Search is typically thought of exclusively as a direct response medium with the objectives of driving traffic and customer acquisition. Direct response channels are measured in terms of things like response rates, purchases, and consumer action. These metrics fit in neatly with search because it is measurable media that can be directly correlated to response rates, e.g. clicks and purchases.
Conversely, branding is not the ‘usual’ way that the search channel is used. This is primarily because branding objectives differ greatly from direct response goals and therefore the same measures do not apply. Usual branding objectives encompass things like creating awareness, generating familiarity, promoting consideration, and driving recommendations.
While clicks and purchases are not relevant to the measure of a branding effort, there are metrics that can be derived from the search channel which do fit nicely with a branding strategy.
For example, we can measure efforts to create brand awareness from stats like reach and frequency, a.k.a. impression share. We can measure familiarity and consideration by cleverly bidding on paid search terms that connote our brand and measuring the effectiveness via click thru rate on our advertisements as compared to other connotative keywords.
Branding on the search channel is important because the opportunity for exposure is big and continues to get bigger. During a recent joint webinar with The Search Monitor on Budgeting Intelligence, Eli Goodman of Comscore put forth the following key information on search use:
- Search intensity has grown by 11% since January of 2010 – search intensity refers to the number of searches per search.
- Searchers are usually looking for something to do, somewhere to go, or for places to find information.
The Top 5 Ways To Use Search For Branding
1. Target interest-based keywords
Branding can be about connecting with your target base through relevant interests. There is a gaping hole of opportunity within paid search to target keywords that connote interests tied deeply to your brand. For example: if you run a search for cooking related keywords like ‘fried chicken’, ‘crab cakes’, or ‘chicken soup’, you will find virtually no advertisers.
However, these are great opportunities for home focused brands like William Sonoma, Calphalon, and others to get in front of their target market, not for the purpose of driving a sale but simply as an opportunity for branding.
You can try the same exercise with recreational keywords like ‘wilderness kayaking’ or ‘sky diving’ or ‘biking events’. Again, you will notice that there are either no advertisers or only a small subset of advertisers that offer the specific expedition style sport.
These types of interest based keywords could present a great opportunity for Camelback or Specialized to run branding based ads.
2. Target traits-based keywords
Branding can be about emphasizing unique traits of your brand. You can target keywords that emphasize your key selling points coupled with your ad copy to hammer home serious brand messages. This is great strategy for manufacturers and is totally underutilized.
For example: if you search for keywords that denote quality, there is a dearth of advertisers like ‘high quality brake pads’, ‘unbreakable sink parts’, ‘stain free carpet’ or ‘knowledgeable insurance broker’.
3. Optimize video
If you have strong video advertisements that depict your brand messaging, you need to optimize your videos for organic search results. You should promote your videos through YouTube sponsored search. You should promote these videos on social media using the pay-per-click platform offered through Facebook.
4. Brand Meta Tags for organic SEO listings
Organic listing descriptions are often pulled from your meta tags. I find that brands are hyper focused on getting a top rank, that the description is often overlooked. The listing description is a fantastic place to put out branded messaging. You control the meta tag descriptions. Your tagline and other targeted messages can gain more reach through placement within your organic listing descriptions.
Pizza Hut does a nice job of this with strong branding messages within its organic listing copy: “Pizza Hut – home of America’s favorite pizza, delivering delicious hot pizza and WingStreet buffalo wings straight to your door. Order your Pizza Hut pizzas”:
5. Be there when your brand is queried
You should have a strong presence when your brand is specifically being searched.
This includes: slogans, brand names, product names, typos, and adding ‘.com’ extensions to your keywords. This should also include brand phrases – keywords that contain your brand. While I am stating the obvious, solid search data also supports this, as Comscore noted during our presentation together that out of the top 15 paid search terms (based on click volume), 11 are brand names.
Consistent Messaging From Search To Site
When considering these options, also bear in mind that the landing pages where you are driving branding traffic should show continuity of messaging. If you are promoting your ‘stain free carpets’, then the landing page should explain more about how your unique process enables you to provide carpets that shun stains.
Remember that the goal of your branding campaign isn’t to drive a sale today but to create awareness about a specific trait, style, or need that your brand meets – in turn driving long term customer loyalty and hopefully word of mouth recommendations to friends and family.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.