Thank god for the web. I know this might sink some of your hearts but I’m 26 and can’t remember a time when I didn’t have the option to search online for something I needed. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely remember the days of the Yellow Pages and dial up connections, when searching anything online took longer than just looking it up in that five pound book. Even that wasn’t that long ago. Just bear with me.
My biggest goal in life to is travel. Each idea of a trip I take always begins with a simple search on the web. Sometimes I don’t even care where. Other times I know the exact hotel or hostel I want to stay at. Either way, whatever I can do to immerse myself in another culture is my main focus.
The excitement really starts right away with the search. Depending on the mindset I’m in — Do I know what city I want to go to? Am I traveling with friends or adventuring alone? Is there a specific site I’m dying to see? — will determine how I begin my search.
Matt Bailey captured this idea in his book, Internet Marketing: An Hour a Day. He lays out three types of searchers using quite the elaborate marksmanship metaphor: sharpshooter, shotgun, and artillery.
“Essentially the answer to a question is the shooter’s target. The type of search is the weapon used to hit the target, based on how precisely the searcher seeks the answer to their question,” says Bailey.
First is the sharpshooter. The sharpshooter knows exactly what he wants and has little time for anything else. He has no time to sort through results or reams of information. He wants the information right in front of his face, with no further digging involved. At ion we sometimes see that these types of searchers are pretty deep in the funnel—they know what they want, and they will recognize it as soon as they see it.
My next big surf trip is aimed for Playa Colorado in Nicaragua. I know what city I want to be in, where I want to stay. All I need to search is what the closest airport is. I don’t need any information on other hotels in the area. I definitely don’t want information about other countries I can fly to. All I want to know is which airport is closest to Playa Colorado so I can schedule my flights and transportation after my arrival.
Be aware of the sharpshooter in your marketing strategies. This type of searcher has very little patience. Stay focused with these searchers—additional information is unnecessary. Be sure to answer their question immediately. Do you have a product or service that can be aimed at two different types of visitors? Don’t clump your information into one long page of boring nonsense that will definitely lose the visitor’s attention within seconds. Give them the option to see the information that they want right away, without having to dig through the irrelevant content.
Second is the shotgun. This type of searcher has a general idea of what they are looking for but not the specific details. The shotgun searcher may be in the research phase, while comparing and gathering different alternatives. Most likely, they are looking for the best deal and the most exciting option.
It’s been two brutal winter seasons away from snowboarding. All of you in the northern states, I apologize ahead of time for what I’m about to say. This winter was one of the coldest with some of the hardest snowfall...and I missed it?!! Alright, I shouldn’t be complaining as we’re down here in sunny South Florida, where if we see the thermometer hit 65, everyone’s in jackets and boots. Ridiculous, I know. But when you’re a snowboarder stuck in the flattest area of the U.S., you would kill to be on a mountain after a good snowfall (I’ll pass on the shoveling though). Either way, I have to make it to a mountain next season. I don’t care where—as long as it’s west coast. Give me the best deal for hotel near a good mountain and I’ll take it.
Give the shotgun searcher options. Maybe they’re not sure what they really want out of your product or service. Are they concerned with location? price? timing? Your brand may have more than one alternative for the visitor. Give them the chance to configure it for themselves and research what option is the best deal for them. Don’t limit them to set choices; give your visitors the freedom to explore your brand and what could benefit them.
Third and final is the artillery. This is very much the opposite of the sharpshooter, as patience is very abundant in this type of searcher. The searcher wants as much information as possible. It doesn’t matter the amount of time. The goal is to gather as much knowledge as viable, regardless of source. Rankings don’t matter. Content does. Comprehensiveness does.
South Africa has always been on my bucket list. I mean good waves, awesome weather, and penguins that run around on the beach?! How could it not be? However, it hasn’t always been the safest of places to go. Now, I’ve traveled to some pretty rough areas and have enough knowledge of the state of the economy and issues to know where not to go and what not to do. South Africa seems a bit different for me. Maybe it’s the distance away from home. Maybe it’s the fact that most places I go, I usually know at least one local and I know absolutely no one in South Africa. Whatever it is, South Africa kind of terrifies me. You better believe that’s not stopping me from going there. What it is doing, however, is making me research and read like crazy! Anything I can find about South Africa from tourism websites or friends that have been there or blogs about it—anything that I can gain more insight on what it would be like if I visit. I’m not looking for anything necessarily specific. I just want to know it all.
Artillery searchers need information. They need to understand what they are reading and want the ability to find every answer to their questions. These are the type of searchers that thrive on the FAQ pages. Aim to provide your visitors with the most important need-to-know facts about your brand’s product or service. Leave no question unanswered.
So what’s this mean for you? Remember the mindset of your searchers. Remember how they may have arrived on your page. Do you need to direct them somewhere? Do you need to provide them with tons of information? Or maybe you just need to answer one simple question.
Whatever your goal may be, make the visitor’s interaction with your brand fun and engaging, while still being useful. Provide them with what they came to your site to originally find, and if you do that in an interactive and interesting way, they’ll be coming back for more, and they will take action when they are ready.
Want to see how you can provide a useful and intuitive digital experiences for your searchers? Explore and learn with us while we show you more about conversion paths, configurators, and other marketing apps!