GSK Abreva: How to Get Rid of a Cold Sore


Campaign Summary

Cold sore medicine brand Abreva aimed to become the most trusted source of information for cold sore sufferers. Its marketing team wanted to earn that trust by using the same language sufferers used when searching the internet for antidotes. Content including that language was developed and optimized for Google-featured snippets and voice search. It answered specific questions sufferers had in a step-by-step format. A mobile landing page was also optimized for voice search.


Objective and Context:

Abreva’s marketers had two goals: 1) make Abreva the most trusted brand for cold sore sufferers and 2) become a leader in cold sore education.

Target Audience:

Up to 67 percent of people are infected with the HSV-1 virus, or cold sores, and one-in-four people experience reoccurring sores. At the first “tingle” — the sign of an oncoming cold sore — dread fills the minds of sufferers who know that immediate treatment is the best chance to get rid of cold sores. But, cold sores have a stigma attached to them. Even the most confident people feel dismay when they develop cold sores. As a result, sufferers turn to their mobile phones to search for help, urgently but quietly seeking advice and steps to quickly get rid of cold sores.

Creative Strategy:

To become the most trusted voice for consumers during this time of anxiety, Abreva turned to the same place sufferers did — mobile search. To get inside the minds of sufferers, marketers analyzed the language people used when searching. They found a huge gap in the ways brands and sufferers talked about cold sores. This opened up an opportunity to lead the category by being the brand that truly understood people.

Although other brands talked about ways to treat cold sores, and bought search terms accordingly, the most common search query from sufferers, particularly when using voice search, was “how to get rid of a cold sore.” Abreva’s creative strategy became focused on earning the trust of sufferers by using the same language they used when searching for a cold sore solution.

Content was developed using language that was personable rather than medical. It encouraged searchers to act on the first sign of a cold sore. Scientific videos were replaced with tips and tricks on how to stay cold-sore free and how to identify early signs of cold sores. The content was then optimized for Google-featured snippets and voice search by answering specific questions in a step-by-step format. Abreva pushed this educational content across endemic and lifestyle partners to extend the campaign’s reach.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Abreva published and promoted six articles focused on providing answers to sufferers as quickly as possible. The new articles were optimized around common questions and answers and featured a mix of short- and long-form content, videos, slideshows, and interactive webpages. To ensure sufferers were answered as quickly as possible, went through multiple rounds of page-speed optimizations across desktop and mobile. SEO optimizations enhanced visibility for both new and existing content.

Mobile Execution:

The success of the campaign stemmed from the realization that mobile/voice search was the go-to method of seeking solutions for cold sore sufferers. Traditionally, health-related searches were the largest across Google search, but research indicated that 40 percent of adults used voice search at least once per day, and that, by 2020, 50 percent of searches would be voice initiated.

Abreva leveraged an open-source website publishing technology designed to improve content performance and increase site speed. This meant the brand could get information to sufferers quickly. It also used voice search, creating over 250 featured snippets, or quick answers, to power voice search results for content and to ensure the presence in moments of need. Abreva launched with four webpages in 2017 that loaded in under one second.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

In just one year, Abreva’s blended rank for the keyword group “Get Rid of Cold Sores” went from 78 to 11. Sufferers spent an average of 4 minutes on the mobile site, proving that pairing content with an easy, engaging user experience was a force multiplier for retaining attention. They converted at a higher rate and with lower bounce rates. Marketers saw an 18 percent increase in coupon downloads, an 11 percent increase in clicks to retailers, and the highest organic search traffic across the GSK Consumer Health portfolio, thus setting a new standard for future efforts.

Additionally, Abreva increased the number of featured snippets that were captured to over 230 in just one year. This laid claim to sizable amounts of screen real estate and fueled massive performance within voice search via Google Chrome and Google Assistant.

Abreva was a share-of-voice leader in paid media (TV, OLV, social) but not in earned media presence. When Abreva media went off theair, the brand had no real presence in the consumer journey. This meant it was only gaining market share when expensive paid media was on, and it was losing market share when media was turned off. Abreva needed to be highly present when sufferers needed answers but not active when they weren’t suffering.

The search campaign over-delivered expectations. An aggressive KPI of 5 percent was set for search share of voice, a 2,500-time improvement over the brand’s current share of voice. In one year, Abreva finished with an 18 percent share of voice, 3.5 times the campaign objective and 878 times higher than at the start of the execution.

Since the launch of the campaign, Abreva began growing dollar sales two times faster than the competition. Additionally, nearly half of Abreva website traffic was earned through organic search, which improved the effectiveness of all paid media and made the brand more efficient.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Mobile Search | Awards: NA Bronze Winner