Online shopping changes how consumers purchase items and their research habits. Brands must plan ahead with digital content strategies.

Retailers have embraced SEO and social marketing strategies to ensure they stay on consumers’ radars, even as they browse and buy on the web. Brafton previously reported that some retail subsets are experiencing site traffic and clickthrough upticks, thanks to their internet marketing efforts.

However, there is another result of online advertising that might come as a surprise – Google just released data that indicates purchasing timelines are getting longer.

Marketers will need to take this information into consideration when creating branded content. Target audiences might be researching products and services well in advance of their intended transaction, so materials must be more education- and inspiration-based, rather than hard sales driven.

Consumers browse and buy sooner online
Brands must begin nurturing leads sooner for back-to-school sales.

Google’s research centered around back-to-school shopping habits, which are starting earlier in the summer months than ever before. Search data shows that 43 percent of shoppers start looking up product information in mid-July and by the end of the month, 65 percent have begun conducting research.

While consumers enter the sales funnel earlier, they also leave it sooner. Google found that 17 percent make initial purchases by mid-July and 65 percent have started shopping my mid-August.

Fewer last minute shoppers?

The data compiled by the leading search engine also implies that ecommerce is curbing procrastinators’ last-minute shopping habits. Just 2 percent of consumers begin researching and shopping last minute, while only 5 percent admit to purchasing right before schools starts.

Just 2 percent of consumers begin researching and shopping last minute, while only 5 percent admit to purchasing last minute.

Brafton previously reported on this trend, pressing marketers to get a head start on campaigns and outreach efforts to capture consumers’ attention early. Now that most parents and teachers are on social networks, brands’ messages about the upcoming school season hit them full force and they receive continual reminders in real-time.

Web and video content drive back-to-school conversions

The majority of people conduct product research on the web. Sixty-two percent go on to plan their purchases, while 52 percent use in-store displays and 33 percent tune into television ads. When parents and students begin planning their purchases so early, brands may find that standalone news articles or blogs may not be enough to keep them engaged.

In fact, four in 10 consumers said they visited a brand’s website or physical store as the direct result of video marketing that featured apparel. People are looking for advice from people like themselves, the research shows. Major brands like Kmart and Office Depot are already distributing video content on YouTube channels to appeal to customers in anticipation of the back-to-school season.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.