Innovative Search And Its Impact On Brand
Can an innovative search campaign actually benefit your brand? In a word: Yes. In fact, research shows that 39% of search users feel that the brands that appear in the top of the search results are the leaders in their field. Moreover, brands that aren’t innovative online also don’t move up the rankings. For example, […]
Can an innovative search campaign actually benefit your brand? In a word: Yes. In fact, research shows that 39% of search users feel that the brands that appear in the top of the search results are the leaders in their field. Moreover, brands that aren’t innovative online also don’t move up the rankings. For example, who do you think is ranking in the top spot for “car insurance” in Google and Yahoo!? If you guessed Geico, you are correct. Marketers need to realize that an innovative search campaign has the potential to do more than drive traffic to your site; it can also have a positive impact on how your brand is perceived.
Defining innovative search
Innovation is the development of a new idea or method. Given that, an innovative search program seeks to do something entirely new, or to improve upon something that you are already doing. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to make your search campaigns more innovative, ranging from high-end initiatives such as building a site in Flash, or creating widgets or gadgets, to low cost/low effort “fixes” such as updating your meta data to include more compelling descriptions and keyword-centric titles, or using your internal links to promote the search value of certain pages.
Reaping the benefits
Regardless of the specific techniques you employ, injecting more innovation into your search campaign could benefit your brand in a number of different ways, including improved rankings, perception as an industry leader, or enhanced audience interaction/engagement, as evidenced in the below snapshot of an innovative client search campaign in action:
The credit industry is very competitive; consequently, so are its keywords. At last check, Google was estimating that you would have to spend between $8.57 and $11.41 for an average CPC in their network to obtain a top 3 position on the term “credit cards.” Such a highly competitive paid search market is indicative of one thing for the organic side: It’ll take a lot to earn a top position. But by leveraging an innovative search campaign, CreditCards.com has done just that. The site includes an endless amount of content on tips, advice, industry news, TV and radio interviews, a blog, a Twitter feed, calculators, and other tools. As a result, when people are searching for credit cards, the CreditCards.com brand has a better chance of remaining top of mind and becoming a useful resource than the actual credit card companies do.
Innovation’s biggest obstacle
While the concept of devising more innovative search campaigns sounds simple enough – and the benefits more than clear – executing on it can be another story. As any search marketer can attest, it’s all too easy to get caught-up in the day-to-day elements of the job, especially in a down market where competition for consumer dollars is fierce. The result? More often than not, plans for innovation get left by the wayside.
Understanding the risk
But there’s a big risk in letting that happen. By failing to add more innovation to your search efforts, you essentially give your competitors the opportunity to capitalize on your stagnant search results. Given that, you can’t leave innovation to chance; it must be a deliberate part of your search initiatives. As a search marketer, it is your responsibility to identify the best opportunities and to run with them. If you don’t, your competitors will, and their brands will benefit.
There are numerous ways to make your search campaigns more innovative. Here are a some opportunities with recommendations to help you get started.
User-centric information: Good copy can help your brand just as surely as bad copy will hurt it. To assess if your copy hits the mark, determine whether it’s designed to help the end user make a decision or solve a problem, or if it simply talks about the company. The former says that your brand has the user in mind; the latter says that you only have the company in mind.
Recommendation: Perform a gap analysis of your content as it relates to user-centric information, and determine what stays, what needs to be tweaked, and what should be cut.
Reputation management: Individuals have unprecedented power on the Web today. As such, it is becoming increasingly important to know who is saying what about your brand. If you’re a big brand, not only is it important for you to know what people are saying about you, but it is also key to start putting a value on your branding efforts (even outside of just conversions).
Recommendation: Determine a baseline of how your brand is perceived online relative to your competitors, and then continually monitor it. You should have a goal and metrics to determine how successful your online and offline campaigns are at driving positive sentiment for your brand (not just traffic).
Analysis: It’s imperative to understand how your customers perceive your brand. Fortunately, taking a closer look at how you attribute conversions can help you do just that. And while most marketers use the last click, looking at the first click—or even clicks from other channels—could provide more insight into the conversion funnel and to the non-branded efforts that are helping to bring traffic to your brand.
Recommendation: Talk to your analytics provider to find out how you can gain access to this information. If they can’t provide it, talk to a company that offers attribution modeling.
Audience segmentation: An audience is a Website’s most important asset. Do you have clarity about yours? It’s likely that your audience is comprised of several different types of users. If this is the case, creating segments can help you properly funnel visitors down the correct path. This will ensure that each visitor type experiences your brand as you intended.
Recommendation: Determine the primary types of customers you service and build a plan to identify how you will funnel them through your site, including what content they would need to see, and what the desired conversion event is for each group. Then start building out these paths and sections.
Bottom line: An innovative search campaign can positively impact how your brand is perceived. But to make it happen, you’ll need to commit to creating more innovative search campaigns.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.