You know the kind of people I’m talking about – those who suddenly glaze over when the conversation diverts from them. Yes, it’s annoying, and companies that are using a one way barrage of advertising and marketing to their potential customers in an attempt to sell, sell, sell are annoying too.
It’s all me, me, me
Especially around the Christmas period, companies go all out to try and get noticed. But sending email after email effectively saying ‘here are our products’ and ‘look how good we are,’ is not a good way to do it. Okay, so you might receive some clicks and maybe sell a few products, but when it comes to building a brand that people will love and return to, there is a lot more work to be done.
Internet shoppers today are less likely to believe what a company is telling them, preferring to ask around and do their research before committing to a purchase; using review sites, comparison sites and other such sites to make a decision. Unless your brand is in a niche market, simply emailing your entire customer database a list of products and telling them how great your prices are is going to be unsuccessful in the long run. In the overcrowded environment of competing companies today, if you’re still using this kind of ‘push’ advertising, there is probably someone already doing it better…
The answer is:
To talk WITH your customer base, not AT them and give them a reason to buy from you instead of a competitor. Every marketing campaign is a chance to connect with people and start building brand loyalty that leads to repeat, long lasting customers. With the explosion of social media, social platforms are going all out to ensure that brands can connect with their customers; Instagram just the other week launched its new ‘Direct’ feature, enabling brands to speak directly with members of the public. It’s making it easier than ever before to listen to the views of the people who drive businesses – so use it to get to know your customers!
The Top UK Ads of 2013 were announced the other week, the biggest and best brands have been fighting it out to produce the ad with the most views, shares and interactions. Interestingly, these winning adverts have virtually no association with their products, but undoubtedly have the strongest effect on the viewer and create a buzz, because they know their target audiences.
The Evian babies achieved 100 million views in 10 weeks and came out on top. The advert that divided public opinion (and my personal favourite), The Bear and the Hare from John Lewis, came in second, and Three’s #danceponydance came in third. These brands have connected with their audiences emotionally and become memorable through being funny, cute and/or bizarre, with no pushy emails required.
The agency Clear and its Brand Desire study goes further to understand the consumer relationships with brands today. This year, Clear spoke to 20,517 people about 678 brands to form their conclusions and this research is ongoing.
“Brand Desire is an index made up of how users think, feel and act towards brands. The more a brand achieves recognition (think), proves emotion (feel) and motivates action (act) – the more desirable it is”
It’s no real surprise who came out on top of this study. Apple has taken care of that sense of belonging that today’s customers look for, as well as keeping up with innovation that portrays its energy and backing it up with a great product to complete the triangle. The same can be said for the majority of the top 20.
What’s your point?
What I’m getting at with this is: If marketing is done right, there will be no need to ask or tell people to buy your products; they’ll have a reason to anyway!
Google loves brands
So, you have a great brand, you’re connected with your customers, you’re being talked about in the right places, you have a website full of what your customers are looking for and you have valuable, interesting and educated content – it’s good news!
If you’re doing all of the above, the likelihood is your site is ranking well, because, simply, Google ranks brands that consumers love, not brands that love themselves. If you’ve been doing all the above for a prolonged period, and you haven’t been affected by a Google algorithm update, you should have no problems! If you’re not seeing improvements in your rankings, be sure to check for a manual action in Webmaster Tools.
Obviously, Google’s primary goal is to rank sites according to their relevancy and usefulness for the searcher. The dreaded algorithms, Penguin and Panda (on the widest scale) are Google’s way of differentiating the websites that do this, with the sites that don’t – and whether we like it or not, it usually works! Loads of bad quality links are no longer going to allow you to rank. Google has figured out, that in many cases, sites were ranking well due to large volumes of links, not because they actually deserved to.
Working as an Account Manager at Branded3 puts me in a position where I am able to compare brands, the content they circulate, the way they connect with their customers and, over time, how this affects their rankings.
One of our retail clients which has had an amazing year in terms of rankings, traffic growth and online revenue, really have it down to a tee when it comes to the content its putting out there, both on and offline. Formerly a company that were very product-focused when it came to marketing; they have used their blog as well as other channels, to reach out to their target audience and involve them with the brand. Blog posts no longer have titles like ‘Our new range’ but ‘The Ultimate Guide to..,’ ‘Styles to keep you warm,’ ‘Gift ideas for you.’ and so on. The improvement is clear in terms of engagement and Average Time Spent on Page; blog posts that used to engage for about 18 seconds then users would bounce off are now given different, more engaging angles and keep readers interest in excess of 1.5 minutes on average!
This company in particular have also ramped up their transparency as a brand, allowing their customers to see what employees get up to in the office, when there are special events and informing them of recent awards and product launches, in a way that says ‘here’s what we’ve been up to’ and not ‘look how good we are’ – all contributing to that feeling of belonging and giving their brand that real identity. This e-tailer’s organic traffic has grown by 40% since this time last year and shows no signs of slowing.
I came across another illustration of the importance of speaking your customers’ language and having the informational resources on site they are looking for looking through the analytics of a travel client. Although keyword data is now extremely limited due to ‘Not Provided’, both historical data and site search data can be of great use for content recommendations and knowing what questions your customers are asking.
This one specific query was about equipment that a holidaymaker would need for their trip;
“blue black and red skis and boots hire what’s the difference”
This is related to the brand but by no means their main product offering, and because that information was available, this single visit resulted in around 25 minutes spent on site, 12 page views and 100% conversion rate with a transaction worth over £6,000. Being the authority and knowledge centre for your customers to find the information they need is certainly rewarding!