In this post, Catalyst Campaign Manager Mary Connelly discusses the intersection of branding and keyword strategy and three steps you can take to be successful.
Q: How can search marketing help brand managers meet their goals?
Mary: The brand managers we work with have two goals. They want to understand their target consumersâ€™ needs and they want to convey the benefits of their product or service in meeting these needs.
With traditional TV, radio and print advertising, marketers build their brands and control the message. Search marketing represents a great opportunity for a brand to understand how their target consumer is looking for a product in their category. A campaign that integrates both elements â€“ offline and online marketing â€“ allows brand managers to meet their needs for consumer research while building awareness of a brandâ€™s benefits.
Usually one of the first steps in search marketing is keyphrase research. Think of this phase as an opportunity to understand how a consumer is investigating a brand category.Â Once you understand what they are looking for, and how they are searching, you can provide the appropriate information targeted to where they are in the buying cycle.
One example of this is the case of an assisted living facility that wanted to search engine optimize but believed their target consumer was not someone looking for nursing home information. Our keyphrase research revealed that prospects in the early phase of the buying cycle were not familiar with the term â€œassisted living facility.â€ Since they were fairly new in the marketplace they were searching online using the term â€œnursing home.â€ By omitting this term from their keyphrase list, the marketer would have missed an opportunity to present their information to almost 3 million prospects annually vs. the 150 prospects that used the keyphrase â€œassisted living facility.â€
In order to capture this consumer demand, the facilityâ€™s website needed to do two things: 1) have enough relevant content around the keyphrase â€œnursing homesâ€ and 2) present the value proposition for why an assisted living facility might be a better solution.
Q: Should you use brands as keyphrases?
Mary: You need to use a mix of branded and unbranded terms. With branded terms you can capture the consumer that is farther along in the buying cycle. It is also important to choose unbranded keyphrases to capture the consumer in the early phases of the buying cycle.Â Brand managers must be aware of how consumers in their space are searching today and choose keyphrases and provide content to reach consumers in all phases of the buying cycle.
That is one of the challenges of launching an organic campaign. For some clients, developing a targeted list of keyphrases is the most difficult stage of the process. Brand managers typically have reams of data regarding their target market, and are making good choices for media buys. But they donâ€™t have information yet on what the market is searching for online. You have to meet the consumer half way and get your related subject into that space.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about keywords?
Mary: Keyphrase research is the process of finding terms and phrases that are relevant to your site and frequently searched by your audiences. Because they have put effort and resources into developing a strong brand message, some brand managers continue to focus on the messaging rather than how people actually are searching online for their product.
Some common errors include the exclusive use of taglines, brand names and industry jargon instead of the language consumers are using to describe their needs, issues and problems.
Q: Whatâ€™s the best way to use keyphrases to reach a range of consumers?
Mary: Four years ago, Chris Anderson, editor of WIRED magazine, wrote an article about what would become a very influential theory: The Long Tail. Search marketers have adopted the long tail as a way of segmenting their keyword lists.
A recent article on Search Engine Land described three types of keyphrases: the short head, the fat middle, and the long tail. You need to choose a mix of terms from each of these categories to reach people at different points of the buying funnel.
People at the top of the funnel use very broad terms. These are usually very high volume keyphrases and as a consequence it is a very competitive space. One example of a broad term someone might use when researching televisions is the keyphrase â€œTV.â€ This has a huge search volume of probably over a million searchers a month and seems like a very attractive keyphrase to target. But it is also very competitive and a site would probably need significant content to compete with other related sites.
To reach these consumers one option is to run a paid campaign and include this keyphrase while optimizing for some of the less competitive, lower search volume, more targeted keyphrases that often represent a more qualified consumer. For example, someone farther down the buying funnel may use the keyphrase â€œflat screen TV.â€ Organically, there is probably less competition for this term and more serious buyers use it.
A keyphrase even closer to purchase intent is called a long tail keyphrase like â€œ32 inch Sony flat screen TV.â€ This phrase may have only 1,000 searchers a month but they are much closer to purchase and organically there is much less competition for this keyphrase. Even though it has a much lower search volume, it is probably a higher converting keyphrase.
To optimize properly, you need to include a mix of phrases on your site. You can go after the long tail and develop content around these phrases with the goal of eventually ranking for broader, more competitive keyphrases by adding more content. You need to start where you have the best chance of winning.
Q: What are three steps brand managers need to take?
Mary: First, they need to understand how consumers are searching online within their product or service category and be familiar with each keyphraseâ€™s search volume. Then select the keyphrases that represent their short and long term marketing goals.
Next, marketers need to commit to a short and long term content strategy around these keyphrases. When you choose a keyphrase you are committing to building at least one page of content per keyphrase or you already have existing content you can use.
Third, continue to align and update your keyphrase strategy with your marketing and media strategy throughout the product life cycle. Keyphrase strategy sets the stage for understanding the consumer and how you are going to reach the consumer when theyâ€™re searching.
About Mary Connelly
Mary is a Campaign Manager at Catalyst, managing campaigns for pharmaceutical and consumer brands. She has over 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical sales and sales training. Before joining Catalyst she worked as pharmaceutical representative for a Fortune 500 company.