Hey, thanks for stopping by!

Please provide us with some quick information and we'll get right back to the good stuff. It'll be worth it - we promise!


PLEASE WAIT ...
Or

Harmonizing Branding and Search to Achieve Optimal Results

Presented on January 24, 2013

Aligning your brand and search marketing strategy is not always easy. Your brand messaging may not agree with the keywords for which you want to rank in search engines; your website design may be beautiful to the eye of the user, but unreadable to Google; or your plan to protect the reputation of your brand may not include a search engine strategy. We all know both branding and search are important in the marketing mix, but they are all too often treated as mutually exclusive. Can the two ever play nice together?

In this webinar, Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO at Search Mojo, and Pam Fitzgerald, Founder and Managing Partner at branding and marketing firm The Ivy Group, will describe how to overcome many of these challenges and prove that branding and search really can work together in harmony.

Presenters: Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO, Search Mojo and Pam Fitzgerald, Founder and Managing Partner, The Ivy Group

Presented on January 24, 2013


Kari:

Hello, everyone. Welcome and thank you for coming to today’s webinar: Harmonizing Branding and Search to Achieve Optimal Results. I’m Kari Rippetoe, Content Marketing Manager at Search Mojo and I’ll be serving as your moderator for today’s webinar. So today’s webinar with Janet Driscoll Miller and Pam Fitzgerald promises to be quite insightful and fascinating and I don’t use that word lightly. It really is a fascinating topic.

But before we get started, I just have a few reminders for you. If you have any questions for our presenters we will be taking some time at the end of the webinar for Q&A so please enter your questions in the GoToWebinar questions box at the right. Also, as always, we are recording this webinar and you’ll receive a follow-up e-mail when the recording is available. Finally, if you’d like to tweet about today’s presentation, please use the hashtag #mojowebinar.

And now I’d like to introduce our presenters for today. Janet Driscoll Miller is the President and CEO of Search Mojo. She has nearly 20 years of marketing experience and in addition to her work in search engine marketing, Janet has a background in marketing communications. She holds a degree in public relations and communications from James Madison University and she is a frequent speaker at marketing conferences and writes for several blogs and print publications.

We’re very pleased to have Pam Fitzgerald as a guest presenter today. Pam is managing partner of The Ivy Group, a marketing services company headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native of Canada, Pam received her B.A. from McGill University and completed graduate studies at Bryn Mawr College. She has been a featured presenter at conferences of the American Library Association, the American Marketing Association and numerous other organizations.

A little bit about Search Mojo, the company was founded in 2005 and specializes in all things search marketing, including SEO, pay- per-click, social media advertising, online reputation management and content marketing. Search Mojo is headquartered also here in Charlottesville, Virginia and we also have an office in Charleston, South Carolina. We’ve been featured in several marketing publications and blogs and we also speak at several conferences, including SMX, MarketingProfs and PubCon. Our clients include a variety of B2B and consumer brands, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.

And as I mentioned before, The Ivy Group is a marketing service company headquartered here in Charlottesville and with offices in suburban Philadelphia. They were founded over 25 years ago and specialize in branding and marketing, public relations, advertising and digital strategy. They are also recipients of numerous prestigious awards in marketing, design and public relations. Their clients include banks, colleges and universities and hospital systems and projects include a six-language study in Brooklyn and strategic planning for the city of San Antonio.

Now, I’m going to turn it over to Pam Fitzgerald who is going to start by talking about a very familiar brand to a lot of people. Pam, what can you tell us about what the McDonald’s brand signifies?

Pam:

First of all, it signals that name but also what can be expected: fast food, inexpensive food, convenience service. Of course to parents who are very conscious of nutrition, McDonald’s may not be a first choice for dinner, so brands can also carry a lot of baggage with them and Janet’s going to talk a little bit about brand reputation management a little later.

So brands promise a particular kind of experience and Disney is the best example of that. They promise fun and you can see by the colors and the configuration of fonts, the presentation of the brand mark that they are promising a fun experience and they pay a lot of attention to ensuring that when people access that experience they, in fact, do have the fun that was promised.

Brands promise a particular kind of experience but they also promise a particular kind of fun, in this case. Google’s so confident with itself that actually they can break their own rules. From day to day, Google can communicate the fun of using the brand and the mutability of the service. We know that, for example, no two searches are alike so why should the brand mark look the same from day to day. Can you spot the logo here? Google is so confident in its brand that it can even hide and be universally read. Once again, this is a metaphor because we think of Google as finding your way through the woods, a way of sorting through all the information that’s out there and coming to where you want to be.

