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What are your customer's key phrases trying to tell you?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 1/22/10 12:54 PM
Anyone looking to sell their product or service online will find that their research will always start with a key word or key phrase analysis. A good key phrase analysis can tell you not only the key phrases that your potential customers are using to describe your product/service, but also what key phrases your competition and industry are using. Depending on your particular business, a key phrase analysis will also give you niche key phrases, which are those key words that are used by your potential customers that are not highly targeted by the competition.

But can a key phrase analysis do more?

Yes, it can. Here is an example. I recently asked a group of business professionals, some of whom understood the basics of search engine marketing and search engine optimization, to look at the following key phrases, and to tell me what the differences were between them.

  • accounting software
  • microsoft accounting software
  • microsoft dynamics gp
  • microsoft dynamics gp for manufacturing

The general response to my question was that some key phrases were more specific than others. Which is true, but what does that mean? Does it mean we should only target the more specific key phrases?

The real difference between these key phrases is intent. How specific these key phrases are gives you some insight into the intent of the searcher and where they are in their buying process.

Are they just browsing to see what their options are to address their need? Do they already know approximately what they want, they are in the market to buy, but have not yet made a final decision? Or do they know exactly what they want and are just trying to decide where to buy it?

If you are ready to jump to the conclusion that if we have an idea of which searchers are in the market now, then let's target just those key phrases, then you would be making a grave mistake. There are a few important things to remember when considering the intent of searchers and potential customers.

  1. No one group of customers is more likely to buy from you than another.

    Many would argue that the person who knows exactly what they want and are in the market now are more likely to buy now. To some extent may be true, but are they more likely to buy from you? These are also the people who may be more likely to be distracted by competing offers. However, the person who is just browsing and seeking to answer questions may become more likely to take action when they find their questions easily answered and are delighted with the experience they had with a company (or a company's website).

  2. Not everyone is your customer.

    As you start looking at how people go about buying your product/service you may discover that your business is not configured to please all of the people all of the time. Knowing who you want to attract as a customer, and who you do not want to attract should be the main focus.

  3. Everyone has a different mode of shopping.

    By ignoring those that are in the mode of ‘just browsing' or ‘knows approximately' you could be cutting off your pipeline in 3, 6, even 12 months down the road. When in doubt of this rule, see rule #1.

    The ideal way to use your key phrase analysis is when it is part of building your customer personas. The new age of marketing (as I like to call it) is going to require marketers to build persuasive systems that account and plan for the different buying modes of potential customers. Personas are customer descriptions that should be used as representatives to the different shopping modes that people use to engage your business. Your personas should answer the ‘what if's', ‘maybe's', and ‘most likely to' questions that you have about your customers.

Topics: customer segmentation, customer personas, customer profiles, key phrase analysis, key word analysis, KWA