Performics, Northwestern University and Microsoft released new research proving search is not only a marketing channel, but a behavioral insights engine for brands. Produced by the Intent Lab, a research partnership between Northwestern’s Medill School and Performics, findings show that search queries are intent signals that can be used to transform media and content experiences through personalization.

Actionable takeaways from the study include:

CONCRETE QUERIES INDICATE PURCHASING GOAL

Queries with “why” indicate an abstract mindset, occurring early in the shopping journey. Concrete queries, with words like “shop” and “buy” indicate a short distance to the goal. Study participants who had a buying goal were 15% more likely to use a concrete query.

MARKETERS WHO MATCH ADS TO MINDSETS WILL WIN

Consumers with browsing goals are 20% more likely to click on search results that emphasize abstract words, like “best,” while searchers with buying goals are 180% more likely to click on search results that emphasize concrete words, like “shop.”  Searchers who used concrete queries were also 135% more likely to click on retailer search results where they could buy at that moment. Marketers who use search to identify consumer mindsets, and match ads and experiences appropriately, will increase performance.

Brands must provide highly relevant experiences that stand out in the crowd.  Understanding consumer intent signals, including psychological distance to action, empowers brands to meet consumers where they are.

To learn more about the study visit the Intent Lab.

Author: Esteban Ribero, SVP, Planning & Insights, Performics