Get started with search

Hello everyone!

Today we are going to go in depth of the complex world of search. The earliest search engine was launched in 1990. Named ‘Archie’, it was a tool for indexing FTP archives, allowing people to find specific files.

Fast forward to two-and-a-half decades, 81.1 billion USD was spent on digital marketing in 2016, half of it went in search engine marketing. Hence, the potential of search marketing speaks for itself. Let us look try and decode some of the aspects of search.

 

Search query

The words and phrases that people type into a search box in order to pull up a list of results.

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Figure 1: Search query

There are three types of search queries, which are as follows:

  • Navigational search query: These are search queries entered with the intention of finding a particular website or page. For example, a user typing ‘YouTube’ into the URL bar to find the ‘YouTube’ site. Interestingly, ‘Facebook’ and ‘YouTube’ are the top two searches on google, both are navigational queries
  • Informational search query: These are search queries that cover a broad topic for which there would be an infinite number of results. For example, a user typing ‘Calcutta’ or ‘Bus’ is probably looking for information or trying to learn how to do something.
  • Transactional search query: These are search queries that indicate an intent to complete transaction, such as making a purchase. These may be generic such as ‘mobile phones under 20k’, or may include exact brand or product name such as ‘Samsung galaxy s3’. Many local searches such as ‘Wine shop in Delhi’ may be transactional in nature as well

 

How search engines work

Each search engine has their secret way of doing things, which they do not reveal too much. However, a basic process is followed by every search engine.

Crawling: Systematic browsing of the web to collect information for indexing, and to help searchers find what they are looking for. This is done by internet bots called ‘crawlers’ or ‘spiders’.

Indexing: The process of categorization of digital content into systematic lists of web pages, to be used by search engines to provide relevant results to the searchers.

Ranking: It is the process of positioning of a listing or result on the search engine results page, according to the relevance of content.

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Figure 2: Search ranking

Results: The outcome of a search query, displayed on a search engine results page.

 

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Figure 3: Search Engine Results Page

 

 

 

What search engines look for

Web crawlers look for specific things to determine the ranking of a webpage.

Content: The relevance of the content displayed on a website of page is of utmost importance in determining its position

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Figure 4: Relevant content

Coding: The back office of a website, crawlers look at the coding for information related to the site. A Content Management System (CMS) may be used to modify page codes

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Figure 5: Updating codes for search

Descriptive words: These provide additional information helping the spiders index a website better

Alternate text: Crawlers unfortunately cannot see images, it can only see HTML version of it. Alternate text can be inserted in the HTML to tell the crawlers, and even the visitors about the type of image it is

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Figure 6: ‘Kanye Laughing’ is an example of alternate text

Optimized visibility: Responsive sites, which adapt its visibility according to the type of device on which it is being viewed are ranked higher

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Figure 7: Responsive website

Meta tags: A few lines of text appearing on the SERP, just under the title tag. Also called meta-descriptors, these gives further information about a page

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Figure 8: Meta tag

 

Organic search explained

SEO: An acronym for Search Engine Optimization, it is the process of positively affecting the visibility of a webpage in the search engine’s unpaid (organic) results page by increasing the quality score of that webpage.

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Figure 9: SEO / Organic listing

 

Paid search explained

SEM: An acronym for Search Engine Marketing, it is a form of internet marketing that involves the promotion of a webpage/ site by increasing their visibility through paid advertising. Google AdWords deals with SEM in for its own search engines and partner sites.

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Figure 10: SEM / Paid listing

Paid search components

Organic formula: What works for SEO, also works for SEM in terms of quality score and relevance of content

Advertising models: There are various advertising models such as PPC, PPM, etc. which needs to be explored

Bidding auctions: Every single listing fights against its competitors via a bid. The bid amount, quality score, and other criteria work together to generate rankings on the SERP.

Keywords: Bids are placed on keywords- words and phrases, which are typically typed in by the users when they are looking for a business like yours

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Figure 11: Keywords

Branding: Part 2

Hello all!

