It has become almost cliché to say that the customer journey has changed since March 2020. But it continues to shift, almost every week. Marketers must closely monitor these trends and try to find patterns in these changes. Last year, Think With Google published an article reviewing the year as a whole, finding that “satisfying immediacy is often more than important than loyalty.” Google search trends surfaced queries that supported this, with 75% of smartphone users expecting “immediate information” and 60% of users contacting a business directly using the “click to call” action button. To further support this, 59% of shoppers say that “being able to shop on mobile is important when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from.”
This year, a whole new chapter has been written when it comes to the customer journey. Here is how one toy manufacturer used SEO to keep up with the trend.
Although the “new normal” has been a challenge to be sure – remote meetings, shifting schedules, and a sore absence of group camaraderie – the upside has been that our product (toys – all kinds of toys!) has been in high demand. Given that our toys are available online through eCommerce platforms like Amazon, Target, Walmart, novelty online shops (like Hot Topic), and at other shops like Toys ‘R Us and Smyths in other countries, parents all over the world have invested in toys to help keep their children entertained while at home.
In strategy meetings to brainstorm how to best reach these consumers during the pandemic, each person had a different idea, ranging from creating activity pages like mazes, crossword puzzles, and coloring books, to online scavenger hunts intended to help increase social media engagement and lift brand awareness. While all of these seemed to be good ideas – and we performed plenty of competitive analysis to check on what everyone else was doing – we needed actual data to back up our findings. We also needed to find out how and in what ways the customer journey was changing during the pandemic.
This is where search engine optimization came in handy. Using tools like Google Trends, we dug deep to find out how the coronavirus was affecting search queries. What were people interested in reading, and how could we position ourselves to provide solutions to our target audience? Coronavirus search trends peaked on March 13, 2020, and while it has declined steadily in the ensuing months, it is as relevant as ever, especially in how it’s affected shopping behavior.
Google features that we used to surface some of these search queries included Rising Retail Categories. Just last week we found that the term “video game consoles” experienced a 200% spike in queries. This information is useful to us because two of our product lines include Roblox and Fortnite. “Cookie decorating kits” was another one that was relevant to our industry (also +200% uptick) as well as toy tools (+80%), karaoke systems (+70%), greeting & note cards (+60%), dollhouses (+60%), construction set toys (+50%), jigsaw puzzles (+50%), to name a few.
We also set up Google Alerts per brand to keep track of news articles and reports published online following these queries. This also helps us keep an eye on the competition.
Based on these insights, we are to develop a targeted content marketing strategy that will (hopefully) yield organic web traffic from users in the market for our product.