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How We Shop in 2019 – The Age of Online Research

Post By Scott Yoder | Content Marketing & SEO

In the program Master of None, the characters decide they want to go out for tacos.

But deciding on tacos is not the decision.  They want to have the best tacos.  How to do they know what the best option is?

Research.

There was a time you’d get hungry, decide you wanted tacos, then just go to the nearest reasonable taco joint.

But today, we experience FOMO (fear of missing out).  We can’t just eat any taco because that means we’re missing out on the experience of eating the best taco available.

We Love Research

What is shopping in 2019?  What experience do we seek?

For most of us, it’s not hanging out at the mall, browsing for things we might like.  It’s rarely knowing exactly what we want and making a firm decision to get it.

Today, the act of research is the most substantial phase of the buying cycle.   In fact, many of us enjoy researching and consuming information about products more than we actually enjoy buying them.

Research is empowering.  It gives us the feeling that we can choose the best product for our needs and get the best deal.  As consumers, we feel smarter about our decisions and guarded against the possibility of buyer’s remorse.

All of this is, of course, facilitated by technology and the information superhighway of the internet.  We can get the info we need fast enough that even if we’re hungry we know it will be worth the wait.

Targeting Methodical Buyers

We’ve discussed buyer modalities before.  These are the tendencies people have when they shop that affect how they view products and make buying decisions.  They’re patterns advertisers can target.

Spontaneous buyers like trends and make quick purchase decisions.  Humanistic buyers like to feel a connection to others and are swayed by causes.  Competitive buyers like to get the best and are decisive.

And methodical buyers?  They like to research, compare, and ensure they’re getting what they really want.

Enter:

cell phone

There is probably no other device in history which changed – and continues to change – buyer behavior more than smart phones.  The ability to access information anywhere means you can read reviews, compare prices, and get details on the products you’re considering.

Today, everyone is a methodical buyer.

Content is Still King

The digital marketing mantra Content is King was originally a reflection of what it took to attract search algorithms so they’d rank your content.

But today, content is king because of how it connects people.  In fact, the job of the search algorithm today is to evaluate what content is found to be most useful by people and rank it based on those metrics.

Consider the guy’s search for tacos.  This is not just fiction – it’s how people make decisions today.  He blazes through content to find the best tacos in town.

That content is your marketing material.  We see:

  • Search engines
  • Online advertisements
  • Website pages
  • Articles
  • Maps Listings
  • Text messaging
  • Facebook recommendations
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Review sites

The other buying modalities haven’t disappeared.  But today, the methodical researcher underlies all of them.  Research is now so fast, easy, and immediate that it’s becoming an ingrained behavior.  When we plan a night out or think about shopping for a gift, we reach for our phones on impulse.

FOMO drives us.  What’s the best?

Content is Marketing

The days of just being able to run direct-response ads are over.  Consumers who immediately react to the first “deal” they come across are going extinct.

Today, every business must target methodical buyers.  Online reviews are an expectation.  Your website content must earn people’s trust.

There is no such thing as an unanswered question.  If potential customers have information gaps, you have to fill them.  Write blogs and create videos.

And be social.  There is a type of marketing today that happens – almost – in real time.  It’s conversational, interesting, and funny.  It’s a 24×7 networking event.

Social media platforms are now our online hubs.  The place to see people and be seen.  Salespeople are not welcome, but your brand storytelling is.

On social media, people won’t buy what you do, but they’ll engage with why you do it.  What is your why?  How do you make people care about the value you offer?

Content is how you connect with people who believe what you believe.  People do their research and come to a conclusion:  these guys are for me.

You believe tacos should be made with organic ingredients and a twist on traditional Mexican recipes.  You build a reputation with diners who believe the same thing.  Within that group, you become known as the best, with a cascade of online content to support it.

Picture your ideal client.  She realizes she has a problem – a problem your product can solve.  Her hand reaches for her phone, thumbs at the ready.

She’s going to research to find the best options.  Content will inform her.

That content is your marketing.  Without it, you have no voice or presence.  No means of persuasion.  No brand that will become recognized.

Expect your potential customers to research online, and craft your marketing to meet their needs.  Otherwise, the questions that won’t get answered about your business are Who are they? and Why should I care?

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