Search marketing is generally thought of as more of a demand generation tactic than a brand building strategy, but what if I told you that branded & non-branded search were the two very best channels for growing your brand? Today’s episode of Growing Brands explains why.

Search is a huge part of our business. Halloween costumes, adult costumes, kids’ costumes–those big top-of-funnel non-branded terms really drive a ton of our traffic. As soon as someone starts searching for their costume or thinking about Halloween–even exploratory terms like costume ideas–we try to show up for those terms and provide a good experience for them.
-Mark Bietz, Fun.com

In this episode of Growing Brands, you’ll learn the difference between branded and non-branded search traffic and how search marketing can accelerate your brands’ growth.

Plus, our guest is literally the CMO of Fun. Mark Bietz is the marketing leader at Fun.com and will explain search marketing’s role in making HalloweenCostumes.com the Internet’s leading costumes retailer.

But first, download our Search Marketing Checklist for Building Brands:

Search Marketing and Brand Checklist
Download the free resource here.

Search traffic is when someone searches for something on Google or another search engine and clicks on a link that leads them to your website.

Branded search is when someone performs a search using your brand name in their search query. For example:

  • Band-Aid
  • Band-Aid bandages
  • Kids’ Band-Aids

Non-branded search, or unbranded search, is when someone searches for something that simply doesn’t include a brand name. Examples would include:

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Wound care products
  • How to stop a bleeding finger

Let’s talk about why these two marketing channels are so important.

How Do Branded & Non-Branded Search Grow Brands?

A few years ago I was working with a brand that was spending millions of dollars per quarter on marketing. They wanted to know which marketing channels were working to grow the brand the most and so we used media mix modeling to explore each channel's impact.

What did we find? Search marketing was working the hardest to grow the brand. Here’s why.

Non-Branded Search:

Non-branded search is what people do when they first start searching for a solution to a problem in their lives. They generally have low brand awareness among any brands in the category and very rarely have strong preferences for one brand over others.

The brands that show up in those precious first searches go into what’s called their initial consideration set, which is a huge advantage in marketing.

In fact, research from McKinsey has shown that as much as 70 percent of consumer purchases are driven by initial consideration.

And yet, marketers rarely talk about how this actually happens. But think about it...

If your brand shows up most often when people are searching for adhesive bandages to the point where it’s hard to separate the brand name from the category, you actually become the “new Band-Aid” in a sense.

It’s easy from this example to see how non-branded search traffic can actually build brands through increased awareness and consideration.

Branded Search:

On the other hand, branded search is best used to reinforce the brand and improve the customer experience.

When you search for a brand, the search results on the first page are largely within control of the brand: the paid search listing, the organic listing, the Knowledge Graph, and so on.

This makes branded search results the perfect testing ground for your brand’s unique value proposition, its reasons to believe, brand tone, and so much more because it receives more impressions than any other digital touchpoint for many brands.

Case Study: How To Use Search Marketing To Build a Brand

For some, it can be hard to imagine search marketing as the core of your brand’s strategy. That’s why we asked Mark Bietz, the Chief Marketing Officer for Fun.com to join this episode of Growing Brands.

We asked him about search marketing’s role in growing the HalloweenCostumes.com brand from $10MM to more than $100MM per year and this is what he said.

Watch the interview to hear Mark answer these questions:

  • What roles do paid and organic non-branded search play both at "the top of the funnel" and at "the bottom of the funnel?"
  • What are some of the best ways for brand teams and search/digital teams to partner effectively?

Search Marketing and Branding, in Closing

If you liked this episode then take a few seconds to follow or subscribe to this channel. Or scroll up to download our guide to using search marketing to help grow your brand.

Ok, it’s your turn…

How do you use search marketing to grow your brand? How is your advertising and content marketing strategies informed by the branded or non-branded search keywords in your space? I’d love to know your thoughts on search and brand.

Let me know by leaving a comment real quick before you go.

Transcript from our interview with Mark Bietz:

