Report: Only 36% Begin Local Searches with a Search Engine
January 11, 2016 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
Most marketers now recognize that the consumer path to purchase is far from linear. More devices, more content sources have made it, in the words of one startup executive, into a “purchase pretzel.”
Another metaphor being used in a new report commissioned by YP is “zigzag.” The report, “Local Search Unleashing Opportunities for National Advertisers,” was issued last week. It’s based on an IDC survey of 750 US adults (18 to 44). The vast majority of respondents (80%) said they owned smartphones.
There are numerous findings in the document about device usage, search location and content-access sequence. There are also a number of industry specific scenarios and findings (e.g., Travel, Automotive, Restaurants, Financial, etc.).
Local Search Starting Points
Source: IDC/YP (2016)
What was most interesting to me in the report was the discussion of “local search starting points.” The report asserts that the data reflect “no standard path for local searches.”
The graphic above shows the various starting points for local search. While search engines were the most common way people began their process that was only true for 36% of the sample. The next most common way (only used by 15%) was verticals or specific content sites. After that it’s a fragmented buffet of choices.
Fragmentation makes sense if one thinks about it because “local search” is an artificial construct in a way. I’m trying to hire a contractor, find a place to eat, plan a trip, get a better deal on car insurance and so on. Each of these potentially suggests a different research process and different content — especially on a mobile device.
Beyond local search starting points, the IDC report maps out the subsequent consumer “action path,” which can vary by vertical. The graphic immediately above shows generally how consumers move from broader lookups to content sites and later reviews before making purchase decisions.
Some consumers use more sites and sources; some use fewer. Indeed the report identifies local search personas. Across the board, however, smartphones were heavily used. Yet they weren’t dominant; respondents also used a full array of screens and devices (tablets, laptops, desktop PCs) in conducting local lookups.
Somewhat surprisingly, most search tasks were initiated and completed by respondents relatively quickly — most in under an hour according to the report:
The ubiquity of the smartphone no doubt contributes to the speed of search tasks. Typically, the smartphone is the device nearest at hand and the tool of choice for instant gratification . . . most searches are completed quickly. Even including relatively complex or high-consideration products like insurance or financial services, 63% of the survey respondents told us they completed their searches in under an hour.
There’s a good deal more information in the report. To dig into the material more fully, download it (registration required) here.
The unavoidable (and perhaps unpleasant) conclusion of the document is that marketers need to be present in all the places consumers look for local information. The Funnel Is Dead, Long Live the Local “Zigzag”