How brands are missing out on the world of opportunity beyond the point of purchase.

In this article Every search is a real person raising their hand and asking for help in a moment of high intent. Know where and how your audiences use search throughout the customer journey. Balance paid and organic for effective reach. Consider the full funnel, understand the opportunity, help your audiences.

“Nobody buys dentures online, so why would a denture brand bother with search marketing?”.

That was the remark that I was challenged with by a representative of a very prestigious and expensive creative agency as I as I prepared to pitch an SEO and content strategy to a denture care brand.

And in many respects, he was right. We were talking about a very niche product, mostly bought by an aged, non-digital native audience, through pharmacists and supermarkets.

But he was only half right.

Because whilst people might not search for and buy denture products online, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge opportunity for a brand to engage with, and win the hearts and minds of, an audience that is very much still interested in looking for information online about denture care. These are the people who have just come home from the dentist, having been told the difficult news that they’re going to need dentures, and they enter the “I want to know” stage of the customer journey. They need reassurance. They need advice. They need information on how to adapt. They need their questions answering – and there are a lot of questions being asked.

Those needs create huge volumes of searches and that is the opportunity that many marketers and brands, particularly those that see performance marketing as a predominantly bottom-of-funnel tactic, are missing. When we take a view that the only value is to be found in transactional keywords and bottom-of-funnel searches, we miss an enormous potential opportunity to be there for our audiences when they need help.

Every search is a real person raising their hand and asking for help in a moment of high intent.

This is where the brands that view performance and content through a customer-centric, full-funnel lens are effectively engaging audiences and building brand salience, irrespective of the industry they are in. In those crucial “I want to know” moments, there is an audience people, turning to Google, asking for help.

For haircare brands, search volume around hairstyle ideas and inspiration massively outweighs search volume for both brand and non-brand-based product searches. In software categories, searches looking for information, ideas and advice are also significantly higher than transactional keywords. Even in a sector like financial services, whilst the proportion of searches for people looking to apply for a mortgage is higher (on non-brand keywords), there is still a significant body of search volume from people looking for advice and information.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In so many industry sectors, even those with a traditionally low level of consideration, we know that people use search to find information, research, compare products and pricing before the go on to pull the trigger and commit to purchase. All those stages are important to us as marketers.

Know where and how your audiences use search throughout the customer journey.

So, we know the size of the opportunity available to us, but how do we capitalise on that? It starts by tapping into a very simple question; “how and where do people search?”.

The answer to that question is probably more nuanced and complicated than you might realise. Whilst Google may command a large part of the search journey for a large proportion of your audience, social media platforms like TikTok and Pinterest, streaming channels like YouTube and Twitch, and retail search channels all play different roles at different stages – and the nature and intent of those searches will be very different across those channels. It’s a question that’s easy to ask, but difficult to answer.

It’s why we need to apply that whole-of-journey lens.

Firstly, we need to understand how people search at different points in the user journey? How do they research products and ideas, what channels and mediums do they use, and how to they select their products? What are the questions that they ask that we have the credentials to answer?

Next, we need to understand the size of the opportunity at each stage in that journey and get a sense of the demand dynamics in the category, and we need to understand how much of that opportunity we’re currently realising. How much of the available traffic are we pulling into your site in each journey stage, and how much more could we realistically attract?

Once we understand this, we can explore the content that the audience wants and needs at each journey stage. It’s important to stress that this is where customer-centricity is pertinent because it is about the content that the audience wants – too many brands fall into the trap of delivering the content that they want to deliver, and not what the audience wants to see. It’s also vital to consider that those content needs will differ greatly from channel to channel. What works on organic search will likely not work as effectively on TikTok, and reflecting this in your approach helps to inform a channel specific content, partnerships and influencer strategy.

Balance paid and organic for effective reach.

In order to reach your audiences in this competitive, algorithm-driven world, you need to find the right blend of organic and paid distribution. Almost all platforms now offer paid distribution as part of their revenue model, ands this makes most platforms a “pay to play” environment in one form or another.

But we need to get the balance right. Because too much of a reliance on organic distribution means that we miss so much of the audiences we’re trying to reach, but an over-reliance on paid means that, whilst we’re buying traffic and attention on convenient terms, we’re spending a lot, pushing up our cost-per-acquisition and pushing down our return on investment. This is where using paid and organic search in a joined-up way can maximise efficiency and ensure optimum reach. We use paid search in those more conversion-orientated parts of the journey to drive conversions and maximise organic search elsewhere in the customer journey.

Consider the full funnel, understand the opportunity, help your audiences.

There’s a world of opportunity out there that so many brands are failing to tap into, because they see performance and digital as a channel that is there to serve the bottom of the funnel. But whether what you offer is a typical ecommerce product or not, there are so many people out there with questions that you have the right and the credentials to answer – and in doing so, build brand salience with highly engaged audiences.

Identify those opportunities, find the gaps that your competitors may not be seeing, and create the content that your audiences want to see in each search moment, in the places that they are looking for you.

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