Ask For A Habit, Not A Trial

I kept an account the on Monday about the amount of times that I used Google: 30 times in one day. On top of that I use Yahoo! Search shortcuts to three currency conversions. At no time however had I used Ask.com. Why do I use Google? Its a good question, Yahoo! provides broadly comparable natural search in terms of relevance and freshness of data.

When I started in PR, I used a number of search engines: Alta Vista was my primary search site, but Hot Bot was particularly good for technology and on occasion I would Excite. And then for a long time Google has been head and shoulders above the competition. The thing of it is, if I am on a web property like the BBC, I don’t hesitate to use the search box on there and am perfectly happy with the quality of the results. But when I need to look for something in particular I nearly always go back to Google.

I don’t even think about it, using Google has become as much a learned pattern as the way I sign my name or put all my pocket contents into an aluminium tray when I return home at night.

Now there were a number of things wrong with Ask’s recent advertising campaigns in the US and UK which other people talk about elsewhere – so I won’t go on and discuss the campaign creative and execution.

With Ask’s market share being so low in the UK and US, desperate times call for desperate measures. The company needs to get cut through and it needs to encourage trial, but it also needs a specific type of engagement. Not getting the customer to try different services, bouncing them around a web property network, but instead getting the same customer to come back day-in, day-out for three weeks; long enough to form a habit….

This is one of the reasons why the social web is so much top of mind at places like my old employers Yahoo! The cheapest way to get people to come back repeatedly is to foster a sense of community like Flickr. Fostering a community in this way is as much art as science, so there are more talented engineers out there than skilled community wranglers.

However, there are also other more direct incentive techniques. If you look at a product like Yahoo! Answers continued participation is encouraged through a points and level system, together with virtual swag like branded computer desktop wallpapers.

I heard that an Asian site offered free wallpapers of J-pop artists or their equivalent to consumers who retrurned to their portal site every day for a set amount of time.