The internet has grown into an amazingly versatile tool that business owners can reach target audiences for their products and consumers can search for new things to buy. There are a ways for business owners and marketers to use the internet to make their mark, but not all methods are created equal. A recent survey of American consumers identified key behaviors of people searching for products online as well as found the issues that can annoy potential online customers.
To start with the obvious, people love the internet for research and shopping and use it often for such purposes. According to a recent survey from SearchDex, more than half reveal that they do in fact use a search engine (58 percent), with more than a quarter admitting that they use search engines to read product reviews (27 percent).
Additionally, a third (32 percent) of Americans say their online shopping efforts begin with a search engine. Many of the other go directly to the site for a particular store, brand or retailer. But only 3 percent of Americans say their first search happens through an online shopping portal.
Relevancy is highly important for online searchers. There are billions of webpages out there so people want to get to the one with the information they want as quickly as possible. Being shown the wrong information can have very harmful effects on potential customers. According to the survey results, a third of Americans (31 percent) said that misleading search results would make them less likely to buy from a particular website, and another third (31 percent) said they would worry that the retailer might be a scam. Another 27 percent said a misleading search result would push them back to a more familiar website.
Despite the large amount of time and effort people spend using the internet to search for content and products, the experience isn't always enjoyable. In fact, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans admit to being annoyed by some aspect of online searching. This shouldn't be taken as general disapproval of online searching. Rather, there are some specific marketing tactics and technical issues that business owners and marketers can avoid to make their online marketing efforts more effective.
Somewhat strangely, the most annoying thing about online search for consumers was targeted ads, which was listed by 39 percent of the respondents in the SearchDex study. While people being annoyed by ads is nothing new, it's odd that it was viewed more unfavorably by consumers than other things they listed as annoying.
Fortunately, though ads are an unavoidable evil on the internet (it's how content creators make money to offer free content to the public), the other annoyances identified by the survey are things that can be fixed by the website owner. Outdated search results annoyed about one in five online consumers (21 percent), which shows the need to keep a site fresh and up-to-date with new, relevant content. Also related to the website itself, 17 percent of online consumers are annoyed by slow load times.
Business owners also have to make sure their site's SEO is doing the work of putting a site high in search results and that the description provided in the snippet is useful. Potential customers may not even make it a website's landing page if they're one of the 18 percent who are annoyed when the desired result not on first page of search results. And seeing the link in search results may not be enough if the description in the search result unclear, which 12 percent of consumers in the survey found annoying.
The rise of big data in the use of online ad targeting, product suggestions and the like has made people very concerned about security when they search and shop online. Unsurprisingly, a majority of Americans (68 percent) have concerns about their browser history being sold to big companies. Top among these concerns are that it would cause an increase in annoying ads (44 percent), that their data could fall into the wrong hands (43 percent), that their private searches could be made public (40 percent), or that a security breach could cause their browser history to be exposed (40 percent).
There are a couple of things business owners can marketers can take away from this study. Though the evidence shows that consumers may be annoyed by certain online tactics, there's also evidence that some of these methods are effective. Keep in mind that we're talking about advertising. Whether it's on the radio, TV or internet, ads will always annoy some consumers since they're distracting from whatever the person was trying to do. But since there are no universally loved advertising methods, advertisers need to accept that there will always be some members of a target audience that won't respond. Regardless targeted ads are always more effective that blindly showcasing ads wherever.
This leads to the second takeaway from this study: the need for an integrated, multi-faceted ad campaign. Since there will always be some people who just won't respond to a certain marketing/advertising tactic, there's a benefit in using multiple tactics. It's the equivalent of not putting all of one's eggs in one basket. That way, if people dislike ads in search results, they may see the video ad somewhere else.
For more recent research that can help business owners understand customers and build better marketing campaigns, read this article on using social media to distribute video content.