But strong brands can run into trouble. Universally recognizable brands such as this brand, which has a large and loyal fan base can be actually damaged or threatened, for example in this case, by the misbehavior of individuals in the organization or the prospect of a lifelong disability. And this brand has to work hard to protect itself. Janet’s going to talk a little bit about that now.

Janet:

Thanks, Pam. I’m actually going to hand it off to Kari, who’s going to give us a poll real quickly before we delve into preventing online brand reputation problems.

Kari:

Great. And I will just go ahead and launch that for you here. So our first poll is, “Are you actively monitoring your brand reputation?” “Yes, we monitor it and have a protection process in place.” “We monitor our brand online periodically but not actively.” “No, we’re not currently monitoring our brand reputation,” or you’re just quite not sure about that so I’ll just give you a couple seconds to register your vote.

Okay. Great. Thank you so much, everyone. I’m just going to close out our poll now and share those results with you. It looks like quite a few of you are already monitoring your brand periodically or you’re not quite sure but Janet will be able to share some information to be able to help you do so more effectively. Janet?

Janet:

Thanks, Kari. So brand reputation, as we all know, requires a lot of time and effort and money to build but it can be damaged very quickly. So there are really two facets to protecting your brand. There’s the online and there’s the offline. As you can imagine, this is a recent example of someone who’s undergoing a lot of brand reputation issues, not just Lance Armstrong himself but also the foundation that he created, Livestrong, which as you can see, the original logo actually had his name associated, the “Lance Armstrong Foundation”. The challenge for lots of brands too is that these challenges to your brand reputation can come from multiple areas, even from your founder, even from people inside your organization. There are lots of examples of that.

But what I’d like to do right now is to show you a couple ways that you can start to protect your brand online, take some steps to do that. I’m going to go ahead and switch over here to the Livestrong Foundation and if you see here in this Google search result that I did earlier today, you can see that Livestrong actually has done a pretty good job of protecting their brand online and really insulating it from some of the challenges they’re currently facing with Lance Armstrong’s issues that he’s undergoing.

If you look here, you don’t really see any mention of that in these first results but you do see it closer to the bottom of the page. See, there’s an issue here where GuideStar mentions something on Google+ and you have some news information here. But for the most part, they’ve done a good job of actually insulating themselves, especially in the initial results that you see, as we call, above the fold from these issues with Lance Armstrong.

Now, by contrast, Livestrong has, I’m sure, a PR agency working for them and some folks who can help them with brand but, by contrast, here’s Manti Te’o’s search for his name, his own personal brand name. You see right at the top is all this news about what’s going on with him and this unfortunate incidence occurred for him and you can see there’s lots and lots of negative or questionable things right at the top of the page about his brand. That’s challenging for just a college student. He doesn’t have PR machines behind him like maybe a larger organization does and so I wanted to show you this example.

Now, I want to tell you how can you protect yourself like Livestrong has done and here’s Search Mojo’s page and how we help protect ourselves. What you’ll notice here in these organic results, that’s the non-advertising results, you’ll see we have our website ranked for our name but then we have a lot of social media sites like SlideShare, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, all ranking there in the top 10. So one of the great things about social media profiles is that you can have them rank highly for your name of your brand and they help push out some of the other negative stuff. You may not be able to prevent 100% of the negative stuff from appearing in the top 10 but the reality is, these profile can go a long way. Even if you haven’t encountered using social profiles yet, maybe you’ve been hesitant to do so, this is just another good reason to get involved in social media and have lots of different profiles because they can really help you push out some of those negative results.

So I’m going to hand it back to Pam now, who’s going to tell you a little bit more about the three facets of branding.

Pam:

We’ve talked a little bit about the brand promise and the brand experience. I want to focus a little bit on the brand memory because that’s really where we’re headed. We want to make sure that when people go online, as Janet said, that they actually see what you want them to see and the search results put the most positive spin, especially on incidents or unfortunate experiences that your brand has had. The memory part of the brand is all about the experience. It’s what people take away from the experience. It’s what they talk about or don’t talk about and it’s actually what induces people to retry the brand, to go back time and again. They don’t have to actually have to have experienced it personally, they could find out from a friend, a third party. Of course we know how powerful that is.

And it could be positive. In other words, if the promise and the experience line up together, then you really are going to create, as for example the case of Disney that we discussed, a very strong brand memory that will motivate repeat experiences. But another example might be let’s say that your fabulous restaurant with a wonderful chef, people enjoy their meal there, then they go into the bathrooms and find that they’re really dirty. Or customers walk into a beautiful jewelry store but the clerk is very rude to them. Or, for example, in the case of a fast food outlet, they might have to wait half an hour for their food. So all of the sudden the brand experience really has a negative impact on what people take away with them.

