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Where Do People Research?

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Remember the buying funnel? People start by researching. So where do they research?

One way to find out is with, a project by Google, IAB Europe (the Interactive Advertising Bureau), and TNS (a consultant group). They used polls and consumer data to show how people research in the process of purchasing. It covers 38 countries in 35 product categories, including automotive, finance, real estate, retail, technology, and travel. They interviewed 2,500 people in each country.

For example, how do business travelers search for business travel? If they’re in the awareness and consideration phase of the buying funnel, where do they look?


Figure 18: The ConsumerBarometer graph shows where people in the United States research travel information. For clarity, I measured the bars and added numbers.

This shows that of the 2,500 US interviewees, 125 people researched business travel by using travel-related websites and 71 people used search engines. If you consider that Google has a 66.7% share of the US search market (Comscore, January 2013), then 47 people used Google for research. This means 2.7 times as many chose travel sites over Google.

A company that wants to attract business travelers (such as hotels for business travel, airlines, and car rental services) should put more effort at showing up on those travel sites than search engines. They shouldn’t ignore the search engines, but those shouldn’t be their primary placement.

What about the purchase decision? Which websites affect their decision in the purchase phase?


Figure 19: This graph from ConsumerBarometer shows which resources people in the United States considered in the final decision for travel.

Again, for clarity, I measured the bars and added numbers.

For the 2,500 US interviewees, 144 people based their decision on travel-related websites and 42 used comparison sites for their decision. For 34 people, search engines were the important factor in the decision (of those 34 people, 23 used Google, or nearly the same as word-of-mouth). This means 8 times as many people used travel-related sites and price comparison websites over Google.

This kind of information doesn’t show up in your web analytics report. Web analytics only shows information about the people who come to your site. It doesn’t show what people are doing at other sites.

What do we learn by looking at Consumer Barometer? You must improve your findability in other websites, not just search engines. If a business hotel in Chicago wants to attract business travelers, they should place articles about their hotel on business travel sites, such as review sites of business hotels and blogs for business travelers.

Try Consumer Barometer to see if you can find how your audience searches for your services and products.

Content provided by ContentOro.

About the Author, Andreas Ramos

Andreas is an author and SEO expert that has worked at SGI, SUN, and other leading companies. He has contributed to over 25 startups, co-founded two digital agencies, was a director at Acxiom, and Manager of Global SEO at Cisco. Andreas was also the analytics strategist for Stanford’s MBA school. He currently manages worldwide digital advertising for MIT OpenCourseWare (in 14 languages), and Harvard medical school’s research hospital (in 42 languages).

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