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Online visibility is more than Google search: ignoring other platforms is losing you sales

The number of consumers heading to the internet as the first step on their purchasing journey is growing at a rapid rate. In fact, with over half of UK consumers preferring searching online than browsing a physical store, it’s easy to see why brands are utilising search engine optimisation (SEO) for comprehensive online visibility.  

Holding 92% of the global market share, Google is the natural choice when implementing an SEO strategy. However, taking a linear approach to your online visibility with Google alone is losing you sales. 

Jimmy McCann, Head of Digital Strategy at Search Laboratory is here to explain why you need to take a holistic approach to your integrated digital strategy to ensure 360 online visibility for your brand… 

The importance of organic, paid and multi-channelled advertising

If recalling the last time you purchased an item without searching it online beforehand seems like a distant memory, you’re not alone;  82% of all smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases before they make them in store. In addition to searching on Google, consumers may look at reviews, marketplaces and social media to gauge whether a brand and its product is trustworthy.

It is therefore important for businesses to create a multi-channel strategy, rather than focus their entire marketing efforts on Google. 

Widening your brand’s reach by appearing in multiple channels is a crucial step that will allow you to reach prospects at more touchpoints in their customer buyer journey, increasing the likelihood of making a sale. 

There are various platforms that offer paid and organic methods to reach your target audience. Not all will be valuable to your business; using an appropriate attribution model along with carrying out an analysis of your customers and target audience will help to identify which channels you should start with.

Paid media is a great way of reaching your exact audience. Paid search on Google is invaluable, but there are other platforms that your business needs to take advantage of to get in front of consumers at different stages of the customer buyer journey:

A good digital strategy should have paid and organic activity across multiple channels, with each channel’s activity integrating with the overall strategy.

Scaling your brand internationally

For enterprises looking to expand their brand into international markets, understanding the local search landscape is crucial, and often requires going beyond the precincts of Google. 

The search engine’s market share varies internationally, which means an international SEO strategy needs to encompass other search engines.

For example, Bing’s presence in America far outweighs its UK presence, which took 33% of the market share in 2017. Whereas Yandex is prevalent in Russia, and Baidu is the market leader in China. 

In order to successfully expand into new markets, you will need to combine mother tongue knowledge of the local culture with digital marketing expertise. This will ensure that your strategy is localised successfully, avoiding any pitfalls of simply translating your brand. 

Set up an appropriate attribution model for your business needs

A customer will come in contact with your brand across multiple channels before finally converting. Using attribution models will help you to identify which touchpoints are most valuable in the customer journey. Google has multiple attribution models available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Setting up the appropriate model will help you to identify which channels to focus on in your digital marketing strategy.  

Building online visibility is a multi-faceted and often a time-consuming process but an integral part of growing your business, sales figures and customer retention rates. Your approach to digital marketing should remain a ‘work-in-progress’ and be constantly adapted to improve results. More importantly, your online visibility should span across different platforms and follow a paid and organic advertising strategy, which will ensure you remain market leaders and grow online revenue. 

Google top again in YouGov’s global brand health rankings

Google tops YouGov BrandIndex’s annual global brand health rankings. In a list dominated by digital brands, the search giant stays ahead of sister company YouTube.

The ranking is based on over six million interviews over the 12 months to the end of June. It shows Samsung jumps one place from last year, climbing to third position as does messenger service WhatsApp, which rises to fourth. WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook, falls two places to fifth.

There are three new entries in the top ten. While Amazon remains sixth on the list, IKEA enters the rankings at number seven. Colgate falls one position to eighth, while clothes brand Uniqlo makes the top ten for the first time in ninth place, while toy manufacturer Lego is another new entry at ten.

The rankings are based on YouGov BrandIndex data from across the world. BrandIndex operates in 37 countries across the globe, covering markets in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia.

For the list YouGov used data from 26 countries – data from markets that cover three sectors or fewer were not counted in the global top ten. The rankings use the Index score which assesses overall brand health. It takes into account perceptions of a brand’s quality, value, impression, satisfaction, reputation and whether consumers would recommend the brand to others.

Digital brands dominate this global ranking and with good reason. By their very nature the likes of Google, YouTube and WhatsApp are available in most places on earth to anyone with internet access. However, while many of the top five have only been around for the last decade or two, classic brands that have been around a good while longer also make the list. IKEA, Colgate, Uniqlo, and Lego, all still connect with the public and as a result have very positive brand health.

