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Branding Tactics for Search

Sometimes, yes. “Raising brand awareness” is the last refuge of the marketing hack. But more and more, studies are showing that search marketing does aid branding. Searchers have higher brand recall than those exposed to banner ads. What’s more, searchers recall higher-ranked results far more than others.

Understanding the decision points of your prospective customer helps you create a search marketing campaign that targets the widest necessary set of keywords. Searchers use keywords drawn from their need early in the purchase process, escalating to brand and product names as they near purchase.

Measuring Brand Awareness with Search

Many companies are recognizing that the keywords searchers choose are indicative of their level of brand awareness. Nescafe, for example, offered two free weeks of coffee on an episode of The Apprentice, sending people scurrying to the Web to learn more. By measuring the increase in searches Nescafe estimated the branding buzz they created. IBM used offline advertising to publicize the ThinkPad protection system (“airbag”), whose effectiveness was revealed in search increases for related keywords.

Because search is one of the few ways that companies can see unaided brand awareness demonstrated in real-life situations, it is rapidly becoming a popular barometer for brand building. Whereas a few years ago, expensive studies were the only way to measure changes in your brand, now watching search keyword volumes can supplement or replace some of these studies.

Creating Brand Awareness with Search

It’s a bit trickier than measuring brand awareness, but sometimes you can actually raise brand awareness through search. IBM used this technique for its “on demand” concept.

As you might expect, at the beginning of a new marketing campaign, such as “on demand,” no searchers will be looking for the term. And IBM did start to advertise using traditional means to embed the name “on demand” in searchers’ minds. But IBM used search marketing to raise brand awareness as well, by leveraging existing successful keywords.

Because “on demand” is a message that can be applied to many parts of IBM’s portfolio, it was an especially good choice for increasing brand awareness. IBM already had a #1 ranking for “product lifecycle management,” for example. It was relatively easy to tweak the landing page so that searchers for that keyword were exposed to an on demand message relating to PLM on the landing page.

Download the complete set of slides for this talk on search branding tactics. For even more tips, check out the book Search Engine Marketing, Inc. today.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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