There are five steps in the decision-making process that customers go through. The first step is problem recognition, followed by information search, evaluation of alternatives, product choice, and post-purchase satisfaction.
Information search is especially important when the decision-making involves an extended problem solving, a purchase that requires high involvement from the customer and is associated to their self-concept (for example, car, house, or clothing).
Search marketing is a way to influence in this critical step and to lead the customer towards your product and service. To do that, you need to understand the need of the consumer driving their behavior and search intent.
Google partnered up with Kantar on a survey with more than 4,000 people in the U.S. to understand how the consumer needs (that arise from the problem recognition) relate to search behavior. Kantar identified six needs in its NeedScope index: “surprise me,” “help me,” “reassure me,” “educate me,” “impress me,” and “thrill me.”
The research shows that the same keywords can underline different needs and emotions. For example, travel searches with the keywords “near me” are associated with the thrill-me state, while searches in the context of cars with “near me” are related to the reassure-me mind frame.
For marketers, this is a warning that content and search marketing strategies must consider the need behind the search. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to consumer behavior. Search marketing done right means influencing the next steps of the decision process and converting the purchase.