Forrester Study Proves the Power of Search & Social Throughout the Customer Life Cycle

You could have knocked us over with a feather here at Catalyst. That’s only because, as Search and Social experts, we live and breathe the channels.

In a study commissioned by Catalyst, Forrester explored the role of Search and Social throughout the customer life cycle. In the resulting joint Catalyst-Forrester whitepaper, “Search + Social = Success for Brands,” the research firm found that the two channels are powerful drivers of customer behavior, with unique marketing benefits per channel and corresponding stage of the life cyle.

In the study, Forrester analyzed the buying patterns of 999 U.S. consumers across verticals. What Forrester found was that, individually as well as collectively, Search and Social are strong channels for brands in every stage of the life cycle.

In fact, over 90 percent of consumers said they use Search throughout the life cycle, and a whopping 95% use Search when researching or finding new products and services. (For those of you counting, that’s like, almost everyone.) In comparison, only half said they discovered a new product via TV commercials. (That’s right, Search absolutely trumped TV.) Furthermore, 94% and 93% of consumers use Search for consideration/purchase and engagement, respectively. In other words, if we had to pick one buying channel for world domination, it would be Search.

Like Search, Forrester found that Social as well plays an important role in the customer life cycle, albeit a different role. For example, more than 85 percent of consumers said they used Social channels for discovery and consideration or purchase within the previous three months. Additionally, 43 percent of consumers said they were persuaded by a company’s Social post when shopping, and 30 percent said they were influenced by Paid Social ads. That means both Organic and Paid Social Media have the ability to intercept customers while they are shopping and deliver convincing messages to drive them to action – similar to Search.

Search Marketing and Social Media

The most compelling results from the study, however, were about the integration of the two channels. From Forrester:

“Customers who use search and social together are especially attractive. These customers are relatively high-spending online consumers—with 50 percent saying they’ve spent more than $250 online in the past three months, and they are 9 percent more likely to act as brand advocates than overall consumers.”

(Only 40% of consumers who hadn’t used both channels spent this much online.)

Additionally, the study equated Search with volume and Social with value, suggesting that brands combine the two in their marketing for the best business results.

In short, Search + Social = New Customers/Revenue/Moola.

But as I mentioned, this isn’t surprising to us at Catalyst, as we’ve seen time and time again that the two channels, when integrated properly, create stellar results for our clients. For example:

  • Paid social created a 10% lift in Search for a major luxury auto dealer.
  • An electronics client saw a 23% decline in CPMs on Social when Search keywords were optimized.
  • The highest CTR within a telecom campaign was generated when our teams used Social discussion to inform and ultimately restructure the search campaign.

Like chocolate and peanut butter, like milk and cookies, and even like Branjelina, Search and Social are great on their own but produce extraordinary results when combined.

Search + Social = Success for Brands [INFOGRAPHIC]

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