What makes a Genius brand? L2 ranked 1,481 brands across 25 Digital IQ Index studies in 2015, and found 58 to be Geniuses based on their digital performance. The latest study, In the Company of Genius, discusses what sets these brands apart from their peer groups.

They invest in new revenue streams. The global e-commerce market grew 24.5% this year. Genius brands recognize this growth and invest accordingly. Not only are they investing in direct-to-consumer e-commerce, they are integrating their online and offline channels to appeal to channel-agnostic shoppers. These brands also know that not all digital destinations are equal. They realize their brand sites are not the source of most of their online orders, but working with e-tailers such as Amazon is the fastest way to tap into a young, wealthy and sometimes incremental consumer base. Department Store Geniuses Macy’s 
and Nordstrom have been particularly aggressive, pledging capital commitments of $1 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively, into digital and omnichannel projects.

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They move investments away from outdated channels. Genius organizations recognize that digital influences more than 70 percent of sales across all channels, and are not afraid to move investments away from traditional marketing avenues with declining ROI. L2 research finds that overall Genius brands are closing stores, reallocating advertising dollars from print and television to search, CRM, and digital content. Collectively, Genius brands have closed 328 stores in the last 24 months.

They are mobile-first. More than 50% of search volume and site traffic now occurs on the smaller screen, and all Genius brands own their first mobile-branded search results. Genius brands have moved beyond the requisite mobile-optimized site and platform adoption and stand out with superior mobile content, advanced apps, strategic mobile ads, and technology that leverages built-in smartphone capabilities like geolocation.

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They aren’t afraid of new things. Genius brands are often the first to experiment with new platforms or develop their own platforms. Betty Crocker, for example, has built one of the top 10 food content destinations in the U.S. with branded recipe content featuring General Mills products. Likewise, 31% of Genius brands manage and account on Snapchat and 67% on WeChat. By investing early they demonstrate willingness to take risks and oftentimes are able to garner return at a fraction of the cost of fast followers

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They always keep up digital hygiene. Genius prioritize digital fundamentals – SEO, SEM, email, consumer touchpoints, data capture – over trendy new platforms. They are relentless is position their brand sites in the top paid and organic search result, using deep links and geolocation for SEO and experimenting with product listing ads. Geniuses register 5.3 times greater average organic search visibility across generic organic category search terms relative to their category peers. Emails are segmented and personalized, and contain engaging content relevant to the recipient. Genius brands recognize that every consumer touch points is an opportunity to capture more data about the consumer for future targeting.

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