A while back, I found myself printing shipping labels as an intern at Cone Communications, a Boston based communications firm with a specialty in cause marketing. I knew the labels would go on packages containing a Lindt gold chocolate bunny, signed by a celebrity. What I did not know, at that time, was that Lindt Chocolate was about to miss out on a massive amount of high quality link juice.
I love cause-related brand marketing because it requires both creativity and genuine interest in the betterment of our world. There is nothing more newsworthy, heartwarming and share-able than a corporate brand marketing initiative beautifully aligned with a cause. Except a corporate brand marketing initiative, beautifully aligned with a cause and amplified by SEO, of course.
It is important for a company to integrate SEO efforts with other public relations, advertising and marketing initiatives. Should they do so, a company will see a greater yield from this effort and spend.
This past Easter, Lindt Chocolate launched the USA 2012 Easter Program in partnership with Autism Speaks, the leading Autism science and advocacy organization. The program included an auction during which 75 celebrity-autographed Lindt gold bunnies were auctioned off on Ebay. Holly Robinson served as the “celebrity partner” and spokesperson for the initiative to help drive additional coverage and awareness. The campaign secured nearly 1,300 placements and nearly 143 million media impressions, according to Cone.
Although the campaign was extremely successful, had there been an SEO on board, Lindt Chocolate could have built some serious links, authority to the site and increased exposure of the campaign. I am not a huge fan of the words problem and solution so below, I will outline a few oopsies and next times.
Oopsies #1: Hosting and redirecting was not ideal.
The campaign was hosted on a few different domains, none of which were www.lindtchocolate.com. There was one microsite created, www.LindtGoldBunnyAuction.com, which now re-directs to the Ebay page where the bunnies were auctioned off. I took a look into the backlinks pointing to that microsite, one being from “Carrie-News.BlogSpot.Com”, a blog dedicated to Carrie Underwood. Because the microsite now 301 re-directs to Ebay, Lindt is not benefitting from any of that link juice.
Next Time: Host your campaign on a subdomain or subfolder of your primary website.
Host your promotion or campaign on a subdomain or subfolder of your website or a micro-site that can be re-directed to your primary site. Be careful, however, with the redirecting of your microsite if you go that route. Google does not always love 301 redirects. If you are planning on launching the campaign, contest or promotion year after year, that is a lot of redirecting.
Your other option, and the option I recommend, is to create a section of your site dedicated to promotion, partnerships, contests etc. If you create a page on your website dedicated to this cause branding promotion, for example, you can just change the content on the page as one initiative ends and another begins. Over time, that page will build authority. Once this page has that authority, you will be able to build some nice internal links to spread the juice into other areas of your site.
Oopsies #2: There was no active link building.
Lindt did build a page on the “our partnerships” section of the Lindt Gold Bunny website for the celebrity auction campaign. However, according to Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer, the page has zero backlinks. Why is that? Well, it doesn’t look like anyone was building links to the page.
Next Time: Build some links.
I used an advanced query to figure out where the campaign online was picked up online.
If I were thinking about building links for this campaign in 2013, I would definitely keep these targets in mind and expand on them even further. Here are a few:
- Celebrity Blogs and Websites: The campaign got coverage on websites like CelineDion.com and AshleyTisDaily.com.
- Fan Blogs: Of course, with celebrity partners come their fans. The campaign was mentioned on sites like We Love Toni.
- Third-Party Celebrity News Sites: The campaign got coverage on Bossip.com and Starcam.com.
- General Entertainment Sites: The campaign got picked up on SheKnows.com and OK! Magazine
- News Sites: The campaign got picked up on USA Today and The Examiner.
- Athlete Celebrity Blogs: Yes, there is a website called “Athlebrities”.
- Mommy Blogs: The mommy blogs seem to think it is “brag worthy” according to Bragging Mommy.
- Food Blogs: When something is completely nom-able, it is only natural for food publications, like Progressive Grocer, to pick it up as well.
- Parenting Blogs: With a celebrity mom as the spokesperson, parenting blogs are bound to show interest. Babble, a blog focused on the “new generation of parents”, loved this.
- Random Niche Blogs: There are always niche blogs and sites that will find an interest in your initiative as well. Born Rich, a blog for rich people? Picked it up. Makes sense, a lot of rich people are into charitable giving. A website dedicated to vitamin B-12 covered the story as well. Also makes sense as vitamin B-12 has been identified as a promising treatment for autism.
(Potential) Oopsie #3: You reach out to these people in a spammy or disingenuous way.
Just don’t. It won’t work.
Next Time (and always): Be genuine, please.
When you are reaching out to bloggers or webmasters, be genuine. Read their stuff, find an honest tie in and don’t “fake flatter” them (gag). If you feel uneasy at all about the e-mail you are about to send, don’t send it. The beauty of reaching out with a genuine initiative and share-able idea is that you won’t feel like a spam bot when you hit the send button.
Build Relationships, Not Just Links.
Build relationships with cause-related publications for links as well. The Cause Marketing Forum, a website focused on “doing well by doing good” and Look to the Stars, an organization focused on celebrity giving both covered the project. Why are these good targets? Well because they will be sincerely interested in your project. Don’t feel like you have to e-mail them either. Pick up the phone and tell them about what is going on (remember people can’t bite through the phone, yet).
There is opportunity in the space of the cause itself. The Autism Speaks website was used to promote the campaign and there are several other websites dedicated to Autism education and awareness to keep in mind.
Remember, link building is not all about driving traffic and gaining rankings. When you are building high-quality links, you are providing users an avenue to discover new things. It does not matter if you and SEO, CEO, or JOshmO when you are pointing users to a program like the Lindt Gold Bunny Celebrity Auction, you are helping to raise awareness of the campaign and of the cause.
Get your SEO on board when you are doing brilliant things. Introduce your PR team to your SEO team. Let them be friends and find ways to work together in a fashion which does not disrupt either party’s process. There is nothing more painful for an SEO than recognizing missed opportunity. But on the bright side,there is always next time.
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