Creating Disruption in a Category of Giants

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It’s a modern-day David and Goliath story that many brands and marketers can relate to: trying to compete in a landscape of larger-than-life brands with larger-than-life advertising budgets. Few brand categories represent this challenging landscape better than insurance, ranked as the sixth top advertising category by spend. In 2015, the top 10 insurance advertisers in the United States spent between $139 million and $1.1 billion on advertising.

In such a competitive marketplace, how do you create awareness and drive online conversions for an established, yet virtually unknown brand? This was the challenge faced by Acuity Insurance.

Acuity
The best kept secret in insurance.
In business since 1925 and named the #2 best company to work for in America, Acuity provides property and casualty insurance products to consumers and businesses in 25 states (and growing).

The company had never run a consumer-facing brand campaign before, as its insurance products are exclusively sold via an independent agent model. With paradigm shifts in the insurance industry and the ways consumers shop for insurance, Acuity needed to begin to drive online engagement and enable a seamless online purchase experience in order to secure its future.

Here are four general principles we followed to develop a campaign for Acuity which can apply for any brand going up against the Goliaths of its industry.

  1. Identify and understand your specific target audience.
    The Acuity customer makes informed, confident choices in all aspects of life, and places high value on receiving the best insurance coverage along with high-touch service. However, many people have been conditioned by the insurance industry to seek only the lowest price when shopping for insurance, sacrificing the human element of quality service.
  1. Find the compelling creative idea that will resonate with your target audience.
    The difference with Acuity Insurance is its people: they are dedicated to providing customer peace of mind. We rallied around this insight as we developed a campaign illustrating the relief of quality coverage while staying true to the company’s fun-loving culture. This would create awareness while building trust and confidence.

The campaign message is that Acuity allows its customers to free their mind of their insurance worries in order to focus on what they love most in life. It’s a transformative brand statement that captures Acuity’s unique approach to insurance and its relationship with its customers.

  1. Develop unique creative executions that can’t be ignored.
    In the overcrowded insurance landscape, the campaign had to be different to stand out. The message is brought to life through whimsical and eye-catching graphics that illustrate what life can be like when you don’t have to worry about whether you’re covered or not.

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  1. Master the delivery.
    The campaign also needed to be hyper-targeted to Acuity’s best prospects in order to maximize impact and minimize waste. The campaign launched in June 2016 and is being delivered through highly targeted channels. It is carried through on landing pages that allow prospective customers to learn more about the brand and begin an online quote.

So, to create disruption and stand out in a category of fierce competition, a brand must know its target audience, find the idea that will resonate with them, develop creative executions they can’t ignore and then deliver them to the audience via the right channels at the right times.

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Online Radio: Home


Acuity-social-motorcycle
Acuity-social-renters (1)
Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Biweekly Bulletin: 5 Compelling Things You Should Know

Every other week, we share 5 timely and valuable articles from our favorite sources that will inspire and educate marketers like you.

Here’s what we’re reading this week:

  1. With AI playing an increasing role in people’s lives, Econsultancy’s Marketing in the Age of Artificial Intelligence report predicts the various ways it will continue to impact businesses and their consumers.
  2. Sometimes the best place to boost creativity and spark innovation on the job is outside the office.
  3. Storytelling is an art as old as time. People and brands must tell captivating stories in order for those who matter most to stick around, listen, and act.
  4. According to an influencer study conducted by eMarketer, social giants Facebook and Instagram were considered to be among the best social media platforms for influencer marketing, especially given that most influencers use photo and video content when marketing on behalf of brands.
  5. In the Internet of Things, it’s not so much about the adoption of technology as it is about adopting new behaviors, many of which simply make life easier.

Don’t forget to sign up for our e-newsletter for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Customer Relationship Management: 4 Ways to Gain a More Authentic View of Your Customer

Marketers often talk about customer relationship management (CRM) as a way to manage and grow their customer portfolio. A primary use of CRM is to measure customer lifetime value (CLV) in order to provide your most profitable and loyal customers the best customer service and loyalty rewards. Customer lifetime value is the prediction of a particular customer’s profitability over a span of time.

However, CRM can be utilized for much more than managing your current customer base. A truly successful CRM strategy considers the customer at each point of the customer decision journey, from awareness of the brand to conversion and loyalty. By taking this approach, sales and marketing can truly align on the view of the individual customer, considering all interactions over time. Passive interactions are those such as simply visiting a website, opening an email or clicking on a pay-per-click ad. Active interactions include purchasing a product or interacting with customer service. Both types can (and should) be tracked in your CRM.