So the brand promise is about committing to a particular experience. Of course the brand mark is a shorthand to communicating that. It’s also about the strategy and planning, especially in terms of customer service and the customer experience that ensures that the experience is delivered. This all means you really have to understand who your customers are and Janet a little while later is going to talk about persona.

I’d like to give an example of a company that really knows its customers very well. QVC stands for quality, value and convenience and you can see that the old logo at the top has been slightly altered, well, quite a bit altered at the bottom so that above all what they’re trying to communicate is that quality is the most important feature of quality, value and convenience. When you go to their website, what you see is clean lines, neutral background and the use of color to stress certain qualities that they want to emphasize.

If you look, for example, quality is communicated by the fact that they have Angela by John Hardy jewelry on the front page. They have Vera Bradley jewelry on the front page. But they don’t forget value and they make sure that value has equal play on the homepage. What QVC is also known for, of course, is convenience and you’ll note that convenient access is everywhere to a personalized easy navigation system, mobile access and, of course, shopping tools. So everything on this website has really been created to reinforce that brand promise that an individual who’s interacting with this site will experience quality products, convenient shopping and value shopping.

Look at another example of a retailer that really stresses great prices. If you look at what they placed on their website, you can count 14 times where price is mentioned. They’re fulfilling the low cost promise over and over and over again as a customer interacts with the website. So what they promise is clearly delivered both by the imagery, the amount of repetition and the language of the messaging that they use.

Contrast that with a higher end retailer where you’ve got a real clean website, clean lines, sans serif fonts and the focus is all on the model in the very middle. You’ll see, for example, the areas of emphasis tend to be on trends, on styles, on those kinds of issues that this particular customer’s looking for. On the other hand, if you look carefully at the bottom of the page, you’ll see that winning a shopping spree, a sale, free upgrades to shipping, all those are really minimized there. They’re available but they don’t necessarily denigrate the brand by focusing on prices. This particular brand knows its customers and they’re giving them the experience that they seek.

Janet:

So Pam mentioned some different examples there of how we can communicate brand even through just design and layout of websites. But how do you begin to really develop that brand promise online, especially in search? Well, one of the things that you want to make sure you’re doing is selecting keywords that reflect your services, products or offers. You don’t want to be misleading. This is especially true in the search world where we have to choose keywords for search purposes. You want to ensure that your messaging and design reflect that promise, as Pam was showing us in the different types of websites and what their real communication strategy was from their brand perspective, focusing on sales versus maybe style. So keep that all in mind.

Now, one way that you can help develop how you need to design, what keywords you need to pick and so forth, is by understanding your customers really well and that helps you develop your brand and what that brand messaging should be. So I’m going to hand off to Kari now because after this slide we’re going to start talking about buyer personas so Kari is going to run a poll for us real quickly.

Kari:

Sure. And our second poll for today’s webinar is, “Have you developed your buyer personas?” Those are your choices there. You have, “Yes,” “No, you have not,” you’re “not sure” or maybe you don’t know what a buyer persona is. So we’ll just give you a couple seconds to register your vote.

Okay. Great. And it looks like most of you have voted so we’ll go ahead and close that out and I’ll share those results with you. So a lot of you are already developing your personas and some of you aren’t quite sure what one is or if you have been so Janet will be able to share some information with you about that. Janet?

Janet:

Thanks, Kari. So first of all, let’s go back then and for those of you who don’t know what personas are or buyer personas, let’s define what that is. So what’s a buyer persona? Essentially it’s the identity and the demographics that make up your target audience, your buyer audience. Building buyer personas is really key to developing the whole brand promise, experience and memory. So we use the buyer personas for targeting ads and for other things. It’s really key to developing the whole marketing tactic list because once you understand who your customers are and what drives them, what motivates them, then they can help you set up the promise for your brand, set up the messages and the experience and it can even help you with things like SEO keywords, PPC keywords. What are the offers you’re going to give? What kind of content marketing are you going to use to reach those different people?

This is great graphic. I love this. I saw this a couple weeks ago. This is a graphic about who are Apple buyers. If you look at that, it’s kind of this snippets of photographs of what they look like and different personalities. I thought this was a great way to kind of visually look at what makes up a target audience. Really, when you want to develop personas, you’re looking at profiling your customer base. What is their demographic makeup? Who are they? What are their online habits and habitats. Where do they hang out?