UK brand health rankings

YouGov has also released its UK brand health rankings. The list is characterised by the presence of brands that have been in the public consciousness for a long time. Traditional high-street favourites John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are first and third respectively while BBC-related brands – iPlayer and BBC One – are in second and ninth positions. Meanwhile Heinz makes an appearance in fourth place.

The rankings are drawn from over 1.46 million interviews in Britain conducted between July 2017 and June 2018. Each day consumers are asked their view on 1,384 brands in the UK, which allows YouGov to build a picture of how different brands are perceived by the general public, their own consumers, people considering using them, and their competitors’ customers.

YouGov’s analysis shows there are two new entrants in this year’s top ten – IKEA in fifth and Cathedral City in eighth. Ikea had a particular strong campaign in 2017, which featured its ‘Lion Man’ character. Sony is the most notable absentee from the rankings, having been in third place this time last year

Two brands from the global rankings are also in the UK list, with Samsung in sixth and Amazon in seventh. Pharmacy chain Boots rounds off the top ten.

Over the past year the retail sector has struggled to combat problems arising from ferocious online competition and increased business costs. However, in the face of this, the public clearly retains an affection for traditional high street brands with long and rich histories, such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer. Similarly, while the BBC has faced challenging headlines over the past 12 month. But the public clearly still rates what the corporation offers and iPlayer and BBC One continue to be in strong brand health.

Most improved brand health

YouGov’s annual analysis also where the biggest increases in brand health have come in the past year. For several brands, escaping negative press coverage has seen an improvement in their scores, although many of them still remain in negative territory.

For example, Sports Direct, the most improved brand this year, has seen its score improve by +6.2 points, moving from -12.4 to -6.2. While in past years it has often garnered negative press, it has enjoyed a period out of the headlines and its Index score has now returned to mid-2016 levels.

Similarly, Southern Trains – for a long time blighted by strikes, cancellations, and ensuing adverse media coverage – has seen its score change from -16.1 last year to -11.3 now, an improvement of +4.8 points.

Value fashion chain Primark has made a notable leap in the past year – going from having negative brand health to positive. Its Index score improved from -0.9 to +2.7 in the last 12 months, an improvement of +3.6.

Elsewhere, Netflix continues to advance, with its score improving by +5.9 points (going from 19.5 to 25.4). Tech firm WhatsApp has seen its score increase by +3.5 – up from 18.9 to 22.4.

Booking.com leads the big spenders for PPC in the travel sector

A small group of online travel agents, including Booking.com, OnTheBeach.com and Trivago, dominated paid search in the first quarter of 2018.

Each of the aforementioned firms spent £7 million+ on search through Google (on the keywords monitored), with Booking.com splashing out almost £20 million, according to research by Kantar Media.

The study – which uses data from Kantar Media’s Digital Advertising Intelligence Solution, combining insights on both pay per click and organic search/display ad spend – also identified TripAdvisor as the clear leader when it came to organic search in the first three months of the year.

TripAdvisor saw over twice as many impressions and almost twice as many clicks as Lastminute.com, its nearest rival in the travel sector, with an estimated PPC value of over £120 million. Of the three biggest PPC spenders, only Booking.com features amongst the top six sites for organic search impressions.

Accommodation tops the keyword charts, but the battleground is for cheap holidays

‘Hotels’ was the keyword with the highest spend during the three-month period, with businesses spending an estimated total of £8,504,262, over seven times more than on the next most invested-in keyword, ‘air bnb’.

Booking.com in particular made huge investments in hotel related search terms. The site’s top ten keywords for both spend and estimated PPC value in organic impressions all contained the word ‘hotel’ or ‘booking’, accounting for a total spend of around £4.8 million.

Outside of accommodation, the key battleground for PPC in the travel sector is around low-cost breaks. ‘Cheapest holidays’, ‘cheap holidays’ and ‘cheapest flights’ all feature among the 20 most sought-after travel related keywords, accounting for almost £2 million in spend between January and March this year. 21 separate advertisers were spending on the keyword ‘cheapest holidays’ and 19 on ‘cheap holidays’, making them some of the most competitive keywords in the industry. In comparison, for all the spend on ‘hotels’, the keyword was only contested by 14 advertisers.

Richard Poustie, CEO, Kantar Media UK, commented: “Both search and display advertising are incredibly competitive in the travel sector, especially in the first quarter of the year, and this is reflected in the huge investments brands make in this space. It’s important, therefore, to remember that spend in itself is only one part of the campaign – if brands want to get a good return on their advertising investment, it is vital that there is consistency across their online search and display, and that their chosen search terms complement their display advertising.

