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Search Behavior Can Be A Useful Predictor Of Consumer Intent

June 17, 2019 Sarah Cavill

A recent research effort from Think With Google, partnering with Kantar, a data, insights and consulting company, revealed the many ways in which search is a useful tool for understanding consumer behaviors. The changing marketing funnel is in part a result of nuanced, multi-faceted, multi-implemented searching, and understanding what drives searching can provide insights for marketers.

Understanding Why Consumers Make The Decisions They Do

According to Google, “There are six canonical consumer needs: Surprise Me, Help Me, Reassure Me, Educate Me, Impress Me and Thrill Me. Each need state is made up of a combination of emotional, social and functional needs. Emotions are the foundations of need states.” See the chart below for further explanation of the drive behind each need.

Understanding the different ways these types of searches exhibit the personalities behind consumers is where data can be mined for marketers looking to maximize search results. For example, consumers interested in status are “impress me” searchers and may begin a search by looking for the “best,” “most popular,” or “most expensive” item. This also reads as a “help me” search because these consumers are in need of something, but “impress me” searchers have specific intentions behind their purchases.

“Reassure me” consumers may have already made their purchases or be in the process of doing so and are looking for one more source to reassure them they’ve made the right choice. (These may also be consumers with longer search trails.) “Reassure me” searchers are among the group disrupting the funnel, because their needs aren’t strictly transactional and may offer different opportunities for brands to make impressions, moving conversions to the middle of the funnel and retention or loyalty to the bottom.

Marketers Need To Be Ready At Every Stage Of The Funnel

Regardless of which search group consumers belong to, they are looking for answers, so marketers need to be ready. As search data allows for more consumer predictability and understanding, the granular motivations behind searches offers next-level targeting. Google and Kantar recommend marketers prepare several ways:

Respond to the needs consumers exhibit through their searches by being the specific answer to the kinds of questions they’re asking. By adapting the content and search strategies to the canonical consumer groups Google has designated based on search data, marketers can offer solutions that meet each need. For instance, a coffee company could tout the exclusivity of a certain country’s coffee and focus on the sleek packaging for the “impress me” searcher, while content focused on the same coffee brand’s positive reviews and organic beans could appeal to “reassure me” customers. Targeted content and keywords can be an effective strategy to reach a mix of different searchers.


Understand how consumers are searching, which includes devices being used,  length of searches (this could include many touchpoints), how many tabs are opened, and iterations searches may take over time. Every behavior of a search could be usable data.

Search strategies should tap into emotions, just like overall marketing and branding strategies. From Google, “marketers tend to think of search as purely transactional, something near the bottom of the traditional marketing funnel. But with the marketing funnel changing, so should marketers’ approach to search. Emotion fuels marketers’ thinking when it comes to creative execution in other media. It should also inform their thinking when it comes to search.”

Be there, make an impact, and make it easy. Brands who have most effectively implemented their own search data and thoughtfully considered Google’s consumer groups, should land in front of the most searching eyeballs. But once there, the click needs to be worth it for consumers. By offering an innovative or unique user experience, with quick, frictionless transactions, searchers are rewarded for their efforts, which can build brand loyalty.

Data Is Always King, And Search Is No Different

Data is the gift that keeps on giving. Google receives more than 3.5 billion searches per day — that’s a lot of opportunities for them to learn consumer behavior and pass a curated version of that data on to marketers. By optimizing every possible chance to implement that data, marketers can improve their response to queries, increasing the odds of conversions and lasting consumer loyalty.

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Contact Digital Media Solutions today.

About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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