And we’ll talk a little bit more about that when it comes to social advertising, understanding where people hang out and the other associated brands they might like. What inspires them? What motivates them? What repels them? What matters to them? What is irrelevant and what are they looking for? The other thing is is it transactional, informational or experiential. What type of experience are they looking for from you? So, as I mentioned, this is one way you can actually demonstrate your personas is by actually graphing them out and showing some different information. We also have, if you’re interested in learning more and getting deeper on personas, we actually have an archive webinar on our site we did with Adele Revella of the Buyer Persona Institute back in November, who can go into much more detail about developing personas.

Now, the other thing that we talked about was how personas affect the keywords you’re picking. So different people, different personas may be affected at different points of the buying cycle and keywords are the same way. So the keywords and the content and so forth are going to be affected by who you’re trying to reach at what point in the buying cycle and what type of persona you might be trying to reach at that point.

So if you look to the left, you’ll see that most of the words towards the left of this graph, for instance if we’re trying to sell running shoes, the word “shoes” is very broad. So when people are searching for a word like “shoes”, they’re not really far down that funnel yet. They’re not really at the purchase stage. They’re still investigating. They might be doing some comparison with a term like “running shoes”. It’s still broad but it’s a bit more specific than just shoes. So we know they’re looking for a specific type of shoes. Instead of dancing shoes, they’re looking for running shoes.

Purchase phase is where we see very, very specific keywords like “Asics 2010 running shoes”. We know at this point they might be making price comparisons so they can actually purchase. We typically call this the long tail of search, these longer term keywords. So we typically recommend to folks that they should focus their keywords, most times, in the comparison and purchase phase, like “running shoes” or “Asics running shoes”, because you want to get folks who are in that buying cycle down your funnel faster.

I’m going to hand it back to Pam now, who’s going to talk about the brand experience.

Pam:

I love the story that a friend of mine tells about Saturday mornings in her home. This is a bag, along with many other bags, that she and her husband pack up to put into the car and they go off to a low-cost wholesaler where they load up on way too large packages. They receive absolutely no customer service but that’s not what they’re there for. They’re there for good prices. In fact, that’s what motivates her husband to get her up on that Saturday morning and drag her over to that store.

By contrast, this is an experience that my friend really loves. If you go to this particular retail outlet, not only will you receive everything packaged beautifully, but you’ll have the clerk come out from behind the counter, smile, hand you your merchandise and thank you by name. I love the fact that there’s always a piano player playing and that whatever you do in there, whatever you experience is certainly matched by what is promised. But brands may not always match how people will find you in a search. Don’t forget, your website is essentially your retail outlet, whether it’s products or services and you want to make sure that the search matches your brand.

Janet:

That is exactly right. So one of the big challenges we have is the brand is not always going to match how people do searches. So for instance, a lot of brands out there who sell used cars like to be known as “certified used vehicles” or “preowned vehicles”, etc. and, unfortunately, that’s really not how people search. So if you look at the graph down at the bottom right- hand corner, this is from Google trends and what it shows us is the blue line shows the number of searches for the word “used cars” and the red line, which, by the way, is the flat line all the way at the bottom that has no searches, is for the term “certified used vehicles”.

So you can see that “used cars” as a term is obviously much, much more searched than “certified used vehicles”. Yet a brand like Toyota certified used vehicles doesn’t always want to call their cars “used cars” because it just sounds ugly, doesn’t it? And no one likes that term “used”. It sounds so horrible. But the reality is, that that’s what they are and that’s how people search. People search in the way that they talk in many ways, so just because we, as brand marketers, want to make sure that people talk about our brands in a certain way, we have to also balance that with how people are searching. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your brand in order to appease search, but there are ways to have your key messages correlate better with your keywords because they may not always just naturally mesh.

So as an example with Toyota certified used vehicles, we were working with them awhile back and we had to get that word “used cars” into the content of their site. One way they can do it, if you look here at their tagline, I love this, “the best new cars make the best used cars”. Bam! There’s “used cars”. So there’s a way to creatively work that word into the brand even though it is not necessarily the focus of how they want you to think about their brand.

Another example, I talked earlier about habitats and where people hang out. So that’s really true of social media advertising. Social media advertising offers us many great, great options with demographic targeting. The challenge is that not everyone raises their hand and self-identifies in a social media environment as to who they really are. So sometimes when you have, for instance, a demographic that you’re trying to target, they may not be identifying themselves in the social media network very clearly.

We worked on an example for a government initiative to help young children between the ages of 2 and 5 learn to swim to help prevent drownings and we were trying to target mothers of young children to convince them to get their kids swimming lessons. Well, if you look in Facebook at the targeting here, I targeted women age 18 to 45 who said they were a mom and you see there’s only 103,000 women in the United States who said that they were a mom between those ages. By contrast however, if I instead – there’s mom – if I instead focus on their likes, you see here what they like, other brands that they associate with, what I know is that women from 18 to 45 who have small children are highly likely to associate themselves with brands like Fisher- Price or Pampers or Huggies or Luvs or Gerber, these brands that really focus most of their attention on young, young children I can then probably reach those moms.