For larger organizations, enabling a single customer view means integrating databases and platforms, such as CRM, marketing automation and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). These integrations can be costly and require significant resources. However, they’re essential due to customers’ increasing expectations that they receive the right message, at the right time, in the right place. Customers will no longer overlook brands’ blunders when it comes to marketing exchanges. For example, your current customers don’t want, nor should they receive, messaging related to products they already own or aren’t interested in.

So how can you deliver an exceptional customer experience with these platforms? Here are four ways:

  1. Use customer preferences to deliver a personalized product or service.
    • With the depth and breadth of available data around individual customers today, you can now provide recommendations on products based on their previous purchases and location. For example, you can display the store closest to their home and serve them ultra-personalized messaging and content.
    • An example of a brand doing this well is Birchbox, the monthly beauty subscription service. Birchbox curates the sample size products in their subscription boxes to best meet their customers’ beauty preferences (e.g., hair type, age, beauty knowledge and other criteria).
  2. Contextualize your customer service interactions.
    • When customer service agents ask for a customer’s name, phone number and other information, they’re searching for any information available in the system. By merging your customer service management and customer relationship management systems, you arm your customer service agents with key customer data including, but not limited to, purchases, preferences and location. Collecting this data makes it much more personalized and relevant to their (and your) needs.
    • For example, Nestlé now has a permanent space within Salesforce’s office in New York, focused on eight of Nestlé’s water brands. A digital command center constantly monitors and manages online and offline data, such as social media activity, email program statistics, media buys, and even a map that shows all U.S. retailers that sell the Nestlé water brands. The ultimate goal is to actively use and effectively respond to customer service questions online and optimize their ongoing marketing programs.
  3. Continually nurture customers.
    • Integrating marketing automation and CRM will enable you to use insights gained during the lead nurturing process to continue to provide value to current customers. By knowing your customer, you can provide content and tools they’re looking for, on the channels they most frequently use. With advanced lead generation, you’re able to ultimately deliver more information than ever before on your prospects and customers’ needs and wants to marketing and other departments as well.
    • For example, ClickDimensions is a marketing automation platform that natively lives within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It enables organizations to track customer interactions with all owned and earned channels. Once those prospects have become customers, companies can use previous activity the customer has taken to cross-sell or upsell them.
  4. Report across the entire customer decision journey.
    • By integrating your new business and current customer databases, your brand will have a much clearer view into each customer’s journey with your brand, including the interactions across channels they took to ultimately reach their purchase decision. Brands can view this data in larger segments and queries, or distill it down to the individual consumer.
    • Data visualization tools, like Microsoft Power BI, allow marketers to develop dashboards with key performance indicators (KPIs) in every stage of the journey, using CRM data and other sources, such as Google Analytics, to garner insights that propel your marketing programs from now to next.

Today, a grand wealth of knowledge is available to meet – and hopefully exceed – customer expectations and make them loyal advocates and champions of your brand. However, a clean and well-managed database is imperative to the success of any technology ecosystem. With processes in place to ensure clean data collection (cleaning lists, rules for data entry and a logically sound CRM database), you can be confident the insights you’re acting upon will increase revenue and customer satisfaction.

A well planned and executed CRM strategy will give you actionable, strategic insights that are invaluable in optimizing your marketing programs and taking your brand to the next level.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Biweekly Bulletin: 5 Compelling Things You Should Know

Every other week, we share 5 timely and valuable articles from our favorite sources that will inspire and educate marketers like you.

Here’s what we’re reading this week:

  1. Once considered only a point-of-purchase and in-store channel, shopper marketing has grown to involve the entire omnichannel experience thanks to advancing technology.
  2. According to an eMarketer study, nearly half of iPhone users who hadn’t tried Apple Pay as of June 2016 said it was because they said they were already happy with their current payment method.
  3. The hottest upcoming book that every brand marketer should read is Brand Admiration: The Exponential Effect of Brand Love, Trust, and Respect. According to the authors, who are renowned marketing researchers, brands that manage to evoke senses of warmth, empathy, and gratitude — psychological attributes generally associated with love — create the strongest connections with people that can generate influential competitive advantages.
  4. “When answers become cheap, good questions become more difficult and therefore more valuable.” In his new nonfiction novel The Inevitable, founding executive editor of Wired Kevin Kelly raises many important questions that will shape the next few decades. Technology is metamorphosizing faster than people can even master it, so it’s more important than ever to master the art of lifelong learning.
  5. Digital entrepreneur Jeff Bullas shares his key steps to awesome content marketing that works, including discovery, payment, engagement and conversion.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Location, Location, Location: Delivering Value Along the Mobile Customer Journey

