“Three’s too many when you’re playing for an audience of one
Two’s too busy when you’re playing for an audience of one
One is the only way you’re playing for an audience of one” –Audience by Cold War Kids
Sustaining an audience is hardbut consistent drive through quality content is the most powerful choice any marketer can make today. Unification of data and technology will help marketers to engage customers more effectively. According to BrightEdge, leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), voice search and machine learning for hyper-local marketing would be key drivers for content marketers by 2020.
In my recent article, I had mentioned how AI would take over human performance in marketing and sales automation by 2025. BrightEdge, a content marketing platform, has released a new survey that reveals what marketers believe in and how they are preparing for a future ruled by Alexa, AI, voice search and the Internet of Things (IoT). In a mobile-first era, marketers are facing visible challenges in delivering results and meeting customer expectations that directly affect their MarTech ROI.
According to the BrightEdge report, 50 percent of all consumers are expected to use AI and voice-activated technology in their daily lives by 2025. Today, 30 percent of all mobile searches have location-intent, while 5G mobile speeds are predicted to further transform mobile search in the next three years.Yet, most in-house marketers and agency practitioners have done little to introduce these powerful components into their content marketing strategy.
According to Michel Kant, SEO Manager, Staples Europe, “Preparing to adopt new technologies is critical for marketers; however, as daunting as it may initially appear, marketers can begin to take actionable steps in their content development.”
BrightEdge surveyed 252 digital marketers at Fortune 500 brands that represent a split of B2B and B2C companies over a one-month period in April and May 2017. The survey sought to understand how marketers are preparing for the accelerating consumer adoption of AI, voice search, and local search over the next year. The survey discovered that marketers recognize the AI, voice and hyper-local revolution is here, yet, a majority of marketers are not planning to adapt their marketing strategies. This leaves brands at risk of failing to meet the rising expectations of their consumers.
Although marketers are behind the curve inimplementing specific strategies rooted in AI, voice and local, the survey did reveal that many Fortune 500 in-house and agency content marketing teams are taking the lead to develop and implement holistic strategies that integrate SEO, SEM, social media and content marketing, to deliver better results and an improved customer experience.
According to Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge, “It’s a winner-takes-all in the post-mobile world and marketing departments are adapting to changing consumer behaviour.” BrightEdge is on the verge of proving this true with this new report. Yu said, “To thrive in a world where ‘search is everywhere,’ marketers must understand customer intent and use it to drive content strategy. That’s exactly why marketing departments are integrating SEO and Content Marketing into a single function – it will drive better interactions, and thus better results.”
The ‘future of content marketing’ survey offers a bevy of insights to the current state of how brands are using content to interact with consumers. Significant shifts are taking place at the hands of the consumer. The marketing funnel itself is turned on its head; consumer-lead strategy is the wave of the future, and their expectations are higher than ever.
Key Findings from the BrightEdge Report
Voice, AI, and Mobile dominate search
Marketers are not preparing for the post-mobile world, where mobile search, voice search, local search and the increasingly heavy reliance on intelligent agents to find what you need are dramatically changing consumers’ interactions with brands.
Mobile versus AI: The Next-Big Wave
Marketers are still highly focused on just meeting the bar in the transition from desktop to mobile. In fact, 27 percent of marketers still believe mobile is “the next big thing.”
Roughly 66 percent of marketers have no plans to begin preparing for voice search. Yet, 31 percent of marketers believe it is the “next big thing.” Voice search accounts for more than 20 percent of all mobile searches. However, 32 percent of respondents believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the “next big thing,” but 57 percent are “not likely” they will implement any element of Artificial intelligence (AI) this year.
Only three percent of respondents said they anticipate 5G mobile speeds being the next big thing –– but according to recent reports, this is projected to be a reality by 2020.
