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At the end of each year, Google publishes their Year In Search, detailing some of the most prominent topics people searched for throughout the year. Hurricane Irma, the new iPhone, and celebrities like Matt Lauer and Meghan Markle topped the list for 2017. You can view the full list here.

What was most interesting to us were the consumer behavior insights that Google discovered amid these searches. According to Think With Google, Google’s research division, people were more curious, more demanding, and more impatient in 2017 than ever before. As we enter a new year, marketers and business owners would be wise to take note of these behaviors when it comes to connecting with customers on the web and social media.

More Curious

With information at their fingertips, consumers are becoming more and more curious about a variety of topics. In the past, people were more likely to spend time researching larger or more expensive purchases, whereas today no purchase decision is considered too minor. We turn to our mobile devices to research anything and everything – no matter the category or price. Google reports that searches for the “best” of something have grown over 80% in the past two years with more growth reported for so-called “low-consideration” items (like toothbrushes, umbrellas, travel accessories, etc.).

What this means for you:

  • People are searching the web for information in droves. Make it easy for customers to discover your brand and find information about your products and services.
  • Consumers often search in personal and particular ways. What one person wants to know about a product or service may be completely different from what the next person wants to know. Take some time to explore the search data in your particular industry to discover the questions people have about your product or service. This will help guide your content creation to fully answer potential customers’ questions.
  • Help satisfy the curiosity of today’s consumers by offering advice, tips & tricks, and helpful information surrounding your business category. It will reinforce your brand’s standing in the industry and position yourself as an industry expert.

More Demanding

Today’s consumers are more demanding than ever. Advances in technology, particularly mobile technology, have spoiled us, leading most of us to assume that we’ll receive relevant, accurate information on the first search even if we leave certain details out. For example, searches on Google that included the phrase “near me” exploded in growth starting in late 2015. Just two years later, this trend is declining — not because people are no longer interested in finding search results near them, but because they’re automatically assuming that their search will produce results that are relevant to their location. This expectation of receiving fast, relevant information is one that will continue to influence consumer behavior in the future.

What this means for you:

  • There’s been a shift in responsibility. Instead of the consumer having to describe exactly what they’re looking for, it’s up to the business to understand what their ideal customer is looking for and deliver on that expectation.
  • Consumers expect that their interaction with your brand – whether online or in person – will be tailored to their specific needs. It’s important for brands to go the extra mile in getting to know their customers in order to provide a more personalized experience.
  • Today’s customers don’t want to exert any extra effort and being made to do so can result in the loss of their business. Make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

More Impatient

It’s no secret that we live in a world of instant gratification. The accessibility of information has made us more impulsive and capable of making decisions faster than ever before. All of this has led to a generation of consumers who have very high expectations when it comes to getting the information they want and getting it right now. This is especially true when it comes to accessing information on mobile. According to Google, 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes more than three seconds to load. For every one second delay in load time, conversions fall by 12%.

What this means for you:

  • Consumers are looking for fast and frictionless experiences, especially on mobile, but also in every aspect of purchasing. Pay attention to your site speed load time (you can test it here) to ensure you’re not losing customers due to an unexpected wait.
  • Incredible web experiences are now the norm. Consumers expect a website to be easy-to-use and navigate. Anything less and they’ll abandon it. Does your website meet this expectation?
  • Instead of planning ahead, consumers today are more likely to search for things in the exact moment that they need them. One could argue that this places a higher value on searches since consumers are much more likely to make a decision in the moment. This means that when someone searches for your product or service online, they’re already committed to the idea. It’s less important to convince them that they need your product or service (they’re already at that point) and more important to make sure the experience you’re providing doesn’t un-convince them.
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