Snapshot : Businesses have never had better access to tools that give them insights into their target audience. We look at trending searches to find consumer needs in the current COVID-19 challenge. Facts, hope and boredom relief are where businesses can best help people right not. But best avoid unasked for marketing and e-Commerce advice. People have other things to worry about at the moment.
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.
Well, apart from this idiot in Queensland.
And the Health Minister in New Zealand.
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, mostly politicians are doing a good job right now. They’re doing the right thing. Following the advice of experts. Showing up and being clear in their communications. Trying to do the best for the most amount of people.
So, if even politicians, who let’s face it, as a profession probably ranked alongside traffic wardens and tabloid journalists on the popularity scale before this kicked off, are showing their good side, how about marketers? How are they doing in this current situation?
We recently covered how the food retailers in Australia are handling things, and on the whole, they’re doing pretty well. But for everyone else, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
How are marketers doing?
For marketers like those at LVMH, who’ve worked out they can help in some way – like re-tooling their production lines to make necessary equipment – the news is good.
But much of the rest of the marketing world is keeping a low profile. Not such a bad thing right now.
Great marketers understand what their target audience needs. It’s a basic first step to in marketing. (it’s why our first ever blog article was on the importance of market research. And also drove our article on the future of market research industry after Covid-19).
So we did some quick research using trending searches to find what consumers need right now. And no spoilers, but ‘marketing advice‘ isn’t on the list.
Google Autocomplete - corona
As per our guide to secondary research, 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 these what comes up on corona for example.
Unsurprisingly, Australia comes high up. But then you’ve four 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 that people in Australia are worrying about family and friends overseas.
So, if you can help by providing a service or posting relevant messages on social media, on websites, or in adverts that shows you have some empathy and understanding for what people are worrying about right now, that’s a way to boost your brand identity. And you do this because doing the right thing by your customers should be part of everything you do. It should underpin your purpose and values.
Then look at the other terms – ‘map’ is clearly driven by a little bit of self-interest, self-preservation. Nobody wants to be near the epicentre of any outbreak. So checking the map for where it’s all happening is understandable.
But a more interesting insight for marketers comes from the searches for vaccine and cure.
Positive and hopeful
Just think about those words for a second.
Don’t they strike you as much more positive and hopeful words than you are typically seeing in news headlines at the moment?
(we’ve had enough of ‘crisis’, ‘lockdown’, ‘horror’, ‘warning’ and ‘deadliest’ which you can find on just about every news site right now).
OK, you may not be one of the dedicated scientists working on the solution.
But, as a marketer, as a human being, knowing that people are looking for some positivity or hope for the future, is something you can do something about.
Which we’ll come to shortly.
Google Autocomplete - coronavirus australia
Go further into Australian trending searches to find consumer needs 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 that 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 that 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 is still going out to consumers – let’s say takeaway food delivery – it would be a good piece of communication to proactively let your target audience know what you do to prevent any contamination.
And look at that trending search of ‘thank you coronavirus helpers’. This situation has not stopped people being human and having feelings and emotions. Showing gratitude to those who are working to fix and 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 to find consumer needs 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 would 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 that 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 that marketers can potentially do, then it’s look for ways to help people feel connected.
We recently added a guide to storytelling for brands and businesses to the site. Stories are a great way 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 up our social feeds seems to be lots of ‘marketing experts’ giving out free marketing advice. Advertising 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 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 our search and online behaviours giving Google and Facebook an idea we want to see this sort of stuff.
But, really, we don’t believe there are suddenly 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 or do need 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, we originally wrote in November 2019 as we built up 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 business owners will be left with a duff site when this all blows over.
What do consumers really want or need right now?
So, what’s the lesson for marketers here? How can you use trending searches to find consumer needs to your advantage?
Clearly consumers 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. Do not 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 two strong traits that 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.