“Marketers looking to prepare to merge into an AI–first world are going to need to begin by making sure they have the same consistent message across devices, at the very least.,If you don’t have that in the near future, it will be like not having a mobile optimized website or good content marketing strategy now. It will be very costly to step up that pace.”– Michel Kant, SEO Manager of Staples Europe.
Content is Highly Under-Utilized and Ineffective for Local and Mobile Audiences
According to a report, 45percent of enterprise marketers are clueless about how B2B organizations measure content marketing success.This is evidently true for local audiences too that consume a large amount of content, or at least want to.While most marketers create at least one piece of content per day, putting premium content on sales lines is critical to drive maximum engagement and ROI. Moreover, CMOs are spending more on content marketing since 2012.
BrightEdge, too, underlines the fact that more content than ever before is being created, but it’s vastly under-utilized by consumers. In this survey, respondents recognized the need to create content that’s effective for local and mobile audiences, but again, are falling short of implementing an impactful strategy.
- Of the respondents, 71 percent reported that less than half of their content is consumed.
- Less than 9 percent of those surveyed experience three-quarters or more of the content they produce are engaged with.
- B2C saw better odds of content consumption than B2B.
- The top three types of content created most often are blog content, social media content, and videos.
Content Optimization to Drive Maximum Mobile Engagement
The idea of mobile optimization has entered a new realm. Now, brands have to deliver customer results every time, catering for location, device, and speed to deliver relevant and intelligent content that drives conversions.
- 51 percent of marketers labeled creating and optimizing content for local markets “very important” or “a priority” in 2017.
- Nearly half of the respondents are using data to drive content strategy. This could explain the recognition of AI, voice, and local search, but points to thedisconnect in the application and execution of a content strategy.
- A majority of the respondents labeled small custom content elements highly optimized for specific consumer searches and questions as micro-content.
- For the respondents, creating micro-content has now surpassed time consuming initiatives like webinars, research reports and case studies in priority.
Search Engine Optimization Critical to SuccessofContent Marketing
SEO remains the key to content marketing’s success even in 2017. Often a less glamorous but vital marketing function, search helps marketers discover consumer intent, providing useful insights to drive content marketing strategies.
SEO is critical for creating optimized content that is easily discoverable by consumers. Adding AI to content marketing platforms can vastly change the way the audience searches, engages and sharesdigital content. The combination of SEO and content marketing create a new category focused on content performance and intelligent content creation.
- Organic was the number one marketing priority for the survey respondents. BrightEdge proprietary research shows organic search drives 51 percent of all website traffic.
- An overwhelming majority of marketers –– 97 percent of those surveyed –– agree SEO and content marketing are converging, or have already converged. In line with these findings, content and organic clocked in as the most important initiatives for marketers this year.
- Conversions, followed by engagement, and then traffic accounted for the top three answers respondents listed as the most important metrics of success for content performance. The marriage of content marketing and SEO is a means to reach those goals.
- 52 percent of respondents recognized that fluency in SEO is critical to long-term content marketing success.
Daniel Mooney, Director of Digital Analytics at Wiley, agreed that marketers are migrating toward an SEO-forward content strategy. According to Mooney, “The availability of data out there and the ease of use of analytical tools has changed both our strategy and execution of it,” Mooney said. “The biggest thing we’re doing now is thinking about the application of the research up front, not SEO as a strategy after launch.”
The 3 C’s of Content Creation—Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
Just like consumer behaviour may change over time, content experiences too need to demonstrate flexible dynamism. The change in consumer behavior and the related shift to mobilepresents many new challenges and opportunities for marketers. Those that neglect the adoption of MarTech in the market introduction phase, would have a tough time surviving the onslaught in the market. After reading the BrightEdge report, it should be clear to marketers that intelligent content optimized (using AI, voice search, hyper-local marketing analytics) for increasingly sophisticated consumer outlets requires a new approach by a multitude of marketing disciplines.Marketers who can deliver the 3Cs in their omnichannel content can easily turn their followers and audiences into engaged sales prospects.