If anyone still needs convincing that search has influence beyond the desktop, comScore Networks can supply the evidence: a report released yesterday showing that most customers who start by searching for products online wind up completing their purchases off the Internet.
The comScore study, which was sponsored by Google, found that 25% of Web searchers bought an item directly related to their Web search. Among that group, 63% completed their buy offline in some manner, either in a retail store or over the phone; only 37% performed their entire transaction on the Web.
The level of offline buying varied by product category. The highest levels comScore tracked occurred in video games and consoles (93%) toys and hobbies (88%), consumer electronics (84%) and music/movies/videos (83%). Offline conversions in apparel were near the cross-category average at 65%.
The comScore study also looked at latent conversions from search for purchases made online during the 2005 holiday shopping period. According to observations, 56% of consumers’ online holiday buying happened in subsequent Internet sessions following their initial search. Those subsequent buyers were also more intense searchers than average, performing ten times the number of searches by those who searched but didn’t buy. The study also found that 60% of all searchers started their holiday search process before November 15, 2005.
The amount of out-of-Web purchase behavior underlines the fact that search is even more important in generating sales than conversion metrics alone suggest. “It’s clear from this study that the influence of search on offline buying can often be responsible for the major portion of the overall financial return from investments in search marketing,” said James Lamberti, vice president of comScore Marketing Solutions in a release accompanying the report. “This report helps quantify exactly how influential search really is for the overall buying process.”