5 reasons “search for” is the best call to action for brands

Magnifying glass by Theen Moy:FlickrThe era of ‘buy now’, ‘experience this’ and ‘order yours today’ in above the line advertising is over. With so many media channels for people to choose from and so much competition for attention, these traditional call to actions (CTAs) are becoming less effective – they are too obvious.

Welcome instead to the age where CTAs encourage their audiences to scrutinise and debate. The age where advertising promotes brand interaction instead of product sales. The age of ‘search for us’.

But why should you be driving customers to Google, instead of straight to your website?

1) It’s quicker

Searching for a brand online is much less time consuming and is second nature for most people. They don’t have to type out complicated URLs or phone numbers and it can be done anywhere by anyone with a smartphone. This gives people quicker access to your brand at no cost to them.

To illustrate my point, here’s one of the latest TV advertisements from MOD Careers…

2) It doesn’t matter where your customer is

The Google search app is one of the most downloaded of all time. This means that pretty much every smartphone user with 3G or wifi access is essentially a walking searcher. So too is every person connected to a tablet, laptop or Smart TV. And with the advent of devices such as Google Glass, we can expect search on-the-go to become the dominant means of brand discovery.

With search, it doesn’t matter if your CTA is played through the web, on television, on radio or scrawled across a billboard on the London Underground. The fact that people can now search anywhere at any time makes it the most effective way to reach the ‘always on’ audience.

3) Your audience can discover your brand the way they want to

Ask your customer to search for your brand name, and it won’t be just your homepage that they’ll find. Your brand’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn and Blog will also share the first page. If you’ve hit a recent spell of good press, Google News will display articles relevant to your company. And if your high street branches are close to the user’s location, they will be pointed to these via Google Maps. Larger brands can also benefit from Google’s Knowledge Graph, which offsets search results with key pieces of information.

Even if your customer is not persuaded to click through to your homepage, they may still be inclined to discover your brand through other channels. It allows them to choose the platform that is right for them. Just remember to optimise your off-site profiles correctly – brand-specific searches are limited to just seven results on the first page.

4) Push advertising is dying; Pull is the way forward

Traditional CTAs rely heavily on push tactics. Imperative verbs such as buy, visit and try are still very common in above the line advertisements. The over-saturation of this type of message means that in some cases less than 8% of people show any kind of response.

Search as a command works differently by instead directing the customer towards neutral territory. It is a much softer approach and allows customer to take control of the relationship, discovering and interacting with your brand in a way that’s right for them. It can also help engender trust – customers are far more sceptical of brands that are clearly driving conversions rather than sparking conversations.

5) It increases brand awareness

That’s according to a recent study by Google and Ipsos MediaCT. By guiding your customers towards your most popular paid search terms, you can see an average 6.6% increase in top-of-mind awareness. To put it simply, and in Google’s own words: “Search ads reach people who are already in a highly receptive mindset. After all, they are actively searching for topics related to your business, product or service. If your brand appears front and centre in that moment, as they search, there’s a strong likelihood they’ll remember you.”

Just one more thing before wrapping up – remember that natural search is susceptible to cannibalisation. Before you begin plugging your search terms, make sure that your search engine results pages are safe and sacred – free from any sign of your competitors or negative press. Take the time before launching your new wave of adverts to ensure that your pages are optimised, your backlink profile is clean and that your target URL is sat in the number one slot.

Jonjo Maudsley is a content producer at iCrossing