There’s no question that the vast majority of brand loyalty is created post click—once consumers are brought to a landing page with relevant offers and other brand messaging. However, what happens in that 2-3 second window prior to the click? A lot more brand building than you think.
First impressions count
Search marketers spend countless hours figuring out how to connect consumers to a brand/product, and then articulate that in an ad that won’t get more than a mere glance. But despite its short lifespan, an ad must be truthful, deliver value, and resonate with consumers. In essence, it must set the foundation for a good first impression, which is arguably the most important aspect of building brand loyalty. Moreover, creating such loyalty takes a mutual bond of trust between two entities—the brand and the consumer. By capitalizing on first impressions, search marketers can start building trust with their customers and prospects. This is accomplished by developing ads that clearly outline what they are going to do for them, and then delivering upon those promises.
Three elements of building brand loyalty with paid search
So is it really possible to build brand loyalty in a mere two seconds? In a word, yes. It all starts with a good first impression. Below are three key elements that you should consider in your efforts to build brand loyalty with paid search.
1 – Relevance. Granted, quality score matters, and the inherent synergies between keywords, ad copy, and landing pages are critical factors in determining it. However, marketers must recognize that it is trumped by something else entirely: delivering a consistent message that is on target and resonates with consumers, from the first impression of ad copy to the content on your site. Irrelevant keywords, copy, or destinations are the quickest way to ruin a first impression of a brand/product. How so? Think of it this way: For all intents and purposes, a first impression is nothing more than a hunch. When a consumer sees an ad, they choose to either act upon it or ignore it, based upon that feeling. So when ad copy and landing pages are irrelevant to a search query, you are essentially instilling the idea that you cannot help the consumer, regardless of whether or not it is true. The result of such irrelevancy should be obvious: the consumer becomes frustrated, has the lasting impression that you do not have the product or service they need, and goes back to the search results to find a company that does. Remember, search is a marketing distribution vehicle. We push content out to consumers in hopes of converting it into a sale/lead, so make sure you are leveraging content that is relevant to users throughout the entire engagement process, and make every impression count.
2 – Messaging. Consistent and truthful messaging is paramount to building brand loyalty with your audience. Why? Because it is fundamental to building trust, and trust is key to any relationship. Given that, we must do whatever it takes to build this trust with our customers and prospects. And messaging plays a key role in developing this trust, including the messaging in ads that are displayed in the search results, and the copy on landing pages. Just as you are asking consumers to eventually buy your products, they are expecting you to be truthful in your ads. For example, consider the messaging “free coffee.” Obviously, it implies that a consumer will receive some coffee for free. When the destination page delivers upon the ad’s promise, it builds trust between the user and the brand. However, if the landing page does not have the free coffee theme built into it, a disconnect occurs. The result? The consumer will bounce, and their trust in the brand will be damaged.
3 – Feedback process. Implementing a feedback process is crucial to building brand loyalty within paid search. By listening to your consumers, you can tap into a wealth of knowledge and gain tremendous insight. But feedback should not be limited to just what your customers have to say (via phone, email, forums etc.), as their behavior on the engines and on your site is also very telling. Understanding what people are doing with your ads—or more importantly, what they are not doing with them—gives you the opportunity to implement significant changes to your ad copy strategy and increase click through rates (CTR). But focusing on one metric is never a good idea. Instead, simultaneously analyzing metrics like bounce rates and CTR can help you tap into even better consumer insights. For instance, you may have a compelling ad with a high CTR, but if you don’t examine the correlation between it and the high bounce rate of the landing page it is driving users to, then you’ll miss the opportunity to improve the situation, and suffer the consequence: decreased user engagement, and diminished chances of building trust and loyalty. Ultimately, search marketers need to work to find creative ways to uncover this vital feedback and leverage it to build brand loyalty.
Though it rarely gets credit for it, paid search can do much to help build brand loyalty. To fully capitalize on these important first impressions as a brand building tool, search marketers need to make every interaction count by making their content relevant, providing truthful and consistent messaging, and listening to their audience through engine and site metrics. In doing so, they can help turn customers and prospects into brand loyalists.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.