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Aug 30, 2000
How To

How Do You Join the UK’s Top Ten Trafficked Sites in Only a Month? Ask Jeeves!

SUMMARY: Despite a few minor inconveniences with their name, the UK version of AskJeeves became a Top Ten site within a month of its launch. We were jolly interested to hear how managed this, so we took tea and scones with Aylin Savkan, Marketing Controller in the UK, and we jolly well Asked!
Q: What elements of your marketing do you think most accounted for the site’s phenomenally fast traffic growth?

Savkan: A strong multi-media advertising campaign, communicating a very simple and clear proposition to the consumer, spearheaded by a distinctive and empathetic brand icon [Jeeves].

Q: We've spoken to many companies who've avoided TV advertising. What can you say in its favour?

Savkan: TV has been very effective in raising awareness and driving traffic for Ask Jeeves. This is due to a combination of strong investment and good creative execution. TV is, however, an expensive medium and many companies have used it inappropriately by failing to deliver a clear consumer proposition via the creative. There has been a lot of wastage due to advertising that has only managed to establish a brand’s name (as opposed to the inherent reason ‘why’ a consumer should visit the site in question).

Q: If you could have your launch all over again, what would you do differently?

Savkan: While we’ve had no unsuccessful marketing campaigns as yet (thankfully), perhaps we’d spend more time developing mechanics to retain people on our site from launch. Incentivising existing users to repeat and use the site more is a key requirement of any marketing strategy, which needs time to develop and implement accordingly. At any ‘launch’ all efforts are usually focussed on customer acquisition.

Q: What have you learned from user feedback?

Savkan: We regularly conduct user surveys, and we’ve had very encouraging feedback. We’ve discovered that our brand is instantly recognisable to consumers, and stands apart from the sea of ‘dot-coms’, many of which lack personality and clear benefits. It is clear to Net users that they can come to us asking questions, and receive an efficient response from a friendly helpful butler. Women and new users in particular warm to the simplicity of our offering and to Jeeves the butler.

Q: Many regular users will have been users originally. What techniques did you use to encourage them to switch?

Savkan: Once the UK site had launched, each time an user logged on for the first time, a page would appear informing her/him that s/he could be re-directed to the new UK version of the site. There was also substantial PR communication informing UK consumers that the new site contained far more relevant localised content than the US. UK consumers are now predominantly using the site as their first point of call. However, as we currently still offer answers from the US site in addition to local UK based content, there is some traffic that flows from the UK site to the US site. Less traffic comes from the US into the UK site.

Q: How does marketing to the UK differ from marketing to the US?

Savkan: In many ways [our UK and US marketing strategies] are very similar. We share the same creative executions and similar media strategies, and even share similar guerrilla marketing initiatives. has a more advanced distribution and affiliate program, which we will quickly emulate. They have also successfully broadened the brand’s scope into the licensing arena, having published a couple of books on frequently asked questions at the site.

Q: You have several big name competitors with UK sites. How are you currently gearing your marketing to ensure that people ask Jeeves?

Savkan: We believe we have a distinct proposition in the UK marketplace, which sets us apart from the competition. We are unique in the way our consumers interrogate our service. They ‘ask’ us questions in plain English rather than using key words, which means they can be much more specific in what they require. We deliver answers that aim to match these specific queries, making the whole ‘Web searching’ process far more effective and relevant. We seek continually to re-enforce this point of difference with our marketing.
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