It's still a huge part of our business, and so terms like Halloween costumes, adult costumes, kids' costumes, those big sort of like top of funnel, non-branded terms really drive a ton of our traffic. As soon as someone starts searching for their costume or thinking about Halloween, even exploratory things like costume ideas and that type of thing, we really try to capture and provide, you know, show up for those terms and then provide a good experience for them. In this episode of growing brands, you'll learn the difference between branded and non-branded search traffic and how search marketing can accelerate your brand's growth. Plus, our guest is literally the CMO of fun. Mark Bietz is the marketing leader at fun.com and will explain search marketing's role in making halloweencostumes.com the internet's leading costumes retailer. Search traffic is when someone searches for something on Google or another search engine, and then clicks on a link that leads them to your website. Branded search is when someone performs a search using your brand name in the search query. For example, Band-Aid, Band-Aid bandages, or kids' Band-Aids. Now, non-branded search, or unbranded search, is when someone searches for something that simply doesn't include a brand name. Examples would include adhesive bandages, wound care products, or how to stop a bleeding finger. Let's talk about how these two marketing channels are so important. We found that non-branded search is what people do when they first start searching for a solution to a problem in their lives. They generally have low brand awareness among any brands in the category and very rarely have strong preferences for one brand over others. The brands that show up in these important first searches go into what's called their initial consideration set which is a huge advantage in marketing. In fact, research from McKinsey has shown that as much as 70% of consumer purchases are driven by initial consideration, and yet, marketers rarely talk about how this actually happens, but think about it. If your brand shows up most often when people are searching for adhesive bandages to the point where it's hard to separate the brand name from the category, you actually become the new Band-Aid in a sense. It's easy from this example to see how non-branded search traffic can actually build brands through increased awareness and consideration. On the other hand, branded search is best used to reinforce the brand and improve the customer experience. When you search for a brand, the search results on the first page are largely within control of the brand, the paid search listing, the organic search listing, the knowledge graph, and so on. This makes branded search results the perfect testing ground for your brand's unique value proposition, its reasons to believe, brand tone, and so much more because it receives more impressions than any other digital touchpoint for many brands. For some, it can be hard to imagine search marketing as the core of your brand's strategy. That's why we asked Mark Bietz, the chief marketing officer for fun.com, to join this episode of growing brands. We asked him about search marketing's role in growing the halloweencostumes.com and fun.com brands from 10 million to more than $100 million per year in revenue, and this is what he said. You mentioned kind of a little bit of top of funnel, bottom of funnel. What roles do paid and organic non-branded search play for you now? Yeah, so it's still a huge part of our business. Especially in this industry specifically, people really only care about Halloween once a year, most people do, and so terms like Halloween costumes, adult costumes, kids' costume, those big sort of like top of funnel, non-branded terms really drive a ton of our traffic and actually it's still most of our traffic that's coming from non-branded at this point, and so at the top of the funnel, it's really as soon as someone starts searching for their costume or thinking about Halloween, even exploratory things like costume ideas and that type of thing, we really try to capture and provide a good, you know, show up for those terms, and then provide a good experience for them, and then I guess going into the middle of the funnel, that's really where our PLAs as category pages and Amazon listings go to work. So as people start to browse, maybe get a little bit more of an idea of what they're looking for, we have a ton of optimization in terms of from our Amazon listings, all the main on-page stuff along with some paid ads there. From an AdWords standpoint, we have millions of keywords and different audiences that are focused and non-branded keywords, and then also I guess just our category pages and PLAs are really honed in on all that non-branded stuff, and we still consider, since it's not really our brand specifically, but licensed keywords like Star Wars, Harry Potter, those are still kind of non-branded for us, but play a huge role in also developing the proactive audiences that we're gonna go after on the top of funnel again, and then once people are at the bottom of the funnel, they're usually price shopping at that point and we'll make sure if that if they've been to our website before, we're bidding up and being really aggressive on making sure we show up for any related keywords that are gonna bring them back to the website. All right, so you were fortunate to be able to drive hold of that brand and the demand gen efforts where you're at. For people that aren't able to control one or the other, what's the best way for them to kind of partner with that other group? Yeah, absolutely. Since we're sort of native to digital and branding's a little bit newer for us, I think we've been able to sort of grow up and evolve with those two functions really tied at the hip. I mean, I guess there's a few things that I think are really critical from a creative standpoint. Obviously, digital marketers are the ones collecting and getting a lot of the data from their activities and so they're gonna be able to report back to brand and creative on what's working and what's not working, what customers are liking, what's converting the best, how sentiment is around the different ads that your company's deploying. You know, depending, I guess now, you know, a lot of the branding departments have sort of taken on some of the social listening stuff, but that's really important and I think there's a lot of feedback that digital teams can provide that's maybe not getting picked up via the social listening tools, and so comments that are coming through your various channels, again, just like what keywords are converting the most and having that inform some of the creative that's coming through. What the landing page has and how that interplays with the ad and how those are converting, there's tons of feedback and collaboration that can happen from that. Another one is new audiences and personas that the digital team discovers via top of funnel campaigns, and this is one that we really tried to hone in on the past few years, but as you get into throwing a really broad ad out there on Facebook or really throwing a broad ad out there on YouTube, for example, once you have those sort of broad-based ads going out via any digital marketing channel, you're gonna be able to find pockets of high-converting customers in those, and so there's a persona or there's a use case for your product or your service that no one maybe even thought about, but your customer based on that group that's converting really well can form a whole new part of the company or a whole new audience to go after. So that's been really cool and I think it's a great way for those two functions to interplay, and you know, just in general, I think the brand team should be the brand police. I think that's a real thing, and there should always be auditing of ads, they should always be giving feedback, and then just the brand team can be bringing new opportunities to the table for digital based on projects they're working on, research that they're doing, and just new creative direction that they're coming up with. That's awesome ideas for collaboration. Mark, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. Yeah, of course. Thank you so much, Josh.