So what you see here is by targeting in on those habitats, those other brands maybe they associate with or frequent, there’s over 7 million women in the United States who identify with that. My point of this slide is that when you’re targeting those personas, make sure that you’re also, as Pam and I have been talking about, think about their habitats, where do they like to hang out, other things they associate with, because that will give you a good clue as to how to find them and to target to them properly.

I also want to talk a little bit about brand memory. So Pam talked about this for the online as well as her experience in going to stores or her friends’ experience in going to the different stores and the types of experiences and memories that it creates for her or her friend. The same is really true online, especially in search. One challenge we see quite often in search advertising is this one right here that I’m going to demonstrate. For those of you who are familiar with search engine advertising, this challenge is often created by something called “dynamic keyword insertion”, which is available in Google Ad Words and you have to be careful of using this.

What it basically does is you can see that I have done a search here for the term “used Chevy minivans” and several ads come up here in the top three ads and two of them, CarMax and Colonial Auto Center both use the words “used Chevy minivans” in the title of their ad. As you can see there, it’s bolded. What has happened there is they have used what’s called “dynamic keyword insertion”, which takes the keyword I searched for and puts it directly into the headline of the copy. So my assumption as searcher is, “Hey, that must be what I’m looking for because it’s got the keyword that I entered. It’s clearly going to be about what I want.”

So let’s take Colonial Auto Center’s ad right here as an example. You can see that they have promised me used Chevy minivans at great low prices. Fantastic! Let’s go. Now this is Colonial Auto Center’s landing page when I click through and what I want you to notice here is that is not a used Chevy minivan. That is a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse, which, if I’m a mom with kids to put in a minivan, isn’t going to work real well for me. So that’s really not fulfilling the promise. In search we call this “keeping the promise” and essentially it’s keeping that brand promise you made in the ad, in the keyword, all the way through to the landing page so that the experience that you get there is positive.

Now let’s go back into that search I did originally and let’s take a look instead at the CarMax ad which also uses the word “used Chevy minivans” in the title. If I click through on that, this is the landing page that I get to for CarMax. What you’ll notice here is, voila, there are used Chevy vans and minivans there. Fantastic! This is exactly what I was looking for. So CarMax did a better job of fulfilling that brand promise all the way from the keyword to the ad, all the way to the landing page so that my experience is going to be a positive one because they gave me exactly what I’m looking for.

By giving me exactly what I’m looking for, they’re going to enhance my experience. They’re not going to mar my brand experience. So I’m more likely to come back to CarMax and trust their ads in the future because I know that they gave me what I wanted, versus Colonial Auto Center, I might have more doubt in their brand because of the fact that they didn’t give me what I wanted originally. We see this a lot, by the way, with a lot of online retailers. Retailers often have so much inventory that they can’t always customize ads so they use that dynamic keyword insertion.

I remember once, not too long ago, I had this problem with Target and I met someone from Target and I said, “Please fix this, I beg you, because I love Target. I love the brand,” but the online was killing me because I did a search for the SpotBot, which is a little cleaner, it’s a rug cleaner that you just stick in a spot and you let it go and it cleans your rug and that’s great. But when I search for “SpotBot” and click through and it says “SpotBot” in the ad and they put me on upright vacuums, which is not what I was looking for. So even big brands, really big brands, not just local brands, big brands get it wrong too and a lot of times it’s because of this dynamic keyword insertion. So if you’re someone who manages your search advertising, this is something you definitely need to be thinking about.

One way that CarMax got this right was by using their search box here to the left and what you see here is the way they’ve populated this landing page for me is they’ve automatically entered the keyword “used Chevy” into that search box so that I would get the correct landing page and the correct items that I was looking for when I clicked on those ads.

Now I’m going to hand it back to Kari.

Kari:

All right. Thank you very much, Janet. If you’re interested in hearing more about Search Mojo’s services you can reach out to Janet directly and there is her contact information: jmiller@search-mojo.com and her phone number is there as well. All of this information, well at least the phone number, is on the website. If you’d like to take a moment to take her contact information down, we will be getting to Q&A very shortly.

Also, to let you know about our next webinar, which will be on February 7th and that will be about LinkedIn advertising and they’re going to talk a little bit about how LinkedIn advertising is kind of an underdog, actually, and how it can actually be a key to more and better B2B leads. So you can register for that webinar today at search-mojo.com/linkedin-ads.