Pokémon GO. Simply put, it’s a global phenomenon. But it has also spurred discussion among retailers, brands and marketers about how to use the location-aware nature of the game to cash in on its success.

However, many may not have considered why or how to incorporate location-aware mobile marketing efforts into their strategy for long-term success.

The mobile beast is difficult to tame.

By now, marketers recognize that mobile has created a major shift in how people behave, and the resulting opportunities for brands to reach and engage them. Along with the mobile-driven shift in behavior has come a shift in expectations. People increasingly expect their interactions with brands to be personally relevant to their preferences and interests, and also to their immediate needs in the moment.

In a survey by Google and Ipsos, 69% of online consumers answered that the quality, timing or relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand.

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of mobile technology, and its impact on people’s behaviors and expectations, it can be difficult for marketers to keep up with how to best leverage mobile as part of an overarching marketing strategy that delivers a personal and contextually relevant customer experience.

According to a recent study by PointSource, 54% of retailers say their biggest challenge around mobile experience is finding ways to integrate mobile strategy into their overall marketing strategy.

Location-based marketing provides opportunity for brands to create deeper connections with their customers. 

Location-based marketing is the use of location intelligence in mobile marketing to target mobile users within a certain location or geographic area. This might bring to mind in-store beacon technology that allows retailers to ping customers with messaging or offers such as coupons while in store, or location-based app notifications that use geo-fencing.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely has stated that today’s marketers must “think about the context of their customer on the path to purchase: where they are, what device they’re on, and what their likely mindset is in that given moment.” Location-based marketing creates opportunity for brands and marketers to better reach and engage customers by delivering a personal and contextually relevant experience, both in mobile moments and as part of the overall customer experience.

The following are considerations for brands and marketers to help think about the context of their customer throughout their journey (the phases the customer goes through in their unique relationship with a brand) and incorporate location-based marketing as part of their marketing strategy.

Awareness

Brands of all kinds, and especially those that have physical retail locations, can benefit from using location-based marketing to build awareness of their local presence. This can include paid search and social media ads that leverage data to provide location-relevant messaging.

For the best approach, brands must consider what their target customers are doing on their mobile devices, including what they might be searching for based on their current situation, location and their immediate needs.

Hilton Worldwide used data to target people in airports at times when there were a lot of flight cancellations by proactively increasing its paid search ad buy in those markets and serving ads for nearby Hilton hotels with geo-targeted messaging to people searching things like “Philadelphia airport hotels.”

 Evaluation

Once a prospective customer has moved to the evaluation phase, brands must provide optimized mobile experiences that serve up the contextually relevant information they are seeking in that moment. Websites and landing pages must be mobile-friendly, with quick load times and content that is prioritized by what a customer is looking for in that mobile moment.

Brands can use a customer’s location to help provide the most relevant information and answers that will give them the confidence to quickly make a decision.

GoHealth Urgent Care uses geolocation data on its mobile site to serve up urgent care center listings in order of proximity to the user, along with providing estimated wait times and online check-in. The site also features integrations with Google Maps and Uber to help a user easily figure out how to get to the location.

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Action

Once customers have made their decision, brands must provide an experience that allows them to easily take action, such as making a purchase, scheduling an appointment or visiting a location. Brands can use location-based marketing to provide a more relevant and convenient experience in this phase.


Best Buy makes it easy for the on-the-go customer to find and purchase a product by using Google local inventory ads to display its current inventory at stores closest to the customer’s location. A customer that searches “slr cameras” will see exactly which SLR cameras are in stock at nearby stores. The ads let the customer choose to buy online, but also feature an option to pick up in store for added convenience.

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Loyalty/Engagement

Once a brand has acquired a customer, mobile can play a large part of an effective engagement strategy to build the relationship with that customer over time to keep them satisfied and coming back.

