Module 8
Getting Found 1hour

How do you make sure that people will see your business as standing out from the crowd? In this module, you will learn about the techniques of making your brand more targeted and stronger.

In this lesson, you will learn how to create and adjust your brand to that it fits into the cultural, regional and business realities, in which it operates.

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Now we will focus on the more strategic aspect of branding, namely brand positioning.

In short, brand positioning refers to the strategic management of the brand in a way that maximises its value. It is the place (position) of the brand in the target customer’s mind. Brand positioning is a key element of a marketing strategy, it gives direction to all marketing efforts.  

Good brand positioning should help your company achieve success by ensuring that the brand activity is united by a common aim and that the company’s message is clear at all points of contact. If you position your brand correctly, customers should have a clear idea of what your brand offers and what makes it stand out from the crowd.  

Positioning a brand is not easy, a lot of companies struggle to define their brand position, let alone actively manage it. Hopefully, these few tips will help you to understand your brand’s position and allow you to manage it correctly.  

One of the most effective ways of defining the brand’s current position is by drafting a brand positioning statement. It is an internal document that summarises some of the key features of the brand. A good positioning statement should define the target market, list the unique features of the brand and back it up with a set of arguments.

Once you understand your current position you can start shaping it. Again, there are a number of things to consider. Think critically about your brand and the competitors in the market. Are the features of your brand really unique? Maybe there is a niche in the market that you could move into? Also, is the brand proposition validated by the products? You cannot create a brand that is disconnected from the actual offerings of the business. This is a short-term strategy that will never pay off in the long run.

Secondly, is the brand appropriate to all markets that the company operates in? There might be regional or cultural differences that can harm your brand. For example, the brand slogan might translate badly to other languages and create negative connotations. It might then be necessary to adjust the strategy in that particular market.

Is your current brand financially sustainable? In other words, is it a realistic offering and can the company live up to its brand promise at a reasonable cost? A good branding strategy should be able to boost the financial standings of the company if living up to the brand promise is too costly it might be necessary to change the brand’s positioning.

Positioning the brand correctly requires skillful management. By not defining the brand clearly enough you risk that customers will have a confused understanding of the brand. They won’t be sure what to think of the brand and they won’t understand what it stands for. On the other hand, sticking to a narrow definition of the brand can lead to a situation, where customers don’t appreciate the breadth of what the brand has to offer.  

In this chapter, you will learn about the ways to make it possible for your customer base to distinguish your company from others.

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Earlier, we discussed the concept of brand loyalty and we showed how beneficial it can be for your business. Now we will focus on the closely related subject of brand awareness.

So what is it?

Brand awareness is a crucial element of building brand loyalty. In order for customers to be loyal to a brand, they need to be aware of its existence. Furthermore, the customer has to know what the brand stands for. What types of products does it offer, what makes the brand unique, etc. Think of global brands like Apple or Coca-Cola. Regardless of whether you like them or not, you know what they are, you know their products and you will easily recognise them from their respective competitors. Companies that fail to build brand awareness are not able to attract loyal customers. Their products are simply ‘generic’.

Marketing experts distinguish varying level of brand awareness. The first stage is brand recall where customers recall the existence of the brand and associate it with a particular product, but don’t remember the specific details i.e. ‘chewing gums in a blue packet’. The final stage is the top of mind awareness where customers can recall all the details about the brand.

Interestingly, too high a brand awareness can become problematic. Especially when a brand is so successful and widely recognised that it becomes synonymous with the category of the product. To illustrate the problem think of Sellotape in the UK. When you go to a DIY shop and request a sellotape you might not get the original product made by Sellotape but a generic equivalent. Thus, the company behind the original product has a much more difficult job in promoting its uniqueness.

The big brands often actively monitor their brand awareness using a variety of metrics and tools so that they know how they fare against their competitors. The data can also be used to inform marketing decisions.

Is brand awareness relevant to small and medium businesses?

Yes! You probably don’t need to use complicated models to monitor it, but don’t neglect it. Building brand awareness always pays off. It is the cornerstone of branding. Without brand awareness you will not be able to create a distinct brand and attract loyal customers. Make sure to invest your time and effort into building a brand that the customers recognise and like.

How to build brand awareness?