There, again, is the contact information for both Janet and for Pam Fitzgerald if you’d like to get in touch with them, e-mail, phone and social media. We’re just going to have some Q&A so don’t forget to put your questions into the box there if you have any.

One thing that I think that a lot of people might be interested in hearing about, possibly from both of you, is about design of a website and how something that’s aesthetically pleasing might still be a little bit hard for a search engine to read. Very quickly, do either of you have anything to offer in terms of solutions for that?

Janet:

Kari – this is Janet – we run through this quite often with clients who really are obviously very concerned about their brand experience online and very married to it and very passionate about it and they want to have a great, usable experience and a great experience for folks online. But you make a good point. It’s important to marry the experience with what’s going to be searchable because if search engine box cannot get through to the site, it doesn’t matter how pretty the site is or how great the experience would be if someone got there if they can never find your brand. That’s really a challenge.

So there’s certain technologies that can hinder sometimes indexability of a site. Those include JavaScript and Flash and AJAX. It doesn’t mean you can’t use those technologies. You can absolutely use them, you just have to be really thoughtful about how you implement them because what happens is the search engine box cannot actually index content contained in those technologies. So if let’s say you have all of your navigation, for instance, in Flash and it’s not available in the search engines, then they aren’t able to go through your site indexing properly. So it’s very important to just replicate what you’re doing, especially the important stuff, outside of those technologies so that the search engines are able to access it.

Pam:

And just a short note to add, it’s very important that your brand manager or the individual who’s really going to manage the marketing program around the website be in on very early discussions with the designers and programmers so that the designers aren’t merely following the brand standards manuals and trying to dramatize beauty or the whatever it is that colors the lines, fonts or whatever the brand and try to enhance them by the use of photography or illustration, but that there is a strong voice on behalf of ultimately what the customer’s going to come to seek and to find and also the adaptability of the design to the optimum search experience.

Janet:

And one last thing to add to what Pam’s saying to dovetail off that is also from the written content perspective. We can sometimes also go too far down the search path and really just stuff a bunch of keywords into a page. People have to remember that when people search for your site and they find a page, when they get there, they have to have a good experience. So these really work hand in hand. Brand experience and search have to work hand in hand. It can’t be just dong everything you can to get a good search result. You need people to take action when they get to that page. You want them to convert or you want to take advantage of an offer. If you don’t effectively communicate that on the page through good brand messaging, then the problem will be that, once they get there, they won’t necessarily take the actions you want to begin with just because you were sacrificing that for good search results.

Pam:

A good test is to look at your analytics and determine which pages are most viewed and how long people stay on those pages. I dare you won’t find that those with the most text are necessarily the places that people spend the most time on. And that’s a good test for you as you develop the website and as you think through your customer relations, you might want to actually test different kinds of page configurations and different ways in which messaging is provided and really analyze how effective those are in attracting and retaining interest.

Kari:

Great. Really great discussion there. So let’s talk a little bit about brand protection. Again, both of you might be able to chime in on this question. What are some steps I can take to protect my brand online?

Janet:

One of the first things I would absolutely do is go out and get those social media profiles because they do rank very well organically in Google. So they can help push out some of the negative results. It might not push out everything but it’ll push out some of them. The other thing you need to do is once you get those profiles, you need to hook them up through your Google+ profile. I know there have been a lot of brands that are hesitant to get on Google+. I know as a marketer, sometimes you just feel like, “Gosh, that’s just one more thing I have to do. It’s just one more social media channel I have to deal with.” Unfortunately, it is going to be more work in having to take on those social media channels but the Google+ profile is really the key for Google to understanding all the facets of your brand and all of the sites that are associated with it. So it’s important to register all of those sites as links on your brand profile page.

But there’s other things you can do too like, for instance, you can take some very proactive approaches like creating a blog if you don’t have one or putting out press releases and releasing them online. Those are the types of things that can help push out some of the negative results from the top 10 results especially. Since only about 14% of people generally go past page one, page one is really where you’ve got to be most concerned.

Pam:

Of course, this all should have been worked out way earlier when you do your crisis management plan. Most crisis management plans, I assume, don’t necessarily look ahead to how search results are going to appear. So part of your crisis management planning may be how do you actually move into action quickly when something bad happens so that you do exactly what Janet’s suggesting, but in a managed and orderly fashion to accompany other kinds of responses that you planned to crises.

Janet:

That’s a really good point is to be preventative and really take this on as a crisis communication plan for both offline and online and to build up those profiles now. Get that done now because you don’t want to do it in a crisis. That’s when you need to be dealing with whatever’s happening. You don’t want to have to be building out your channels of communication at that moment. You need to have them ready to go. So if you can get them on there and get them ranked, again, in the top 10 results, you’re pushing out your message in the top 10 versus someone else’s message possibly. So that’s really important to get those conduits for your information too.

