Importance of Branded Search in Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Greg Wittmann, Director of Search & Analytics talks about the positive effect branded search can have in this week’s post on search strategies.

Advertisers often ask the question of whether it’s worth it to bid on their own brand name in the search results page, especially if they are already ranking number one in the organic results. At Resolute, we think it’s an excellent question as we are always evaluating the bottom line from every angle.

It’s no secret that the SERPs (search engine result pages) landscape has changed over the years, adding more prominence to paid listings. A simple search for “tents” on Google reveals that over 50% of the page consists of sponsored ads, mainly at the top of the results. Because of these observations over the years and multiple studies citing the majority of the clicks occur in the well-known Google Golden Triangle, we’ve generally taken the stance that it is very important to have a paid presence on your branded terms.

In a recent case, this general stance just wasn’t enough for us so we took it to the testing grounds and started collecting data. For one particular large e-commerce client, we ran a 30-day A/B test where we would turn branded search on and off every other day. The objective was to measure the incremental lift in visits and revenue that occurred when branded search was on. At the conclusion of the test, the results exceeded our expectations, showing a 20% lift in visits and a 56% lift in revenue on the days that branded search was on. Given the incredible results, we’ve tested several other clients and industries and have seen similar results.

As mentioned earlier, we always welcome the challenging questions like “is branded search really worth it”. To answer this particular question, we encourage you to set up a similar A/B test and let the data speak for itself. As always, feel free to get in touch with us as well and we can guide you through the set up and analysis.

In conclusion, here are a few reasons why we think branded search is so important:

Control your message

With a paid listing, you can control the message at the start of a potential customer’s shopping experience. When the user starts their experience knowing they can get “free shipping” for example, they will likely spend more time browsing products in order to find an opportunity to capitalize on that initial offer.

Competitive blocking

When set up properly, a brand owner will almost always have very high quality scores, ultimately resulting in a very low CPC. Because of this, it will be extremely cost effective to rank #1 on your brand terms and much more difficult for competitors to intercept your traffic.

Complements Other Media

We often see that branded search performance will pick up during times when other media is heavy. This occurs in several instances such as an email blast, TV commercial, or online display campaign. More often than not, users will not actually click on the display ad or email campaign but think about the message for a while and then return to Google to perform a search on the brand or offer they remembered. In this case, it’s important to have a unified message across all campaigns to remind the user of the message again and direct them to the right place.

Very High ROI

At the end of the day, the ROI or conversion rate on branded search almost always justifies its low cost. When set up correctly, some of our clients can see CPCs as low as five cents ultimately resulting in ROI figures as high as 75x the spend.

Author
Greg Wittmann
Director, Search & Analytics
Posted
07.29.13
Greg Wittmann
Director, Search & Analytics

Greg Wittmann is the Director of Search at Resolute Digital and brings over seven years of search experience. Greg specializes in search engine marketing for a wide variety of industries including retail, entertainment, higher education, general lead generation and ecommerce. Greg is both Google Analytics and AdWords certified.

Contact Greg