google always on focus group

Google: Your Always-on Focus Group

RJ Licata, Sr. Director of Marketing

Key Points

  • Using Google as your always on focus group means harvesting its sophisticated search data to reveal exactly what consumers are asking for and how to satisfy their needs.
  • Consumer needs data from Google is incredibly accurate because it reflects the actual needs and wants of real people searching for solutions to their problems.
  • This data tells you what people want and allows you to develop better consumer behavior insights, build a more engaging customer journey, and create authentic consumer connections.

Focus groups can approximate consumer demand on a limited scale. But it’s harder to get a holistic picture of entire markets and demographics. It’s difficult to truly map what your audience needs, and how those needs change over time, with one-off focus groups.

Google search offers brands a unique and extremely powerful alternative. With the right tools and expertise, Google can act as your brand’s “always-on” focus group. 

What do we mean by this?

Every Google search represents one data point in a massive collection of detailed consumer search intent data. Taken as a whole, this information reveals what millions of people are looking for at any given time. And it can be activated to achieve authentic consumer connection.


Why brands should leverage search intent data

Search intent is maybe the single most accurate type of consumer intent data brands can leverage. It’s so accurate because when people turn to Google they are honest and vulnerable. They often ask questions they wouldn’t ask their closest friends.

Each search reflects a desire or a need to solve a problem. Curiosity and honesty reach their pinnacle during each query as motivated consumers search for answers. 

Furthermore, consumer search intent data from Google has the following unique characteristics:

  • Constantly refreshed — Search intent data is never stale because Google is always on and always collecting searches. It represents real-time insight into consumer needs at any given moment. 
  • Direct access to real people — Search intent data is an aggregate of searches by real human beings, instead of an approximation or estimate. When brands leverage it they’re getting as close as possible to their real consumers.
  • Honesty and transparency — It’s worth reiterating that search intent data because it’s based on humans searching for solutions to their problems, is incredibly clear, accurate, and honest.

Imagine the power your brand can harness from this always-on focus group, giving you data across billions of searches.

What you can learn from Google data

Google search intent data, when analyzed and converted into consumer needs insights, can help brands determine the specific searches of their consumers, what problems their audiences are trying to solve, and what else they might be seeking.

This data gives brands the direction they need to develop data-informed strategies to offer information and content to solve these problems and connect with their consumers. 

What consumers are searching for

As a whole, searches performed on Google show you what people are searching for across industries. This data reveals an aggregate picture of what consumers want. It also shows changes in their needs as those needs evolve on a monthly basis.

The problems consumers are trying to solve

Beyond revealing what and how much people search, search intent data reveals how to best satisfy a query. Google algorithmically attempts to match a user’s search to the best, most relevant answer.

When you know what people are searching for, and you understand how the algorithm tries to satisfy those queries, you learn about your consumers’ problems and pain points. You also learn how you can create content to best solve their problems. 

What consumers might search for next

Knowing what your consumers are searching for, and what Google is showing them, you can start to hypothesize about what else your audience might be interested in, trying to research, or need in the future.

Forecasting consumer trends and popular topics becomes more feasible as you start to truly understand consumer search insights and use them to create actionable consumer connection strategies.

What you can do with Google data

Here are the most powerful ways to revolutionize your marketing efforts with Google’s search insights:

Develop accurate consumer behavior insights

There are many ways to approximate consumer behavior but search intent data is the strongest option for large brands. Search intent is not abstract — it’s real searches by real consumers. These searches are performed by real people looking to solve their problems.

As a result, the search queries people use are incredibly honest. Analyzing this search intent data allows brands to gain actionable consumer behavior insights that can drive digital connection strategies. These strategies can optimize marketing efforts, reduce CAC, and increase revenue. 

Create a customer journey based on real human behavior

With expert mapping of consumer behavior within a brand’s industry space, brands can create a unified strategy and customer journey. And it will actually reflect how real people behave. Because current journey models are obsessed with funnel stages versus actual needs, brands that want to win need to shift their thinking to put consumer needs first.

The customer journey is made up of a number of consumer engagements, or touchpoints. Brands can leverage consumer search intent data and consumer behavior insights to create optimized touchpoints that deliver as much value as possible.

If you can provide substantial value and build brand trust at each touchpoint, the likelihood of transactions greatly increases. So too, does your ability to claim as many touchpoints as possible and defend your online presence from the competition and brand pirates.

This gapless customer journey, focused on meeting the needs of consumers, should be the ultimate goal for today’s brands.

Build content that delivers the most relevant value possible

Brands can activate consumer search insights to create a broad network of purpose-built content to connect with and solve the primary and related problems of their audience. 

For example, a perfume brand could survey its digital landscape, and see consumers searching “how long does perfume last,” “perfume storage,” and “how to keep perfume fresh.”

The brand would create a content hub or a set of articles covering these and related topics. They’d answer these consumer questions and build brand trust at the same time.

This strategy can be applied to all consumer touchpoints and engagements online, across platforms, and even in-store. The goal is to create authentic consumer connections by providing real value whenever consumers seek it.

Reach new and parallel audiences

Beyond the power of fully understanding what your current audience wants, or is looking for, is the ability to get a higher-level view of similar and parallel audiences to pursue.

It is vital to build strong relationships with your core audience, but search intent insights also allow you to expand your reach.

Just because a topic isn’t directly related to your offering doesn’t make it irrelevant to your brand. Parallel topics and audiences represent opportunities to connect with consumers and build trust with new audiences. This is the key to unlocking the competitive grey area and how brands should compete strategically outside their lanes.

Grow brand trust, brand equity, and create authentic relationships

Growing brand trust, brand equity, and ultimately fostering authentic consumer connections are the keys to increasing market share, retaining customers, reducing CAC, and increasing overall revenue.

Consumer search data gives brands the insights they need to develop strategies that build these authentic relationships with consumers, connecting with them and ultimately converting them to customers.

Predict shifts in consumer demand

A solid grasp of today’s consumer needs in your brand’s industry and competitive spaces allow you to forecast the future needs of your consumers. This can help inform content and even business strategies, telling you what future pain points your audience might encounter so you can be ready with the solution.

Building brand equity and trust is readily achievable when you know what people want today — and tomorrow.

Develop new offerings and inform new investments

Search intent-powered strategy doesn’t just tell you what people want online, it also can reveal offering gaps for new products and services, and help brands make product investment decisions.

Take our perfume brand example. Using Google as a focus group might uncover searches for particular scent profiles, “long-lasting perfumes,” “all-natural cologne,” and more.

This presents a content opportunity but it also implies the real-world value of creating a natural scent line, or perfumes built to perform better or last longer. New potential offerings to meet consumer needs can direct new investments, which shows the true power of accurate consumer behavior insights.

Fuel all other marketing efforts

Consumer search intent insights, when accurately understood, can become the underlying data engine behind all brand marketing activities. 

With these insights, brands can develop marketing strategies that consumers actually want and are ready for. When all consumer engagements are informed by what real people actually want, your brand delivers more value and reaps bigger benefits — trust, equity, and authentic connection.

Fully aligned, data-informed marketing strategies built on consumer search intent data translate directly to better consumer connection, lower CAC, and higher return on investment across your business.

Consumer Insights as Investment

Google and its unrivaled consumer behavior data is the most powerful next-gen tool brands can tap into to engage, connect with, and help as many consumers as possible. Brands that prioritize these insights and invest in the value of their digital properties don’t just reach their audience, they build long-lasting, authentic customer relationships.

There are many data sources that promise real consumer insight, but none are more accurate and actionable than what people search for on Google — your always-on, digital focus group.

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