Generic search terms drive more retail purchases than branded ones

Online-only retailers have it easy when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of search marketing campaigns since clickthrough rates and conversions are measurable. Determining the influence of online search on in-store sales is a different matter, but there appears to be a measurable relationship.

One thing is certain: online search is used by nearly all internet users during the shopping process, regardless of the purchase channel. Fully 93% of all respondents to a GroupM Search and Compete survey relied on this method. Most of these shoppers also came to the process without a specific brand in mind. During the year-long study, nonbranded search terms averaged about 73% of all queries referring shoppers to retail sites.

A correlation was also found between using generic search terms and the likelihood of clicking on organic links. In-store buyers who searched using nonbranded terms clicked on organic links 2.6 times more than the average shopper.

In-store buyers are also seeking brick-and-mortar stores online. More than 5% of clicks—one of the leading activities—went to store locator pages, indicating a propensity for cross-channel shopping. Even thought it was not the leading factor in an e-tailing group and MyBuys survey of cross-channel shoppers, a store locator was still a covenience for 41% of respondents.

A more important takeway might be that nearly three-fourths of these cross-channel shoppers expected to be able to check product availablity before heading into a store. Regardless of how they ended up on a site, once there, shoppers expect a smooth path to purchase, even if it means using a real shopping cart instead of a virtual one.


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