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Winning the marketing moment that matters with strategic SEO

If I told you that your customers are (on average) doing something twice as much as they were just 2 years ago, you’d probably want to know what it is.

You’d probably also want to know if there is anything you could be doing to take advantage of this.

There has been a huge shift in the way customers search for products and services and inform themselves before making a purchase and I am going to show you how your organisation can take advantage of this.

According to a Shopper Sciences study, the average customer now draws upon 10.4 sources of information before making a purchase – that’s up from 5.3 sources in 2010.

This shift in behaviour has completely altered the nature of the Customer Decision Journey. The customer is now empowered to hunt for pre-purchase information.

What are Breakthrough Moments™?

Breakthrough MomentIf your background lies in traditional marketing then chances are you will have come across the concepts of the first moment of decision and second moment of decision.

A customer is known to have moved through a theoretical journey which went more or less:
Stimulus > First Moment of Decision > Second Moment of Decision.

The stimulus being something like a TV ad or billboard, the First Moment of Decision being a catchy point of sale display and the Second Moment of Decision being the perceived quality and/or experience a customer actually has with the product or service.

First Moment of Decision and Second Moment of Decision are understandably considered paramount to the marketing success of any product or service BUT the customers Breakthrough Moments occur before both of these.

Stimulus > Breakthrough Moments™ > First Moment of Decision > Second Moment of Decision

You have the opportunity, no, responsibility to ‘grab’ the customer before they even reach the point of sale or their First Moment of Decision with your brand.

The same study revealed that 54% of people comparison-shopped for products and services using online sources; informational searches, reviews, social interactions with peers and trusted individuals, comparison sites, the list goes on. These all occur at the Breakthrough Moments™.

Winning each Breakthrough Moment™ is about ‘showing up’ at the 10.4 places your customers are looking when they are informing themselves before a purchase.

How does SEO impact these Breakthrough Moments™?

Woody Allen once said that 80% of life is about showing up.

It turns out the legendary comedian and screenwriter can teach us a thing or two about marketing because if over half of people are comparison-shopping for products and services online then you need to be showing up on their radar.

Your competitors may well offer an inferior product or service, but if they are showing up, if they’re VISIBLE in the eyes of the customer then they are winning the moment that matters. Chances are, they’ll be the ones getting the business.

How to Identify and categorise your keywords to match the customer’s decision journey?

Customer Decision JourneyNo more selecting keywords that are somewhat relevant or that have the highest search volume – if you want to win the Breakthrough Moment™, you need to identify and categorise your keywords around the customer journey and then take action accordingly.

This step by step process means you and your colleagues can optimise and promote the right content based on where that user is in the funnel.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) gets a lot of press at the moment (and quite rightly so) but many people forget the importance of optimising their sources of traffic before optimising the elements and content on a page. You can try all the tricks in the book to make a visitor convert but if they fundamentally aren’t right for that page then you are in for a challenge.

An example…

Let’s imagine a prospective tourist is considering a visit to Sydney and let’s also imagine that you are the marketer responsible for the Sheraton on the Park Hotel based in the city.

The user starts their Breakthrough Moments™ with a query like:

“Things to do in Sydney”

A comprehensive destination guide or blog post which answers this question will most certainly perform the best. At this stage, you should answer their question without pushing your own agenda too much.

Go above and beyond the other information out there, help a soon to be prospective customer understand what Sydney has to offer versus other parts of Australia and other cities around the globe. Highlight activities, events and key places of interest that they could visit and perhaps even help them to understand the best time of year to see them.

OK they’ve read your guide. They’ve decided they definitely want to visit Sydney, they’ve picked the time of year and they’ve taken in your information.

It’s getting late so they’ve made a few notes and they’ll continue their information search after work tomorrow.

The user is back at their home computer, with Google open and they’ve got a new query…

“Accommodation Sydney”

At this point, the customer is potentially undecided whether they are looking for a hotel, a short-term apartment rental, a hostel, a guest house or even a bed and breakfast establishment.

You may in this instance wish to tailor and promote a page which illustrates the benefits of your hotel over say a cheaper guest house or holiday apartment. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to compare like for like but a page that persuades rather than overtly sells the user on the idea of a hotel over other forms of accommodation is likely to perform the best.

TIP: In some markets, it may be useful for the user to see a comparison chart that includes details of your competitors alongside your own products and services. They can see at a glance the differences and it gives you the opportunity to be visible not just for your own branded terms and comparison keyword traffic but also competitor branded searches.

You’ve done it, you have sold them on the idea of a hotel when they visit the city and now they are in the market for a suitable property…

“Hotels Sydney”

The user is now fairly set on the idea of booking a hotel but they are still pretty much open to suggestions so you need to “own page one of Google”.

You need to present them with content that convinces, entices and persuades them into booking with you.

The ultimate aim when it comes to winning Breakthrough Moments™ is to be front of mind for the customer so if you can navigate yourself into a position where you appear prominently across the search results for a phrase like “hotels sydney” then you are in a very strong position to secure bookings.

Naturally this is easier said than done and most search engines have diversity beyond just one hotel’s domain. This is a good thing though and should be embraced because you can even look at ways to promote 3rd party websites that you are most active on or have the most glowing reviews whether that be or to name but a few.

The prospective customer is now getting closer to the point of booking, they’ve seen your hotel crop up a few times so far in their Breakthrough Moments™.

They’re trying a new query…

“Sheraton on the park sydney”

The customer at this stage is potentially getting pretty close to being ready to book, they may have seen your hotel on one of the third party websites and they are doing one last confirmation search to ensure no bad reviews or low star ratings show up.

They want to find your hotel landing page which presents them with a summary of information about the hotel, your location and your facilities as well as the opportunity to book there and then.

Tip: Unofficially promote the review websites which send you the most traffic and/or the best converting traffic.

If you ‘show up’ throughout the customer’s journey and you have availability when they want to visit then you have SIGNIFICANTLY increased your chances of securing their business – you’ve just beat your competitors at Breakthrough Moment™. At least in the eyes of that user, you’ve shown up enough times to be associated ‘by default’ with their trip to Sydney and their search for somewhere to stay.

That is a relatively short ‘path’ when it comes to the usual Breakthrough Moments™ for a user and their search may also include other sources such as social media. The aim of this post however was simply to demonstrate just one way to evolve the SEO keyword strategy of your business.