As we know, branding is the core of any marketing-oriented company, and indeed it is essential for any marketer to know all about branding. Today we are going to look at branding in detail.

For part one: Branding

What is brand messaging?

Brand messaging is the underlying value proposition perceived by the customers. As it is an interpretation by the customers, it is not always true. However, it effects their purchase behavior and action.

Stages of brand messaging

  • Attention and exposure: This is the first stage, where customers generally get exposed to the brand. This can only be done, if the brand elements come together to grab the attention of the customers
  • Perceptual interpretation: At this point customers are in the position to interpret the brand messaging to their liking. Hence, all the companies try hard to develop a positive attention seeking message

 

Brand elements

Element

Pros

Cons

Name

The anchor; quick to process and easy to recall

Difficult to change

Logo

Grabs attention

Can get outdated

Character

Has rich meaning; great brand association

Can get outdated

Slogan

Memorable, catchy, conveys the message

Difficult to translate; does not suit all with different taste in music

Packaging

Ease of recognition; conveys information as well as meaning

Issues with production, as well as channel concerns

Table 1: The pros and cons of brand elements


Brand name

A name given by the maker to a product, or a range of products. It affects the likelihood of purchase, as well as boosts employee morale, as it radiates a source of belonging and loyalty.

Types of brand names

  • Descriptive: Describes the product. Lean Cuisine
  • Metaphor: Represents a particular attribute or signifies something. Infiniti
  • Name / Surname: Product named after someone, typically the founder. Ford
  • Arbitrary: Real words with no obvious brand association. Apple
  • Altered: Fictional words, based on real ones. Spotify
  • Blended: Two meaningful words merged together. Facebook
  • Invented: Words which do not make any sense. Exxon

 

All about colors

Colors help in differentiating a product from its competitors, or is used within a brand to separate product lines. The ultimate goal of any brand is to own a color. Take for instance Tiffiny’s light blue box- it is so popular that people look forward to it, while purchasing something from Tiffany’s.

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Figure 1: Tiffany’s famous blue box

Two axes of color

Arousal axis: High Red, Orange; Low Blue, Green

Affect axis: High Blue, Green; Low Red, Orange

Color associations

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Table 2: Colors and associations

Color-brands guide

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Figure 2: Color and brands

 

Role of symbols

Symbols add the necessary detail to a brand and helps it grab attention. It helps in forming associations, as well as evoke positive feelings

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Figure 3: The famous BMW symbol

 

Taglines / Slogans

Taglines and / or slogans helps in better positioning of a product as it removes ambiguity. It reinforces what the brand is all about. They must be short, differentiated, and unique to be easy to remember. This enables the brand to evoke emotional response.

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Figure 4: The famous BMW slogan “The ultimate driving machine

 

Packaging

Packaging has gained a lot of importance over time. With better supply chain facilities, packaging can play a very important role. At the grass root level, it provides storage facility, and helps protect it and allows for transportation. It also gives a brand its identity and influences at the point of purchase, as well as at the point of consumption. Packaging also presents both descriptive and persuasive information about a product.

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Figure 5: The famous, simple and classy iPhone packaging

Branding

Hello everyone! Today we take our first step towards understanding the different pieces of branding. To comprehend and executive branding activities is one of the most essential practices of any marketer.

What is branding?

Branding is a marketing practice of creating a name, symbol, and / or design that identifies and differentiates a product or service offer by a company from its competitors. It enables a business to establish a desired image of the company in the customers’ eyes mainly via advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. So let’s look at the slices and nuances of branding.

Developing a mental map

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Figure 1: Mental map

A mental map of a brand portrays the brand’s associations and responses for a particular target market. It inculcates the crux of the core brand values and / or the brand mantra.

Thought association process

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Figure 2: Thought processes

By gauging in the minds of the customers, we can determine the thought association process. What are the thoughts that comes to mind when a brand is thought about or seen.

