Offline media motivates consumers to search

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Across all ranges of age, income and daily time spent online, 57 percent of survey respondents participating in iProspect's "Offline Channel Influence on Online Search Behavior Study" reported that conducting search engine queries has become more important to people's use of the Internet over the last year.

This finding highlights businesses' need to make their sites easy to find. The June study surveyed 2,322 individuals. It found 54 percent of the online population searches daily and 83 percent searches weekly, at least.

In addition to paid and natural search, the study found that offline channel messaging plays a large role in moving users to begin an Internet search for a particular product. "At the outset of the study, we figured we'd see an even split between those influenced to search by offline channels, and those not influenced by offline," said Robert Murray, president of iProspect. "We were more than surprised to learn that a full 67 percent of online search users are driven to search by some offline channel.

"Despite being impressive, the stat is also perplexing," he continued. "On one hand, it's intuitive - it makes sense that offline channel messaging could pique a user's curiosity enough to motivate them to search for additional information. However, when you consider the fact that most offline advertising doesn't exactly make it easy for customers to find a company's Web site, the numbers seem even more impressive."

The study found that television (37 percent) and word of mouth (36 percent) are the most effective at driving search.

Television is "interruption marketing," where the viewer/potential customer is engaged in another activity when messaging for a particular brand is shown to them. Word of mouth, however, is not a mass advertising channel, although it may have large numbers associated with it. It is made up of one-on-one conversations or interactions between individuals - one who has some experience with, or knowledge of, a brand and the other who is learning about the brand, based on information provided by the more experienced individual.

Company, product and service names are the most commonly used keyword types, iProspect found. In 44 percent of the cases, that keyword is the company name.

"It makes sense that the keyword that online search users employ to launch their first search [after offline exposure] would be a keyword that describes what the messaging of that channel is about," the study found.

This means repetition of the company name within offline channels is crucial in driving people to search, with magazines, newspaper ads and word of mouth the most effective at generating a purchase.

"Smart marketers have an opportunity to leverage offline channels to drive their audience to search," Murray said. "Two-thirds of search users jump through hoops to perform those searches. Imagine what that number would be if marketers actually made it easy for them."

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