Search Is Paramount in the Emerging Green Category

Paid search continues to grow and is now considered by most marketers to be a core component of their online marketing tool kits.  This continued growth is not surprising, however, as it is hard to beat search as a marketing channel for both its efficiency and effectiveness. 

There are several reasons for search’s continued dominance.  Search allows marketers to 1) engage consumers as they actively seek information in market, 2) connect consumers with relevant content based on self-identified interests, 3) pay only when consumers click on a sponsored link, 4) scale spend in the channel (to a point) and 5) enhance the productivity of other channels.  For example, building awareness with a 60-second spot will likely result in more searches being conducted by consumers that turn to the web to find out more information or link to the advertiser’s site. 

To green marketers, search also represents a powerful component of the overall media mix.  In fact, Marketing Green believes that search is even more critical for marketers of green products than for more established products because green is an emerging category that has high consumer interest but is difficult to navigate due to the lack of familiarity and standards.   

Moreover, green search will continue to increase as awareness and interest grows and consumers increasingly turn to the Internet for answers.  Here are few reasons why, as well as recommendations for green marketers on how to maximize the impact of the search channel: 

Consumers have a growing interest in green, but limited familiarity.  Many consumers are curious about the emerging green category but have relatively low understanding of the category or how to navigate it.  As such, consumers are more likely to research product choices before making purchase decisions and turn to online search when they do so. 

For marketers, this means establishing broad presence in paid search across both the general as well as green vertical search engines in order to intercept consumers when they actively seek category-, product- or brand-specific information. 

Consumers today conduct that vast majority of green searches through general search engines such as Google and Yahoo and will likely to continue to do so in the near term. The popularity of green vertical search engines – including Green Maven, Greener, GreenGamma, LiveGreenOrDie, GreenLinkCentral, EcoEarth, EcoSeeker and Earthle among others – is growing nonetheless based on the perception that green vertical search engines return more relevant results than general search.

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In addition, green filters are emerging that allow consumers to search with greater precision either as an overlay to existing search engines or as a way to narrow the results based on a set of business rules regarding green.  Palore is one example which enables consumers to identify green merchants when using Google’s search engine.  Below is Palore functionality loaded into Google Maps.  Note the symbols included under each listing – including the carrot which denotes that the restaurant offers organic foods.

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In addition, online sites are emerging help locate products and retailers offline.  Evolvist locates products and retailers by geography.  evolvist.gif

Alternatively, Alonovo filters products and retailers based on their relative corporate social responsibility and “greenness”.

alonovo.gif

Products and brands are proliferating.  Green products are being launched every day across almost every product category.  Product “greenness” is relative, however, which results in a spectrum of products, features, benefits and trade-offs that consumers must weigh before making purchase decisions.   

As product proliferate, so too will our vocabulary that describes them.   

Marketers should, therefore, take advantage of this by greatly expanding and testing the number of keyword and keyword combinations purchased.  Moreover, these lists should align with marketing campaigns and their objectives across the purchase funnel.  For example, an awareness campaign should include both branded, category and product-specific keywords.  Marketers should refresh this list frequently as the entire category is still very much in flux.

Consumers are hungry for relevant content.  Lacking familiarity with green products, consumers turn to credible information sources to learn about products, compare features and validate choices. 

Marketers should respond by providing relevant content on landing pages that link from both paid – and natural – search. This is important for several reasons.  First, consumers are more likely to engage in the content if it is relevant to their search.   

Moreover, content that pays off corresponding keywords searched translates into a better, more relevant consumer experience.  This is important with current algorithm-based search engines, as well as with emerging community-powered and/or customized search engines such as Eurekster Swicki, Rollyo and Yahoo Search Builder.   

In a world where consumers put considerable trust in the opinions of their peers, community-powered search engines will likely become more popular as search results are informed by the collective experience of the community.

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This is especially important in an emerging category such as green.  With green products emerging rapidly, relatively low consumer familiarity and few standards, consumers will likely turn to peers to help make informed purchase decisions; community-powered search engines will likely play an important role in facilitating this process in the near future.

11 Responses to Search Is Paramount in the Emerging Green Category

  1. Joey Shepp says:

    Thanks for posting about Green Maven!

    My name is Joey Shepp and I’m the founder of Green Maven, The Green Search Engine.

    We’d be happy to get any feedback the readers might have about our site or the field of Green Search.

    Enjoy Green Maven,

    Joey Shepp
    GreenMaven.com Founder

  2. SW says:

    Interesting article about the emergence of vertical search engines targeted towards green. Another green search provider that launched is Greenona.com which also clusters the search results to provide an overview of topics found within the search results.

  3. Thanks for mentioning greenlinkcentral.com! This is a very interesting, well-written article.

    I am one of the founders of this project, which is still in the development phase. We plan to add a lot of great features! Also, this search engine is human edited, so I hope it is very useful for those who choose to use it.

    I have already listed Green Maven in my search results – a very nice site I might add! Great job Joey Shepp!

    Kind regards,
    Larissa Tuttle

  4. Larissa says:

    BTW… Please send your quality green links to our email form on http://www.greenlinkcentral.com/general_information/index.php?page=add_url for review and possible listing. Thanks! Larissa

  5. Brett says:

    An excellent post. Thank you!

  6. E Adviento says:

    Very interesting – 2 ways to look at this: green in what you search for and find; green in how you search. To help reduce emissions from the daily search process and have your searching invest in carbon offsets try http://www.searchgreener.com – a green search engine in how it turns search green

  7. Becky says:

    I heard about these Green Search Engines the other day, so i came home and looked it up. I read ur article so i had a look at some of these sites which you had listed and i think its a good idea, it makes e feel better knowing that i am doing my bit for the environment.

    While i was looking online i aslo found another good Green Search Engine which wasnt listed on your site. It was http://www.greenpoweredsearch.com. I liked the look of this one, so i set it to my homepage. Now everytime i search the net i can do my bit to help the Earth🙂

  8. Klaus says:

    Hallo, I’ll let you know about the Ökoportal
    ” Ecoportal “. It’s the most famous green searching machine/webdirectory for the german spoken area.
    ( Germany/Austria/Switzerland ). It’s online in 15 languages.

    Greetings from Germany Klaus

  9. Klaus says:

    Hallo, I’ll let you know about the Ökoportal
    ” Ecoportal ” http://oekoportal.de/en . It’s the most famous green searching machine/webdirectory for the german spoken area.
    ( Germany/Austria/Switzerland ). It’s online in 15 languages.

    Greetings from Germany Klaus

  10. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills
    as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it
    yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one these days.

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