Why Big Brands Are Losing Online Market Share

If a competing brand took over all your shelf space in stores, you’d do whatever it took to regain control. Then why are major companies failing to step in when their brand is boxed out in Google search?

The first page of Google search is, in many ways, today’s top-shelf retail placement. Consumers are using online search to make purchasing decisions throughout their customer journey — sometimes even while they’re in the physical store (according to Google, mobile searches performed in-store have grown 15% in recent years)!

And the consequences are dire. The brands failing to show up organically in search are falling behind in the market and could be losing millions in potential sales.

Put simply, the brands falling behind online typically lack the SEO strategy and long-form content needed to effectively compete in Google. So, what specific issues are causing this? And what can be done to reverse the effects?

Failure to build customer-centric strategies

For marketing strategies to be impactful, brands need to understand their customers’ needs throughout the buying process and provide helpful, relevant resources at every stage.

Where many marketers go wrong is the type of content they create and where it’s being promoted. By focusing on overly promotional and interruptive content, many marketers try to force a conversion prematurely in the journey. As a result, they actually end up driving consumers away, leaving a bad taste in their mouths. This ultimately creates a barrier to purchase and decreases the organization’s ability to drive revenue.

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Misallocated marketing budgets

Gaining online market share is all about leveraging a healthy mix of channels, but many major brands remain averse to change and misallocate their marketing budget as a result.

Many brands maintain online strategies that worked for them in the past: putting most of their marketing budgets into advertisements, partnerships, and direct selling. Yet, some marketing strategies are coming up short in the ever-changing digital landscape. For example, interruptive digital ads are often ignored, and their impact is difficult to measure — making ROI murky.

This outdated mindset can also limit a brand’s openness to newer, more impactful channels that amplify all marketing efforts.

Take social media marketing and organic search. 80% of consumers say they use Instagram to decide whether or not to make a purchase, and 90% use online search before going into a store. Yet, both channels typically make up a small portion of marketing budgets for large brands. When building ROI-based marketing strategies, this data can’t be ignored. Otherwise, brands risk pouring money into channels that are less cost-effective and more difficult to measure.

Lack of Understanding About Who Competitors Are

Many retailers assume their market concerns should still be other large brands who have competed with them in-store for decades.

However, our research has found that many major brands aren’t being beaten by other industry giants. Instead, they’re losing market share to content hubs and online publishers — nontraditional competitors who are snatching away online traffic and potential customers. And this is true across several industry verticals, including finance, online streaming, and beauty.

For example, Terakeet’s Google Market Share Report for the Beauty Industry found Sephora, the retailer performing best in the skincare online market, still ranks fifth in overall organic search market share, behind publishers like Allure, Byrdie, and Good Housekeeping. To add insult to injury, the brands will then often pay affiliate fees to those same publishers for referring customers to them.

In order to remain competitive online, marketers must understand who their true competitors are and what strategies they’re using to succeed. By ignoring these online publishers who are prioritizing SEO, user experience, and content production, large brands are missing major growth opportunities. And the cost could be in the billions.

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Underestimating Marketing Potential

Many big brands think too small about marketing; it’s not just a way to get customers in the door. Strong marketing strategies can do all the heavy lifting. This includes providing helpful information to potential customers long before they’re ready to buy and then supporting them throughout the process right up to the time of purchase and beyond.

Optimal marketing efforts will lower customer acquisition costs, improve customer lifetime value, and increase value per visit. And with online channels, tracking this impact is often much easier. Paired with the right reporting tools, marketers can measure the direct business impact they’re driving, like improved market share and increased revenue.

However, by underestimating the potential impact of their strategies, marketers often become comfortable in low-performing channels and end up losing customer growth opportunities.

How to Regain the Shelf Space

Fortunately, market share ebbs and flows based on current brand strategies. Brands that have lost market share to unexpected competitors can still recover and win back consumer attention by reimagining their approach.

  • Earn consumer attention early and often: Consumers face a barrage of brand messaging and exposure every day. In order to connect with them, your brand must offer content that provides support and answers their questions in the exact moment they’re searching for help. SEO-driven content does just that.

Build a content strategy that touches on all aspects of the customer journey and research informational keywords to more effectively draw in users in the early and middle stages of the customer journey. This will help your brand reach a larger audience, build a cohesive story, and nurture relationships until the consumers are ready to buy.

  • Rethink your marketing budget: It’s important to truly learn the return on investment for your marketing efforts in order to build more impactful strategies. It’s all about understanding which channels perform best. Metrics like marketing ROI, customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value, and value per visit can help you understand the impact of your strategies, and ultimately make it easier for you to advocate for more executive support and a larger budget.

Ask yourself: which channels have a direct impact on company revenue? How much revenue did they drive last quarter, and how much potential do they have? What balance of channels yields the most return? These answers should help you build a more effective strategy and ensure you’re getting the most out of your budget.

  • Understand winning competitor strategies: Learn who your organic search competitors are by regularly auditing the websites ranking on page one for your target keywords. Then, investigate what they’re doing differently than you.What kind of content are they creating? What keywords are they targeting on their site? What gaps exist between their content and keywords and yours? Who is their target audience? This knowledge will help you build fresh, impactful strategies to rank higher, regain market share, and drive more business to your site.

Understanding your organic search market share means knowing where your brand ranks amongst competitors and where your growth opportunities lie. Major brands that are losing customers to non-traditional competitors should look critically at the strategies contributing to their market share in order to build more impactful plans, push out competitors, and bring in more customers.


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