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- 23 Nov 2010
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Paid Search Engine Marketing Won't Buy Luxury Brands Love


Jim Boulton, partner of Story Worldwide branded content agency, shares his feedback on the L2 Digital IQ Luxury Report by iCrossing, suggesting that paid search engine marketing might produce short-term flattering statistics, but should not be used as a long term brand resonance building tool.

Members of this community will no doubt be interested in the L2 Digital IQ Luxury Report by iCrossing, which gives a fascinating breakdown of the online achievements of 72 luxury brands, many of which are represented in this community. Simplifying massively, the main thrust of the report is that luxury brands need to embrace four main competencies – ecommerce, social sharing, mobile and search marketing.

Whilst I would agree with the first three of these, the emphasis on search engine marketing rather than natural search is misplaced for luxury brands. Yes, paid search is an effective marketing technique, in that it’s fast to implement and can quickly demonstrate ROI. However, being the online equivalent of a “chugger” it’s hardly befitting of a luxury brand. And even if you accept the negative brand effect, on the basis of an upturn in sales, the benefits of paid search only last as long as the investment. This is a short-term view, one that is never effective for heritage brands. If you are using your budget to fund paid search and neglecting the quality of the content that lies beneath, then as soon as you stop paying, visitor numbers will plummet.

 the benefits of paid search only last as long as the investment 

By providing regularly updated, high-quality editorial content without an expectation of an immediate return, brands not only improve natural search ranking but give visitors a reason to come back. And repeat visitors are gold dust. It’s rare that first time visitors make a purchase, and if they do, they are often one-off purchases. By providing regularly updated content, a brand increases the number of re-visits and also increases dwell time, which in turn improves conversion. So regularly updated content means improved search results, more links, more visitors, more customers and the incremental cost diminishing to almost zero.

Not only that, but great content will spread organically across social media sites, which means even more links – benefits that are not included in the pay-per-click model. By generously creating branded content that consumers actually want to engage with, and by making this content two-way and part of a joined up marketing narrative, transactions are turned into relationships and remarkable levels of loyalty and advocacy result.

For long-term online success, it is essential to invest in key word rich editorial content. Brands that respect their customers’ time, respect their investment in their brand and reward them accordingly with relevant, informative content, engender customer loyalty that very quickly turns into sales. An initial investment in editorial will pay for itself many times over for years to come.

This article has been published courtesy of Story Worldwide where it first appeared here under the headline, ‘The Power Struggle Between Natural & Paid Search.


Story Worldwide is a content marketing agency creating branded content for the luxury industry, with offices in he UK, US, Japan and Hong Kong. Story has over a decade of experience in digital marketing, 20 years in creating magazines and are the only New Media Age Top 100 agency with an editorial department.