Editor's note: The following is a guest post from Brian Solis, principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, a Prophet company.
When you're looking to buy that next something, what do you do? If you're like most connected consumers, you reach for your mobile device and start the process of discovery. More so, you're likely looking for immediate, personalized and relevant information to guide your journey. These mobile-first micro-moments represent the gateway for a new genre of assistive brands to help consumers make decisions in their preferred way. This means that marketers must invest in useful and personal mobile content, advertising and click paths that advise consumers based on their intent, context and expectations. And that work starts by understanding what guidance consumers seek and value and where and how they find it.
Today, there's a growing gap between how consumers find what they need in micro-moments versus how marketers attempt to reach them. To close that gap, marketers need to understand new consumer behaviors and expectations to drive assistive marketing strategies. Google refers to this shift in facilitated consumer engagement as the "age of assistance" and when done right, it builds brands upon a foundation of utility and reciprocity known as "adviser brands."
When it comes to assistance, it's not business, it's just personal
So, what does new consumer behavior look like? According to Google, it's all about "me." Who else?
Google has learned that search is evolving to be more personal and specific. Consumers expect both explicit and implicit personalization in the information that's presented to them. It's almost as if they're seeking someone like them on the other side of the mobile screen to advise them.
Just a few years ago, discovery was largely general. If you were searching for a new car, you might have searched for something along the lines of "new compact car" or "new SUV" to begin your research. Today, Google says there's a rising trend with personal specificity. Consumers are looking for information that speaks more to them as individuals, not the masses. They search for things specifically related to them. For example, today's search might look like this, "new car for [insert specific need/use]” or simply, "best new car for road trips."
In its research, Google also discovered particular ways search is evolving to be more specific and personal. For example, mobile searches relating to "____shoes for____" have grown over 120% in the past two years (e.g., "comfortable shoes for traveling"). This type of behavior spans pretty much everything. Another example includes mobile searches for "shampoo for ____" which are up 130% over the past two years (e.g., "shampoo for highlighted hair").
Expressions of personalization are becoming more pronounced, requiring brands to understand more about their consumers than just the keywords they use. Google found that mobile searches with the qualifier "for me" have grown over 60% in the past two years. For instance, instead of searching "best car insurance," they may search for "best car insurance for me."
Consumers are also seeking advice on what they should and shouldn't do. In its research, Google discovered that mobile searches with the qualifier "should I," have grown over 65% in the past two years. Some examples include…
"What should I get for lunch?"
"How often should I wash my hair?"
"How many credit cards should I have?"
The shift from marketing to assistance
In its work, Google shared examples of adviser brands that have complemented marketing efforts with assistive experiences. For example, when consumers search "best shampoo for me," they may find Redken's hair diagnostic tool. For consumers seeking "which dog is right for me," they may come across interactive quizzes from The American Kennel Club and Pedigree to help them select the dog breed that fits their interests and lifestyle.
This is just the beginning of what's possible in the age of assistance. The need for adviser brands is upon us. Savvy consumers are searching more frequently and more differently than ever before, as what they value and desire continue to evolve.
Ask yourself: when your mobile consumers begin their journey, what do they need? What do they expect? What do they find? What happens next? There are answers to all of these questions and more for marketers willing to embrace assistive strategies.
Now is an incredible time for adviser brands. The reality is that mobile-first consumers are already seeking guidance. They're looking for more than general options. There's simply too much content and limited time to consume it all. People want personalized answers as quickly as possible. Adviser brands that deliver assistive experiences based on consumer expressions and intent are positioned to earn a significant competitive advantage. It's more than business. Adviser brands also earn more personal and valuable relationships based on trust, utility and reciprocity.