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Search marketing (SEM) still plays a critical role in marketing and driving sales. How does it affect consumers’ purchase decisions and brand favorability? What role does it play in the complete user journey?
Google recently partnered with Ipsos and Kantar TNS to identify the impact of search beyond direct conversions and outline key opportunities for brands targeting Southeast Asia (SEA) consumers.
Note: The exact survey results vary in different markets. But, the lessons and strategies below can apply to most markets.
The impact of search
SEA consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they see the corresponding brand in search results. A critical portion of consumers think the SEM ads are useful and boost brand favorability.
Target keywords in the whole decision journey
When I started working on paid search for brands in APAC markets 12 years ago, there were very limited number of PPC/SEM specialists in Singapore. Now? Plenty. But, it’s kind of sad in the past two years interviewing and screening candidates for SEM positions, a very low proportion of them are deploying search campaigns targeting the customer journey.
For those not familiar with the concept, think about the last vacation trip you took. It started with an intention to go somewhere for a holiday. Then, you made up your mind for a specific city to visit, researched about the attractions and food in that city, and finally compared and booked a flight. Take a look at the findings of the Google research:
Simply put, consumers use different keywords in the different phases of their decision journeys. If you only target SEA online users with brand keywords, you will miss out a lot of opportunities.
Don’t stop at search advertising
Search should not be the only channel you target, consider audience solutions, remarketing, lookalike audiences, etc. to get on the consumers’ rada early and drive impact in each phases of the user journey. And, integrate offline.
In most countries where Google conducted its survey, as high as 70% of consumers (rural Thail consumers) research online before purchas at a brick-and-mortar store.
For retailers, you want to connect your store purchase data to your online advertising campaigns so that you have a true understanding of the impact of the ad investment for informed media decisions.
Online and offline ad integration is just part of what you should do. Users experiences should also be an essential part of your integration efforts. For example, Uniqlo provides a free service “Click and Collect” for customers to collect the online orders.
Search marketing (SEM) still plays a critical role in marketing and driving sales. It increases the chance of purchase if the corresponding brand shows up in search results, boost brand favorability, and drive engagement. In executing SEM campaigns, keywords selection should target the whole customer decision journey; and, integration with other digital and offline channels is imperative to brand success.