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Search Marketing: Increase Online Sales by Understanding Consumer Behaviour

Web Bureau

23 April 2012 by Web Bureau

Denise Cowan, Online Marketing Executive at The Web Bureau is responsible for managing Online Marketing campaigns for clients. Denise offers the following insights into consumer behaviour online and how businesses can use this knowledge to increase online sales.

Selling online successfully involves applying many of the same principles as you do in a traditional shop environment. Any good marketing strategy requires you to understand consumer behaviour, and in particular, the mindset of your current and potential customers. This article focuses on the following 3 questions:

1. To What Extent Do Consumers Purchase Online?

2. How Do Consumers Find What They Need or Want Online?

3. How Can Search Marketing Help to Increase Sales?

To What Extent Do Consumers Purchase Online?

Industry research is a good starting point to aid your understanding of consumer behaviour online. The global 2012 Digital Influence Index, led by the Fleishman-Hillard digital research group assessed the relative role and influence of different media in the lives of consumers, providing many statistics that traditional retailers and e-commerce shops can’t afford to ignore. For example:

• The internet is the most common place people go to for advice, before family and friends

• 85% of consumers use the Internet to help make decisions about goods and services related to their children, 75% for healthcare decisions, and 68% on money matters

• 51% indicate that the Internet will influence their decisions more in the next two years

Leading search engine Google, also offers insights into online search volumes and trends via their platform.

• More than 1 billion users search on Google every week

• Google handles more than 30,000 searches per second

• Search is a database of intentions and most people are searching for needs, not brands

The IMRG e-Retail Index provides useful information about online retail trends in the UK:

• The UK is Europe’s leading e-retail economy and experienced record online sales of £68bn in 2011, a 16% increase on 2010 - with predictions of a further 13% growth in 2012 and estimated total e-retail sales of £77bn by the year end, there is little doubt that consumers will continue to buy online.

• e-Retail now accounts for 17% of total retail sales in the UK

• The UK has 52 million internet users, 37 million of whom are internet shoppers

• The top 3 sectors in 2010 were clothing; beer, wine and spirits; and health and beauty

These statistics make a compelling argument for creating an online shop.

How Do Consumers Find What They Need or Want Online?

The simple answer to this question is by using Search Engines:

• 89% of consumers use search engines when searching for information about a brand or product (Global 2012 Digital Influence Index)

• Nearly 2/3 of consumers now use their mobile/smartphones to obtain information on products, brands or destinations at least 3 to 4 days a week (2012 Digital Influence Index)

• 90.84% of total searches take place on Google (Hitwise, April 2011)

How Can Search Marketing Help to Increase Sales?

Two key aspects of Search Marketing include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click Marketing (Google Adwords). SEO is essentially a long term strategy which focuses on building a sustainable online presence for your business over time, whereas PPC involves paying for instant visibility and traffic to your website. What both of these Search Marketing Strategies have in common is their ultimate goal is to generate visibility for your website within the search engine results pages to drive more traffic to your website. This creates enormous potential to boost your online sales.

There are many facets to Search Marketing and Google’s algorithm, which it uses to determine where it ranks each website in the search results, but the starting point for any business is to develop a good understanding of your customers’ online behaviour. Undertaking detailed keyword research will enable you to identify the words and phrases consumers use most frequently to search for your products and services online. This knowledge can then be applied to the development of your online marketing campaigns.

To find out more about E-commerce and Search Marketing, come along to our e-commerce workshop at the Northern Ireland Small Business Marketing Conference 2012, hosted by Business First or contact us on 028 9073 1190 or by email to

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