Search & Explore Moments
We have these moments every day. We have questions that need to be answered. We have problems and challenges that need to be quantified.
During these moments we have begun saying things like, "Hey Google....", "Alexa....", "Hey Siri....". More traditionally we are typing into a search engine, we start googling.
In these moments the content we are searching for is rarely sales related. We aren't ready to become a lead, receive a demo or discount code; we're just entering into the awareness stage of the buying process. We are trying to discover or quantify our problem, we are not yet ready to consider the solutions that are being presented.
If you are an eCommerce or marketing professional think about how you are engaging with customers at this stage of the discovery process. What are you doing to help customers quantify their goals or challenges? Are you being helpful? Are you creating content that can be discovered in a way that actual humans search and explore?
Think about your customers:
How do they describe their goals or challenges?
How are they educating themselves on these goals or challenges?
What are the consequences of doing nothing?
Are there frequent misconceptions they have about addressing the goal or challenge?
How do they decide if the goal or challenge is ready to solve?
Quizzes, lead magnets, funnels, registrations, follows, data.... all of these are important tactics; all of these are critical. However, you will not earn the right to engage with prospective customers in their search and explore moments if you are not providing actual value to them at that moment.
Your product or service may be the solution for the problem, goal or challenge that needs to address, but if you cannot assist them with clarifying and quantifying their problem, goal or challenge you cannot help them address it.
I know this sounds simple, but think about the stage of the buying cycle or sales funnel; that most of our content seeks to address. What stage is it at? Where are we speaking the most powerfully or spending the majority of our budgets? If you are like most eCommerce professionals (especially DTC) you are spending it at the bottom of the funnel.
This is hard to change, especially if your attribution model is built on last-click. The pressure to meet financial goals with the budget you have can force you into a restrictive bottom of the funnel strategy. You will 100% need alignment across the organization to widen the funnel, building content for those in discovery moments, but it is worth the investment.
Think about the brands you consider as thought leaders in their industry. Why did you place them in that category? Chances are because they have helped you in the search and explore phase. Chances are the brands you give the greatest respect and weight to engage with you long before you were ready to buy.
Here are a few things you can do to begin expanding your brand's content to help customers during the moments when they are searching and exploring:
Make a list of the challenges or problems your brand and/or products help your customers solve.
Think about the customers (or types of customers) who benefit the most from your brand.
What events or triggers prompt a search? Example: If your skin care product is a great solution for dry skin what are triggers or symptoms someone goes through to discover they need a product to solve that problem?
Map the triggers and people along with the problems or challenges to the content on your website.
If the content does not exist, prioritize and develop content for people facing each challenge or problem
These may seem very simple, but they can be truly game-changing (especially if you have not done them before). The change you will see in your internal team (customers experience, marketing, sales, product development, logistics, etc.) can be significant as you ask the question, "what problems are we solving for our customers?" Existing customer surveys and feedback can be a great source for this information. Internal search results on your site can also provide significant intelligence as well.
Now...plan how you will deploy this new content. Your team can strategize on how to meet customers in their search and explore moments. Onsite, social and third-party properties are all important. Make the content digestible, shareable and force yourself not gate it.
Remember the goals:
Help customers clarify and quantify the problem, goal or challenge they need to address.
Position your brand as a thought leader in the space.
Earn organic traffic, following, and subscribers who are truly being helped by your brand.
You will be premature in your marketing or sales presentation if you are solving a problem that people are not sure that they have. Meet your customers in the moments they are searching and help them clarify and quantify their needs and perhaps you will earn the right to address that problem for them.