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Brand Affinity: The strongest foundation for Search Marketing

After working for 9 years in advertising and 6 years in performance marketing, I have come to the belief that if a brand is to increase sales and have an all-time impact it is imperative that it establishes an emotional connection with users and potential customers. This is a safe assumption that one can certainly use to their benefit in order to support SEO and PPC campaigns, while it can also affect keywords. How?

There’s always been a debate –not to mention endless digital marketing meetings- on whether it’s better to use branded or non-branded keywords. But what is really important to understand is that non-branded keywords can on many occasions operate as branded in paid and organic results as long as you have built a connection with your audience. It’s as simple as that; if the user who is searching for something has heard of you before, they are more likely to click on your ad. In fact, according to Word Stream Customer Data, brand affinity impacts CTR by more than two or three times and Search Marketing becomes a more powerful tool.

What I strongly believe needs to be done is to balance the efforts between Search Marketing actions related to Brand Affinity and actions that generate demand for the Brand. This is exactly the method we follow at SEM Wizard Digital Marketing Agency.

When it comes to Organic Search it is of paramount importance to create not only product-related content but also content that is purely informative even if this means that it is not 100% commercial. This will help a great deal in impacting future commercial searches and leading them directly to your brand.

One very successful example that springs to mind when it comes to higher-funnel queries through SEO is the one of https://crew.co/ which is now part of https://dribbble.com/talent.Crew.co is a platform that helps members-freelancers connect with business owners and entrepreneurs for the creation of apps, sites, logos or brands. In order to raise organic traffic and quality leads, Crew.co created online tools that give direct answers to important questions potential customers may have.

So what exactly did Crew.co do? They gathered possible questions that potential customers might have before they even ask for an offer on the creation of an app, and built a sales funnel following the steps below.

1. They bought domains on the most popular questions and optimized them with SEO activities so that they would appear first in Organic Searches. These questions were similar to “how much to make an app?”, “how much does it cost to make an app?” which is the first thing one might search for. It is no surprise that the domain http://howmuchtomakeanapp.com/ appears first in Organic Results when someone searches for the cost of an app.

2. The aforementioned domain that the user clicks on is an online tool which helps those who are interested in making an app get a first cost estimate after answering a series of questions and based on the needs of the app construction. So the user fills in some details and waits for the estimate.

3. When the interested party receives the cost estimate from this online tool, the tool prompts them to hire a freelance developer after registration, sending them the relevant request.

However, in Paid Search things change as the algorithm of Quality Score makes it extremely difficult to use the same strategy. What happens in this case is that the algorithm rewards high CTRs but “punishes” low ones by restricting impression share and raising Cost Per Click. Searches that are related to information tend to have quite low CTR in ads, about 1–4%, which is clearly lower than what you would expect to get compared to a commercial query, and Quality Scores range only from 1 to 4.

A good strategy to follow in this case when doing a Paid Search is to use Display Ads, Social Ads and other types of advertising like radio and television in order to create demand before your potential clients start their search.

So to make things more specific; check the branded and non-branded words you’re using. Do you see a huge gap between them? If yes then you need to concentrate on building a stronger relationship between your brand and the consumer. You need to concentrate on Brand Awareness and Affinity and find your customers before they find you!

But before you do that and before you spend thousands of Euros each month in online paid media like AdWords, Facebook ads etc, you need to think and set your brand architecture. This goes especially if your competition is big and involves popular brands. Brand strategy must be the first step you take and the one that will guide you towards your own brand direction and your brand’s placement in the market.

Try to answer some important questions that will help you build your Search Marketing strategy in order to have greater performance. For example, make sure you have covered the below:

What is your market’s data?

Who is your target-consumer?

What opportunities are there in your market?

Where is your brand placed in the market?

What are your business and consumer objectives?

What is the Communication Strategy do you want to follow?

What are your priorities and next steps?

To cut a long story short my experience has taught me that in this constantly growing competitive environment companies must have an overall point of view on their strategy in order to achieve sustainable growth in the following next years. Otherwise, the “me too” approach will make them more vulnerable against competition and market changes.

Alexandros Kokolis

Founder & CEO SEM Wizard

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