How Brands Can Navigate The Zero-Click Era

Until recently, website clicks were what mattered most. Site traffic and clickthrough rates were what drove inbound leads and sales,  the coveted metrics that brands relentlessly pursued. In the last few years, however, people have dramatically changed the way they use the internet. Instead of visiting websites, they’re now asking Alexa, using apps, reading search snippets, and skimming user ratings.

Welcome to the no-click era. Today, clicks are no longer the primary currency of online interaction, because consumers have simply stopped clicking. Instead, people often get the information they need directly from search results, thanks to AI-generated responses, Google snippets, and the wealth of data available on popular apps and tools like Yelp and Google Maps. Consumers can access a trove of information about a brand without ever venturing to its website.

In light of this paradigm shift, brands must rethink how they interpret website traffic — and, more broadly, how they gauge branding and marketing success. Here are actionable strategies for brands to thrive in this new age of zero-click searches.



Embrace the zero-click mindset. To start, brands must change their focus. Traditional metrics like clicks and website visits just don’t matter as much anymore. Instead, the priority needs to be on delivering precise information seamlessly, whatever the method or platform. Explore avenues like online communities and user-generated content to get people engaging with your brand without directly visiting the website.

Focus on impressions. Just as in public relations, where impressions represent the number of individuals who have seen a piece of earned media, search impressions provide valuable insights into brand visibility. Your top Google search ranking or featured snippet is akin to a high-profile media impression. To gauge their impact, think less about clickthrough rates and more in terms of Impressions and visibility.

Rethink advertising campaigns. Put the emphasis on visibility and impact over clicks. This way, you can get creative with driving user engagement within the ad experience itself. Experiment with interactive ad formats like polls, quizzes, and shoppable ads, and try newer channels such as in-app and podcast advertising.

Evolve SEO strategies. To maximize zero-click brand impact, brands should focus on tactics likely to get them featured in Google snippets or AI-generated responses – by crafting quality, helpful content that not only addresses common questions in simple language, but also provides in-depth detail on the topic. While snippets don’t always lead to clickthroughs, they get widely read and act as attention-getting internet billboards for your brand.

Track new data. Think beyond website traffic numbers when calculating brand reach. Correlations and causation modeling, for example, can show the connection between overall search behavior, including zero-click searches, and outcomes on brand websites or retail channels. Knowing if and how search behaviors drive sales will empower brands to make smarter decisions.

Poll the people. The customer journey from brand discovery to purchase is often a complex, difficult-to-track process, especially in the zero-click era. One powerful way to glean this information is by asking customers themselves via quick polls and surveys. With this tactic, brands can create a direct feedback loop to fine-tune their zero-click strategy.

By rethinking metrics and strategies, brands can remain visible and relevant as consumer behaviors change. While each brand must tailor its approach to focus on impactful strategies, one thing is clear: In the zero-click era, adaptation is key.

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