Using search data as business intelligence

Using search data as business intelligence

Search is changing. It’s becoming crucial to the success of the whole business, and it’s evolving beyond just rankings, positions and traffic.

The value of search

There are 3.5 billion searches on Google alone every single day. 93% of every customer journey begins with a search, and when it comes to supporting offline strategies, search ticks that box too; up to 3x as many sales can be driven in-store when a brand appears online for its most important searches.

Imagine 20 years ago standing in a shopping mall, wanting to get 3.5bn lines of data in a market research report? Today, search gives you that insight.

Knowing what people are searching puts you in a powerful position to answer important strategic questions across your business.

As a fashion retailer, for example, if you realise searches for ‘Pink shirts’ are growing in number, then you may ask:

  • ‘Do we have enough product?’
  • ‘Are the Buyers aware of this demand?’
  • ‘Does the Social team know they need to create content around ‘Pink shirts’?’
  • ‘Do ‘Pink shirt’ products feature on the homepage?’

Using search intelligence throughout the business

We’re taking a look at the questions search can answer during big revenue driving retail events like Black Friday, to prove the value of search intelligence to every department.

What is my brands’ share of voice during Black Friday?

Image source: Pi Market Intelligence - share of voice over time

By monitoring share across thousands of the most commercially valuable searches, using search platforms like Pi Market Intelligence, brands can assess their online performance at scale during high opportunity retail events.

The chart above represents the trended share of voice of the top 12 players for the most commercially competitive Black Friday searches (Sep 2017 - Sept 2018).

During Black Friday, millions of specific searches are made. The event is worth £1.4bn and Google is an ideal place for a brand to get their products in front of millions of consumers.

What does this search insight tell you?

What’s most interesting in this example is that affiliates and brands (i.e. Argos) experience a dip in visibility during peak demand in 2017, when millions of customers are researching and purchasing for Black Friday. Publications, on the other hand (i.e. The Mirror and The Sun), see an upsurge in performance.

Lost visibility during this time can translate as huge amounts of missed traffic and revenue.

Content teams:

Which type of content performs best during revenue-driving retail events?

Having fresh and engaging content in the lead up to peak demand is hugely important, as the prioritisation of content changes so frequently across the search landscape.

Creating varied, relevant and optimised content is key to capturing the interest of potential consumers during this ‘trending window’ of opportunity.

Using two hourly Rapid Tracking from Pi Datametrics (above), we can see that the page one search real estate changes noticeably in a small window of time; prior to and following the iPhone product launch. As discussion picks up, ‘Twitter cards’ usurp ‘Video carousels’, and ‘Classic links’ are deranked.

Search intelligence gives content teams insight into which type of content is most valuable, and when to publish content for the highest engagement.

Using the insight above, Apple’s content team would know that they need to create, optimise and publish ‘Top stories’ content to answer trending questions in the lead up to peak demand, and join social discussions as soon as the product has been released, to get the most value out of this event.

PR teams:

Which partnerships should I develop to push my brand, products and discounts?

Image source: Pi Market Intelligence - share of voice

Exploring Market Intelligence share of voice insight, PR teams can identify their most fruitful partnership opportunities for raising brand awareness, influencing consumers and encouraging a purchase.

For example, retailers such as Curry’s (position 13 out of 20k+ sites) may consider partnering with the best performing affiliates and publications, such as The Independent (position 2), to garner mentions and ad placements in content that’s widely read by consumers during Black Friday.

Product and Buying teams:

What is my most valuable product?

Image source: Pi Market Intelligence - historical revenue potential

Search is indicative of consumer intent. Harvesting data on the popularity, value and competition of individual searches enables you to gauge a product’s ability to convert.

When you combine thousands of those product searches into categories, suddenly you’ve got top-level insight into your most valuable product lines.

Above, we can see the trended value of individual electricals categories, and their peaks and troughs in demand throughout the year. Many peak in November, as expected, due to Black Friday, while some like ‘Smart tech and phones’, are impacted by the performance of just one brand i.e. Apple’s YoY product launches in September.

Product teams can use this insight to fuel R&D decisions, while buying teams can explore the data to inform stocktake and merchandising strategies.

Marketing teams:

When are people searching for my brand?

Using search trend data, marketing teams know exactly when consumer interest begins to pick up around their brand and product. Even though Black Friday demand occurs YOY, search data reveals that consumers are researching earlier every year; with interest now picking up as early as September.

In this instance, search enables Marketers to see the reality of demand, and avoid the complacency of relying on demand expectations.

With this insight, they can plan successful ‘Plan, Influence, Peak, Repeat’ (PIPR) strategies, and know when to trigger activity at the most valuable and cost-efficient times; from retargeting customers during peak purchase, to activating email campaigns with discount codes as soon as demand drops.

Search intelligence: A window into your customer’s mind

The sooner we see the value in search, the sooner we can start discovering data which answers all-important questions about our customer and our market, to ultimately determine our success as a business.

If you like this kind of insight, go ahead and read our Black Friday 2018 report here.

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