I have just conducted an experiment where I forced myself to use Bing's new chat-based search for almost a week, and spoiler alert: I loved it. But I'll get into that later.
When was the last time you searched Google and found the answer on the first page without having to refine your query to get rid of all the "content marketing" b/s? Or those worthless websites that rank "listicles" based on who paid the most (looking at you, Capterra)?
I analyzed my own search habits and then reached out and interviewed about 14 people I know personally, mostly developers and founders. It turns out that this is how most of us search for information online:
For consumer product reviews, such as "Is this smartwatch any good?" or "What's the best mechanical keyboard in 2023?", we go to YouTube, Amazon, or Reddit.
For practical questions like "How do I replace a gas boiler condensate pump?", we go to YouTube.
For "fun" questions like "What's the coolest MTB trail in Tignes, France?" or "What's the most scenic route from L.A. to Yosemite?" it's Instagram or YouTube, again.
Now where does this put B2B product recommendations?
I'm not just a searcher. I also run a B2B-company that wants to be discovered. Where does that happen?
Turns out it's mostly private communities. This is also confirmed by all the customer interviews we conduct asking how people discovered our product, and looking at our funnel analytics. When someone needs new software in their tech stack, they turn to closed Slack groups, private forums, Discords, Telegram/Whatsapp chats to ask fellow founders and CTOs - what do they use, for example, for transactional emails? And if there's no suitable private community within the reach, it's usually Reddit or Hackernews.
This is significant in terms of how small software entrepreneurs should adjust their marketing campaigns going forward. Nowadays, hardly anyone buys the product after searching for a generic term or landing from a PPC/referral campaign. Instead, the majority of customers learn about the product through recommendations from friends, peers, colleagues, clients, and then visit our website directly or search for the brand name on Google. We should stop running in the SEO hamster wheel and instead invest in product-led growth, viral loops, and features that amplify "word of mouth". However, this is a broad topic that requires a separate essay.
The only thing I kept using Google for is... coding questions. Error messages, class & method names, workarounds and snippets. Google is very good at that. And guess what? Bing's new chat-based search is even better. When I paste an error message it first finds all the pages that mention it, then analyzes what's common about them, then compiles a solution from all the results discovered, and gives me the answer citing the sources if I need more info.