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Online Search & Purchase Behavior

Last month, release the results of a survey called . The study examined pre-purchase search activity across  the Apparel, Computer Hardware, Sports & Fitness and Travel categories.

The survey revealed that about half of all Internet shoppers conducted product research at a search engine before making a purchase online and that most people finish their purchase-related searches weeks prior to the transaction. The brand names of
online retailers were a minority of all purchase-related
searches made during shopping research.

The survey found product reseach on a search engine preceeds about one out of every two online purchases. Almost three-quarters of Travel consumers used search
engines before their transaction. Buyers in the Fitness/Sports category conducted
2.5 relevant searches in the three months before a purchase; Apparel consumers made 4.7 relevant searches; Computer Hardware buyers performed 4.9 searches, and Travel consumers averaged 6 travel-related searches three months before their purchase.

Highlighting the importance of , the survey revealed that most online shoppers complete their purchase-related search engine research two
or more weeks before their online purchase. 54.7% of Travel buyers’ final searches occurred at least two
weeks before buying; 21.5% searched one week or more before
their purchase, and only 23.8 % bought during the same session.

Searches including a brand name accounted for only 18.1% to 28.5% of all
searches buyers conducted, depending on the category. Only 4% or less of the searches for each category used search phrases that included merchant’s brands
plus another term. Though the volume of these searches are low, they have a high proportion of clicks
per search. For example, for Apparel sites,
just 1% of searches were brand-specific but those searches got 3.7% of clicks.

Brand-specific searches and click-throughs rise in prominence closer to the purchase, peaking during the purchase session–searches and
clicks conducted in the same session as the transaction. For apparel buyers, 10% of clicks-throughs occurred during the purchase session, and 89% of these click-throughs were brand-specific. The same behavior held true to a lesser degree across the other categories: 9% and 54% for Computer Hardware; 9% and 49% for Travel; and 11% and 57% for Sport & Fitness.

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.

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