Kari:

You’re making really great points about using social media for brand protection and there’s a question here about more detail around the idea of using social media as a brand defense. What you may have said may have already answered that question. Is there anything additional that social media might be able to do for protecting your brand?

Janet:

Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of great ways that people are using social media today, including customer service and responding to people because one of the biggest challenges we see when people come to us with a reputation management problem online, there are a couple issues, but one of them that we see a lot is reviews, negative reviews. And they’re responding, finally, to maybe negative reviews. Maybe they haven’t reached out to these folks. Maybe they haven’t dealt with it in a proactive manner. So when you don’t deal with something, it can start to fester and get a lot, lot worse, so it’s important to think about social media as well as the listening device and hearing what your customers and your prospects are saying so that you can respond to that and deal with it in a very proactive manner and be very transparent about it. So social media allows you that.

You’ve got to remember that 15 years ago, before social media existed, when we wanted to complain, we couldn’t do it as consumers in as much of a vocal way as we can today. Consumers out there now can just tweet something and hurt a brand instantly. It’s not that we had more people today saying negative things. It’s just that they’re saying them in a way that more people can hear.

Kari:

So the question, what tools that can be used to find keywords that are most appropriate for your brand?

Janet:

So keywords that are most appropriate for a brand, I use a keyword tool that Google provides for AdWords, which I think is pretty helpful. What you can do is take a look at, again, what are your personas, what drives them, what messages are important to them. And then look at keywords around those types of messages. Now, what you can also do is in the keyword Google tool, it will give you synonyms, which is really important because you may be thinking down one way, like, for instance if I put “certified used vehicles” in, Google may come back and say, “How about ‘used cars’?” so that’s really important to think about all those different synonyms.

The other thing that’s very important when you’re looking at keywords and that used cars example especially, that I was showing you on that graph how one keyword is so much more searched than the other. Something you need to pay attention to is the search volume. What you’re going to see in that Google tool is, you won’t see exact search numbers. So you won’t see this particular term is searched 1,000 times a month. What you’re going to see is some portion of that. So you’re not going to see all the searches that Google provides.

So let’s say “used cars” versus “certified used vehicles”, when we did that research we found that “used cars” was searched by search volume, on average, about 600 times more per month than “certified used vehicles”. So using that comparison, you can decide which keywords need to be your priority keywords in your messaging.

Pam:

I’m going to go back to a more old-fashioned approach, a more pen and paper approach, and that is to use lexicons, to use all those pen and paper resources that are at your disposal in order to come up with really meaningful, rich synonyms. This is where copywriters and copy editors are so important because they can actually craft messages that are punchy and that use really concrete, Germanic words, words that are used day to day, rather than more pompous Latinate language that nobody would put in as search terms. So make best use of your copywriting team when it comes to the whole search, whenever you’re involved in any kind of search issues, because they have skills that can be of great benefit in this content.

Kari:

Great and let’s just talk a little bit in our last few minutes here about personas and Janet might be able to speak more to determining demographics for social advertising but just in general, both of you can talk a little bit about how you can begin to develop your personas and figure out who your target customer is and how to best target them.

Pam:

We have a customer who actually sits down with the writing team and the brand managers and gives names and all sorts of lifestyle attributes to individual personas. It’s kind of a fun exercise. It also allows you to differentiate amongst personas in more subtle ways. For example, if you say that somebody is middle- aged, mother of two, living in the suburbs, that’s not nearly as accurate as talking about the socioeconomics surroundings or her marital status, her habits, her religious affiliation and, of course, all of this is a creative and imaginative exercise trying to visualize this persona, putting language so that you begin to understand the context in which this persona is making decisions. It’s a creative experience first. It’s a technical application second.

Janet:

Yeah and I’ll also add to what Pam had to say about personas is that we’ve been doing a lot of that more from a search perspective, obviously, and a social perspective for social media advertising. Where we like to start, again, is talking about those buyers and who those buyers are and understanding those in different buckets and really understanding what makes them up. Because, as I showed the Facebook example, it can be a little bit indirect how you sometimes find where these people are. So you may find them through their likes of other friends or some other things because, again, they may not always raise their hand.

In search, it’s even more challenging because of the fact that search does not automatically include demographic information. So sometimes a keyword may not be definitively the way you can figure out who they are because, as an example, we had a client that sold defragmentation software and they sold it to home users and they sold it to business users. When someone does a search on Google, they don’t self-identify by saying, “I need a business defragmentation software,” or, “I need one for my home.”

