Brand Awareness More Valuable Than PPC
There’s been significant debate among small businesses about the indirect value of online branding versus the direct value of search marketing. A recent report from Engine Ready says branding may be worth more than you think.
I’ve been an advocate of branding for a while and have tried to get the point across that consumer awareness of product or company drives sales in a very powerful way. Understandably, smaller business owners are more likely trust what is not only more directly tangible and measurable, but also less costly.
Branding isn’t cheap, after all. But it all goes back to that classic quality versus quantity debate that permeates just about every aspect of whatever business model you choose, whether it be web content or goods or services. Some things are cheap, some things are well-put together, both will sell to a certain market, and one will survive indefinitely as a quality brand and therefore a quality company.
Enough preachin’ I guess, and on with the numbers. Engine Ready’s released its report to the New York Times. The report covered 18.7 million visits over a two-year period to 27 Engine Ready client sites.
The study found that paid listings performed just a bit better than organic listings. Visitors clicking on paid links were 17 percent more likely to buy, and spent about 18 percent more money. On average, an organic retail visitor is worth about $1.35. A visitor finding a retail website via a paid link is worth about $1.91.
It has been argued (extensively) that there is more value in paid search ads because of certain measurable click-through rates and conversion rates. Other types of ads tend to draw window shoppers or mall-sprinters who drop in and pop right back out, therefore making it seem like the referral cost was wasted.
But hold your horses a minute. Compared to another type of visitor, both paid link and organic result visitors are mere chump change. The ones who come back the most, who dig around a site longer, who spend the most money and most likely to convert are customers who either bookmark a website or type the URL directly into the browser. On average, these visitors are worth $5.69 each.
Many of these visitors are very likely repeat customers, but don’t let that be a deceptive factor. The customer returns because he or she is familiar with a website’s name and/or logo, and has either had a positive experience with that brand or has heard positive experiences elsewhere. It’s all about the recognition, all about the quality of your brand.
Based on Engine Ready’s numbers, then, having a solid branding strategy is worth its weight in dollars-per-visitors. Put your brand out there, everywhere people might run across it. Over time more and more people will say "I’ve heard of them."
In a related story, David Utter reports on the importance of building brand awareness via simultaneous appearances of organic and paid results.