Brands that leverage vertical search engines get an edge in tapping the alternate customer journey.
Twitch was launched the same year YouTube introduced live streaming, in 2011. In 2022, YouTube Gaming Live had an average of 544 thousand concurrent viewers, whereas the same number for Twitch: 2.58 million! In fact, at a whopping 90%, Twitch enjoys the lion's share of the online live-streaming market.
Still, there is a good chance you’ve never been on Twitch.
Plausibly because the platform has primarily been meant for the niche of video game enthusiasts. However, lately, as users have been flocking there for other forms of entertainment (including podcasts, music, or DIY projects), it opens opportunities for a broader band of brands to reach their target audience.
And, that’s just one example of a vertical search on the rise.
Vertical Search Enables Alternate User Journey
In recent years, there has been a notable shift in the way consumers approach online searches. People want quicker, more reliable, and direct answers (or whatever they are searching for online).
100 million Indian e-shoppers, Amazon India has 1.1 million sellers. So, a new wave of retailers and SMB owners are finding it worth onboarding Amazon Seller Central. Likewise, with 445 million monthly active users, Pinterest is growing at 11% CAGR and boasts a 20% faster trend take-off in the first six months compared to other social platforms. And going back to Twitch, prominent streamers are said to have a chat engagement rate of 7-15% — surpassing the average engagement rate of popular social media at 1-5%.
While Google still dominates the search engine arena, vertical search engines wield mastery in their niche regarding directory, format, and deciphering user queries. Plus, having their own apps raise the heat in the battle for direct traffic against general search engines.
These enable alternate paths in the traditional user journey.
Meeting One User on Their Different Journeys
How many people you know bought a phone online without checking on Amazon? Spotify is where you discover new songs, right? And don’t you (too) stalk your interviewer/interviewee on LinkedIn?
Not hard to imagine how your target user should be meeting their daily needs on different platforms and apps. So, Google SEO or Ads alone is no more enough. Instead, the ideal way to reach potential customers would be to connect with them at every touch point. While doing so, you have to be flexible in terms of content tone, format, and distribution to harness the potential of vertical search without breaking their flow. Also worth noting is the case of online trends: casual yet momentary crowd-pullers, brands should keep an eye out to leverage them.
The basic remains the same: Once you put yourself in the shoes of your modern digital-savvy users, the picture of their online journey will become sharper to strategize where, when, and how you place your brand.
Walking Alongside Users on Vertical Search Engines
It’s essential to view efforts for vertical search as not merely ‘going the extra mile’ but more like ‘going all the way’.
Along this line, brands should further explore building relationships with vertical search engines. By partnering with these platforms for mutual benefits, the two parties can exchange their visibility, dependability, and connectivity in the general conscience of the audience in their respective industries.
Think of it this way: When Google realised that for its shallow search experiences it’s losing some users to vertical search engines, it began playing catch up by integrating with, guess what, vertical search engines themselves! That’s why we have the likes of TripAdvisor, Waze, and Yelp as integral parts of Google services.
This is where a brand’s creativity, in tandem with tech’s abilities, creates possibilities of whole new touchpoints for user acquisition on vertical search engines.
So, is it Worth Pivoting to Vertical Search Engines?
We are – again – in the thick of a transformation in the online landscape. As Google finds itself adjusting under its own weight, many agile vertical search engines are emerging that increasingly command their niche customer's attention.
So, it makes absolute sense to include vertical search in your marketing mix.
The efforts to optimise for these vertical search engines are similar to the general ones, albeit the bandwidth and expertise required can be challenging. If anything, it’s the next adventure brands and agencies can look forward to together!