Content must be optimized for not only what connected consumers are searching for, but how they are searching for it.
“Siri, how far is the nearest Balenciaga boutique?” That was the sound of me on the hunt for a new handbag, and even as I spoke into my iPhone, I couldn’t help but reflect on how connected consumers are searching for content these days. This is a question that continually interests me, and one (of many) that my team and I at Zen Media have extensively researched and built a reputation on helping brands effectively answer.
So let me ask you: When you’re searching for content, what’s your preferred method of search? Are you typing phrases into Google’s search bar? Asking Alexa or Siri? Maybe you’re prompting Google Home of Facebook Portal?
If you’re like 42 percent of U.S. adults, you’re using some combination. But I’m willing to bet that even though you use voice search yourself, your brand’s content isn’t currently optimized for voice. And when you’re trying to reach the connected consumer, that’s a problem.
Content marketing is just as critical to earning and keeping customers in 2019 as it was a year ago—perhaps even more so. But it’s also becoming more expensive. As content continues to proliferate and organic search traffic continues to plummet and technological trends put more brands at risk for falling behind, the space is increasingly competitive and brands literally can’t afford to miss their mark.
With that in mind, here are three successful strategies your brand should be using in order to increase reach, relevance, resonance, retention, and ultimately, to get more bang for your content marketing buck in 2019 and beyond.
Optimize for voice search
Let’s start with what I mentioned above: voice search.
Voice search—in other words, speaking directly to a smart device rather than typing something into a search bar—is becoming a bigger and bigger percentage of all Google searches, and it’s happening quickly. Google data from 2016 showed that 20 percent of all mobile searches were voice-activated, and by 2020 (just a few months away, now) it’s predicted that more than 50 percent of all searches will be voice-activated.
So how do you bring your content into the era of voice search? Here are just a few pointers to get you started:
- Remember that voice search relies on natural language, so focus on long-tail keywords, phrases, and full sentences. In other words, something like “Where can I get pizza after seeing a movie?” will replace “pizza movie theater close” as a common search phrase.
- Optimize SEO for local searches. This is because voice search is three times more likely to be local in nature, according to Convince and Convert.
- Focus on answering conversational questions that customers would likely ask by creating FAQ pages or highly targeted content.
Address and include transparency in every aspect of your content marketing
Connected consumers value transparency and authenticity very, very highly—more so than previous generations.
They want to see that your brand is being authentic, transparent, and living its values before they hit that “purchase” button, and content marketing just happens to be one of the most effective ways to convey that.
A few tips:
- Create blog posts that pull back the curtain on your corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. What are the ethical standards you use to select vendors? Are there communities you’re particularly committed to? How do you focus on diversity in your hiring and leadership?
- Participate in relevant trending conversations in social media that match your values. Make sure your brand has something meaningful to contribute, however. If you’re having trouble coming up with anything other than a marketing pitch, you’re much better staying out of the conversation.
- Encourage user-generated content (UGC) through contests, calls-to-action, and giveaways. Then share that content widely.
Implement increased personalization and interactivity
Connected consumers also expect a level of personalization that was unheard of even two or three years ago. We’ve moved far beyond the “Hi, [Name]” marketing emails—now, customers want to know their preferences are being taken into account any time they’re being served content.
That means that using the capabilities of AI and machine learning in content marketing can be exceptionally powerful. AI can digest massive amounts of data and offer truly actionable insights into what your customers want more of, where they’re spending their time online, and more.
If tapping into the power of AI isn’t yet an option, you can still offer greater personalization by creating highly targeted content to answer detailed questions. For example, if different customers tend to purchase items in a specific price range, serve them products that match that price range through an interactive email, which allows them to click on a product and be taken to the purchase page on your website.
A couple more ideas:
- Create marketing emails requesting reviews that go out to customers after a purchase or engagement.
- Get highly specific with tagging and categories on your blog.
- Engage with customers through live video platforms, answering questions as they come in.
Content marketing isn’t going anywhere—in fact, it’s taking on a whole new life in the era of the connected consumer. Now is the time to increase your investment in your brand’s content marketing to ensure that you’re giving customers not only what they need to convert, but what they want—otherwise, they’ll have no trouble finding another brand that does.