Grouping

There are bound to be several attributes of a brand that can be determined through the though association process.  Grouping of similar brand associations into categories is essential

Semantic association network

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Figure 3: Association network

A network of all the attributes grouped into categories are then put into a network. This helps us picture the though associations that comes up with the brand

Core brand values

Core brand values are the set of abstract concepts / phrases that characterize the five to ten most important dimensions of the mental map of a brand. This should also tell us about the Point(s) of parity [POP] and Point(s) of difference [POD] of the brand.

POP

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Figure 4: Point of parity

A point of parity is the similarity between a product and its competitors. For example the POP between Liril and Pears is that they both are bathing soaps.

POD

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Figure 5: Point of difference

A point of differentiation is the unique feature of a product that its competitors do not have. For example the POD of Maruti Suzuki is the presence and efficiency of its widely available service centers as compared to Hyundai.

Brand mantra

Brand mantra is what lets you define your brand in thirty seconds or less. It is used internally to guide company decisions, and externally to communicate about the brand. It not only describes what a brand is, but as importantly tells us about what the brand is not. Let us look at some of the components of brand mantra.

  • Brand function: Brand function describe the nature of the product or service and the benefits / experiences the brand provides
  • Descriptive modifier: Descriptive modifier essentially clarifies the nature of the product even further
  • Emotional modifier: Emotional modifier explains exactly what those benefits and / or experiences are and how they are delivered to the customers

Let’s take the examples of Nike, Disney, and McDonald’s

Brand Brand function Descriptive modifier Emotional modifier
Nike Performance Athletic Authenticity
Disney Entertainment Family Fun
McDonald’s Food Family Fun

 

Experiential branding

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Figure 6: Senses

Brand experience can be thought of as sensations, feelings, perceptions, and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli. Therefore, the more powerful the experience is, the stronger the brand impression. Experiential branding tries to amalgamate all this to bring

Experiential branding is a process by which brands create and drive sensory interactions with consumers in all aspects of the brand experience to emotionally influence their preferences and to actively shape their perceptions of the brand. Let’s look at some of its aspects.

  • Redefining what a brand is: Traditional promotional methods like advertising in magazines or on TV are no longer as effective as before. Therefore it is essential to redefine the branding strategies. The POD here has to be an enhanced focus on the overall brand experience. Building personalized relationships with the customers while providing them relevant, customized products, and / information is extremely crucial
  • Experiential brand positioning: Experiential brand positioning essentially talks about what a brand stands for. The point of difference here is important to emphasize on, and a multi-sensory strategy adoption is the need of the hour
  • Experiential components: The core components of experiential branding is tied with a multi-sensory experience.
    • Emotions: Appealing to customers’ inner feelings
    • Cognition: Appealing to customers’ intellect
    • Behavioral: Affecting bodily experiences
    • Social: Invoking feelings of community / belonging

 

Strong vs weak brands

There are many characteristics that differentiates a strong from weak brands such as consistency, superiority, distinctiveness, alignment, relevance, etc.

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Figure 7: Strong Vs Weak brands

Let us look at some of the game changers that makes or breaks a brand

Strong Weak
Clear promises, kept over time Vague promises
Rich, and unique brand equity General equity
Dependable Spotty reputation
Loyal franchise Little loyalty

Part two of Branding: Branding Part 2

All about websites

How a website works

Setting up a website can be a complex process, and as a marketer you may not have full understanding of it. This is alright, but there are certain must-knows from this world in order to succeed in creating a wonderful website. Some of them are as follows:

  • Web-hosting: Web-hosting service is a type of internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server owned or leased for use by clients, as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center
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Web hosting
  • IP address: IP or Internet Protocol address is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. Think of it like the geographical coordinates of your office, this the address of your office online
  • Domain names: A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. Just like your business needs a name to operate in the physical world, your website requires a domain name to operate in the online world
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Domain names
  • Browser: A web browser or simply a browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. Examples include Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, etc.
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Web browsers

 