“In such a competitive space, being able to see what competitors are investing in – across both search and display – and to understand why, will help businesses tailor their own advertising strategy in order to stand out from the crowd and to continue to attract consumer spend.”

Is this article written by Google’s AI?

Well not yet, but boffins in the search giant’s Google Brain division have been training artificial intelligence (AI) to write original articles based on information gleaned from web pages about particular subjects.

The Register has done a deep dive on what Google is attempting and some other initiatives in the same vein, and it’s actually pretty compelling stuff – albeit limited in its current form, which is basically Wikipedia-style articles.

In short, Google’s AI analyses what it sees as the top 10 pages on a subject (for example, ‘why do Arsenal FC keep doing stupid things on the pitch?’), then attempts to tie all the available info together into a single, hopefully readable, document.

It’s a bit hit and miss right now, but we think it’s probably got more chance of success than the so-called ‘infinite monkey’ theorem of writing Shakespeare.

Time will tell what practical real world uses the tool has (cheating at essay writing will probably be right up there).

However, we’re not not sure there’s enough time in the world to explain what’s going on at Arsenal.

UK’s love for cars tops social media posts

A report by social media analytics platform, Netbase, has revealed the UK’s love of luxury car brands.

The Brand Love List report looks at the brands consumers express the most love for in social media posts, with Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW 3 Series and Porsche 911 just some of the models that consumers are crazy about, with BMW, Audi and Porsche all featuring in the report’s top 10.

This is the second year that the report has been run. In the UK, Apple held onto the top spot, but showed that Google, in second place, was narrowing the gap which last year was 400,000, now down to 130,000 along with a lot of positive sentiment for Google Classroom. The remainder of the top five was unchanged with Lego in third with an abundance of shared excitement for themed Lego such as Lego Batman, Tesco in fourth with popular campaign hashtags including #triedforless and #bagsofhelp while BMW was ranked fifth.

The European Top Five brands differed only slightly from the UK with BMW taking fourth spot and consumer goods brand Adidas coming in at fifth place. The automotive sector once again proved popular with customers expressing much love, particularly in relation to the Porsche 911. While consumer goods brands including Gucci, Adidas, Lego and Christian Dior S.A. accounted for nearly 45% of the top loved brands, they only represented 21% of the mentions. Conversely, technology which was dominated by Apple and Google but also included SAP, Siemens and Dyson, represented 10% of the conversation they also represented over 55% of mentions.

While there’s much love for consumer goods brands, they still don’t even come close to the volume of technology conversation across Europe.

The data was gathered using NetBase’s social media analytics platform to surface the strongest, most positive consumer emotions towards brands from 2.4 million English language posts of earned mentions. Earned mentions mean those posts that were not posted by the brand itself, inclusive of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and millions of other sources during the one-year period April 2016 to April 2017. It then identified the 25 UK brands that get the most love.

The European report used the same sources across the same period from 6.5 million English language posts of earned mentions in 50+ European countries and identified a list of the 50 most loved brands.

Commenting on the UK report Paige Leidig, Chief Marketing Officer, NetBase said: “What’s interesting about automotive is that brands represent 25% of the list but account for only 13% of the conversation suggesting that there is an opportunity for them to spread the love and engage more influencers in conversation.

“The dominance of technology in social conversation is no surprise but the fact that Apple and Google are so far out in front indicates that they have now become an everyday part of the English language.”

www.netbase.com

CIM

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Chartered Institute of Marketing cites YouGov survey on ethical advertising

Pulling advertising from YouTube and other parts of Google might appear an extreme reaction by M&S and HSBC, but they could be just the tip of the iceberg, says Chris Daly, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

This year it will become increasingly common to see brands taking action to build an ethical company name, and ensure they are engaging in reputable marketing practices.

The CIM’s recent YouGov survey revealed almost nine out of ten (87%) of marketers feel there is now more pressure for their brand to act ethically and provide a role model for society.

This is not just because it’s a good thing to do so: 89% believe the internet, and particularly social media, is giving consumers more information on how brands behave and more power to affect change.