A popular way to do this is by creating a brand app. However, with many customers at a point of app fatigue, only a select few apps are actually used on a regular basis. To be successful, a brand app must deliver genuine, long-term value for customers, and location-based marketing can help in providing this value.

In addition to allowing customers to make payments, report claims and view policy info, Security First Insurance’s mobile app allows Florida homeowners to quickly plot their current location against an active storm’s ever-changing path relative to that location using an interactive Storm Tracker. Using social plug-ins, they can also share their map and storm updates with friends and family.

security-first-insurance-storm-trackerOther opportunities for brands to build loyalty using location-based marketing include adding enhanced personalization to engagement communications, such as providing nearest store location or weather-based messaging in email campaigns.

Pokémon GO may be a tipping point that has started many brands and retailers thinking about how to adopt location-aware marketing tactics, but there’s much more they must consider to achieve long-term success.

In a world where customer-brand interactions are increasingly taking place on mobile devices, and in on-the-go moments, location-based marketing will be an important factor for brands to successfully deliver a personal and contextually relevant customer experience. Those brands that can leverage mobile location data to provide value at each stage of their customer’s journey will be best positioned to win.

For more tips, tricks, or insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS.

Our Journey to the Great Unknown: Quality Assurance in a World Flirting with Artificial Intelligence

In 1870, Jules Verne foretold the future in his famous novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. At a time when only crudely constructed vessels were being built, he spoke of a future world with submarines. Fast forward some 140 years, and IBM has acted on its own visionary dream, with the introduction of Watson. Named after the company’s first CEO and industrialist Thomas J. Watson, Watson takes customer questions, quickly extracts key information and then reveals insights, patterns and relationships from all the data its retrieved.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In recent history, what used to be the playground of only a few hard-boiled scientists, now has numerous players who’ve opened up their artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning platforms (Google, Microsoft and a host of other players) allowing us to happily swim and muddy the waters.

With the advent of these platforms and products built around them, certain complications have arisen. In particular QA (quality assurance). Traditionally, QA follows a script based on a set of inputs with expected outputs. These are deterministic in nature and, for the most part, rigorous but fairly recipe-bound. However, now we’re dealing with systems that have very little respect for our scripts and can almost be as bothersome as some humans.

A + B Sometimes Equals D

Quality assurance (QA) is a key component of product development. Incredibly detail- and process-oriented, QA involves testing, testing and more testing to ensure accuracy of data and systems. In the not too distant future, however, there may be a lapse in the QA continuum.

Let’s consider image recognition and classification. At the moment, most systems (IBM, Google, Facebook and others) focus on nouns. They recognize objects – and some are scary in that they can string together sequences of images over time to track an object/subject. Verbs are still a bit of a problem. An image with a tiger and a deer can be classified as containing a tiger and a deer. However, most systems will not return the verb, “eat.” The tiger is about to eat the deer. Let’s imagine that this problem is solved in the near future, and that a business is built around classifying images. Now QA becomes a problem. The AI/machine learning system in question may actually classify an image differently from our test script and still be reasonably correct. Does the system fail the test in this case? Furthermore, how do we compare the results between multiple platform providers who may provide different but equally valid outputs given the same inputs?

How do we QA this mess?

The above example is trivial and the problems are going to be far more complicated in the future.

Life today is diverse, with lots of shades of gray, grey or gris. It’s realistic to imagine that, as smart as AI systems may be, they’ll encounter data they don’t know how to respond to. Systems will churn and try to recalibrate, trying to make sense of this gray data. Some systems may come to a halt or create abnormal results.

Complex artificial intelligence will require greater testing and human control. The systems are smart, but people are still smarter…for now.

QA analysts will need to become greater experts at data interpretation, taking atypical information and making quantifiable results. Only humans (at this point) understand and can extrapolate the nuances that make people individuals with sometimes, very unique answers.

Will this be the downfall for some artificial intelligence systems? Will this just be a brief interruption in the QA process or will it have a greater impact?

Ready to Join Us?

At Laughlin Constable, we’ve spoken before about creating brand experiences that are more human and personal. Our LC product development team takes artificial intelligence (AI) systems, such as Watson, to provide enhanced customer and user experiences for our clients by providing smarter buying and decision systems. Better knowing the customer is imperative in evolving business models for the future.

Fully autonomous systems provide highly intelligent educated “guesses,” backed by data. These systems – and their answers – are used in numerous industries to help people get on with their lives and make better choices, such as in healthcare and finance.

