A recently released research study by About.com and Latitude identifies three distinct mindsets in search and offers insight into how marketers can offer ads and align them with content that better appeals to each mindset. Three Mindsets of Search examines 59 variables in search behavior and also revealed that the meaning of “expertise” in the eyes of searchers is evolving.
Understanding the 3 Mindsets of Search
A person using a search engine to find information is in one of three mindsets: Answer Me, Educate Me, or Inspire Me. Understanding the motivation behind their search helps marketers deliver ads and content that meet the needs of the individual.
Answer Me people account for 46 percent of all searches. They want to find exactly what they’re looking for, with no fluff or additional information, and they want it now. The search may not be of an urgent nature; for example, they may be trying to remember the name of a movie or the location of a restaurant they plan on visiting later. This type of search is most common in the entertainment or health & beauty industries.
Expertise in the person or page answering the question is less important for the Answer Me searcher. Appeal to Answer Me people by:
- Keeping product or service benefits front and center in ads.
- Aligning ads with content that answers the question quickly and succinctly.
Educate Me people account for 26 percent of searchers and are open to a greater volume of content and links to other resources. People in this mindset will continue clicking and reading until they feel they’ve learned everything they need to know about the topic. The search might span a number of sites, until their curiosity is satiated. This is how people often search for information on finance topics or health issues.
This searcher is looking for a topic expert, credentialed professional, or an ally to answer their question. Appeal to Educate Me searchers by:
- Giving detailed information that offers an opportunity for them to learn more from several different angles.
- Aligning ads with in-depth content and links to additional resources.
Inspire Me people account for 28 percent of searches and are open to suggestion. They want to be taken somewhere and may be searching on two or three topics at a time. This type of search is most common in the travel and home and garden industries. They want to read exciting, interesting content and will keep going as long as their interest is piqued and they have time.
These people aren’t looking for experts and are more likely to rely on their allies and social sources for information. Appeal to the Inspire Me searcher by:
- Inspiring creativity and exciting the imagination in messaging, and aligning ads with content that offers endless choices.
- Presenting information in a number of formats, when possible.
So Who Are These People?
Everyone participates in each type of search and their mindset is not age or gender specific. One interesting finding of note is that higher-income Americans ($100,000+/yr) are far more likely to experience the Answer Me mindset, though they do participate in the other types of searches, as well.
Eighty-six percent of study respondents agreed with the statement, “I notice and enjoy when brands stop trying to sell you something and focus on teaching something.” Consumers do look to brand messaging for expertise, provided the advertising is the right kind for their search mindset. Seventy-seven percent agreed that ads can be very useful when relevant to their search.
“These findings offer advertisers and marketers a better understanding and valuable insight into the way consumers search online,” said Tracy Raiser, senior vice president, sales, About.com. “The Three Mindsets of Search study aims to improve the understanding of how consumers search. It’s a real opportunity for marketers to think about campaigns in a whole new light.”
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