Global research by Wordstream, along with data from leading digital agency Half Dome, shows there has been a 49% increase in internet browsing between midnight and 3am. At the other end of the spectrum, there is 27% less browsing during the traditional commuting times of 5am to 8am.

What do these changes mean to businesses?

Not only are people spending more time window shopping (virtually), they’re also spending a lot of money online during the pandemic, however businesses can’t just sit back and hope to cash in. And these changes haven’t just been in when people shop online, but also how they are doing it. When it comes to search terms, more people are asking conversational questions – “how to renovate my bathroom”, for example.

Research from McKinsey highlighted more than 60% of consumers changed their shopping behaviour due to convenience or value. I also believe this change could be due to supply chain disruptions and price.

This shift in behaviour provides an excellent opportunity for brands to educate, assist and become a trusted advisor, especially since brand loyalty now plays less of a role in people’s decisions to buy.

Why do businesses need to tweak their optimisation strategies?

As consumer behaviour has changed, this means businesses need to make an upgrade to their SEM in order to more successfully engage consumers. By upgrading and tweaking optimisation strategies they can be used in a more proactive way to cater more to middle and upper funnel tactics within the marketing funnel.

There is also a shift required with in-platform optimisations. In recent years the rise of automation and machine learning from historical data has required rich data and audience signals to deliver efficiencies more effectively than a human could, particularly when it comes to bidding in SEM. So, fortunately most of the hard work here is done by platforms like Google, as their algorithms automatically update and respond to these changes. However, this should trigger brands to revisit the strategies they can control, like their bidding, structure and testing frameworks to ensure it caters to the new consumer mindset.

How can businesses adapt to the changes? 

Businesses must ensure they have the content to address consumer needs, which enables customers to stay up to date with the latest communication.

For example, there has been an increase in queries about DIY or contactless delivery. As a result, businesses need to include these in their content and website strategy to ensure customers who search these queries are shown relevant messaging rather than generic information.

Building brand trust should be a top priority when creating current SEM strategies, not dissimilar to other marketing and communication strategies. Within SEM this means updating strategies in-platform (like keyword lists, ads and even bidding and optimisations).

Direct consumers to relevant content, first and foremost, update your messaging to keep them informed but not misled and be adaptive to the technical optimisations required in-platform to cater for the changes in consumer behaviour.

Rhett Mitchelhill is search and affiliates lead at digital agency, Half Dome.