Key website ingredients

A good website is more appealing to both the customers, and the Google’s spiders, as it helps in getting more traffic, or showing on the SERP. Some of the key features of a nice website are as follows:

  • Relevance: All the webpages, and the website as a whole should exist in a harmonic state with perfect synchronization. Your website should contain relevant information for your target customers in order to be attractive
  • Extension: A website should be an extension of your business offline, and not an entity by itself. In today’s age of Omni-channel experience, customers are used to having same experiences throughout her journey at all touch points
  • Homepage: A home page or a start page is the initial or main web page of a website or a browser. It is like a shop window, it represents the entire business, and customers would only come in if they have a positive first impression
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Homepage
  • Navigation: Smooth navigation is really important, especially for websites with numerous pages like an e-commerce site. It has to be synchronized and every webpage should have the necessary links like the home page button, contact form link, etc.
  • Templates: Nowadays, many companies provide read-made templates to design a website. There are thousands of templates to choose from, starting from a simple blog to a full-fledged e-commerce website. When starting to build a website, it is a convenient option and may help in simplifying the entire process
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Web templates

 

Websites and your business goal

As mentioned earlier, a website is only an extension of a business and therefore should give out the same vibe as your offline business does You need to match the customer needs with your wants, and provide aligned experience.

  • Design: A website design can be strikingly different from your actual business, but should be well-aligned. For instance, if the business logo is in green and you do all you promotional activities with a green background, your website should definitely have a strong presence of the color
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Web design
  • Mobile: Most of the people are accessing the internet on their mobile phones these days. Therefore it is essential to optimize your entire website- right from the landing page to the contact form should be mobile-friendly
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Mobile
  • Content: They say ‘content is king’, and I could not emphasize enough on the importance of that statement. No matter how well a website is set up, if the content is not up to the mark, then users would merely visit your website, but never engage with your business, or turn into paying customers
  • Tone: Every business has its own style of tone to communicate with the customers. However, it is safe to say that the chosen tone should be boring or dry, nor should it be extremely aggressive to make the viewers uncomfortable. This is especially true in the online world, as people cannot see your face to gauge your expressions

 

Make your website easy to use

Nobody likes a bad website experience, and most of the times, a user would not come back if she had anything less than a perfect user-friendly website experience. There are certain factors which help in making a website suitable for even the most unaware users, which are:

  • Navigation: As mentioned earlier, smooth navigation is really important, especially for websites with numerous pages like an e-commerce site. It has to be synchronized and every webpage should have the necessary links like the home page button, contact form link, etc.
  • Layout: An easy layout which does not make the users look too much for anything, no matter how huge the website is, is always desirable. Therefore, if you are not a website expert, a pre-designed template could be your true friend
  • Colors: There are some articles which suggest that colors play a very important role in attracting customers to your business. For instance, the color red supposedly has a hunger-stimulating effect on our brains, therefore most food and beverages related companies (Coca cola, Zomato, etc.) use red in their branding efforts. Likewise, green is perceived as the color for harmony or blue as the color of royalty. It is hence essential to carefully choose the color theme of the website
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Colors
  • Consistency: As mentioned earlier, a website be consistent and well-aligned. For instance, if the business logo is in green and you do all you promotional activities with a green background, your website should definitely have a strong presence of the color
  • Language: The language of the website should be the one that your target customers are likely to understand. But if you have customers who speak a different language than yours, be prepared to customize your website and get it translated into that language
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Language

 

Website design

There are some Do’s and Do not’s of website creation, which are:

