19 May 2019

Look after your brand, and your brand will look after you

You’d think from the marketing press that print, main channel TV and bricks-and-mortar has had its day. But TV is thriving, and B2B bricks and mortar events like the CIH Housing Show are sell outs. Trade magazines are thick with advertising and PR from most of the successful companies you know. Can they all be wrong?

The industry has always struggled to link marketing cause and effect. Overall we know that companies that invest more, and more consistently in marketing tend to outperform those who keep their heads down. But that doesn’t help us decide how and where to focus, and how much to invest in what. The problem is, measuring what doesn’t matter is a doddle; measuring what matters is difficult.

Well organised companies can track leads from suppliers and specifications, showrooms, outdoor and local media, social, AdWords, the website and emails. And analyse relative conversion rates and average order values so they can invest in what seems most effective. But dig deeper, and ask what causes someone to email or telephone, walk into a showroom or visit a website and most struggle to answer.

So, it’s refreshing to see independent research that throws light on online and offline and how they work together.

Digital agency RED C Marketing (redcmarketing.com), using search and eye tracking techniques, conducted the study to establish the facts, given the rapid evolution of search engines and search technology, the profound changes in how consumers explore, discover and buy new products and services online, and the impact of this on the High Street. Over a two-month period they interviewed more than 60 consumers from a variety of life stages and eye tracked them. “We believe it’s the biggest, most comprehensive up-to-date qualitative study of its kind in the market,” says Adrian Rowe, one of the authors.

They found that most Google searches across a wide range of sectors resulted in familiar, trusted brands being chosen for the first click. A big majority (82%) of searches resulted in searchers opting first for a brand they were familiar with.

Getting your brand to stand out in online search, first requires offline marketing to put it in mind, as most people have one or more brands they’re thinking of when they search. You need an integrated approach and an omnichannel marketing strategy to be in the frame, the report concludes.

Being a ‘past or present customer’ was the most common reason for clicking (47%), followed by trusted brand (20%) and known brand (15%). User experience was the motive for 9%, and brand advertising (TV and Radio) 4%. The majority of first choices, especially for younger searchers, are driven by ‘off page’ factors – familiarity with the brand through experience, word of mouth, offline marketing or advertising.

Familiar brands are ‘safe’ searches and first clicks on familiar brands are fast – just 10.5 seconds on average on desktop and 9.3 seconds on mobile.

This insightful research reminds us that marketing has always been omnichannel and ‘brand first’. Digital is only part of the customer journey, which begins with a problem and search for the solution. If they’re not aware of your brand you stand a much smaller chance of being found and chosen.

All marketing is digital to a degree now, and marketers are expected to be fluent in both digital and offline. The big marketing challenge is to focus on customers rather than the channel and combine on and offline seamlessly into integrated campaigns that work better than either can on its own.