No matter what your expertise as a marketer is, be it SEO, social media growth hacking, or a copywriting specialist for Google Ads, there are common behavioral patterns that are repeated among internet users across all platforms and websites. These common patterns can be broken down into several main categories within observational models. Today we will go over 3 popular internet user and consumer behavior models and see what each is trying to teach us.
Maybe you came across one of these models, or perhaps you even formulated your own unique one through years of observation and experience. Either way, it will be useful to learn about them.
By understanding the tendencies presented in those models, you might be able to better construct your marketing strategy and own behavioral models, which will become more insightful and accurate in its targeting potential.
Google’s 4 Moments
First off, we have the model Think With Google presented back in 2015. It was a model that took into account the soaring popularity of smartphones as the main outlet for internet browsing and searching. Since then, smartphone browsing has passed Desktop browsing, and Google introduced their famous mobile-first approach, so these 4 moments are more relevant to know about than ever!
This is when people need to know something for the pure intent of knowing. Searches such as “who was the 1st King of Sweden” and “how many megabytes are in an exabyte” belong here. Google’s Knowledge Graph’s main aim is to give answers to those moments as quickly as possible.
This moment is with the lowest marketing potential of the 4 since people just want that need-to-know itch scratched and will then move on to win whatever argument they were in prior probably. But any website that can provide users with quick and effective answers might hook people to check out more content. General want-to-know questions such as wanting to know how much something costs can potentially turn into a deal, so there is still some marketing potential.
The moment people want to find a place they want to visit physically. These moments include location-specific searches such as finding a restaurant or a train terminal.
Since most want-to-go moments will often end up with the user looking at their map app, this is a very marketable moment for anyone on GMB, since any business that can capture a user’s want-to-go moment can gain a physical visitor. We even wrote an article about how to capture those moments and drive physical traffic to your business location.
Basically all DIY searches fall into this category – how to fix something (in your code or your house), how to cook something, how to do the laundry, and anything else that has “how to” in the search.
This type of search is a marketing opportunity for any website that can provide solutions for those moments. For example, “how to play the piano” can lead to a person purchasing an online class in basic piano or a piano teaching app.
This moment is high on purchasing intent. Anyone researching a product for reviews, prices, specs, and delivery options is having this moment. The conclusion to this moment is a transaction, which is why we even have Amazon and Google Shops to begin with.
And of course, we don’t need to tell you this one is the most lucrative moment that every marketer is battling for – sales.
Google’s 6 Need States
Think With Google presented a new model in May 2019, which breaks down search behavior. This model focuses on how consumer needs influence search intent. Before the search intent, which everyone in SEO is aiming to understand, comes the need, and Google identified 6 states of mind for those canonical needs. These states are based on a combination of emotional, social, and functional requirements. Emotion and bias are strong driving forces behind decision making, which is why our decisions are almost never objectively rational at their source.
Searches that are meant to break boredom and to discover new things.
Social networks thrive on this need and always bank on our need for a quick dopamine fix in our never-ending search of novelty, unofficially making this one of the most lucrative needs to target. The Skinner Box of states if you will.
Searches about influence, power, winning, and luxury. Google gives this search query as an example: “What car should you drive if you make $150,000?”. Huge luxury items are not exclusive here, and this need also drives people that search for indulgences such as a vacation or a fancy restaurant.
The need here is for comfort, simplicity, and trust. The search query here can be as concise as “MSG dangers” to an exact question such as “is MSG bad for you” – in both cases, there is an underlying tone of anxiety and the need to be reassured. The person will often explore several sources until one or more finally reassures them enough. Qualms about a product before making a purchase and searching for reviews are also part of this state.
Searches of fun and entertaining content. Searches such as “worst video game freak outs” and “fastest motorcycle” belong here and strive from a need to discover something shocking or unexpected. Ads with clickbaity titles such as “The method gyms hate! 6 pack in just 2 weeks” are aimed to either induce or capture this need.
Stems from practical needs and a desire to fix a problem. Searches for recipes, flight times, addresses and locations, DIY guides, and any queries with “how to” in them belong here. Brands that offer a solution to a problem will often target this need.
