Get to know your customers better by looking at what they search. Key search terms used can tell you plenty about your customers and can prompt you to offer solutions for often-searched challenges.

Obviously, one of the key steps in your marketing plan is to know your customers and build a profile of what they “look” like in general terms. An important part of this profile is a customer’s search terms as this can tell you a lot about what your customers want answers to.

By “listening” to what your customers are searching, you can tailor your online experience to match your answers to their questions. Lots of search terms start with “how to…” or “where do I find…” so researching these frequently asked questions allow you to formulate answers that are truly engaging with your audience.

It’s said you need to ask the right question in order to get the right answer but in this case it’s a matter of having the right answer ready for when your customer goes looking.

When writing your customer profile, include important elements such as what your customers value, what matters to them, and what motivates them. Once you know this, you can use your online presence to connect them with what they search online (hopefully this is your products and services). What your customers search will tell you a lot about what matters to them – are they looking for information, are they looking for products/services, are they looking for inspiration or are they looking for something else?

The type of device used for the search will also give you some great information about how “techy” your customers are. If most of your searches are being carried out on a tablet or laptop/computer this indicates a larger screen and therefore you can be more specific with your material. If most of your customers are searching on a smartphone, you’ll need a comprehensive mobile strategy and consider whether auto-complete might help with frequently asked questions.

Also, don’t forget to look at when your customers are online and actively in “search” mode. The time of day the searches are being carried out will provide information about their state of mind. If they are searching at lunchtime (when time might be limited), having short, clear, easy to digest and access information will be important. If they are searching in the evening, they may have more time to spend online engaging with your products and/or services.

Don’t forget to take note of the increase in voice searches available with today’s technology. Voice searches tend to be carried out in normal conversation, which is different to what your customer would write if they were typing into a search engine. Voice searches tend to ask a full question whereas it’s more common to use two or three-word phrases when typing into a search box.

Your analytical tools will capture much of this information and provide you with additional insight into what your customers do when they interact with your answers or solutions to their questions. This part of the process is crucial to understanding and connecting with your customers. You must follow through with information that not only meets their needs but also provides value. For example, if someone has searched “how to” do a certain task and you don’t actually provide this information on your site, you will immediately lose credibility.

The more you “listen” to your customer’s searches, the more you can tailor your response to meet your needs across your entire online network from your website to your social media presence. Your goal – at all times – is to deliver the content, products, services or information when and where your customers need it.

Let’s face it – a search is often the first way your customer will interact with you and they are using it to let you know what they want. So, take the time to listen to what they are telling you.