Everything on our blog is related to it. Whether it is designing your logo, defining your mission, vision, and values, or communicating with your audience. Each of these elements adds up to creating a unique brand that customers will not only remember but also like.

In this chapter, you will learn why brand loyalty is important to your business.

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We have discussed how brand equity allows you to charge a premium for your products. We also mentioned that a positive brand equity can help you when expanding your product line. This week, we are going to cover a closely related concept of brand loyalty.

The concept itself is very easy to understand. To put it simply, brand loyalty means that consumers are committed to their preferred brand and they make repeated purchases from the same brand. In other words, consumers don’t choose random products. They consistently choose their favourite brand over all the other competitors. Think of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Both products are very similar, yet each company has thousands of loyal customers. Many Coca-Cola drinkers will refuse to drink Pepsi and vice-versa.  

What does it all mean for you and your business?

To start with, you can expect that loyal customers, will stick to your brand regardless of the price or convenience of doing so. Hence, brand loyalty is a crucial element of brand equity. Customers who don’t feel attached to your brand are less likely to pay a premium for your products.

Loyal customers are also keen to promote your brand. They will speak about your company to their friends and act as powerful advocates of your brand. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective marketing strategies so don’t neglect its importance.

Brand loyalty is also incredibly beneficial when launching new products. Think of the Apple Watch. Smartwatches existed a long time before Apple decided to enter that market, yet thousands of Apple customers only bought one when their favourite brand entered the market. In fact, Apple Watch has quickly become the best-selling smartwatch on the market.  

Loyal customers are also more likely to forgive you when you occasionally drop the ball. In Autumn 2016 Samsung was left embarrassed when it had to recall its flagship phone after it was discovered they devices may explode during charging. To make matters worse, the initial recall failed to solve the issue and the company was forced to completely withdraw its flagship product. Yet, customers remained loyal to the company and Samsung managed to close 2016 with profits being up by 50% from a year earlier.

Naturally, customers’ loyalty is going to have its limits and you should not test it by taking it for granted, treating your customers badly and betraying their trust. On the contrary, building and sustaining brand loyalty requires time and effort. Customers are loyal because they like your business and the way they are treated. You should aim to actively incentivize customers’ loyalty, for example by introducing loyalty programmes, discounts for returning customers etc. Always strive to meet customers’ expectations and listen to their feedback. With an ever more competitive market, retaining your customers is a key to success.

.Google grew to an enormous size as a search engine. In this chapter, you will learn how to use Google’s mechanics to your advantage.

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Google is one of those few companies whose main product’s name has become a synonym for a particular activity. “Googling” is a phrase, which means searching for something online. The fact of searching something on Google became a thing usually taken for granted. There’s a reason we don’t “yahoo” pictures of cute cats. “Binging” is also not a thing (apart from binge-watching!) and will never be. Google absolutely dominates the search engine market and doesn’t seem to be letting go. With tools such as Gmail, Google Plus or Google AdWords, the company has taken massive shares of the email,  internet marketing and advertising industries.

But, let’s get to the point, shall we? Google is, without doubt mighty and almost omnipresent, but what’s exactly is its role in internet marketing? What possibilities does it provide? And most importantly – can Google be named the Queen of internet marketing?

 

There’s one major factor that instantly makes Google a great place for internet marketing – its sheer size! Everything is searchable by Google and everyone uses Google on a daily basis. There are almost 62 thousands Google searches per second every day! Given it takes you around 10 minutes to read through this article – that’s 37.5 million Google searches! The popularity and omnipresence of Google poses many opportunities for businesses to be found by their potential customers. But at the same time, the vastness and amount of searches, people and companies might make it incredibly hard for businesses to be stumbled upon. Ever wandered to the second page of search results? Probably only if you’re very desperate, as 81% of people are likely to think low of companies appearing on other pages than the first one.

Luckily, Google introduced several tools that can help businesses reach top spots in search result pages. I am going to outline them below!

Google AdWords

Remember Facebook Ads from an earlier chapter? AdWords is kind of similar to this fantastic and versatile tool, but the major difference is that it is tapped into the world’s biggest search engine. Given a correct optimisation of your internet marketing campaigns, AdWords can bring you verytargeted and focused leads. Imagine a person is searching for something very specific, like for example: 3-room houses to buy in Brooklyn. The keywords for that would be: 3-room, house, buy (or for sale) and Brooklyn. Now, if your campaign is set right and optimised properly (you can read more on Google AdWords mechanics here) your page offering 3-room houses for sale in Brooklyn will appear as the first, or one of the first results.