Systems and people must continue to evolve to complement each other. Lifestyles will only continue to grow in complexity – as will artificial intelligence. In 1863, Jules Verne predicted what the 20th century would look like (eerily accurate). Today, we must put on our JV moniker and stake our claim in the future, as uncertain as it may be. Are you ready to join us?

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Biweekly Bulletin: 5 Compelling Things You Should Know

Every other week, we share 5 timely and valuable articles from our favorite sources that will inspire and educate marketers like you.

Here’s what we’re reading this week:

  1. Video may be a visual medium and it continues to grow in engagement and interest on social media. But surprisingly, the most recent growth in its popularity and usage is also great news for writers.
  2. With mid-year reviews on the horizon, here are 8 signs of a truly exceptional employee that you won’t see on a performance evaluation.
  3. There appears to be a science behind when your brand should post on social media. Buffer, a social media tool, analyzed over 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles and found the best times to post on social.
  4. Unlike other social experts, Gary Vaynerchuk thinks the Snapchat “Memories” feature is a smart move. The platform started as a niche social channel and has since grown into a complete distribution channel with zero signs of slowing down anytime soon.
  5. 6 in 10 YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite creator over their favorite TV or movie personality. So before you decide on a brand ambassador, you should take these key YouTube statistics into account.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

What a Brand from the 90s Taught Us About Modern Mobile Marketing

By now, you either are still caught with a serious case of Poké-fever or a crippling sense of Poké-fatigue. The billion dollar, record smashing app has caught the attention of millions of fans across the world (even extending beyond the original 1999 playing card audience) causing a wave of casualties, injuries, robberies, trespassing violations, and some very quick-minded entrepreneurial spin-off ventures.

Unwittingly, businesses have been brought into the mix as millions of players have invaded storefronts guised as “gyms” or “pokéstops” in efforts to “catch ‘em all!” to varying degrees of applause. Some small businesses have decided to capitalize off of this increase in foot traffic by setting in-game “lures” to draw players into their storefronts and advertising the rare Pokémon found within their businesses.

Though Niantic (the technology company behind Nintendo’s Pokémon Go’s success) has now confirmed that Sponsored Locations will be available in the next round of updates, loyal players continue to stress the need for brand integration value – not just branded experiences. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel (however shiny and highly addicting), brands should instead look to Pokémon Go (PG) as a barometer for how consumers are looking to engage with technology in the future. Here are a few considerations for developing your next consumer engagement strategy:

CONSUMERS ARE NOT LOOKING FOR HIGH-TECH

PG is a great example of an augmented reality game interface (in that it adds virtual enhancements to actual reality versus virtual reality which creates a virtual world), however it is not the first and arguably, not even the best. Users have experienced numerous flaws and glitches in gameplay, some stemming from its immense popularity, but others inherent to the app’s development. True loyalists will even recall a similar earlier iteration called Ingress that quietly launched with little fanfare despite using similar technology. All that to say: cutting-edge technology alone will not increase user engagement. People are looking for new experiences with the devices and technology that they use on a daily basis. Brands that find innovative ways to use existing technologies will win out above efforts that introduce consumers to complex, expensive new devices they have to master. However, with leveraging existing tech…

CONSUMERS THRIVE ON ACCURACY

Ever since smartphone mobile usage became ubiquitous, consumers have opted in to location sharing with the promise that it would provide convenience and functionality. Geo-targeting, geo-fencing, and even beacon-targeting are all technologies that have existed with varying levels of efficacy, but what PG has been able to independently demonstrate is that real-time location accuracy is not only attainable down to a 1:1 connection, but downright fun. If marketers had any trepidation about geolocation due to privacy, PG players have turned those notions on their head with millions of players willingly sharing real-time location data (and at one time, even more sensitive data) to enhance their experience. Finally(!), it seems that effective geolocation targeting has arrived — and with a mutual value proposition: retailers want sales, players want coins/rewards/Pokémon. Brands can now directly connect foot traffic to gameplay with a “cost per visit” pricing model instead of forcing a story with a CPM. Although using geolocation for entertainment discovery seems great…

