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Search Engine Users Convert into Offline Buyers

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Search Engine Users Convert into Offline Buyers

Search Engine Users Convert into Offline Buyers

Late last year Yahoo! Search Marketing (then known as Overture) conducted a study with comScore to capture, among other things, the influence of search on purchases in the Consumer Electronics/Computers category. The bottom line was that search had a powerful influence . . . on offline buying. Ninety-two percent of the conversions ultimately took place offline.

MediaPost yesterday reported more Yahoo! findings (this time with research partner Compete, Inc.) that, in general terms, confirm the trend – shop online, buy offline. This time, the category was financial services.

The survey took place from September 2004 through February 2005. According to the article, the study looked at search queries (e.g., loan, savings account, bank names, etc.) on major engines. The researchers found that 28% of search engine users went on to convert within four to six weeks after their initial searches.

Online vs. offline conversions occurred differently depending on the specific products involved:

83% of credit card applications happened online
42% of loan applications happened online (58% occurred by telephone or in person)
56% of checking accounts were opened offline in a local branch
In The Kelsey Group’s most recent telephone consumer survey (n=500), 34% of consumers who ultimately bought goods or products valued at $500 or more started their research/shopping online but 90% of them wound up transacting offline. Purchases included cars, TV, home electronics/computers, exercise equipment, furniture, lawn mowers, etc.—a diverse range of goods.

These data and the Yahoo! study show that while consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with conducting certain kinds of transactions online that might have been very unlikely several years ago (i.e., applying for a loan), the majority of transactions will continue to be conducted offline for some time to come.

But what’s also clear is that, at 70% local reach according to our most recent data, the Internet has a major role in that offline buying process either on its own or as a complement to other, traditional media.

Greg Sterling is managing editor of The Kelsey Group. He also leads The Kelsey Group’s the Interactive Local Media program, focusing on local search. Greg came to The Kelsey Group from TechTV’s “Working the Web,” the first national television show dedicated to e-business and the Internet.

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