In addition to that, Google AdWords is a very flexible internet marketing platform! All the data on how your campaigns are operating are readily available. That means you can easily see which campaigns are well optimised and which ones are not. Campaigns can be freely changed, adjusted, tested or even deleted – you only pay for the ones that end up with a click!

It might take some time to optimise and adjust your Google AdWords strategy, but once you do, it will bring you high returns without the risk of losing huge amounts of money. The data showing patterns in your customers’ behaviors available instantly is also a great asset of AdWords that can contribute to an increased understanding of the customer by businesses.

 

Google Plus

It’s easy to dismiss Google Plus as just another social media platform, but in fact it’s much more than that! It has grown rapidly becoming the second biggest social media network, right after Facebook. Yet, the myth of Google Plus as a ghost town is widespread. However, that’s only because Google Plus’ purpose is often misunderstood. It by no means was made for looking up people or posting short updates. It encompasses a lot of different tools: YouTube, Hangouts, Communities, Gmail and Google Maps to name the best known ones. This not only provides users with a chance to exchange information easily. It most importantly makes it much easier for your business to conduct an internet marketing campaign! All the Google products are interlocked and work together perfectly, which makes it so much easier to promote yourself on several platforms!

Google Plus users are less likely to engage and much more likely to view content. That makes it a great platform for gathering customer interest, which then could be quenched with content promoted on other connected platforms.

There’s one more crucial thing about Google Plus – its pages are more than likely to be prioritised by Google in search results!

SEO, Google and internet marketing

Google is the go-to platform if you need to find something – it’s a no brainer to be fair! It is also a go-to place if you want to be found! I already mentioned AdWords, which generate leads. Another way to gain traffic on your website is to use Search Engine Optimisation. It is a set of actions such as publishing content, using keywords, social media presence, adjusting HTML of a particular website, etc. aimed at gaining organic (unpaid, unlike Google AdWords) traffic and a better search engine position.That means, where do you appear on sites like Google when someone searches for a phrase related to your business? SEO can be a great option for your internet marketing campaign – it might require effort, but when done right it can generate a lot of organic exposure.

 

Summary:

Google is the biggest search engine in the world. The size of the platform can be intimidating and it may seem impossible to break through tens of thousands of other websites, but there are tactics and methods to “harness” Google and make it your company’s great asset! Such tools like AdWords and Google Plus are provided by Google themselves. SEO, on the other hand, while being attached to Google, is more of a bottom-up way for businesses to understand the complex world of search engine positioning.

It’s really worth investing your time in a proper Google positioning campaign as a major part of your internet marketing. Similarly to Facebook, the very size of the platform can bring about incredible results. A properly optimised business website will be exposed to hundreds of millions of people searching for hundreds of millions of pieces of information daily!

In this chapter, you will read about the importance of complying with Google’s standards.

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If you think that Google or Bing will rank your website highly just because “it is nice”, “we used high-quality pictures only” or “but the design is so professional!”, then no, they will not. You may sacrifice hundreds of hours to ensure that your business site is user-friendly, modern and consistent with a whole strategy but search engines don’t really care about such factors. Google will definitely not put your website on the first page in the rank just because its colours match the colours used in all your social media profiles. If you decide to wait, then rest assured, the problem will not solve itself. But, if at some point you could relate to what we write about, then you’re not the only one.

Actually, the majority of small businesses who have experienced a lack of interest in their newly released, attractive website, at some point had to realise that they were missing something very important. The gateway to open up a path to better results is an online reputation. Without it, your site will land in the abyss of sites forgotten by Google or Bing somewhere between 100 and 200 page in the rank. Fortunately, we have a solution.

SEO is something you need to know about, if you want to be successful at the Google game. In this lesson, we will teach you about the things Google takes into account when ranking pages.

