Spearfishers and netcasters search and interact with product information differently, but both are on the consumer decision journey and therefore ready to convert if they find the right product.
No, I’m not talking about actual fishing techniques, but about consumer search behavior. There are two main ways people search, and this knowledge should guide your planning for enhanced content on your product pages. That’s not to say there are only two types of consumer behavior; a summary from Practical Ecommerce of recent research on consumer search behavior provides a good overview.
The Quick and Dirty Explanation
The two broad types of searchers are spearfishers and netcasters. Spearfishers have a product in mind and want to quickly find the best and cheapest place to buy it. They don’t get distracted easily. Their approach is straight and pointed, like a spear.
Spearfishers know what they want and will do what it takes to get it. They might search something like “Dyson DC28 Animal HEPA Bagless Upright Vacuum Iron/Satin Purple” and expect to see a powerful purple vacuum without a bag in their search results. And preferably, they’ll see a couple of buying options for the vacuum so they can get a bargain.
Netcasters explore and compare more, searching with broad terms and narrowing as they go. Hence, we use the metaphor of throwing a net into the sea with the hopes of pulling out a tasty fish.
Netcasters don’t have a specific product in mind, but they will know it when they see it. This type of searcher is much more likely to purchase on a whim and be influenced by “you might also like” features. They might start by searching “vacuum” and see what happens. Maybe they’ll get distracted by their Twitter account and come back days later after reading a few reviews. Maybe they’ll ask about vacuums on Twitter. They’ll research products, browse different retail sites, and eventually buy a vacuum when they see it promoted in a targeted Gmail ad.
Customize SEO for Your Customer Type
If your consumers are mostly spearfishers, SEO on your product pages is paramount. Of course, SEO is always important, but it deserves even more focus if this is your situation.
If your customer base consists of mostly netcasters, SEO will certainly be important, but your product pages may be less central to your search strategy. Features to draw consumers through your pages, like “related items” and “you might also like” options, will be key. Converse.com does this well. For netcasters who type “Converse” into Google, the home page and other landing pages offer plenty of features that encourage exploration and product discovery.
Build Product Pages for Everyone
Here are a few ways you can create compelling and usable product pages for both spearfishers and netcasters.
1. Make your information accurate and obvious
If spearfishers arrive at your product page through your masterfully executed SEO only to wonder whether the product is actually what they want, your efforts are for naught.
This is not an intuitive point. If consumers know exactly what they want, it seems they would not be concerned about the content on the page, as long as it looks reputable and the price is right. But that’s not true. If consumers know what they want and aren’t 100 percent sure your page is selling that exact product, there are plenty of other places they can go.
If your pages do not clearly state what you are offering, of course, netcasters will also be less inclined to buy. Your content is your chance to convince shoppers who spontaneously stumble upon your wares that they, too, want what you have to offer.
In fact, go beyond being accurate and obvious. Offer more information (clearly and understandably) than most consumers need to know. Consumers will not be deterred by knowing too much, but they will certainly be deterred by knowing too little about your product.
The tone and organization of your copy may be influenced by who is more likely to arrive at your product pages (spearfishers or netcasters), but the universal need for thorough content cannot be overstated.
3. Add cross-selling and social features to product pages
Aside from product content, there are plenty of ways to make sure your page is optimized for both spearfishers and netcasters. For spearfishers, have a prominent buy button and clear product images. For someone on a mission, ease of use is important.
For netcasters, make use of cross-selling and catalog-style features. Give the wanderers lots to discover.
Spearfishers and netcasters have different routes for their e-commerce travels, but your goal is the same: be in the right place. You can appeal to both groups by thinking about how each is likely to interact with your brand and product-page content.
Content26 can help with tips 1 and 2. Email David Zimmerman to find out how.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on June 14, 2012 at content26blog.dev. For this update, we tweaked the text and updated the links.