CONSUMERS DO NOT WANT TO PLAY HIDE AND SEEK FOREVER

Embracing the nostalgia of the popular 90s trading card game was definitely a huge part of PG’s success. However, brands should not treat this overnight success as an excuse to create more virtual treasure hunts and expect similar results. As we fondly reminisce the similar fame of other mobile juggernauts (Flappy Bird, Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Farmville, etc), we’re reminded that spin-offs and imitations rarely capture the spark that originals ignited. How Niantic develops its updates will determine the staying power of this latest craze, but brands can rest assured that imitation is not the quickest path to victory. Instead, if a mobile activation is right for your target, identify opportunities for enhancement based on their existing habits and connect that to value in their offline world. For example, Walgreens integrated its Prescription Refill API into women’s health app Glow to provide unique value to app users endemic to their habitual use of the app. Speaking of unique value…

CONSUMERS NEED VALUE, NOT LOGOS

The forthcoming Sponsored Locations that will soon be available to advertisers within the PG interface are staple placements for brand inclusion within these types of apps and are invariably an easy, no-frills route to get in the door, however, the current endemic method of engaging players with lures and pokéstops/gyms may fare better for businesses. Sure, brands could slap their logos and imagery on relevant locations within the game like other mobile app experiences, but part of the novelty of this movement is that it is not like other experiences. This one has a truer ring of authenticity than other mobile placements so brands should try to find more native opportunities within the PG interface and others to engage consumers in ways that provide value whether in-game or offline. For retailers, this could be offering specific offers or content for players in and around businesses (similar to how Foursquare engaged businesses with check-ins) for offline value or offering in-game tips and unlocked content. The key is to find the intersection of brand objectives and authentic user needs.

Expect the unexpected if you choose to tread the uncharted waters of Pokémon Go or future mobile gaming activations. So long as the value to consumers is clear, the engagement should follow.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Link Building 101: How To Find Unlinked Brand Mentions For Free

Get Started Building Quality Links and Help Increase Organic Visibility

While there are literally hundreds of elements that go into determining a website’s ranking in search results, domain and page-level link signals still top the list as perhaps two of the most influential factors in determining a website’s position in search. Having a solid, white hat link building plan should be an essential part of any search engine optimization (SEO) or content marketing strategy – and one of the most straightforward places to begin link building is with unlinked mentions.


Unlinked Mentions 101

An unlinked mention is exactly what it sounds like: It’s an instance of someone mentioning your brand without providing a link back to your website. Finding these sounds easy right? Just type your brand’s name into your browser’s search bar, check to see if any mentions are missing links, and then email the author to ask them to link back.

It really is that simple. That is, until you consider that a single query can return literally millions of results.

Unlinked Mention Search Results

So how do you comb through all these results more efficiently? There are some paid tools out there you can use, but when budget won’t allow, here’s how to quickly find unlinked mentions of your brand (and build valuable links) for FREE.

How To Find Unlinked Mentions 


What You’ll Need:

  1. Some sort of SERP (search engine results page) scraper, such as MozBar
  2. Unlinked Mention Finder Tool (see link later in this article)
  3. Coffee (optional)


Step 1: Search for Brand Mentions

The first step is to find mentions of your brand. Use advanced search commands or operators to fine tune your results. An example of this would be to avoid searching your own brand’s site or other sites that could potentially dilute your results. See the example below:

Advanced Search Operators

Pro Tips:

  • Avoid searching affiliate sites, press releases and be picky with which social media sites you include in your query – you’ll thank yourself later for doing this.
  • Get creative! Try searching for high-profile employee names associated with your brand. (e.g., “employee name” “brand name” –site:yourwebsite.com)
  • Include promotions, announcements, specials and different content types in your query string to help broaden results. (e.g., “infographic” “title of infographic” –site:yourwebsite.com) 


Step 2: Scrape The SERP

Once you have your search results, you’ll need an efficient way to gather all of the URLs that mention your brand to check to see if they provided a link. It may seem obvious, but you’ll need to use a SERP scraper tool for this. There are some downloadable applications you can use, but depending on which browser you use, there are also several different, highly effective plugins to choose from. MozBar is free, compatible with Firefox and Chrome browsers, easy to use and has great functionality outside of just being a SERP scraper.

Use the scraper to download the list of the search engine’s URLs that mention your brand to an Excel file. At this point, you should have a list of URLs that mention your brand’s name that’s about a mile long.

Pro Tip:

  • Turning off your browser’s instant search feature and setting the results page to return 100 results at a time will allow you to export in bulk and save time.


