A view into a consumer's online & offline purchase path
Mary started her search where most people do; Google. She searched on ‘Best side by side counter depth refrigerator’. That’s about a $3.36 keyword that gets about 50 searches a month. It’s a pretty high value keyword, as it indicates the buyer is in an active research phase and is narrowing in on what they want. Here are some variations on that search string.
|best side by side counter depth refrigerator||50|
|side by side counter depth refrigerator
|side by side refrigerator||6,600|
|counter depth refrigerator
Her search took her to two types of websites; retailers and review sites.
- Retailers: Best Buy, Sears and Home Depot made the list.
- Review sites: Consumer Reports (#2 in Google’s organic results) and Reviewed.com (#7 organic with microdata driven video review teaser).
Web research got us to a short list of contenders. Mary poured over the refrigerator specs and leaned heavily on independent consumer reviews. We’d already heavily discounted Whirlpool & GE based on prior experience. Samsung & Frigidaire were leading the pack.
So, now it’s off to Best Buy to open & close doors. The evaluation phase continued by quizzing the sales rep, scanning QR codes and reading Amazon reviews from the iPhone.
Mary zeroed in on our dream fridge, ready to pull the trigger, when she realized that the location of the vents wouldn’t work in our kitchen. Back to the drawing board…
Once we got back to the house we re-measured the fridge and conducted a new search. Mary went to the Sears site and executed a very specific search using their faceted search function.
Depth < 30 7/8”, Width < 35 7/8”, Stainless finish, no GE or Whirlpool
We had everything we needed to make a final decision.
Mary had done a similar search on Best Buy’s site in another window and was ping-ponging between sites looking for the best deal. Sears has a MAP (minimum advertised price) feature where you have to load some items into the cart to see the price. They had aggressive pricing on a French door model that fit our space. So, after a half a day of research Sears earned an $1,100 sale and a new customer, off a source keyword that generates about 50 searches a month.
So, what’s the point of the story?
Today’s consumer purchase path is an intricate dance that involves many different touch points throughout multiple phases of consideration. Think about the elements that were involved in this purchase path. Ask yourself if your brand has these in place, and if you have them optimized to meet your customer’s needs.
- SEO for your most valuable keywords
- Pay for Placement to fill in the SEO gaps
- Positive brand awareness within independent product review sites
- Mobile optimized website
- Faceted (filtered) product search functionality
- Online merchandising / promotion functionality designed to incent the visitor to buy
Sadly, many consumer brands handicap themselves by not understanding the way today’s customer buys and not equipping themselves to compete.