Brand Preference & Search: Creating Brand Preference is Hard Work

Brand Preference & Search

Traditional media and marketing channels have done their fair share of helping to raise consumer awareness, as well as purchase intent. However, after years of using traditional strategies, companies have long since entered the digital marketing landscape, learning to adapt and evolve to maximize their brand's reach and increase ROI. Whether traditionally or digitally, developing brand preference is still an arduous task for marketers. Creating digital brand preference in a highly competitive environment starts with keeping your brand relevant in the context of consumer search habits. To begin with, is your brand fulfilling the need within the category or subcategory where your customers are looking? If so, you've already succeeded in capturing their attention and establishing the credibility and visibility needed to propel your campaign to the next level. From here your brand begins the journey into the hearts and minds of consumers everywhere who, for the most part, are stuck in"brand inertia," where they are habitually bound to their favorite brands, with little sign of changing. Here, we take a closer look at just what it takes to establish brand awareness through paid search campaigns that result in sales conversions.

What Is Brand Preference?

Brand preference is the metric used to assess brand strength and effectiveness. It refers to which brand consumers prefer over other brands in the same category of pricing and availability.

A brand's strength can also be measured by whether loyal customers search for a replacement when it is unavailable and thus find another brand. Not every brand can boast this type of brand nirvana, but those who do can take the credit for controlled variables such as innovative marketing strategies and carefully crafted brand loyalty, often years in the making. Though companies and marketers cannot realistically control consumer psyche and disposition, they can use strategies that illicit behavioral response from consumers, whether it is rationally or emotionally based.

What Affects Paid Search?

Though still relevant, traditional forms of marketing (eg: television, print and out-of-home) are sometimes superseded by their newer, non-traditional cousins in the form of social media, mobile and online channels. To survive the competitive sales climate, marketers must decide when to use traditional and non-traditional forms of advertising, as well as how the two influence each other in multi-channel marketing. Whereas traditional advertising methods take a more passive approach to reaching out to consumers, non-traditional means such as paid search work to create specific channels for consumer interaction.

So what exactly is paid search? Paid search encompasses all online methods of advertising that result in marketers having to pay each time a consumer clicks an online ad (pay-per-click or PPC). These include pay for performance strategies now offered by popular search engines (think Google AdWords) that play a significant part in your overall marketing campaign.

Whether you're a small company with a small SEM budget, or a larger company spending hundreds of thousands for on-going (PPC) services, the effect of search is undeniable. The ultimate goal of any search campaign is to find your way to the top of the marketing food chain—or, in this case, the search engine results (SERP) page—so that potential customers actively seeking your products or services are presented with your brand up-close and personal.

Impact of Search on Brand Awareness

In numerous studies, measurement and assessment of paid search has all led to the same, underlying conclusion: paid search increases brand awareness (top of mind or unaided) and drives conversion. The impetus behind using paid search can be simplified by acknowledging that paid search captures audiences at the time they are most likely to purchase. In a more practical scenario, think about the last time you, as a consumer, saw an advertisement on TV or a print ad for a product or service. Unless you were actively seeking to purchase that product, chances are the message was not as impactful and may have slipped down the rung of priorities in your consciousness. Now think about the last time you were actively researching a product online and were presented with an ad for the item that you were looking for. In this case, the likelihood of you considering that brand and actually clicking through the ad would be significantly higher. Marketers have seized this opportunity to influence consumer brand perception, leading to higher conversion rates due to the relevancy of the message.

Another consideration that impacts brand awareness through paid search is the use of mobile display. Accessibility is a key component when measuring how paid ads, viewed on a phone or tablet, encourage an even stronger call to action as consumers literally have the decision making power at their fingertips. The impact of paid search through mobile display can be effective throughout all stages of the consumer's path of purchase, from research all the way to a completed sale.

If it's one thing that all marketers can agree on, it's that creating brand preference is hard. Aligning all your marketing strategies in the right way at the right time can be quite the challenge, but investing in paid search can help deliver important metrics as to when your customers are interested and what they are interested in. Increasing brand engagement in any way can set your brand on the right path to successful conversion rates , as well as heightening consumer awareness of your brand.