Same search terms, different emotions: Anticipate customer needs throughout the journey
Meanwhile, our auto searcher, we’ll call her “Mary,” was on the hunt for a new SUV. She did a considerable amount of research. In a single day, she researched seven SUV brands. After she appeared to choose a particular brand, she submitted a request to connect with a local dealer for pricing.
Mary also used “near me” during her search, specifically for “car dealerships near me open on sunday.”
Interestingly, this was an upper-funnel search that occurred almost six months ahead of submitting a request to connect with the local dealer. The need state behind this “near me” search is most likely to be reassure me. Mary wanted to be sure that a dealership would be open when she needed it to be. It also indicates that, for auto shoppers, dealer visits aren’t necessarily lower-funnel activities — these visits occur throughout the journey. It’s worth noting that 62% of car shoppers continue to research while on the dealer lot.4
Avoid one-size-fits-all content
These two shoppers aren’t unique. Outside these two specific journeys, our NeedScope data shows that travel searches including the phrase “near me” are more likely to be associated with the thrill-me need state, whereas auto “near me” searches are more likely to be related to reassure me.
This means that marketers should tailor messaging to the need being expressed in that moment. So a travel marketer’s content designed to respond to a “near me” search driven by a thrill-me need state should be different from content designed for someone who is in the planning stages, likely driven by the educate-me need state.
While our auto shopper wanted to be reassured, 16% of the needs driving auto searches fall into the impress-me need state, while 31% fall into educate me.5 Each of these needs requires a different type of messaging.
Marketers versed in need-state research use people’s needs to determine everything from product packaging to the types of spokespeople who appear in their ads. They can do the same for search. Olay did just that and found success. Rather than simply promoting products in search, the brand’s ad copy directly addressed the person’s search needs and directed them to a page that offered detailed information and solutions.
Brands should be widening their focus beyond branded search terms and terms that are always associated with their category. After getting to know the need states, they should think through which keywords would signal which states for their category. Then serve multiple pieces of ad copy and destination links to see which ones drive better outcomes.
Successful marketing should aim to fulfill people’s needs each step of the way. But marketers can’t assume that one-size-fits-all content will work. By understanding the emotions driving people’s actions, marketers can anticipate the needs that drive their searches — and address them.