BRAVE NEW WORD
"Technology will not replace great teachers; but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational." George Couros
As we enter a new decade it’s easy to forget how far content marketing has come in the last ten years. In 2010, Instagram was just a few months old. Blogging was something enthusiasts did, not businesses, and the word ‘influencer’ had yet to be introduced into our vocabulary.
Today, we all agree that content is the backbone of any successful marketing campaign, so much so that every business owner knows the meaning of the term 'content marketing'. But content strategies are changing at such a ferocious pace it can feel hard to keep up. Here are some of the most recent developments—and some tips for making sure you don’t get left behind.
What’s happening? Video has fast become one of the most popular ways to get in front of your audience. In fact, it’s now overtaken blogging as the most consumed media for business content. In a LiveStream survey, 80% of people said they preferred watching live video to reading a blog post. So what are the new developments in video, and where does that leave written content? Well, analysts predict that more businesses will make use of YouTube as a platform for their videos rather than sticking to Facebook and Instagram. And it also looks like we'll be using video content to create spin-off blogs and articles. So how can I keep up? Think outside the box when it comes to creating video. Webinars, Q&As, product demos, interviews and behind-the-scenes insights are all great ways of producing visual content. And don't forget to reuse your transcripts in written form.
SEARCH INTENT ALGORITHMS
What’s happening? Our businesses grew up with SEO. But it's hard to keep pace with how search engines trawl for content. For example. search algorithms no longer just look at what people are searching for, but what sort of information this is. They then favour content that matches the searcher’s intent. For example, a searcher's intent could be transactional (they want to purchase something), investigative (they want to find the best product or service, maybe by reading reviews), or informational (they want to find out how to do something). Google now analyses search terms with this in mind and delivers results tailored to what the searcher wants to see. So search terms that include words like ‘tips’ or ‘tutorial’ will deliver informational content, whereas searches including phrases like ‘best’, ‘top’ or ‘review’ will produce investigative results.
So how can I keep up? Make sure your content covers all types of search intent and matches what people are looking for. Include key phrases like ‘how to’, ‘tips’ and ‘ideas’ in the headlines of your informational content, and terms like ‘hire a VA’ or ‘buy eco-friendly baby clothes’ in content about your product or service. VOICE SEARCH What’s happening? It’s estimated that up to 50% of online searches are now voice-activated—that’s up to a billion voice searches per month. Natural language learning and AI developed for Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana is making screenless search a reality. From finding the nearest coffee shop to researching the best business coach, consumers are increasingly relying on search engines’ ability to bring up relevant content using just verbal questions. So how can I keep up? Base as much of your content as you can around the questions your customers are likely to ask. Create clear, helpful answers based on the verbal phrases people actually use. If voice search is likely to be a significant factor for your business (for example, if you have lots of local clients), ensure your content and web copy is in a conversational tone and uses phrases you’ve heard your customers say.
What’s happening? Over 50% of online searches now result in no clicks. In stark contrast to the ‘click-bait’ trend of the last few years, more and more content is now consumed without ever leaving the search engine results page. And this is true not just for simple questions. Searchers are increasingly taking lists of tips and ideas straight from the results page of Google rather than clicking through to the whole article. So how do I keep up? The whole point of creating rich content is to drive traffic to your website, so no-click search might not seem like great news. But by focusing on giving solutions in your content, especially in the form of lists and bullet points, you’ll be more likely to get yourself at the top of the results page. Make sure you also include a straightforward headline and additional information and your potential customer will be more likely to click through to read more.
What’s happening? Instead of just putting content out there and hoping for the best, businesses are focusing more and more on analytics. And the more data that’s available to us about how our content is performing, the more we’re able to focus on what works. From Instagram insights to Google analytics on your website or blog, there is a wealth of data about your content right under your nose. So how do I keep up? Make sure you’re focusing on the right data. For example, you might be measuring the success of your Instagram posts by how many likes and comments they get, but in reality it’s the number of website clicks that indicate client conversion. Avoid ‘vanity metrics’ and turn your attention to what really matters so you can put out the right kind of content for your audience. How we consume content is changing, and so is how we create it. Above all, to stay ahead of the game and ensure our content converts, we should always be looking at how our particular customer behaves. The more we know, the more we can write content that speaks to them and their problem—and the more likely they’ll be to ask us to solve it.
Sophie Bradshaw is a writing and publishing consultant, development editor and the editor-in-chief of GoWrite.