For luxury brands, bridging the gap between traditional and digital marketing is proving particularly challenging, more so than for their high street counterparts.
Shopping online for luxury gifts and goods is an interesting concept as a great deal of the “luxurious experience” one has when shopping in real life is lost. Those who have traditionally bought luxury thrive on the experience of buying – the atmosphere of the store: the ability to see, touch and smell the products are a big part of the process.
As the sensory experience of the store cannot be recreated online many luxury brands have had to choose whether to sacrifice the “experience”. This has resulted in many refraining from actually selling their product online. Instead they create an impressive looking site with videos and flash images that often supply product information, store locators and catalogues. Many sites will often include interactive features to maintain customer’s interest and keep them on the site for longer.
This looks good and is often very impressive, we all agree. However one of the main problems with these sites that wow the customer with their aesthetics and flash images is that they are not search engine friendly as search spiders see flash as next to nothing on the site. They therefore find it very difficult to know what your site is about and so Google will not display your site in the search results for certain keywords.
What Google does value is content. Regular fresh content will make you shine in Google’s eyes. And so another obstacle appears as many luxury sites want to minimise the amount of content as the website must reflect the brand image – luxury, minimal, selective.
However, the majority of luxury websites will rank number one in Google for their brand name despite the bad practise SEO habits they may have. Once more, there is a much higher search volume for luxury branded terms than generic terms such as “designer handbags” and “sports cars” and so they will get branded traffic to their site. Job done? Not quite. What about the search traffic that is up for grabs of non-branded terms?
80% of customers start their journey on the web with search. Non-branded keywords sending traffic to a site are vital in In order to open a website up to a wider audience. SEO should be integral to any digital marketing campaign which aims to raise brand awareness by getting more traffic to a website. It can be influential by helping put a brand in the forefront of a customer’s mind and this should be combined with PPC and Social Media to really push a digital campaign forward.
There are also a number of ways to tackle obstacles such as SEO unfriendly sites or brand image limitations such as hosting content on a blog instead of the site. This will give the opportunity to pick up traffic to the blog from long tail keyword searches and increase your brand awareness. Matching URLS, meta titles, optimised descriptions and H1 tags should be considered best practice, and as these will not affect the look of the site, there is little excuse for not implementing these details.
Offsite SEO will have a positive impact and in the case of luxury brands it will be especially effective to concentrate your linkbuilding activities on tribe specific sites. Using SiteVisibility’s THEME Methodology and similar strategies will help identify where your niche target audience are online and how to engage with them. This ensures that linkbuilding can help boost your rankings but will also send quality referral traffic.
There are many reasons for doing SEO apart from gaining brand awareness and driving more traffic to your site. Many third party sites selling luxury goods often rank higher for generic luxury terms, thus many companies are actually loosing sales to such sites. With the rise in the numbers of people both researching products and shopping online, an SEO strategy will help reduce the gain of these third party sites and a good social and online reputation management strategy can manage positive and negative customer reviews.
Many luxury brands fear this digital jump and still concentrate on their traditional marketing activities; however a recent one that has taken the leap is the Danish company Bang & Olufsen. They have recently launched a new global marketing campaign which has a completely different angle on how the company has traditionally marketed itself – not only this, the campaign has a strong digital marketing focus, especially concentrating on social with shareable content in the form of videos, which are also hosted on their site. They dominate PCC for keywords such as “luxury speakers” and “loud speakers” however SEO seems to have taken a backseat to these other digital areas. Although small elements of SEO are visible, the push has clearly been in PPC and Social – a campaign that successfully integrates all 3 digital areas should flourish on the whole.
As there is slowly an increase in luxury brands who are implementing good SEO strategies, the longer you leave it, the greater the possibility your brand could be left behind in digital nappies.
Ultimately, whether you are selling your luxury products online or not, Search and Social will support the brand offline where the buying can actually take place. However, within niche markets the same rule applies to them online as offline – think quality, not quantity.