Marketing Campaigns Focusing on Search
Some time has passed since Andrej Miklosik introduced the term Search-Centric Marketing for the very first time as part of the work focusing on the search-centric framework for marketing communication. It was a revolutionary way of looking on how visibility in search helps businesses to succeed. Its implementation has been verified in a number of applications including communication campaign planning and management or its role in achieving the sustainability of academic marketing. This concept takes into account the way how users behave in the process of making purchasing decisions. They are affected by multiple communication messages coming from various channels, they look for the information actively and based on all of this, they choose the brand, make, service etc. and purchase the product.
Visibility in search is not only important for companies trying to get more online leads. It is the key to successful digital marketing, that’s for sure, however, search visibility is crucial for any company and organisation regardless the sector and the marketing channels it uses to communicate with its target audience. Let’s introduce two scenarios that can happen from the consumer’s point of view and identify the role of search in that particular process. They can be all part of the same purchasing decision-making process, however, certain consumers will just go through one or a few of them while others might experience more similar scenarios.
When Search Visibility and Search Profile Become Crucial
TV Advertising is still very powerful and affects a lot of people. Many decisions are made based on the exposing of prospective customers to commercial spots. According to the study of eMarketer, this year (2017) should be the first one in the history when digital advertising outperforms TV. It is expected that the share of digital ad spending will reach 54% of the total media ad spending in 2017 and shall grow in the following years o possibly reach more than 60% in 2021. Nevertheless, TV will remain powerful and its influence will weaken very slowly.
In this first scenario, the consumer was possibly thinking of a product he might need (or even not yet) and now, he sees a TV spot that shows a fantastic product. He can run into a local shop to search for it or he will research more information about it and possibly even purchase it online. Anyway, he has a mobile phone on his lap which he uses to chat on Facebook while watching the TV. He inserts the keyword into Google (e.g. brand or product name) and looks for more information. He might find product reviews, the website of the manufacturer, websites of distributors, profiles on social media or relevant discussions within the search results. If he finds this and it assures him that buying the product is the best decision he can make, he justifies the purchase and moves on to making it. If no satisfactory search results are returned for the first or second keyword he enters, he might well leave the search and forget that he wanted to buy something.
In another scenario, he could have started actively searching for a solution to a particular problem. In this case, he begins with fulltext search, explores the options available and maybe creates a shortlist or identifies the product that best matches his expectations. However, he does not have enough time to finalise the purchase or just wants to do more research later. How does he come back to the resources he has found before? Sure, there are some ways certain people would use such as bookmarking the pages, sending links to their own emails etc. Most of the users are very comfortable, though and would rely on the search again. When our consumer comes to the computer, later on, he types in some keywords he remembered from the initial search to continue his quest. If he finds the website we want him to find, we (as the business) are on the avenue to success (understand conversion or purchase), otherwise, we have lost a potential customer.
Building a Solid Campaign-Related Search Profile
One of the first things to ensure when running a campaign in media is to be visible on key terms related to the campaign. This should include both “core” keywords containing the brand, make, product type, product category, its use, key features of the product etc and long-tail keywords, too. This can be achieved by using an appropriate combination of Search Engine Marketing methods. Thus, we would rely on PPC and SEO to occupy first positions of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). However, ranking our corporate website, product site, eshop or special campaign page is not our only concern. People will search for our brand and all other results that are displayed within the first SERP make its mark on the overall impression. You might ask: How could I even affect what is being displayed there? Is it really necessary to think of this once I made sure my product is visible in SERP? Well, let’s have a closer look at building the search profile for selected keywords.
The Process to Implement for Each Main Campaign Keyword
The whole work is keyword-related. Thus, we need to know which keywords we are going to optimise our search profile. For each of the keywords, there are different sites in the SERP and we need to work with each SERP listing individually. Thus, keyword selection is at the beginning of the process. Do not be too ambitious at the beginning and just select 2-5 keywords that have the biggest search volume and are in close relation to the campaign (if you want to optimise your campaign visibility).
Then, start with the first SERP and analyse the search results offered. Try to get answers to these questions:
- Where does my page(s) stand in this listing? Am I on the first SERP page and (actually it is very important) is at least one of “my” results ranking in TOP3? If not, SEO strategy needs to be adjusted and for a temporary time, this keyword needs to be targeted with PPC and assigned an appropriate click budget
- Is there any chance I can get more results into TOP10? Under “my” results we understand every page that is owned by the company, its partners, distributors, etc., and thus, we can directly or indirectly affect what and how it presents. Have a look at the second and third SERP to identify some of these possibilities. If yes, deploy an SEO strategy to target these pages and optimise them for the keyword you are currently dealing with. it is always better to have more pages you control in TOP10. Also, think of this next time you create your campaign strategy. If you address this issue at the very beginning, you might be more successful in pushing more pages on the first SERP page (e.g. your product or campaign promotion page etc.). Also, by working on your main website you could achieve more of your subpages of the same website might appear as landing pages in TOP10.
