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Jeremy Patterson

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Buyer Intent

Often, dealerships wonder why ad agencies don't buy generic search terms related to their models.  Honda dealers want to know why they aren't showing up for one-word searches such as "Civic" or "used Honda".  The reason is actually quite simple: it all comes down to buyer intent.

If an automotive dealer wants to buy one-word search terms, they should realize that they will be capturing visitors that may not be ready to make a purchase just yet.  In most cases, given a limited budget, a better solution is to avoid using these terms and instead focus on purchasing deep funnel long tail terms that signify clear buyer intent.  This is also known as Zero Moment retail.

For example, someone looking for a car might search ‘used car’ in Google.  In this case, the shopper doesn’t know what he wants, other than that he wants to buy a used car.  At this point, he is most likely researching what is available rather than settling on a particular vehicle to purchase - he has what is called low buyer intent.

If the shopper goes one step further and searches “used Honda”, then he would be somewhere further along in the process of purchasing a vehicle, but likely still at a place of low buyer intent.  Once the search terms get slightly more specific - for example, “Used Honda Accord 2010” - the shopper would then be a buyer at the Zero Moment stage where automotive dealers with used 2010 Honda Accords should consider paying top dollar to grab this lead.

Shoppers are often leaving clues that indicate when it would be a good time to show them actual products for sale versus information about those products, and what searches are worthwhile.  What are some other ways to utilize buyer intent?

Alexander Lau
It's the bell curve analogy. A lot of searchers just need an affordable, used car. A lot of them don't care. Your point is valid in terms of exact match keyword search results, but my data (a ton of it) suggests that "Used Cars" converts a whole heckuva' lot better than specific years, colors, makes and models.
Anthony Levine
^ I hear you, but what are you saying is a "conversion" though? From what I can see, we get a lot of "leads" from generic terms like that. But since we use a full attribution model following those leads through the funnel, we only ever see actual sales really solidify through long tail search (typically in combination with other marketing)
Alexander Lau
I'm just alluding to where I see most searchers and the conversion points. I measure organic and paid search keywords for their conversion prowess. That being said, it is not long-tail keywords that convert the best. :-)
Anthony Levine
^I'm still wondering if you're counting actual vehicle sales as conversions. You're saying generic searches result in vehicle sales?
Alexander Lau
There are plenty of tools that allow dealers to measure general leads (soft = directions and hours views), but fewer that quantify actual customer acquisition or sales, by plucking DMS or CRM data and adding it into the equation (CPL and CPA). These days, it's easy to measure both, from an organic and paid trace.

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