Here’s an easy test to analyze whether or not people care about your brand. Are you Apple, Coke, Walmart or a member of the Dow Jones Industrials? No? Well, I’m sorry to have to break it to you, but very few people have heard of you, and fewer still are interested in your brand, your products and services. Yeah, I know, this is tough love. Let’s take a deeper look at this issue and turn it into a positive.
“No one cares about you, not even your mother-in-law. No one’s eagerly awaiting your press release.” – Seth Godin
As Tom Denari put it so succinctly, “This is a hard pill to swallow, considering how much time, energy and effort you put into the products and services that you’re trying to sell. But, if you’re going to be really successful, one of the most important realizations you can make is this: People don’t care about your brand nearly as much as you do.”
But wait you say, you get a lot of traffic and leads from people who have heard of you and want to learn more about you.
Great, let’s confirm that. Let’s drill down on your HubSpot Sources Report or Google Analytics and look in a couple of areas.
These are all people who have heard of your brand and want to learn more about you, so they type your well known URL into their browsers, right? Well, not quite. In fact, they are more like unknowns. As Agency M put it, “…unfortunately, direct traffic (or medium = none) is also Google’s way to say “we don’t know where this traffic comes from.” Agency M goes on to list the culprits:
- Visitors who typed your url into their browsers – but how many of them are your employees, marketing agency, investors and competitors?
- Visitors visiting from a bookmark – most likely your people these days (unless you block your company IP addresses in Google Analytics).
- Visitors who set your website as their browser Home page – definitely your people, and probably only the C-Suite.
- Visitors who click on shortened URLs – pretty much everybody these days, unless your analytics package discriminates among the URL shorteners and traces these clicks as referrals.
- Visitors who click on an untagged link in an email from Outlook and other desktop browsers – not necessarily bad news.
- Visitors who click on a link in a PDF document – again, not necessarily bad news.
- Visitors who click on a link in a mobile app (like Twitter).
- Redirects from old or outdated URLs.
- Right click, open in a new tab or window (WebKit-based browsers like Chrome and Safari) – referral data is lost, now counted as direct traffic. The exception is Mac browsers when you use ctrl-click or command-click to open in a new tab.
- Incorrect Google Website Optimizer code—click here for details.
So direct traffic really isn’t a very good indication of brand knowledge or loyalty. At best, it’s difficult to say how much real traffic and how many leads truly come from a visitor typing in your branded URL.
What about branded organic search traffic?
Well, the problem today is much of the Google keyword data is now obscured by encrypted URLs that used to contain that information as referrers. In other words, Google Analytics and other keyword tracking tools can no longer “see” the keywords that were used in a search. In fact, during this last month on our site (www.kunocreative.com), more than 90 percent of our traffic was keyword-obscured, i.e. unavailable for analysis or ranking. So, we are more-or-less blind to how people found us via the search engines anyway.
What do we know?
We do have data we can rely on and act upon. We have direct referrals from other websites, email with tagged URLs, social media links with tagged URLs, PPC with tagged URLs, outbound campaigns with tagged URLs, form conversions, blog comments and direct social media engagements with our branded profiles and thought leaders. Why not work with what we know? We can get an accurate measure of traffic and leads, conversion rates and post-click engagements with our online resources. But here’s the thing about all of those traffic and lead sources:
Every One of Them is Driven By Content, Not By Brand.
Let me restate that in another way: All of the metrics we can accurately measure, analyze and take action upon come directly from the content we publish and share online. None of them have anything to do with brand, at least not in any way we can measure. Please feel free to disagree with me, but you’d better bring your data along with you to prove your point.
Time to Rethink the Website
Yes, once again most of our websites are completely out of touch with the goals and best practices of inbound marketing. A few years ago, we were trying to give people instant insight into Who We Are, What We Do and Why You Should Stick Around for More Information. The idea was that people are randomly browsing around and searching for us, and we have just a few seconds to communicate our value proposition to them in order to make our site “sticky” and a viable source for new business.
Now, things are different. People are finding you because of your excellent content—your expertise and thought leadership conveyed through stories. Of course, if you aren’t doing much content marketing, you aren’t getting much traffic or many leads, so you may not realize this. How many people care about your brand? Well, you’ll never know because of the complications with direct traffic and branded organic keywords, but you can take positive action by taking a more “inbound” approach through content.
Start by moving all of that “Who We Are” stuff to the website closet. When people want to know more about you, you can let them know through mid-funnel content, webinars, live events and phone calls. Now, replace all of that high visibility stuff on your website with your best content tuned precisely to your buyer personas. Stop celebrating your company online and start helping your customers.
Photo credit: Herval
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