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Innovation Wins the Day at UK Search Awards

30 November 2018
Fast Web Media receiving the award for "Most Innovative Campaign" at the UK Search Awards 2018 | Innovation Wins the Day at UK Search Awards | Neon

We’re honoured to have won Most Innovative Campaign at the UK Search Awards 2018 for our voice search work for blu e-cigarettes!

This year’s ceremony took place at the Bloomsbury Big Top in London, and we were nominated in two categories: Best Use of SEO and Most Innovative Campaign.

We were up against some truly great agencies and campaigns, which made it all the more pleasing that we won.

Our Head of Agency Rob Weatherhead said: “The team here at Neon is delighted. We worked hard with blu to not just get them ahead of their competitors but keep them there with a strategy that looked to the future.

“Voice search is still growing, but as the technology develops and becomes a part of everyday life, it’ll be adopted by millions, so it’s important for brands to make sure they’re ahead of the curve.

“Our win underlines how prepared we are for this evolution in the way people use the internet, and we’re excited to do more work in this area in the future.”

Our work with blu

As a high-growth but restricted industry, competition in the vaping market is fierce not only from global vaping brands but also from the many retailers and manufacturers fighting to claim and defend their position in the organic search results.

Being front of mind and embracing new innovations is therefore critically important, so we got to work strategising an approach that would bring an innovative approach to blu and help them get ahead of their competitors in a way that would future proof them.

Understanding the landscape

blu had two core audiences:

  • Existing vapers who may not use blu’s products, or not solely use blu’s products looking for advanced e-cigarette information
  • Smokers looking to understand more about vaping as an alternative to traditional cigarettes

To connect with these audiences, we conducted search and industry trends research to identify where blu could look to gain a competitive advantage. Three trends stood out:

  • The rise of conversational query based search phrases in both overall volume, and traffic generation to the blu website
  • The increased prominence of featured snippets at the research stages in relation to these queries
  • The rising sales of assistant devices and focus of the big search players on voice search

These three trends made for the perfect innovation project. blu was already seeing a rise in full question-based queries in their data, with queries such as “what are the ingredients in vape juice?” and “what ingredients are found in vape juice?” taking the place of “vape juice ingredients” as voice devices came into play.

And as the e-cigarette industry was maturing to a point where people were looking for detail on products and features before making a purchase, positioning blu at the early stages of this research process would help drive sales further down the funnel.

Developing the strategy

The opportunity was clear and a plan was set. We’d position blu ahead of its competition by:

  • Reaching customers earlier in the research stages
  • Focusing on the featured snippet listings for maximum coverage
  • Making blu the voice result for e-cigarette related queries

Developing a funnel strategy meant combining the data from available search query data tools, and the Google Analytics data from blu’s existing website visitors. From this, we could then build out a blu version of our Audience Intent Model (AIM) for understanding user intent while making purchase decisions.

A purchase funnel was built for the stages potential customers go through and at each stage we identified the conversational keywords which were relevant and analysed the existing web and voice results for insight. This meant we could identify the gaps where new content needed creating or visibility needed improving.

Once our analysis was complete we had a list of conversational queries which we would aim to appear for in the featured snippets listing and ultimately the voice result.

Writing the content

The big moment: the creation of the content.

If you’re looking to get your content ranking for voice search, it’s not enough to simply write it as you would any content. Voice devices use featured snippets as one of their sources and tend to read the snippet verbatim to provide the user with an answer.

In order to achieve our goals, we first ensured schema markup was implemented correctly across the website, making it clear to the search engines tha purpose and type of content and making them available for featured snippets.

We then ensure all of our content was written and structured in a way which would answer the queries being used, and make it clear to the search engines we had the content that met the searchers needs. For example, if you were looking to answer questions about the ingredients of vape juice, the first sentence may be: “Though it can vary from brand to brand and flavour to flavour, the core ingredients of vape juice are: Propylene Glycol (PG) or Vegetable Glycerin (VG), Nicotine, and Non-Oil Food Grade Flavourings relevant to the flavour you’ve bought.”

Crafting content in this way not only satisfies the user’s search – therefore giving them a good experience – it ensures the search engine is being given everything it needs to package your content up as a featured snippet and deliver it through voice search.

Evaluating the results

The campaign delivered against all of its stated objectives and more.

blu achieved over 100 position 1 listings and numerous featured snippet results, all around stages 1-3 of the conversion funnel. As a result, they remain the voice result for multiple e-cigarette based queries on both a home device and Google Assistant.

In turn, this had a dramatic impact on their organic search traffic:

  • USA organic page views increased by 58%
  • Italy organic page views increased by 41%
  • France organic page views increased by 1208%
  • UK organic page views increased by 75%

Organic search delivered:

  • 54% of US website traffic
  • 80% of UK website traffic

Year on year increase in revenue from non-commercial content:

  • USA 33%
  • Italy 595%
  • France 1325%
  • UK 303%

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