“It is no surprise, then, that 70% reported they were concerned about factors outside of marketing that could affect their ability to protect the brand,” said Daly. “To get a handle on this, marketing needs to have a much stronger influence throughout an organisation to shape ethical policies and protect brand reputation.”

www.cim.co.uk

Guest Blog, Catherine Spencer: The real problem with content marketing…

‘Content’ as a word has seemingly got itself a bad name and it’s starting to cause a real problem for our industry – or so a number of recent articles would have it. It is a vague term that’s entered our marketing lexicon but, love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. Content marketing itself is not the problem, it’s the fact that most content has little to no impact on its target audience and really, it’s helping no one. We just get overwhelmed with clutter.

Take a look at any major UK company’s blog and you’ll see that most of the “content” they’re churning out doesn’t do the following:

  • Teach visitors something new or useful;
  • Give away handy resources for free (such as templates, cheat sheets and how-to-guides);
  • Inspire their visitors;
  • Clearly and concisely answer the question implied by the title.

The ‘Definition Problem’

One of the quirks of this industry is that we love coming up with complicated or vague words to describe what we do – and often they stick a little too strongly.

Remember when “selfie” became the Oxford Dictionary word of 2013 and we collectively went mad over how our country was going to the dogs? Well the unfortunate bystanders in the marketing industry mightn’t like it, but new words like “native advertising” and “content marketing” have quickly become the new normal.

Just by looking at Google search trends, it is clear that ‘content marketing’ has become widely accepted within the industry above ‘marketing communications’ since 2004.

 

equimedia-image-1

The ‘Practicality Problem’

While it is agreed that “content marketing” fits under the definition of “marketing communications”, referring to web content as “Marketing Communications” is tricky when working day-to-day in the ad industry. Actually, content marketing is just a small part of the overall marketing communications strategy.

When you’re working for global brands, you’ll find referring to a blog post as “marketing communications” will create more confusion than it’s worth. Confusion costs time and money in our industry and it goes back to the definitions problem – you might not like it, but the easiest way to be on the same page is to use the same language.

The ‘Content Problem’

Whilst most content indeed fails, it doesn’t mean content marketing itself is the problem. It means the people who’ve made the content maybe.

We’re not here to defend crappy content. But content marketing done right has tremendous value, there’s a reason it’s so big! It just needs to be matched with relevance.

To succeed with content, marketers need to develop content around a brilliant idea, focus on overwhelming the target audience with value, amplify the message by sharing the content with the right people, and finally ask for (and listen to) audience feedback.

Are we using the wrong word to describe content marketing? Maybe.

But let’s not forget the bigger picture: we should be focusing on value, not semantics. Whatever the buzzword might be that describes how we’re doing it, we really just need to get on and do it.

 

Catherine is a senior content, PR & social executive at equimedia. She joined equimedia in 2015, previously having worked in-house for a large charity. Today, Catherine manages marketing campaigns for a number of our large charity clients, as well as retail and insurance, from planning and production right through to delivery.

Privacy concerns hindering Allo’s chance of messaging success?

Although reports have suggested that Google’s newly launched messaging service, Allo, is already causing some privacy concerns, the multinational technology company is defiant in ensuring users can safely navigate the app – despite its integration with Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) assistant, which requires all messages to be sent without end-to-end encryption.

As a result, not only can Google’s Assistant access and read the messages, but Google as a whole can too; as well as national security organisations. With its developers announcing back in May that Allo would include revolutionary message retention policies unheard of among other messaging apps such as iMessage and WhatsApp, industry insiders have found that all messages are linked directly to an account and stored indefinitely – failing to keep its promise of ‘transiently’ storing chat logs and making sure all conversations are not permanently placed on Google’s servers.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement: “We’ve given users transparency and control over their data in Google Allo. And our approach is simple – your chat history is saved for you until you choose to delete it.”

“You can delete single messages or entire conversations in Allo. We also provide the option to chat in Incognito mode, where messages are end-to-end encrypted and you can set a timer to automatically delete messages for your device and the person you’re chatting with’s device at a set time.”

Ted Baker optimising its social channels with new ‘Mission Impeccable’ campaign…

The British luxury fashion chain, Ted Baker, is reaping the extensive benefits associated with social media marketing with the recent launch of its brand new James Bond-themed campaign, ‘Mission Impeccable’.

As well as sharing ‘classified documents’ (picture sharing) via its existing social media channels including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – where customers can participate in an online scavenger hunt and decode – the campaign comprises of a film directed by Guy Ritchie which enables consumers to click and purchase the autumn/winter clothes that the actors are wearing.

Google also takes centre stage with the inclusion of a prize giveaway to those who read a phrase displayed on Ted Baker store windows to the Google Voice app, which generates clues before a prize is awarded.

 

Learn more about the Mission Impeccable campaign here