Although the battle between Apple and Google has garnered the bulk of media coverage, Microsoft has stealthily been preparing for a market share battle with their sexier rivals. Apple has a robust ecosystem. Google certainly does as well, but people need to remember the scope and depth of Microsoft's ecosystem. Let's look at how they leverage it to win new Edge and Bing users.
Who should care about this battle for browser and search engine users? Marketers who are taking a renewed look at Microsoft. In our conversations with customers, there is awareness of Bing and a history of small experiments. The hype around chat GPT has driven new consumer evaluations of being. Digital agencies are taking another look at this dormant giant.
5 ways Microsoft gets Google users
1. Resetting browser defaults on Windows update
For several years Microsoft has recommended that Windows users set Edge as their default browser after a Windows update. This can be very effective and very sticky. Many users, notably less patient users, will blow through the installation checklist without a thought. These users become confused when Edge becomes their default browser. However, reverting to Chrome becomes a task unto itself. A task less technical users need help to complete. Still, many users do come to accept the Edge experience. Edge has improved dramatically, and conversion from Chrome has been simplified with wizards and tools. This relentless tactic has kept Edge in the game for quite some time.
2. Using Bing-ChatGPT excitement to drive Edge adoption
ChatGPT has become the dominant Tech story of 2023. Microsoft's deep investment in OpenAI has positioned it well to capitalize on this hype. Bing has been relaunched to great fanfare with additional capabilities provided by ChatGPT. According to Microsoft, 1/3 of users who signed up for the Bing preview were new to bing. Microsoft has leveraged this interest by directing users interested in the ChatGPT-enabled Bing to Edge to maximize their experience.
3. Adding Bing search to the Windows toolbar
Microsoft also incorporated Bing search results into the Windows toolbar. This new capability has been promoted with pop-up boxes seen by the entire Windows install base. While users are not generally familiar with using the Windows search bar, it has never been promoted in this fashion before. Bing has certainly never been the "sexy" product that would entice new users. The resurgence of interest in Bing makes this the ideal time for Microsoft to reintroduce users to Bing results in the Windows search bar.
4. Promoting Edge from the taskbar
The Windows taskbar has become a very robust channel for Microsoft to promote products, and Edge has benefited from this promotion. These invitations to try Edge will continue engaging new users and fostering trial adoption. It is up to Microsoft to provide the user experience that will keep them returning.
5. Adding Bing results to the Windows start key
For those too young to remember, Windows 95 was a giant leap forward in PC usability at a time when PCs were the only devices available. Many of these UI improvements, having appeared on Apple computers before, were not particularly novel. The Windows start key was an actual UI Innovation featured prominently in Microsoft's massive launch campaign for Windows 95. The start key doesn't get as much use as it used to, as most user app selection on PC takes place in a browser. Still, it is a regular part of being a Windows user to this day. Microsoft has introduced Bing search results right within that start key. Probably not driving much traffic, but again just another arrow in Microsoft's quiver.
And 2 ways Microsoft is keeping their users
That's a lot of effort to get people to try Edge and Bing. The most important way to keep them is to provide a fantastic user experience. Microsoft has become more innovative than Google on both the browser and search engine front. They are employing other methods to retain their new users.
1. Save campaigns
One of the most common responses when bringing up Bing in conversation is the factual claim that the number one search on Bing is for Chrome. This has been a source of not-too-gentle mockery for some time. Microsoft is not taking this lying down.
They have recently rolled out a very aggressive banner imploring users not to switch to Chrome when these searches are made. It comes off as a little desperate, but it probably does retain some users.
2. Camouflaging Bing on mobile
Another illustration of Microsoft's cleverness ( sneakiness?) is that when you stumble onto Bing on your mobile device, it sure looks a lot like Google. The user would have to scroll up to see any Microsoft branding whatsoever. The rest of the results look precisely like Google.
What it means
Microsoft's aggressive efforts to acquire Edge and Bing users demonstrate the strategic importance of those products. This prioritization, combined with Microsoft's resources, marketers should watch their moves. Bing claims to gain significant market share in the past few months.
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