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The recipe for success is hidden under three mysterious letters – SEO. SEO allows you to boost the online reputation and uplift your website to the position you aim for. The mentioned abbreviation stands for the Search Engine Optimisation. If you think that thousands of specialists are employed just to determine the fair and relevant rank for each of the sites, of course, you are wrong. The whole system is automated and although you cannot bribe algorithms, to put you higher in the index, you can familiarise yourself with the factors that influence a website’s rank for different keywords. In theory, these factors are inaccessible to the public, mainly due to inexperience. However, we know more than 200 of the elements which do matter and can help influence your position. Therefore, it is possible to use this knowledge about them to help you obtain results you wish for.

However, Google changes its algorithms hundreds of times per year and the public is informed roughly about 10-15 of them each year. The purpose is simple. We shouldn’t know about the details of how Google algorithm works. We should follow Google’s guidelines to get our website higher in search engine results.
The way that SEO agencies work had changed dramatically as well. Google algorithms get smarter and so-called black SEO isn’t a good option for website owners anymore. It’s extremely easy to disappear from Google search results with the newest algorithms updates.

 

The best way to get to the top results is to provide your users with relevant and unique content consistently. The easiest way to do so is to write a blog on your website. The minimum length of a blog post should be 500 words. You should also never forget about the keywords within your content. Try to keep its density between 2-3%. Your blog entry should be relevant to your business industry. I know that sometimes there is nothing exciting to talk about if you manufacture gaskets or wires for medical instruments, but there might be always a topic slightly related to your industry.

Let’s say you sell dozens of screws types. You could write about the relation between father and son creating a tree house together using your screws that will last for decades, so your grandchildren will also be able to play in this tree house.

Another piece of advice is to create a design which is mobile-friendly (also known as ‘responsive’). To be honest, in the age when over 50% of all Internet traffic is delivered to a mobile device, responsive design is simply a must-have. Your website should also adapt gracefully to smaller screen resolutions to get a higher “mark” from Google. Remember to test your site on different devices and different mobile browsers.

From the technical side, every page needs a metadata and a structure. In HTML the most basic structure consists of a header, body, and footer, sidebar and navigation in between. Your page titles should all be optimised to ‘speak to’ your chosen keywords – those that best describe the content of the page. A strong, logical structure to your page gives Google a sign that it’s well-organised and easy to follow for the reader.

What is interesting is that Google’s newest update penalises websites for using intrusive. Many people say that it doesn’t affect their ranking, but we would advise you to be careful when you plan to use more than 1 popup. Ideally, don’t use them at all. If you insist, then make it easy for the user to close the popup when it’s not interesting to them. Try to make your popups look neat and purposeful.

The next factor that matters is a loading time. It isn’t only important for Google, it’s also important for the user experience. Nobody will wait 20 seconds to enter your website. 5 seconds for loading time is the maximum. Factors which influence loading time are, for example, code optimisation, image size or website caching.

We also recommend you develop the net of valuable backlinks. Backlinks are the links displayed on other websites that point to your website. If you have a lot of them, Google might decide that your website is important. Many people say that the era of backlinks is over. We definitely do not agree with that, but one thing is for certain: quality matters more than ever – hundreds of backlinks from poor quality websites will not help you, and may even harm your search position. 100 very high-quality links may be more powerful than 100 000 low-quality ones.

Your social media activity can account for an enormous proportion of the success of your website. There are a couple of things that you can do to improve your rankings in this respect. First, connect your social media account to your website. A good practice is to link back to your website from your social media accounts. Just as posting regular web content is important, so too is posting regular social media content. Share things that your customers will like. This creates more backlinks to your website from your social media accounts. Moreover, If they like it, they will share it. If somebody shares your article or retweets it, it generates another backlink to your website. With one good article, you may generate quite a lot of high quality, relevant backlinks.

To improve your ranking in Google you can also sign up to Google for Business. It gives you the opportunity to add your business to Google Maps, create a Google+ account, and enable the right-hand side sidebar when somebody searches for your business. The Google Sidebar provides information such as: location, photos, opening times, address with directions, phone number, description, reviews, and links to your website.

Don’t be a rebel when it comes to Google – you can only lose a lot of traffic and customers! In this chapter, you will learn about the practices that should be avoided on your website.

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Remember the quirky Internet from the 90s? Or when you had to wait ages for a dial-up connection that could be interrupted by a single phone call? The Internet of this time period had its charm, that goes without saying. Its ugly page designs are now the subject of ironic caricature. Even though it’s good to think back to these days from time to time, it’s also good that the contemporary Internet is far more improved and functional.

