If you think consumer search is a single and isolated action, you're wrong. It's actually part of a complex dance of intersecting factors, according to a new study from Toronto-based digital advertising agency DAC Group and research consultancy Kantar. The annual Kantar Consumer Search Behavior Study, highlights the complexity of search — and comes with a warning to marketers:

Brands need to create multi-faceted digital marketing campaigns plans that include highly-targeted search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), local listing management (LLM) and display strategies to support consumer online conversion," said Nasser Sahlool, vice president of Client Strategy at the DAC Group.

Reviews Matter

It’s not simply search and find. For instance, 86 percent of surveyed consumers stated that reviews influence what they buy. More than one third think maps and location information impact their search results, and nearly half of mobile searchers go to a brick-and-mortar store to complete their purchase.

Brad Marcus, head of the SEO and web marketing firm Marcus Interactive in Orange, Conn., told CMSWire “local maps are always important” — primarily because a mobile user can immediately go to the location. But the study notes that mobile search fails more a third of the time because mobile sites are not well-optimized.

Almost 70 percent of the respondents said a business showing up in multiple places increases its credibility. Forty percent of social media searches by brand are driven by sales, promotions and deals. But the report stresses that marketing plans may also benefit from old-fashioned media including print yellow pages, which provide 17 percent of the lead generation for HVAC vendors, 10 percent for pharmacies and 16 percent for contractors.

3 Key Takeaways

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Sahlool told CMSWire that the study shows three important things.

1. Brick-and-mortar is still important: Once a consumer searches on mobile, they often migrate to physical stores. "Brands that are not measuring that migration are not giving online sufficient credit in terms of return on investment (ROI)."

Learning Opportunities

2. Consumers trust organic search more than paid search. Organic search is perceived as more accurate and relevant. To counteract this, marketers should drill down their paid search to make it as granular as possible — and increase its relevancy.

3. Multifaceted search works best. When a brand shows up in multiple paths — organic, paid, social and so forth — it enhances its credibility. "You can't just look at the ROI of each, but rather consider the overall campaign and the way it drives conversions."

Roger Kay, an analyst with industry research firm Endpoint Technologies Associates, told CMSWire he agrees it takes a mix of informational tools to reach customers. Reflecting on the study’s finding that 60 percent of respondents search for local businesses at least once a week, with about a third at least a few times weekly, Kay pointed out that local search – like other searches – is complicated by the type of information sought.

He said that a search to “find out what happened to Field Marshall Rommel in World War II” is the straightforward quest for which Google and others were originally designed. But “if I need to take my wife to a heart specialist,” he noted, the search results for the specialist and the condition are vectored by many other factors.

Title image by olly (Shutterstock).