29 / 11 / 19
10th December 2019
Most brands are now online and looking to drive business through their content marketing efforts. It’s a low cost strategy with increasingly better long term benefits, and whilst it’s not necessarily for brands looking for quick wins and leads that they needed yesterday; content marketing builds trust, knowledge and credibility, and that longevity is the basis of a consistent relationship between business and customer.
In this article I’ll be discussing content in terms of the written word over visual assets, so if you’re looking for trends in terms of what’s up with social media, are infographics still relevant, and is video still the future of visual content marketing (it is), you’ve come to the wrong place.
Customer first content is where it’s at and it may come as a surprise to some, but customers are becoming increasingly more savvy to marketing efforts and the tactics used to convince them that they need something. Impulse decisions and purchases are less and less likely and customers want to be romanced into their decision on the basis of trust and understanding of their needs.
We’re entering an age of personalised storytelling, where customers want to feel like a brand and business are directly speaking to them, on their level, with their journey in mind.
Firstly, here’s a quick roundup of exactly what we mean by these two query terms.
Intent driven search queries
Intent driven search queries is when we think about what the intent behind a customers search is and considering how a meta title, description and page <h1s>, etc. should reflect that intent. For instance, I might search “craft cms vs squarespace” and I would be hit with a search results page that looked like this:
It gives me a good idea that, firstly, it's a bit of a 'sweet spot' when it comes to articles for Craft CMS comparisons with other content management systems and website builders. There are very few articles discussing Squarespaces comparison to Craft and for the few articles that are in the SERPs, it's a good indication that there is similarity in the meta title for the search intent. I could have been faced with terms that suggested they were looking for biased views, such as “Why Craft CMS is better than Squarespace" or "10 benefits of Craft CMS compared to using Squarespace."
Investigational search queries
Alternatively investigational search queries are for customers looking for answers, reviews, how-tos, etc. and content that's going to help them make an educated decision when they eventually choose to purchase.
Why are these so important? Well, for starters, Google's algorithms have brought search intent to the front and centre when it comes to content creation. That means that you should be using search intent and investigational queries as a driver for the type of content created for your business. Help customers with investigational content and then drive a purchase or connection with intent driven content to follow it up and form relationships between content articles too.
According to statistics from Adweek, UGC (users generated content) is 85% more influential than brand content and has become one of the most engaging forms of content. Why? UGC is peer-to-peer communication and more and more consumers are looking to their peers for advice, reviews and feedback on brands and products. Think about it - how often do we automatically look for a review of a business or a product before we even think about converting these days.
There's a very fine line with UGC and collaboration too. UGC is mostly organic and not a paid activity to engage more consumers through #Ads (which we so often see across social media). Whilst gifting for UGC isn't frowned upon, brands should be looking outward toward their community and advocates and how they [as a brand] can work with consumers on evergreen content for websites.
We've seen some great success in the last 6-months whilst refining articles that we write for our clients by optimising for other questions that pop up with investigational search queries. They might not quite find the answer they're looking for with articles tailored to a specific query, where as combining multiple search queries around the same topic into one, all bases are covered as more questions are sparked as consumers read on. That's putting your business one step ahead - thinking before the customer does and fulfilling their needs before it even became one. Consider more long form articles for particular topics that could have multiple facets around them that need to be addressed, but don't always turn to long form or think that it's required.
Many are hailing 2020 as the year of personalisation but this is a trend most brands will likely have been focusing on long before. Traditional marketing tactics are becoming less and less effective and consumers are more aware of the strategies used by marketers to persuade them toward a product, service or brand. They're tired of generic ads, the same old and are looking for connections between them [the consumer] and a brand instead.
Personalisation is appealing to consumers because it puts theirs needs and their desires first. More and more people are beginning to put brand's first that offer them a personalised experience. Think about segmented email lists, content specifically created for the consumer in mind, search technologies such as Algolia or personalised direct mail.
Put their informational needs before promotional and form a relationship based on trust and credibility. Customers no longer want to see the same content that every consumer sees. They want a tailored and bespoke experience to them and that means embracing dynamic content delivery with automated curation of content based on a search term they enter on your website. A great example of this is Scape Group's smart search using Algolia where results are shown on their own landing paged which can be custom selected to a region. That means, effectively, as a business you're addressing your consumers immediate needs.
Just like with Google's algorithms bringing search intent to the front and centre, Google also considers content as a whole in terms of the value of an entire website and not just the web page it has crawled for SERPs. For instance, one of our clients is the authority when it comes electric shaving and men's grooming advice in the UK [Shavers.co.uk] and if we take their top performing article "Guide to Trimming Chest hair and Stomach Hair" we can see that it's number 1 in Google, where as GQ [the authority in men's style, grooming, lifestyle, etc] is second.
Normally we might think that GQ would be first and foremost considering its influence and international reach. However, as Shavers is topic focused, not only with its article but with the website as a whole, Google places more authority and ranking in Shavers. And so, Shavers as a whole provides more topic focused content for consumers than GQ. This can be further developed with pillar content marketing and creating topic focused content as with the below example.
Content based on fact and not assumption? You betcha! Content driven by data is entirely intentional and not simply picking a topic out of a hat to discuss. It's a strategy all of its own and can work wonders. Going by what you think works isn't always the way to go with any form of content or visuals. By basing content on evidence, fact, analytics based on page views, search terms and feedback helps content marketers to form strategies on what will and won't work when it comes to content.
Find what data matters, for instance, for Shavers.co.uk, we might spend a lot of time understanding what the top selling products are, at what time of year and the journeys customers take to land on said electric shaver and why the bounce from the page. It could be that there's not enough content to support the shaver in question, such as, how to use a foil shaver or wet vs. dry shaving. This can all be understood by data (and opens up a whole new can of worms for content relationships).
Find the data that will be a driver for you as a business's content - what's going to convert leads and build trust. Stop thinking about likes, comments, shares, and start thinking about how to help your consumers and simply instead matter to them. Remember; informational over promotional.
These are just a handful of content marketing trends set for 2020 but they're trends that we'll definitely be using at Abstrakt for ourselves and our clients. Content will always prevail in driving new and returning consumers to your website and the more relevant and informational content that is created, the more your website will become a source of information and trust.
Interesting? There’s plenty more where that came from…