. With access to thousands of audience
attributes to provide hyper-specific targeting, advertisers can reach the right
people at the right times and help shoppers find their favorite store’s offers
and inventory at the precise moment that they want them.

If shoppers can’t find
your product, they’ll go elsewhere. If you can’t engage customers at every step
along the path to purchase, someone else will - and the sale will be lost.
Leveraging search and other digital tactics (programmatic display, mobile,
video, social, native, etc.) that support your sales funnel is an important
part of winning those customers – and coming through the so-called retail apocalypse unscathed.

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