A website is the first point of contact between your company and your potential customer. It can make or break people’s first impression of your business. That’s why it is crucial that you take some extra care in making your website compatible with Google. It’s the most widely used search engine and there is a massive possibility that your company will be found on this platform. Being compatible with Google also means being more user-friendly and clearer in layout. Below are several mistakes that can make your website leave a bad impression on your potential customers.

 

Your loading times are waaaaay too long

People expect a quick response from things they find on the Internet. A decision whether or not to do business with you, from the moment someone clicks on a link to your website, takes only several seconds to make. What if this entire time is spent waiting for your website to actually load and start working? Well, yes, exactly – that somebody will click the tiny cross on the tab bar faster than they will be able to see your forever-loading website!

A report by KISSmetrics indicates that 47% of customers expect a page to load in two seconds or less. 40% of people leave the page if it loads for three seconds or more. Additionally, people are more likely to blame the website owner for the delays than their network provider! Therefore, there’s a lot to lose or gain in this area!

Your website does not have a mobile version

Imagie finding an amazing business, which offers something you need badly. Imagine going to their website and… oh wait, you’re on your phone… and now you have to adjust the size of the page, click in miniature boxes to go further and not be able to see the entire page of content. Browsing such a website can be a  drag and is likely to make you exit the website. This is exactly what happens when businesses do not have a mobile-friendly version of their website. As smartphones are becoming increasingly common and are widely used as a main tool for browsing the Internet, lack of a mobile-friendly website can badly damage such businesses’ conversion rates.

You don’t run a blog

A company blog has a myriad of benefits for your conversion rates. First of all, it gives you a platform to connect with your customers – you can showcase your expertise in the field and thus generate organic search. Customers can stumble upon your blog while looking for a solution to a problem they have – a solved issue means a loyal customer!

Second of all, blogging is very cheap and can serve as a support for your other campaigns such as SEO (due to use of keywords in copy), PPC or social media.

Finally, blogging is nowadays a business practice literally everyone does! Therefore, if you don’t have one, you are being left behind.

 

You use some Black Hat SEO tactics

What is Black Hat SEO? These are all the practices that are not approved by search engine’s Terms of Use. Although these tactics might really improve your SERP (search engine result page) ranking, they might also get your website banned! There’s also a moral side to it – do you want your website to add real value to your customer’s lives or do you want to turn it into one big clickbait?

Your blog is jam-packed with keywords

So you have a blog right? That’s great! Umm, what are you saying? You’ve read some article about keywords and now are filling up every post with a couple of words that relate to your business? That’s not really a good practice! Keep in mind that while this may give you some more exposure, your audience might be turned off by how inauthentic your articles sound. A blog is firstly a voice of your company – if it sounds fake and forced, so will be the impression your business leaves.

Oh, good, I think I managed to convince you! Excuse me, what??? Now you want to add a paragraph of keywords at the bottom of a page and make them white so that nobody would be able to see them? That’s an even worse idea! Such things along with reusing your content or jam-packing your articles with internal links fall into the category of Black Hat SEO!

Your website is poorly designed and misleading

Your “About” section is just a paragraph babbling about some abstract things. Your “Contact Us” page contains only a contact form and no email or telephone number. Your CTA buttons are not clear about all the terms of certain promotions. Your blog posts contain internal links, but just for the sake of having them – they appear in irrelevant phrases and take readers to irrelevant pages. You use the cheesiest and most obvious stock photographies you can find. All these things and much more will make you look highly unprofessional and leave a bad taste in your customer’s mouth. This is exactly what you want to avoid when creating a strong and trustworthy business.

 

Summary:

Annoying Google means annoying your customers, potential customers and even just ordinary visitors. As a lot of browsing is now done via Google, you need to take extra care and effort to make your website compatible with this biggest search engine.

In this article, I have outlined several mistakes, which can easily make you look unprofessional and make you rate lower in Google. What is crucial is the fact that these mistakes encompass a variety of areas: content marketing, marketing, website design, optimisation, mobile site development or SEO. Therefore, in order to create a great and functional website, you need to merge all the efforts – whether you do it on your own or have specific teams. Everything counts when it comes to making a fantastic website!