  • Loading time: Slow loading time is always unattractive, and mobile users tend to leave a website if it does not load in 10 seconds. So try to building light home and landing pages, so that a customer does not have a reason to not enter your website even if they she intended to
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Loading time
  • Responsiveness: Responsiveness is the same as loading time. Smooth website experience which is responsive gives a lot of credibility to business and makes it easier for a customer to browse through your website, thus increasing the average session time
  • Mobile-friendly: As mentioned earlier, most of the people are accessing the internet on their mobile phones these days. Therefore it is essential to optimize your entire website- right from the landing page to the contact form should be mobile-friendly
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Mobile friendly website
  • Universal access: It is imperative that your website is accessible from all parts of the world, even if your target customers are situated in just one part of the world. For instance, one of customers are travelling to another part, or a person from a different country is shifting to your country decides ti research before-hand
  • Quality content: As mentioned earlier, they say ‘content is king’, and I could not emphasize enough on the importance of that statement. No matter how well a website is set up, if the content is not up to the mark, then users would merely visit your website, but never engage with your business, or turn into paying customers

First steps towards online success

In the third post in the Digital Marketing series, we would discuss  how to take those essential first steps in order to achieve online glory.

 

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Online goals
  • Step 1: Setting online goals

    The first step towards the online journey in setting up the goals which we want to achieve by going digital. A set agenda has to be there for going forward in the journey. This can be done through the following:

    • Planning: The most important aspect of setting up a goal is having a plan in place. What we want to achieve and how we plan to do it are equally important questions to be answered
    • Visibility: The most basic aim of any business going online is to improve its visibility and our expectations regarding the same should be analysed
    • Targeting: Online devices gives us many options to segment and target customers, therefore it is essential to establish separate groups and clusters In order to customize content
    • Advertising: Learning and deciding about the types of advertising to focus on- search, or display is also essential
    • Measuring: Finally, a success measuring toll should be in place, which could help us to understand our mistakes and better our campaigns

 

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Setting up your online presence
  • Step 2: Building our online presence

    The next step is to decide about the where to be more visible. There are a number of channels which may enable us to reach our online goals. Some of them are:

    • Directories: Local directories are the most basic requirement of any online entity. It is a good starting point, and also helps customers reach us while searching for products that we sell
    • Social media: Building a social media presence is the next step and requires a lot of planning and good execution. Platforms like Facebook, and Twitter enables us to engage with our customers, but merely having a presence on social media is not enough. Continuous involvement is desired.
    • E-commerce: Companies whose business involves selling pf products and services and wants to do so online may set up an e-commerce site to facilitate smooth transactions. But it is a complex process and requires dedicated effort to manage such a site
    • Application: The last leg of building an online presence is to develop a dedicated app where customers can be engaged. With the penetration of smart-phones, it is a good idea to have an app. But it is advised to go for it only after all the other channels have been covered

 

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Online Marketing
  • Step 3: Marketing your online presence

    The third and the most important step in building your online presence is marketing it symmetrically across the platforms. The main aim right now would be to increase the online traffic to your business, which can be done via:

    • SEO: An acronym for Search Engine Optimization, it is the process of positively affecting the visibility of a webpage/ site in the search engine’s unpaid (organic) results page
    • SEM: An acronym for Search Engine Marketing, it is a form of internet marketing that involves the promotion of a webpage/ site by increasing their visibility through paid advertising. Google AdWords deals with SEM in for its own search engines and partner sites. It has two sub-parts, which are:
      • Search advertising: This deals with the promotion of your business on SERP (Search Engine Results Page) via texts
      • Display advertising: This deals with the promotion of your business on the partner websites, app, video channels like YouTube, etc. via texts, images, videos, or animation
    • Social media: This deals with the use of various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. to promote your business
    • Email: This is an form of promotional activity which basically deals with sending commercial messages to a group of people via email

* More on these on upcoming articles

 

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  • Step 4: Analysis and adaption

    The fourth and final step is to examine your online success and modify your campaign accordingly.

    • Analysis: Today we have many data analysis tools to help us understand the pros, and cons of our campaign. We need to use it to realize the trend
    • Tracking: Tracking the customers through her customer journey (right from the time she decided to buy something to the point of purchase) helps us become customer-centric
    • Flexibility: By understanding what worked for a business and what did not, we can make quick changes in order to improve our campaigns, and we have to remain flexible in order to make those changes