When we work with clients on their marketing strategies, one of the questions we need to tackle early is where to start. Should we allocate marketing budgets to SEO and website improvements to capitalize on organic reach, invest heavily in social media marketing, or start with Google Search Ads to capture in-market audiences first?
While there are quick wins along each of these paths, the fact remains that the best strategy involves all of these plus more channels.
Lift tests have demonstrated time and over again that Facebook campaigns help Google Ad campaigns perform better, just as consistent content marketing work fuels paid advertising.
At its heart, this is the manifestation of the power of showing up. Simply being present in moments of deliberation can be enough to win or retain a consumer preference.
This is a straightforward concept – when people are searching for you, it’s important to show up and be there. We all know this is true in life, not just in marketing. But there are some tangible results that might surprise you.
Quantifying The Power of Showing Up
Google invested several hundred hours on a simulation designed to decode how consumers decide what to buy. The resulting insights into consumer decision-making are an invitation for marketers to re-evaluate the classic marketing funnel and take into account the ‘’Messy Middle” of the buyer journey.
Here is how Google set up the experiment. The simulation included 31 000 people, covering 310 different journeys. To test whether the impact of brand preference and cognitive bias remains stable across categories, they selected various products, covering 31 industry verticals such as travel, financial services, consumer packaged goods, retail, and utilities.
The shoppers were asked to research a product for which they were currently in-market. Before the simulation began, each of the 31 000 shoppers stated their first-choice and second-choice brands.
Next, the shoppers were presented with supplementary product information for their preferred brands, modeled to test behavioral science principles. For example, star ratings were varied to test different applications of the social proof principle, and different recommendation types to measure the importance of authority bias.
Finally, the shoppers were asked to state their first and second choice brands again.
What the simulation revealed was that when a second favorite brand was introduced as an option, 30% of shoppers changed away from their first preference.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Merely giving the shopper the option to choose their second choice brand was enough to entice 30% away from their initial choice.
This is how the preference switches spread across various categories/verticles:
As you can see, utilities like mobile networks, broadband, and energy supplier are easily susceptible to changing preferences. General retail products such as children’s toys, laptops, TV, clothing, and sofas are scattered throughout. In contrast, financial services products (mortgage, credit card, ISA, car insurance) generally sit towards the right-hand side, with a greater susceptibility to preference switching.
Using the Power of Showing Up
The mere presence of your brand while shoppers are searching for a solution, might be enough to tilt the scales in your favor. Show up and claim as much real estate on that small phone screen where everyone is searching on now.
Instead of focusing on splitting your budget between Facebook Ads and Google Ads, do as much as you can on both. Claim your maximum organic presence with a solid SEO strategy. Test TikTok marketing to gain brand visibility. Create meaningful ads and high-converting landing pages that satisfy all the information needs of your audience.
Google’s research – and our experience – shows that claiming the most real estate, both in the ad space and organic SEO space, will yield the maximum number of clicks and conversions.
This is the basis of growth marketing – a long-term strategy that covers all the phases of the buyer journey, influences the considerations of the “Messy Middle,” and allows your brand to be where your audience is at all times.
Ensure brand presence, so your products are strategically top of mind while your customers explore. Be there – crowd out the competition and maximize your click share. This way, you’ll close the gap between trigger and purchase and make sure your potential customers spend less time exposed to competitor brands.
For more on influencing your prospects’ decision-making process, see how head-to-head comparison landing pages can be the cornerstone of a marketing campaign.