October 06, 2010

Digital Profiles Part M: Search

Is Search something that is embraced by your best customers, or is Search something that helps you attract new customers?

A surprisingly small number of marketers actually know the answer to this question.

Why not use Digital Profiles to help explain the phenomenon known as "Search"?

In this example, we freeze our customer file at the end of the month, we assign every customer a Digital Profile based on activity during the past twelve months, and then we count how many Search buyers in the next month are sourced by each Digital Profile.

Here's the results:
  • Gold Mine! = 104 customers.
  • Multi-Channel Mavens = 86 customers.
  • The Digerati = 32 customers.
  • A Long Drive = 70 customers.
  • Shop Online, Buy In Store = 46 customers.
  • Direct Newbies Looking For Eight = 40 customers.
  • Online One/Twos = 58 customers.
  • Ship It To Me = 32 customers.
  • Retail Fanatics = 7 customers.
  • Retail 4/5/6 = 15 customers.
  • Retail 1/2/4 = 7 customers.
  • In And Out = 17 customers.
  • Retail 1/2/3 = 3 customers.
  • Retail Newbies Looking For Eight = 6 customers.
  • Retail 1/2 = 7 customers.
  • Rotary Phone = 2 customers.
  • Non-12-Month Buyers = 283 customers.
Oh oh.

In this case, Search is overwhelmingly preferred by last year's customer base ... about 2/3 of the customers purchasing via Search in the past 30 days were buyers in the past twelve months.

Do you know what this percentage is for your business?

If you don't know it, and you are responsible for Search marketing, why don't you know it?

Search is viewed in a different light when it is a tool that is used by your best customers ... and in this example, Search is clearly preferred by the high-value customer who shops all channels. It means that your good customers, the ones that you call "loyal", those customers are comparison shopping. Even worse, it can often be demonstrated that when this situation exists, your direct marketing activities (catalogs, e-mail in particular) cause your "loyal" customer to comparison shop your competition.

That doesn't sound like it's that much fun, does it?

This does highlight the importance of Search. Your Digital Profiles clearly indicate who is using Search, and you can quickly surmise what might happen if you didn't have a great Paid Search program, or if your Natural/Organic Search program was in the tank.

We usually think of Search as a way to "intercept" a customer ... in this example, Search is a way to "save" a customer! Use Digital Profiles to see if this is a situation you should pay attention to!


  1. Anonymous2:27 PM

    kevin - i agree with your point about 'loyal' customers using search to comparison shop. but what data confirms that? is search traffic driving to a specific page (versus the home page)? exiting to competitive sites or back to search? clicking on the sale section during a purchase related visit?

  2. I have the data but can't share it as it is proprietary client data.

    I will say that the majority of terms are branded/proprietary terms that wouldn't come up unless an catalog or e-mail campaign was sent to the customer ... the path makes it clear that the customer received marketing, used various terms on Google that make it clear the customer is researching and comparison shopping, and then visited the site to purchase something.


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