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Saudi Focus: Finders keepers – by Extend’s Tarek Shalby

Brands must be seen and found, as much as remembered, writes Extend’s director of digital operations, Tarek Shalby

Tarek Shalby, director of digital operations, Extend – The Ad Network

Each brand out there is trying hard to get itself noticed and grab potential customers’ attention; putting your brand in front of your customers is called brand visibility. We can also identify brand visibility as the rate at which your audience sees your brand through various touchpoints, such as social media, search engines, partnerships and more.

We shouldn’t confuse visibility with awareness. Brand awareness is how many people recognise your brand and associate it with its products, services and values. Brand visibility is part of the process of building brand awareness.

Designing and effectively implementing a coherent marketing strategy leads to improved brand visibility and, consequently, to increased brand awareness among the target audience.

Visibility is crucial; we used to ask ourselves, is my brand optimally promoted effectively? In other words, is it visible to my audience, and does it stand out among my competitors?

Unfortunately, we link visibility to advertising and promotion. Advertising can increase brand visibility and the likelihood that consumers will include the brand in their consideration.

But advertising has been facing a ruthless challenge in recent years: advertising blindness. Advertising blindness messes with both the publishers and advertisers, and it will grow as we have less attention to give and more and more things that want to get that attention; we can easily say that consumers are disrupting the advertising world.

The solution goes beyond improving ad visibility and brand recognition. It’s all about finding rather than remembering. Findability’s importance can be determined by the first law of e-commerce, which states: ‘If the user can’t find the product, the user can’t buy the product.’

But before digging deeper into findability, Let’s clarify some terminology.

Findability is not a search. Although the words ‘find’ and ‘search’ are used as synonyms, there is a big difference between something being findable and being searchable. The word ‘find’ refers to locating something in a known space, while ‘search’ is about locating something not specifically known. Mark Baker, author of Every Page is Page One, mentions that findability “is a content problem, not a search problem”.

Discoverability is very similar to findability. However, it’s about the users encountering new content or functionality they were unaware of previously. Findability, discoverability, and searchability are essential factors that affect the user experience.

Findability was known to be about staying in front of your customers in their favourite physical places. Now, it’s increasingly about being present in the digital environments where your customer and audience are headed.

Findability can be external and on-site. External findability is considered with branding activities and search engine optimisation tactics. However, brand findability shouldn’t be limited to search engine activities. It goes above and beyond SEO and SEM tactics.

Findability is executed across search, social media and your online properties to ensure the business is present at critical points throughout the discovery and decision-making process.

Imagine the web as a massive and dense forest, and your brand is one in a thousand trees out there. You need to extend your help to your customers in the form of information, content, data, etc. to find what they need.

Here are some tips to improve findability:

Get comprehensive on the basics. Always produce refreshing content about your brand, products, store locations, etc. Build an array of content categories that your customers can find when they start their journey to make decisions. Provide content that helps the customer to become the expert, to do things, to learn and to control as much as possible.

Don’t neglect any channel. Each channel has its unique audience, characteristics, mood and communication style. Some channels can be a better fit for a brand than others. I always encourage brands to stay focused on specific platforms that give them the most return so that they aren’t wasting precious resources. However, I also recommend producing essential content that can live on different channels or platforms to increase brand findability whenever someone is trying to find it.

Select the right technology. There has been an explosion of marketing-technology companies that can help brands build and improve their findability.

Build your search strategy based on data. Organic and paid data integration can unlock the power of search and drive business growth. Businesses must harness information to remain visible when consumers’ needs change. With data being kept apart, time and resources are wasted trying to understand why. They want prices and locations, but they also wish for inspiration and advice. And they expect information fast.

As for on-site findability, just remember that users aren’t visiting your website to play hide and seek. Brands must invest in findability as much as in advertising and promotions to make the brand memorable. To improve findability, you need to define what users are trying to find first and what their top tasks are. Always remember that customers need support, not more advertising.

Finally, it will not hurt to upskill your ad game using native ads. Non-traditional placement of ads (since users become trained to avoid common banner areas), personalised ads (even if they may appear creepy) and interactive and relevant ads (relative to the user’s interest and intent) are more effective.

Every time customers try to find you, they demonstrate their intent. The great driver to convert these customers is the effort you require them to put into their experience to find relevant content. Each business should put this statement on a wall: ‘My brands should be the most seen, found, and heard.’