The study finds 83 percent of all searchers start with generic search terms. Though 85 percent may conduct additional queries, all but a relatively small percentage will use these same generic search term types on their subsequent queries. Advertisers, however, mistakenly buy branded terms at the expense of unbranded terms and miss the majority of their converting audience.
Searchers who ultimately purchased a product online conducted some 13 searches before ever making the purchase. This means that for every single converting search term, there were 12 prior nonconverting searches — searches that today, most PPC search advertisers would never consider bidding on due to poor post-click conversion performance. The implication is nonconverting terms have a greater value than search marketers currently ascribe to them.
Yet how do most search marketers manage their bidding strategy? Their mantra: If it won’t convert, you must avert!
“If you’re not bidding on general or broader keywords consistently, you’re losing some of your opportunity to influence the purchase decision,” Rinaldo points out.
The majority of searchers in the study who ultimately purchased began by searching broader terms. Yet most search advertisers still believe they should primarily buy product-specific terms to reach buyers.
Many online retailers set cookies to expire in 30 days. The data from this research suggest a 30-day cookie doesn’t adequately reflect the buying habits of consumers who search for these types of products.
“We found the first, or ‘start session,’ represented 38 percent of all search activity, but just 3 percent of conversions,” Rinaldo noted. “Contrast that with weeks 5 through 12, which experienced just 22 percent of search activity but 38 percent of the conversions.”