I usually tell people, federal government’s a real good example. Living in Virginia we have a lot of folks who do work with the federal government and they don’t target people in the government. Well, government IT workers search the same way business IT workers do. They don’t say, “Hey, I’m a federal government worker and I need it this special way.” That doesn’t happen so that’s where personas can really help you figure out the best way to target and then speak to those people.

In search, because we’re a little bit handicapped with demographics, some of the ways you can do that through Google Ad Words, for instance, may be different, again, habitats that they hang out on so you can display advertising the content network with Google on different places that they hang out. You can also use your landing pages to your advantage.

So one thing that we’ve done in the past, because we don’t know immediately who that person might be, you can always use what we call a “button landing page” where you say, “Are you a home user or are you a business user?” Then they self-select from there and then you can cookie them so that next time they come back you already know. So there’s lots of options there but, unfortunately, in search, you’re often a little bit more handicapped in addressing how to target those demographics, those personas, than you are maybe with a social media network.

Pam:

And, Janet, don’t forget that all this is premised on the fact that before you’ve established a strategy, you’ve done some primary research. You’ve talked to customers. You either conducted focus groups or secondary research about the lifestyle habits, etc., etc. So it’s not as if you start from the end and work backwards. You start from the beginning and work towards the search terms. Part of that is actually getting concrete information directly from the customers.

Kari:

So we’re talking a lot about building personas, creating personas, for customers who are individuals. But we have a great question here asking for suggestions for creating personas for organizations. Do you have any suggestions around that?

Pam:

Well, there’s some pretty well-established exercises that companies can go through. For example, asking individuals within a group if the company were an animal or a kind of car, how would you characterize it. From that you begin to develop adjectives that really describe the texture of the company, the way in which it works, the culture of the company, rather than necessarily how it operates or specifics about what it does, how it functions. I think these kinds of creative exercises, and there are lots of resources available to help you think them through, can be very fruitful and productive in that they get people talking to each other about issues within the company culture and how the company is interacting with it’s customers and how it interacts internally.

Don’t forget, branding is also something that has to permeate the whole corporate culture or company culture or organizational culture. And unless you have these conversations internally, it’s very hard to successfully implement them in the marketplace.

Janet:

Pam mentioned Disney earlier and for my birthday last year, my birthday is on the same day Disney World opened so I’m a big fan of Disney and we went there for my birthday last year. Talk about the brand experience, she said, permeating the entire organization, and that is really true, and how that organization’s perceived for their brand and there are two things that really stood out to me when I was there. One was, on my birthday, they had me wear a badge with my name on it and every person who worked at Disney, every single person I encountered said my name to me and wished me a happy birthday, even people who were a block away. I mean, they’d be calling down the street and it was just an amazing experience.

Then when I left the park one day, I remember that they stopped me and asked me a one-question survey on the way out and they said, “Did you see anyone removing trash fro the park today?” I thought back and I thought, “You know, I don’t think I did.” And it really made me think about the fact that even trash at the park is frowned upon. They don’t want to mar your experience at the park in any way at all, not even to see refuse in the park. So I thought, “That’s really amazing. I never thought about it until someone mentioned it,” but every person who works there really has to believe in that brand and it’s so important that it really permeates everything you do from the website to the people who work for you and they all have to believe in it.

So it’s not enough, like you said, to just say, “This is who we are.” It has to come down like QVC and probably how you interact with people at QVC or how customer experiences at a big box store where you’re there for convenience and low-cost. So all of those things permeate the Nordstrom experience, all of that plays into brand and even into your own organization and the culture. That’s a good point.

Pam:

This maybe a little off topic but it also has to do with the experience of a website. You can have a company that’s selling technical products and you go on their website and it isn’t operating quite up to par, or it’s not really optimized for certain browsers. They are issues with it and all the sudden you really doubt their technical expertise, or you’re ready to donate to an organization and it looks too technical. It doesn’t tell stories, there’s no narrative. There are no individual stories that you see that your gift is going to benefit so there are lots of ways in which the whole culture has to be massaged through imagery, through good design, and supported by really state-of-the-art technology.

Kari:

This is a very, very interesting discussion that we’ve had today on a very fascinating topic. Didn’t I tell you at the beginning that this was going to be fascinating. So I’ like to thank our presenters, Janet Driscoll Miller and Pam Fitzgerald of the Ivy Group. And I’d like to thank you for attending today. So that you all very much for coming. We hope to see you at our next webinar on February 7th. Remember to register there at search- mojo.com/linkedin-ads. Thank you very much and have a great rest of your day.