Today it seems every integrated campaign has a micro-site, as it should. Having a great digital experience that consumers can navigate to increases brand engagement, understanding, preference, consideration and should provide entertainment or a compelling experience that enhances a brand or products success. On-line success can be defined by a multitude of different metrics or on-line success events. The real question is how to create a disproportional impact from a creative idea, media budget or campaign mechanic.
What I find surprising though today are the number of sites that can’t be found by consumers through Search engines. The offending culprit all to often is bad site design, a lack of understanding in how the Search engines index and rank sites and more often then not a digital creative directors complete obsession with flash, justified by “creative priorities” outweighing effectiveness goals. The truth of the matter though is creativity and consumer experience does not have to preclude a sites ability to found and indexed.
Why is Search so important?
Like it or not, Search is the primary way consumers choose to navigate the web. In Australia more than 90% of consumers find new sites through Search engines, not expensive banner ads or sponsored emails with very high CPC’s and low CTR’s. Having to rely on expensive, low yielding digital media makes a campaigns life span finite and limits reaching the heights of ROI.
Search engines are also the easiest point of interaction for consumers, “I see an ad (TV, print, outdoor, on-line content, work of mouth – WOM etc) and I go straight to a query box and get exactly what I asked for. Search engines provide engaged, relevant results for engaged consumers when they are actively seeking out specific information. Search (both SEO & SEM) is also the lowest cost channel to engage consumers. Effectiveness studies, has proved time & time again that Search is 10 to 15 times more cost efficient and creates more value than digital display or other types of digital media.
Even if the channel planner has been insightful enough to include paid Search (SEM / PPC) the campaign will suffer from a low quality score as the site will not be able to be spidered, indexed etc and this leads to a poor quality scores from the Search engines. This then results in artificially high CPC’s and will burn budget very quickly. The whole quality score issue though is a topic for post, so more on that later.
Ensure any new site build is built in a HTML with flash elements embedded within site. Also make it a mandatory for the site have a full HTML back up version for non flash users (even though flash penetration is 97%+). Also ensure all sites have HTML site maps the spiders and bots can read and index.
This will allow:
- Site to be indexed properly for natural Search purposes, if it is full flash it NEVER will be indexed. Take advantage to the low / no cost traffic available. Remember around 70% of consumers click on natural Search rankings and 90%+ of all consumers use Search engines to navigate the web. You do the math, this is a big audience you can’t neglect through bad process, development skills, creative priorities and decision making.
- Better SEM / Paid Search results as the site will be awarded a positive quality score – your budgets will go considerably further, resulting in larger more engaged audiences and better ROI for your total campaign. Great for effectiveness case studies and your client will think your working in their best interest, not yours or the media agency’s.
- Take advantage of the massive trends in mobile device web surfing. As devices such as the iPhone get better and better, penetration increases and mobile data costs fall more consumers will be both Searching and visiting sites away from the desktop. Complete flash sites can’t be read on any mobile device currently. Take advantage of this huge consumer trend and don’t neglect your traffic.
- You to justify larger creative / development budgets because your campaign will be more effective. Break the 80/20 rule where the majority of a client budget goes into costly inefficient media. The fact is you can probably do an even better job with 50% of the budget going into performance media and Search, while allocating the remainder to a better more engaging site.
Great examples of Campaign Micro-sites
What the Search Engines can see
Macquarie Bank – discoverable by Search Engines
Room for Improvement
The Lynx Effect
Search Engine – Google Snipett (no site description)
What we see
What Search Engines can see & index
Rexona Million Balls
Search Engine page description
What the Search Engines see
You be the judge on what makes more sense from a marketing ROI perspective.