I just came across this study by About.com, the online content provider, exploring the “three mindsets of search.” The purpose of the study was to promote the company, of course, but also to help marketers understand why and how Internet visitors use search.

The study used both quantitative data and qualitative research to conclude that users searching on the Internet exhibit three distinct human behavior search patterns:

  • Answer Me (46% of all searches) searchers want exactly what they ask for, and no more, delivered in a way that allows them to get to it as directly as possible. The top categories are Entertainment, Fashion and Beauty & Style.
  • Educate Me (26% of all searches) searchers want 360 degrees of understanding, and multiple perspectives on critical topics. They will search until their goal is achieved, which may stretch over long periods of time and through related topics. The top categories are Health and Finance.
  • Inspire Me (28% of all searches) searchers are looking for surprises, have open minds and want to be led. The top categories are Travel and Home & Garden.

Why is this important? Employees are also seeking information in different ways, depending on their interest in a topic. So About.com’s advice for marketers is also relevant to how we provide communication internally:

  • For Answer Me searchers, who want just enough, we need to put information front and center, in a way that provides quick, easy-to-find answers.
  • For Educate Me searchers, create messaging that is informative, in addition to providing a way to learn more about the topic from multiple angles.
  • For Inspire Me searchers, we need to offer choice and be creative.

As always, one size does not fit all, and the more we understand employees’ preferences, the better we can design communication that meets their needs.

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