- How does the SERP look in overall regarding my brand? Does it look positive, neutral or negative? Are there any sites that present some kind of negative information or emotion related to our brand and products? If yes, try to identify strategies on minimising the adverse impact by addressing the identified issues.
Optimising the Pages you Control
By implementing certain measures you can “polish” the search profile and make it look positive. You should make all the changes possible on the websites you control directly and attempt to initiate changes on websites that are in your broader network, too. These include (not limited to):
- Optimising the visibility of the page in the search index by changing page titles and meta descriptions.
- Considering using optimal aliases/URLs where applicable (do not forget to 301 the old one if you decide to change it).
- Optimise the content of each page that is in e.g. first 3 SERP pages to increase the chance of going up in rankings.
- Identify the second page on every website that you have under your influence and develop a related content on it. It can be anything complimentary to the original content, it can be more information on the promotion, its conditions, related promotions, adding more information about the product, writing product review etc. This increases the chance of getting a second page from the same domain into the top SERP results.
How to Influence the Other SERP Results
Firstly, let me state that we are not trying to manipulate Google rankings in any way here. We just want to make sure we present people with the best content structure possible and Google decides if it is worth to include it on the first SERP and what its ranking will be. By influencing other pages I mean implementing such actions that can change the look of the SERP result or even move it up or down on the SERP page. Take a product review page for example. A website Productreview.com.au has a good domain authority (59 as on 10 Aug 2017) and valuable content, as it contains independent customer opinions on products which are a sought after commodity by purchasers. And they are valued by Google, too (they are a ranking factor). If you have a profile on Productreview.com.au or similar well-ranking user review website in Australia, your chance that it will be part of TOP 10 for some keywords might be quite high. Now, what you can do here is:
- Aim at achieving a positive rating as close to 5/5 as possible
- Make sure you respond to both positive and negative reviews you have received
- Think of what words to use when writing your response
Firstly, having a good score/rating is very important, as it is often visible directly in the search results (and people decide based on the reviews, of course). You should implement a long-term strategy of acquiring positive reviews from your happy customers. It is not always easy to get a review from the customer but it is worth the effort. Companies often underestimate this and do not actively ask customers for reviews. And it is only natural that if not asked, people much more often share a negative experience than the positive one (some sources say that the chance a customer will share his negative experience with the company is 10 times higher than that he shares a positive one). On top of this, there is always possible to dig deeper and try to understand why the negative reviews originated and based on that, implement a strategy of gaining your angry customers back. But this is a different story already and out of the scope of this article. Do not be afraid to ask your customer to write you a review – it is a legitimate thing and you and it is fully compliant with the rules of product review sites out there. Some of them even enable you sending the request directly from your dashboard on the product review site.
Secondly, do not leave any review unanswered – respond to both positive and negative reviews to demonstrate your involvement. It may seem hard finding the right way of approaching some of the negative reviews but use one of the verified strategies out there (face the problem, explain your position, offer a solution, admit the failure, etc.). By all means, try to make the customer happy by offering a real value (does not have to be only via the product review site). There are many examples out there when he finally appreciates your effort and writes a positive response to the same thread or a creates a new one.
And finally, think of the words you use when writing your responses. Try incorporating product names, your brand, product category, or even parts of the claims from the current or planned promotions into your response. By doing this smart, you will increase the chance this particular page will be displayed in TOP 10 when searching for one of the campaign-related keywords.
There are many websites that can be ranked on the first SERP page and may contain (or may not) product/company reviews, too. By actively working with all of them, having your profile in the local directories, incorporating the right claims into the profile, managing reviews, Q&As and similar content bits and pieces on third-party websites you will make the most of your campaign-related search visibility. With this, your search profile for selected campaign-related keywords will look as good as possible and will support the aims of the campaign and its conversions as much as possible.
All Wrapped Up
Planning your campaign in detail months before it is released and incorporating search visibility questions into the planning and implementation process is a must nowadays. Offline and online teams need to cooperate intensely to ensure the communication message is efficiently spread through all media channels and the online visibility reflects the campaign aims and supports its efficiency. Building a solid search profile for campaign-related keywords is a crucial part of this whole process. Don’t let your low search visibility or negative search profile sentiment ruin your efforts and do not waste your campaign budgets!
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