Why read this? : We look at search tools you can use to gather customer insights. Learn how looking at trending searches helps you identify customer needs. Read this to learn how to use trending searches to better understand what customers need.
Trending searches to find consumer needs
The COVID-19 challenge is bringing out the best in many people.
Healthcare workers. Those working in the food and drink supply chain. Heck, even politicians for once seem to be doing the right things.
Oh, and of course, who can forget the Dutch Prime Minister’s handshaking advice?
Let’s not even talk about the orange-faced lunatic in the White House. Who attacks the World Health Organisation? What an absolute arse that man is.
But APART from those, politicians are mostly doing a good job. Following the advice of experts. Being clear in what they say. Doing the right thing for everyone.
So, if even politicians (and food retailers as we recently covered) are doing a decent job, what about everyone else? What about marketers, for example? How are they doing?
How are marketers doing?
Some marketers like those at LVMH have worked out practical ways to help. Re-tooling their production lines to make necessary equipment, for example. But most other marketers are keeping a low profile. Probably a wise choice. Unlike all those marketing agencies and start-up gurus throwing out lots of “marketing advice” right now. Not such a wise response.
Great marketers understand what their target audience needs. It’s the first step in marketing. (it’s why our first ever article was on the importance of market research. And also drove our future of market research after Covid-19 article).
So we did some quick research using trending searches to find what people need right now. And no spoilers, but ‘marketing advice‘ isn’t on the list.
Google Autocomplete - corona
As per our secondary research guide, Google Autocomplete’s predictive power is a simple, powerful, but often overlooked marketing tool.
It gives a good high-level insight on the needs and thinking of your target audience on any subject, based on what they search on.
Look at what comes up on corona, for example.
No surprise Australia comes top after the virus itself. But then you’ve got 4 of the most affected countries who also have high immigration rates into Australia – USA, Italy, UK and China.
If you’re a brand owner with links to those countries, there’s an insight there. People in Australia are worried about family and friends overseas.
So you can bolster your brand identity by helping. Provide a service if it’s relevant. Post empathetic messages on social media, on your website and in your adverts. Show you understand and show you care. People need empathy and understanding right now. Do these things because doing the right thing by your customers should be part of everything you do. It should underpin your purpose and values.
Now look at the other terms. Map is clearly driven by some self-interest and self-preservation. Nobody wants to be near an outbreak. So checking the map for where it’s happening is understandable.
But a more interesting insight for marketers comes from the searches for vaccine and cure.
Positive and hopeful
Think about those words for a second.
Don’t they strike you as more positive and hopeful words than you’re typically seeing in news headlines at the moment?
(we’ve had enough of ‘crisis’, ‘lockdown’, ‘horror’, ‘warning’ and ‘deadliest’ which you can find on every news site at the moment).
OK, marketers aren’t one of the dedicated scientists working on the solution.
But, they can do something about people’s need for positivity and hope. Which we’ll come to shortly.
Google Autocomplete - coronavirus australia
Dig deeper into Australian trending searches and you see that sense of worry coming through (deaths, lockdown, map again and worldometer – an online tracker of global deaths).
And with news, live and wiki, it’s clear when it comes to the virus, people are checking in regularly for updates and facts about the situation.
So, if you’re in a business which can directly provide facts to help people in this current situation, there’s an opportunity for you to do the right thing by your target audience.
Give people the facts you have and help reassure them we’re all working to get through this.
Google Trends - Australia
So, if we then jump over to Google Trends, we can find they’ve already set up a whole section on Coronavirus and what it means.
Here we see similar themes to Google Autocomplete, but much more specific questions.
And look at number 5 there. How long does coronavirus live on surfaces?
These are people looking for specific and practical answers. Marketers can help with that.
If you work in a business that can answer a question like this with relevance – cleaning products, for example – you can legitimately help people with answers here.
If you work in a business where your product still goes out to customers – e.g. takeaway food delivery – it’s good to proactively let them know what you do to prevent contamination.
And look at that trending search of ‘thank you coronavirus helpers’. This situation hasn’t stopped people being human and having feelings and emotions. Showing gratitude to those working to help in the current situation, that’s something your brand could legitimately be doing right now.
This is a great example of where using trending searches could identify an opportunity for you to do something positive and hopeful.
Google Trends - prepare and protect
This is super interesting. The top 5 questions deal with how people can stay connected with friends and family.
Given the answer to most of these is ‘no’, you’d interpret these questions as people feeling disconnected and isolated.
People are being separated from loved-ones and having to rely on technology to connect.
So if you’re a brand which can develop content or tools that help people feel connected, again, there’s another opportunity for you to do the right thing by your target audience.
This is reinforced when you look at social isolation and distancing specifically. If there’s something marketers can potentially do, it’s look for ways to help people feel connected.
Educate - just not about marketing or e-commerce
But think carefully about what you plan to educate or entertain customers on.
Because the number one thing that’s been filling our social feeds seems to be lots of ‘marketing experts’ giving out free marketing advice. Spruiking free webinars and resources with ‘what your marketing plan should be during COVID-19”. Closely followed by a bunch of e-commerce site developers offering to set up online stores for free or at discounted rates.
But, given this is an unprecedented situation, do these guys really have the legitimacy to give out advice? Or are they shamelessly trying to grab hold of that uncertainty and worry, to grow their own business?
We may see more than our fair share of these due to what we search and browse online giving Google and Facebook an idea we want to see this sort of stuff. But, really, we don’t believe there are loads of business owners out there suddenly going “oh, I didn’t have a marketing or e-commerce plan, and now I need one”.
If people want to set up an online store, there were already plenty of guides on how to do it BEFORE all this kicked off. Heck, our articles on setting up an online store, came out in November last year as we first built this website.
We worry these fly-by-night merchants won’t bring the all-round business thinking needed to set up an online store. And some business owners will be left with a duff site when this all blows over.
What do customers really want or need right now?
So, what’s the lesson for marketers here? How can you use trending searches to find customer needs to your advantage?
Clearly customers are already getting their corona-specific fill of facts and information from politicians and news sites right now.
Unless your brand directly does something that helps get closer to a vaccine or cure, or does something that helps prevent the spread of the virus, you should pretty much keep quiet.
Stay out of the way of these important communications. Don’t try to jump on the bandwagon, however good your intentions.
But people are clearly feeling disconnected, isolated and bored.
Be entertaining or educational to fix the boredom need
And that’s where we do think marketers with all their skills could actually do something useful.
We believe being entertaining and educational on (non-virus) related things presents an opportunity to legitimately do something positive for the world.
We believe humour and creative thinking are strong traits marketers could bring to the ‘party’
(OK, not really a ‘party’ but you know what we mean).
So here’s our own example.
Given old school board games and jigsaws seem to be soaring in popularity, why not set up some games of that old favourite, buzzword bingo?
But use all those communications terms which marketers should be avoiding right now.
Feel free to play along.
Intended to be both entertaining and educational for marketers, they tackle what people really need right now (after all the corona facts).
And that’s an escape from boredom.
The trending searches you can find right now make that pretty damn clear.
Nobody is really looking for marketing or e-Commerce advice.
So use this quiet time wisely to plan out your next move for when it’s all done.