Consumers are savvy. Provided with countless sources when seeking product, brand or location information, they know what to search and where. These customers are ready to visit your site and ready to buy your products. Multi-channel, integrated marketing is a necessity for successful marketers. How are current marketers responding to such a knowledgeable North American consumer base? With this question at the top of mind, DAC Group performed its annual directional media study. Released this week, the study is one of the largest of its kind in directional media; it was conducted by Kantar, with a polling sample of 5,000 adults.
In the US, search engine use, both on a desktop and from a mobile device, has surged ahead. A likely reason is that search engines have become better equipped to answer user questions, even as consumers are becoming more specific with their search queries. They can serve up highly relevant information because they pull from a variety of sources.
Marketers are also getting smarter, presenting relevant content, across many online entities. To respond to the increasingly unique searches posed, search engines pull from organic, paid, maps, images, product and social channels. Integration of each channel will continue to improve what results are delivered and how accurately these results match the queries posed. In both the US and Canada, over the past year, the number of consumers searching for business information from a mobile device has more than doubled (DAC Group/Kantar 2011 Study). Thus, marketers cannot approach marketing initiatives as siloed efforts. Maintaining accurate, up to date, relevant information is how marketers will continue to be found by the very consumers searching for their products, locations and contact information.
Results from the DAC Group study show that search engines continue to dominate business decisions made at the point of purchase. Search Engine use has increased every year that the study has been conducted. In 2009, 51% of searchers turned to a search engine first when seeking business information; this year, that number rose to 71%. During the same period, Print Directory use declined slightly from 33% in 2010 to 27% this year. During the same period in Canada, search engine use increased from 55% to 61% between 2010 and 2011 and the print use percentage stayed almost the same.
What this data indicates is that the erosion of print use has been minimal. DAC Group’s continued research, comparing year over year data for the past three years, proves that trends in Canadian media closely follow American media trends. While there has been some delay in how quickly Canada is replicating the American media landscape, we do know that in the near future Canadian marketers can expect to feel change in how consumers search for company information. Canadian marketers need to prepare for this change by having an integrated, multi-channel strategy ready for deployment.
Results of DAC Group’s 2011 indicate that the print channel is additive and does not replace search. Core users tend to be over the age of 35, living in the suburbs. They frequent online and offline sources and choose Print Yellow Pages due to convenience when information is not available elsewhere.
Eleven billion Americans accessed a print directory over the past year (2011 LSA/Burke Study).Print has not eroded to the degree which it was predicted to drop; but with more avenues for information this print directory usage will decrease with time. Print and standard search engine searches are merely two avenues available to consumers. Successful marketers, those with growing consumer bases, will be the ones who embrace a media strategy that is integrated across multiple channels.
Where the onus previously fell to consumers to visit various sources and to seek corroborating results for a query, it is now on marketers to ensure that they are active across all channels and that each is reinforcing the data of the other. Accuracy of the information provided will make a one time visitor a returning visitor.