The Other 80%

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For a while now it’s been touted that 10% of searches are transactional in nature, while 80% are informational in nature and the remaining 10% navigational.  What I don’t like about this is it’s very narrow in perspective.  It fails to recognize that users who are looking for information may convert to transactional at some point, so what about this 80%?

I actually see the potential for greater value of that 80% than I do of the other 20%, and here’s why:

  1. New opportunities
  2. Upsell or cross sell opportunities
  3. Life time value

Let me explain how I think this 80% impacts these three points.

New Opportunities

Perhaps the greatest value to capturing these searches is not the immediate ROI, but the opportunity to establish new customers.  Don’t get me wrong ROI is important and showing tangible ROI is critical to success and building relationships and trust, but there is a greater opportunity in organic search and that is the breadth in which the long tail can cover.

Identifying some critical keywords that should have immediate ROI impact also means there’s a long tail opportunity there as well.  Moving beyond a single word or pairing to multiple variations can lead to an increase in traffic and volume.  What we must remember is that the pages that support these long tail searches may have a different goal and message. All roads should lead towards a singular goal, but each page along the way can speak to a different aspect of that opportunity.

Upsell or Cross Sell Opportunities

Which leads to the next aspect of the other 80%.  When someone hasn’t fully settled on a single option it means they are still looking for or weighing what they want.  Let’s assume someone is looking for a new computer.  They may know they need a computer, but are unsure of what features they need.  Will they use it for playing games? For surfing the internet? Will they want to print information?  People in a decision making stage that is still researching or looking for information are seeking data to help make a decision and identify their needs from their wants.  This is your opportunity to build and establish trust with your customer which leads to…

Life Time Value

If you establish trust as part of the customer experience early on with a customer you had not connected with before, you have now not only sold a product but created a potential for an ongoing relationship.   Life time value is unfortunately not something that can be measured from a single transaction, but the opportunity to introduce someone to your brand before they become brand decided can certainly open up new doors, and establish credibility of your brand.

Bringing It All Together

When looking at the 10% of transactional which will be critical to closing the deal, the other 80% is your opportunity to open doors and create opportunities.  Targeting users so late in the purchase cycle ultimately means you are not building your brand, or impacting long term opportunities.  When establishing search programs don’t forget about the bigger picture, and how you can impact the full customer experience.

I suspect over time the impact the other 80% has on decisions will become more apparent, especially as analytics packages such as Google Analytics makes it easier to identify how different media elements interact through Multi-Channel funnel reports.   When we start to measure the full decision making process as SEOs we will begin to better identify where in the funnel time is best spent to maximize total ROI.



Brent Chaters
Brent Chaters is senior manager Marketing Strategy & Analytics at SapientNitro, where he works with multiple Fortune 500 clients where he focuses on establishing ROI and enterprise search.  The opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sapient. He is also the author of Mastering Search Analytics from O’Reilly, and is on twitter @BrentChaters.
Brent Chaters
Brent Chaters

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  • Nick Stamoulis

    ‘All roads should lead towards a singular goal, but each page along the way can speak to a different aspect of that opportunity.”

    I think that is a great way of looking at it! Each page of your site has the potential to be a landing page for some visitor depending on what they are searching for. You want to make sure that every page of your site focuses on leading that visitor towards conversion, but is tailored to meet their needs that led them to that page in the first place.

  • Denver Internet Marketing

    Love the concept – thanks, Brent. To me this all goes back to the now popular SEO saying that “Content is King”. If an SEO campaign is only aimed at those 10% of users whose search is transactional in nature, you can bet on seeing a lot of keyword cramming and similar techniques on their landing pages. If the campaign intends to target not only the 10% of transactional searchers, but also those other 80%, whose search may or may not result in a transaction, I think we’ll find that it is one that adds to the overall quality of internet content, and this is what will bring those users back to one site over others. In my opinion, ROI when it comes to a SEO strategy needs to be considered for both short term gains, as well as long term sustainability, which goes back to making your site a positive contributor to the overall quality of the user’s experience, regardless of their search intent.

    • Brent Chaters

      I certainly agree “Content is King” and more importantly “Targeted Content”. With the recent backlash against content farms, I think content strategies need to be thought out, and as you said for long term ROI to come from SEO you need to consider both the short term and long term. Thinking about content the provides a service to your users is much better than a shot gun of random content.

  • PrIyAnGsHu @ PC Tricks

    Great post Brent ! Thanks for sharing it with us !

  • Stephen

    Very interesting blog, i look forward to reading more of your seo related articles. What are your views on links- internal v external?

    • Brent Chaters

      great question, look for something from me on this in the near future.

  • BuzzQuotient

    I think each page of a website has unique value and each page conveys a message. So it is better to have a different page as the landing page for different keywords. This will meet the criteria of relevant content and would help to rank higher in search engines.

  • Omega

    Nice work and completely agree – you have to focus on clients from both ends of the buying funnel. T o get a healthy balance between brand development and sales. In the early life cycle of a business focusing on sales is crucial to get revenue, once revenue comes through the door it can be better utilized for brad development.
    Nice work