Searches about knowledge and information such as “When was the printing press invented.” Product research before a purchase stems from this need as well and might include searches for reviews, prices, ratings, and comparisons.
Successful branding usually focuses on one to three of these need states and will try to engage the customer on an emotional level to cater to need states relevant to the type of product or service they are marketing. For example, a luxury car brand can focus their branding on the Impress state. Everything from the design of the car to the tone of the commercials would be designed around this state.
Also, these needs often overlap, and one might be more dominant than the others. Searches about the latest COVID-19 treatments, for instance, can stem from both the Educate and Reassure states, and depending on the person’s state of mind, one of these states will be more dominant. “Who is the richest person in history” will stem from Educate and Surprise.
Avinash Kaushik’s 4-Part Framework
Lastly, we have an acclaimed framework by marketing whiz Avinash Kaushik who wanted to innovate the traditional hard-sell approach to sales funnels, which, in his view, has plagued us since Roman times. His framework is called See-Think-Do-Care, and the premise is to provide both marketers and customers a more wholesome experience and do some brand building along the way and not just focus on ROI. These are its basic principles:
The scope of all your qualified potential customers; those that see your ad or brand by browsing in your niche, been targeted for it, or that have searched for it directly. These customers are at the top end of the funnel. But unlike the dynamite-fishing approach of TV ads that target the broadest cluster, this one is narrower and focuses on qualified potential customers, making it much more relevant for marketing. This cluster has little to no commercial intent, so it needs to be enticed and hooked with something spicy towards the audience of a defined niche. For example – Snowboarders and people interested in snowboarding. Having low buying intent makes most companies produce some lackluster content to aim at this cluster because it isn’t as exciting as getting a ready-to-buy customer.
People who are considering a purchase. It is a narrower cluster and is closer to purchasing than the See cluster. People in this cluster might be doing some active research about products and services in your niche. For example – Snowboarders and people interested in snowboarding, that are already researching the best equipment to buy and resorts to explore according to their budget.
A customer cluster hot with buying intent. This cluster is the narrowest and the one everyone competes over. Mainstream TV ads relentlessly target everyone in hopes of capturing some of this cluster to the point of alienating the See and Think clusters, Kaushik claims. People who have made the conscious decision to buy, and now just need that extra nudge (if at all). Customers in the do audience might go to Amazon and make a buy within minutes, and only after glancing at the total review score.
For example – Snowboarders and people interested in snowboarding have decided they want to buy an affordable Burton board from the previous season and now look for the best store. Either one close by or one that makes reliable deliveries and has a good return policy, etc.
This is the cluster of current or returning customers and those that have been initiated in your product or service and loved it. This is the most underrated cluster that gets often neglected by brands and marketers. Instead of treating those valuable customers with love and care, many companies just try their best to take them for granted by making support a hassle. This cluster can be immensely valuable since this is the cluster than can rebuy, subscribe indefinitely, recommend, leave positive reviews, become affiliates, and market you simply because they had a good experience. Apple is a good example of a brand that has excelled in its marketing approach for the Care cluster. There’s a good reason why Apple users always strive to update their devices the moment a new one hits the market, to the point they camp outside Apple Stores for days just to be first to hand their money over! Android is popular and is more widely sold, but we don’t see Samsung/LG camps that often, now do we.
For example – Snowboarders and people interested in snowboarding that have bought a Burton board from a store nearby. After a season of intense snowboarding, they will need a new board, and if the store proves reliable, they will get a returning customer every season, which might buy his entire gear from them.
Kaushik maintains that most brands focus on the Do cluster and painfully neglect the others, which is why the few that cover all 4 bases excel. This framework addresses the entire scope of a marketing campaign, from the top of the qualified funnel to the actual container. No matter where you focus your marketing strategy, be it SEO, Google Ads, social, or ideally, all of those combined, this principle should remain active in your mind.
As you may have noticed, all the models above are synergic with one another and share commonalities and overlap with one another for certain categories. If you tailor your SEO and marketing strategies with these models in mind, you will have a more focused campaign and eventually reach a better ROI.
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