Step 3: Check for Unlinked Mentions

Head over to RankTank‘s website and download a copy of its Unlinked Mention Finder tool. The tool is completely free, comes with instructions on how to use it, and takes a lot of the heavy lifting out of the discovery process.

Simply copy and paste the list of brand mention URLs from your query into the tool (as well as the original search query string itself) and let the tool work its magic. Here’s what your results will look like:

Rank Tank Unlinked Mention Finder Tool

This tool will automatically check to see if there are any mentions of your brand that do not link back to the brand website you specified. Once you have your list of unlinked mentions, you can begin outreach to these sites to try and get a link built.

Pro Tips:

  • While this tool helps automate the process, vetting the list is highly recommended to ensure accuracy.
  • Be mindful of how you set up the tool. RankTank’s tool is very particular about data entry. Any issues with the query string or referenced site, no matter how small, will return inaccurate results.


Step 4: Outreach or Make a Connection

By now, you’re probably sitting on a whole heap of unlinked mentions. All you have to do is craft an engaging pitch, reach out to each opportunity, and convince them to add a link back to your site. This can be difficult for several reasons. One of the largest being that you’re not always sure to whom you should be reaching out to (and if this person is actually capable of implementing the changes to the site). Another being that sometimes direct contact information isn’t always readily provided or available.

Here are some tips to help get your message into the right hands:

  • To increase your chances of a response, avoid sending requests into general inboxes whenever possible.
  • Leverage tools, such as Email Hunter, to get direct contact information.
  • If all else fails, most companies have a standardized email format (e.g., lastname@company.com) that can be used. Press releases or leadership pages can provide you with that format. Once you have it, searching LinkedIn for relevant names and applying the standardized formatting can help get you an email address even if it is not directly listed on the site.

Even after getting your request into the proper inbox, at a certain point, the link building process can be out of your hands. Having a personalized and relevant pitch can definitely increase your chances of success, though. There are several things to keep in mind when crafting your pitch:

  • Make your message personal. Don’t use canned or template responses. Nothing makes users hit the ‘delete’ button faster than an obviously templated email.
  • Offer some value to the person to whom you are reaching out (after all, you are asking them to do extra work). Offer to share the link via your social channels – or recommend a quick SEO fix for their site. Giving them some incentive to add the link greatly increases your chance of success.
  • Try not to use the word ‘link’ in your message. For some, it can be seen as having a spammy connotation. Use words such as “mention,” “reference” or “adding our web address” instead.

Finally, don’t be afraid to follow up and check to see if any changes have been implemented. Sometimes webmasters will implement a change but not send a response back. So, before you follow up with another email, check to see if a link has been added.

 Pro Tips:

  • When finding unlinked mentions for a client, ask them for a list of any websites they already have a relationship with. Doing so can help you avoid drama and save time.
  • Be picky. Avoid reaching out to publishers with negative brand mentions or spammy websites or content.
  • Start with and give priority to authoritative sources to take advantage of their domain authority.

And that’s how you can find unlinked mentions of your brand for absolutely free!

With organic search driving an average of over 50 percent of traffic to most B2B and B2C websites and over 90 percent of customers performing research online before making a purchasing decision, having a solid SEO strategy in place is more critical than ever.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Biweekly Bulletin: 5 Compelling Things You Should Know

Every other week, we share 5 timely and valuable articles from our favorite credible digital sources that will inspire and educate marketers like you.

Here’s what you should know this week:

  1. You can now protect your brand on Instagram. The social site recently announced brands can set filters for offensive comments on their business pages.
  2. A year of experimenting with digital video ads led researchers to these 3 key takeaways: experimentation leads to innovation, digital video is easy if you’re resourceful and you can defy the rules by creating your own rulebook.
  3. Currently, advertisers are spending only 1.0% on programmatic TV ad spending. That number is projected to climb to 6.0% by 2018, which means there will be more personalized TV ads than ever before.
  4. It might seem like common knowledge, but studies have found the more tailored and dynamic your email content is, the higher your email CTR will be. Aside from email, marketers are also focusing on creating personalized experiences for website visitors.
  5. Publishers will be taking a big hit from Facebook’s latest algorithm change. The social media giant plans to place more emphasis on personal updates and less on news publications. Because of that, brands should be delivering relevant content that their fans will want to comment on, like, or share with their network.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.