Digital Marketing

How mobile has changed search intent

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The rise of Mobile Search

There’s likely not a day that goes by when you don’t reach for your phone to search for something. It could be anything. But we have become so used to being able to find answers automatically, we don’t hesitate to search for them. Do you remember a time, not too long ago, when a question would pop into your mind and you’d dismiss that thought without finding the answer? We have all become used to immediate information gratification. Watching a movie and wonder where you’ve seen that actress before? Google it. Eating dinner with family and wonder what that specific pasta is called? Google it. Want to buy something but not sure when the store’s open? Google it. Mobile has completely changed search intent and this is clearly not a trend that’ll be going anywhere.

Treasure trove of customer behavior data

A few years ago, you would have searched the Yellow Pages, asked a friend or driven to the store to check if it’s open. And it’s this realization that led Think With Google to partner with research firm Purchased. Smartphone users, 1 000 of them, were asked to take a quick poll a few times each day about their needs and what they did to meet them. They received 14 000 responses about choosing a restaurant to go to for dinner, searching for coupons while standing in store aisles and planning a family vacation. That’s a treasure trove of customer behavior data for every business owner and marketer.

But, interestingly, they found that consumers were not only searching to gratify their immediate needs. They were also researching long-term projects – 68 percent of people used search to address questions about an issue they wanted to address at some point in the future.

Importance of knowing and understanding customer search intent

Says Google's VP of marketing, Lisa Gevelber: “People have more choices than ever to meet their needs—online and offline. And as they turn to their smartphones to make decisions, learn something new, get something accomplished, or tackle a future goal—search is their lifeline. This is why so many brands use search to make an impression early and get into the consideration set when people are starting to form opinions.”

Gevelber goes on to say that marketers must connect all of the information provided across channels. And it’s search intent, she says, where marketers must start. By knowing consumers’ needs before they do, you can be sure you’re meeting people in their decision making moments with the information they need.  And, positively, Google has become really good at understanding search intent. It knows what you mean when you ask something.

Swayed by search results

Google uses what it calls "micro-moments" to understand users' search intent. These are the moments at which consumers are most likely to be swayed by search results. These include "I want to buy", "I want to know", "I want to go" and "I want to do".

Says an article on Search Engine Watch: "Each of these search types articulate—in part through contextualized linguistic triggers like “how”, “why”, “when” and “where”—a different chief priority on the part of the user. Google responds to these priorities by crafting algorithmic outcomes that work to bring hosted content, both organic and paid, before the users based both on terminological relevance and likely user behaviors like—like purchase, or access."

This is an opportunity for brands to work together with users to build richer and more vibrant experiences during the brand-to-customer relationship. If mobile tech trends interest you, you may be interested in learning more about the history of mobile marketing. One of our recent articles details the story of mobile, from the invention of the text message in 1973 to the mobile-first world we live in today.

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