The news is out: consumers are changing their buying—and search—habits. SearchIgnite reports that users are taking longer to make purchase decisions online: the average time between when they click on an ad and convert on a marketer's website increased by 32.4% in Q1 2009 compared with Q1 2008. Ouch.

In addition, SearchIgnite found that the number of search-engine users clicking on multiple ads from the same marketer increased by 28% year-over-year: that's a sign, the company speculates, that consumers are doing more comparison shopping prior to making a purchase.

Efficient Frontier agrees that shoppers are skittish. Its results show that comparison shopping has become a priority, and that consumers are becoming less brand-conscious. "This change in behavior has led advertisers and search engines to adapt quickly to the new economic environment, seeking out new ways to target users," Efficient Frontier reports. "As a result, the ROI and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goals of search advertisers have increased since October 2008."

What's the overall marketing message here? With more users searching and re-clicking online, never has the need been greater for marketers to integrate targeted search into their multichannel mix. The strategy: target and repeat. Get your name consistently at the top of hot search results lists, to offer discounts and encourage trust among searchers.

The Point: Give 'em what they want. Now's a great time to design search campaigns that consistently reach your best prospects with clear discounts. Offer, and offer again!

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