Do you recall the merger of AT&T and Cingular Wireless back in 2007? At the time, experts questioned AT&T’s decision to retire Cingular’s brand name.
After all, it was very popular. But now the AT&T brand is stronger than ever, and hardly anyone remembers the brand they cut. When faced with a merger today, marketers should tap into paid search to bring the brands together.
A Difficult Journey
Combining two companies can be a painful experience. In fact, it can produce a to-do list from hell. There are seemingly endless meetings to arrange, trainings to schedule, and corporate and consumer-level communications to craft.
Overall, it takes patience, planning, and constant re-evaluation. And throughout it all, you need to reassure your audiences that this merger is in everyone’s best interest.
Understanding Search’s Role
This is exactly where paid search can help. When combining brands during a merger, you should leverage it to test different messages. Doing so will allow you to see what best resonates with your target audiences, make adjustments, and quickly get the information into the market.
Keep in mind that if something doesn’t resonate in paid search, it isn’t likely to do so elsewhere. In short, paid search can help you find the right external messaging so you can ensure that you’re positioning the merger in the best light possible.
How To Create A Successful Brand Union
Below are some paid search tips to help companies combine their brands during a merger process:
- Create a transition experience. It is reasonable to expect that products and services will be changing as you retire one of the brands. However, realize that even if your company is moving forward, many of your consumers may still want the old product or service. Given that, continue to bid on the relevant terms that support the old offering, and lead your consumers to a landing page that explains the replacement product or service. Be sure it provides them with information about how to convert.
- Target on-the-go consumers. Will any brick-and-mortar stores be re-branded as part of this merger? If so, be sure to capitalize on the power of targeting on-the-go consumers with mobile search. This is an easy — and still inexpensive — addition that your agency or engine reps can help you with. Remember to add shorter, broader terms to target the shorter search terms used on mobile. Also, be mindful that these consumers aren’t only actively seeking your product or service, they are often already en route.
- Implement a roll-out plan. To test your re-branding strategy, selectively choose a few (smaller) markets, and gather as much data as possible about how consumers respond to your ad copy and keywords. Then develop a list of findings and revise your strategy as needed before testing on the next market. Slowly work your way up to your largest, most important markets. By continuously testing, applying your findings, and revising your strategy, you can ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success by the time it is most critical.
- Run paid search concurrently with other marketing media. iProspect research shows that two-thirds of Internet users are driven to search by an offline channel. Considering that, make sure all of your agencies are working together to develop an integrated marketing plan. Be sure that your ad copy uses language that is similar to that used in your other channels. Doing so will allow you to leverage search to capture the demand these other channels generate.
- Get local. Targeting consumers where they live is an extremely powerful search tactic. Consider localizing your ad copy to a specific market, depending on current brand loyalties. Be sure to include some of the local options, such as Google Places, to concurrently show the locations of your brick-and-mortar stores with your ads.
- Test your brand messaging. Think about the recent mass failures of new brand logos for Gap and Tropicana. While neither of these situations was the result of a merger, they underscore the importance of testing. Quite simply, you can’t afford to have a brand slip-up like this during such a critical time. Use A/B or multivariate testing to determine what messages resonate with your audience before releasing your ad copy and creative more broadly.
- Balance your organic rankings. How are you currently ranking on your key terms organically? Are you on the first page? Paid search can help you build your search engine presence on key, non-branded terms. To ensure that your key consumers are seeing and responding to your message, consider double-serving on both brands.
Getting through a merger isn’t easy, but paid search can help make it a success. Be sure to use it to effectively market the union of your brands. Doing so could save your company a lot of time and money.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.