Mobile Has Changed Search Intent and How People Get Things Done

Mobile Has Changed Search Intent and How People Get Things Done

Our phones are with us at all times. Relying on them for critical information at the right time has become commonplace.

Some reading this post don't recall how information was consumed and disseminated before smartphones, but here's a snapshot: We actually printed directions before a road trip or actually relied on a map with the highlighted route. Remember looking up movie times in the newspaper? How quaint. Or how about just showing up to your favorite restaurant only to remember that it was closed on Mondays? I won't even start on my "remember the Encyclopedia Britannica" treatise.
To get a better understanding of search intent and how people meet their needs in a world of limitless online and offline options, Google collaborated with a research firm, Purchased. The findings presented here are from this research study. They asked 1,000 smartphone users to take a quick poll several times a day for a week to tell them what kinds of needs they had throughout the day and the actions they took to meet them.

The result was more than 14,000 responses, ranging from choosing a restaurant for a special dinner to looking for coupons in the store aisle to planning a family vacation. Detailed in these responses were thousands of micro-moments when people turned to their devices for help.

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By examining all of these needs, they learned how consumers choose—both online and offline—to navigate their I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy moments.

Here's what they found:

#1: In moments of need, people turn to their phones and search

When a question or need arises, our phones are far and away our most trusted resource, with 96% of people using a smartphone to get things done.

To meet these needs, people are at least twice as likely to use search than other online or offline sources such as store visits or social media. Not only is search the most used resource, it's the resource 87% of people turn to first.

#2: Mobile helps people make decisions when they're ready to buy

People rely on their phones to help make the best decisions at the moment of purchase. In fact, 70% of smartphone owners who bought something in a store first turned to their devices for information relevant to that purchase. And when people search on mobile, it tends to lead to action: 92% of those who searched on their phone made a related purchase.

#3: Mobile search is used for more than just immediate needs

While search has long been useful to help with quick tasks like looking up a dinner recipe, it's also widely used to make progress on long-term projects. In fact, 68% of people used search to help with things they want to address at some point in the future, the highest of any other online or offline source.

And those searches for future needs largely happen on mobile with 97% of people searching on a mobile phone to do so.

68% of people used search to help with things they want to address at some point in the future.
So what does all of this mean for marketers?

People have more choices than ever to meet their needs—online and offline. And as they turn to their smartphones to make decisions, learn something new, get something accomplished, or tackle a future goal—search is their lifeline. This is why so many brands use search to make an impression early and get into the consideration set when people are starting to form opinions.

As marketers we have to connect the information we provide across screens, channels, and formats. And search intent, particularly on mobile, is where to start. By anticipating people's needs, you can ensure you're meeting people in their micro-moments with relevant and useful information.

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About the Author Nate Brochin

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