How to Leverage Customer Insight Trends Found in Search Data

Big data here, small data there – data is now collected everywhere. And the amount of data available from search engines, the “internet of things,” site analytics, POS systems, third-party sources and qualitative/quantitative research is piling up.

Google now processes more than 40,000 search queries every second, translating to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. That’s a lot of data, but just having access to all this data doesn’t mean that all marketers know how to sift through the data and find guiding insights to drive business results.

To succeed in the mountains of customer data, you must align your marketing strategy with guiding insights found while sifting through this data, leveraging your findings during the right stages of the customer buying cycle.

Understanding the Source: Search Engines

The job of a search engine is simple; to crawl and build an index of all content found online and then serve the most relevant content to a user who submits a search query (voice search included). As Moz puts it, “Search engines are answer machines. When a person performs an online search, the search engine scours its corpus of billions of documents and does two things: first, it returns only those results that are relevant or useful to the searcher’s query; second, it ranks those results according to the popularity of the websites serving the information. It is both relevance and popularity that the process of SEO is meant to influence.”

To continue to provide the best experience for its users, Google and the other guys, like Bing and Yahoo, have been using the search query data they collect to drive innovations such as custom mobile searches, the accelerated mobile project (AMP), personalization, localization, SIRI and voice search. This user data helps inform them (and us when used correctly) about user habits, intent and the language consumers use to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Free Google Tools to Discover Search Trends

My two favorites from Google are their Trends and Keyword Planning tools.

Google Trends is an online search tool that lets marketers visually see in chart form how often specific keywords, phrases and subject matter have been queried over time by location and language. You can even compare the popularity of terms against one another to identify when certain diction, the choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing, is being used and favored.

google trends

Google’s Keyword Planning Tool is found within their AdWords interface and allows us to provide a phrase and see related terms, search volumes, and the level of paid search competition for visibility for these terms. If search volume is low in the results provided here, you know user query volume is low – or that you aren’t using the terminology you think your audience is using.

keyword planning

    Two Ways to Use Search Trend Insights to Build Your Strategy

    Here’s a scenario to play out in your head. You represent a company in the hospitality industry. As a for-profit organization, one of your goals is to make money. After a slow Q1, your strategy is to develop an approach to make up the loss in revenue. Your objective, which should always be measurable, is to create an incremental revenue spike in Q3. Your tactic is to offer a discount package to U.S. residents for the upcoming Labor Day holiday. Upon approval, you have a healthy budget for media, content and analytics. As you begin to plan appropriately, a few questions pop up – one of them being around media flight dates, thus bringing us to our first example of how to use search data.

  1. 1. Timing Is Everything

    Once you know when consumer demand spikes for travel deals, you can develop a user journey to identify stages of interest to map to a content messaging plan. You can then partner that with your media plan for flight dates – which you can also identify to pair up with demand cycles.

    If you look back at the example images above, the peak volume of searches around Labor Day vacations is between late June and the start of September according to Google Trends. That combined with the timing data from Google’s Keyword Planner, which shows a similar pattern of search volume for related keywords, helps you know when to promote content and run your paid search campaign.

  2. 2. Speak Their Language

    After you determine when to ramp up your paid search campaign and promote your content, the next step is to put it into action. In order to do this, you need to know the right keywords to use based on user intent.

    In our screenshot above, the initial keyword researched was “Labor Day vacation.” Google’s Keyword Planner also suggests related terms that should be targeted in the paid search campaign. Based on the related terms, you should also consider running ads that target “Labor Day weekend getaways” since the average search volume is high and the competition for that term is medium. The term “Labor Day vacation deals” is likely to yield qualified searchers that are likely to purchase, but you can expect to have to put a lot more money behind your paid search campaign since the tool shows that the competition for that term is high.

The bottom line is to know your customers and put their needs first. Using search trend insights allows you to uncover the myth of user intent, to let your strategy be built on data instead of assumptions. These insights will allow you to have the right messaging, assets, channels and timing to connect, engage and make an impact!

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