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    Bringing “Discovery” to Shoppers

    December 8, 2016
    5 minute read
    Bringing “Discovery” to Shoppers

    Takeaway: For retailers and brands, content is the key to taking on a more active role in the well-documented and oft-discussed buyers’ journey model. The first of a four-part series, we discuss the “Discovery” stage, and how no shopper’s search should be left to happenstance.

    Discovery, the first step in most buyers’ journey models, is where a consumer identifies a need or want – “I need a gift for dad,” “I want the best snow blower,” “I need a new phone,” “I want waterproof shoes.” – and begins searching for products to meet those specifications. 

    In today’s world, 81% of shoppers initiate their Discovery online, with 55% on Amazon, and 28% on Google, and they start out with search phrases like: Gifts for dads, the best snow blower under $500, phone with the clearest camera, or women’s waterproof shoes, size 7. From here, Google’s algorithm or Amazon’s endless aisles take over and the retailers and brands sit back and await inbound shoppers, right? Nope.

    Discovery is not as passive as it sounds. There is no waiting around for the consumer to potentially find a product through coincidence or copious clicking on links. This is the time for the very intentional serving up of descriptive and guiding content, which 95% of shoppers desire throughout each step. 

    The largest obstacle, we all can agree, is the sheer volume of competing products and content on the web through which a shopper must sift. Laborious, yes, but all an expected part of the buyers’ journey. Brands and retailers should work together take a more active role in shoppers’ Discovery of products by anticipating the needs and wants of consumers and being the first out of competitors to greet shoppers with original content that organically aligns with search behavior. Here are three suggestions.

    To do: Add guiding and solution-oriented phrases to product descriptions and metadata. 

    Start by: Analyze your site’s most frequently used SEM, SEO, and internal site search terms. This information is the purest indication of what consumers are wanting.

    For example: If the search phrase was “table that fits well in small kitchens,” then you better believe “fits well in small kitchens” should be a highlight.

    Obstacle: This takes time and research, and should be updated periodically.

    To do: Outline helpful uses and solutions on the product page. Perhaps, even build left-nav categories or menu selections based off these guides.

    Start by: Assemble light content that instructs the user on how the product works or its key technical attributes. Again, use the search terms to ensure you’re guiding based on actual needs.

    For example:

    1. Short, metadata-rich videos with strong headlines
    2. Special shops or product groupings that are built off search terms and are meant to guide the shopper to fulfill a need, like
      • For homes with white floors
      • For work-from-home professionals
      • For wet, rainy weather
      • For low-maintenance living
    3. Short blog posts, editorial lists, published reports, or case studies

    Obstacle: Time. All of this will take your team’s time, but the output will lead to interesting and original marketing campaigns specific to your consumers’ needs and your product offerings.

    To do: Strategically merchandise product search results with the most technically aligned first, then merchandise by margin, consumer picks, or best reviewed.

    Start by: Again, reference the search phrases and ensure the triggered product matches truly align with what’s being requested. Ensure copy teams know the nuances of technical terms. Also, use Google’s shopping ads for a pictorial representation of products.

    For example: Water resistant and waterproof are not the same thing. If someone searches for waterproof, make sure the first few rows are in fact waterproof. Then, by all means, add in some water resistant styles.

    Obstacle: A brand’s merchandising preference must come second to the categories and search terms of the consumer. This might be a hard pill to swallow for some experienced merchants who want to merchandise by trend or preference, but help them along the way by showing successful analytics and conversions.

    This is the first part in a series on Supporting the Buyer’s Journey,  read Part II: When Shoppers ResearchPart III - Helping Shoppers Buy and Part IV - Boosting Your Customer Relationships Post Sale.


    Written by: Michelle Burtchell

    Michelle is the head of marketing at Salsify. She's into data and finding the fastest way to solve market problems. She's mom to an awesome son who can draw a better-than-average stick figure, and slightly obsessed with her Olde English Bulldogge. When she isn't with her family (and sometimes when she is), she's up...

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