From product reviews and hotel descriptions to how-to guides and apps, the web is awash with generic content. In many cases, it only becomes personal when an audience performs an on-site search; for example, streamlining those hotel descriptions to only include those in a specific resort at a price they can afford.
The trick to successfully marketing your content is to make it personal at the point of delivery. If, when an audience first encounters your content it talks to them directly, they’ll likely return. And if you’re trying to elicit a specific action, they’re likely to progress further through your funnel than they would with an unpersonalized experience. The question is: how do you make sure your content is relevant to every visitor, every time?
Organic search optimization
Traffic arrives on most sites as a result of organic search. A 2019 study by BrightEdge found that search accounted for 53% of traffic, and paid results for only 15% – good news for anyone who prefers not to invest in keyword ads.
At a keynote in 2018, Google's John Mueller and Mariya Moeva highlighted that from the trillions of searches on the platform each year, about 15% every day were completely new, echoing similar stories from 2017, 2013 and even earlier. There’s no reason to believe this trend won’t continue.
This is a golden opportunity for content creators who are working with clearly defined audience personas. An ability to think like those audiences makes it more likely they’ll ideate the kind of content that doesn’t yet target those 15% of Google requests. Provided they’re fully indexed, ideally through a combination of automatic metadata tagging and site maps, they should perform well.
In many cases, those novel queries will be best satisfied through long-tail content. This is highly specific material that answers the questions asked by just a small part of your overall potential market. By definition, each page surfaced as a result will be inherently more personalized, again making it appear that, as a brand, you are listening to – and responding to – your audience’s needs. Although the traffic to each page may be small, the aggregate flow can be considerable, and by structuring your site such that related content is obvious and accessible, the visitor’s journey through your pages will feel more personal and relevant.
Long-tail content is particularly attractive because it targets less saturated parts of the market, increasing the likelihood that visitors, acting as social curator, will recommend it to their network and follow your feeds.
Creating a personalized experience
Creating a personalized experience requires that you know and understand your audience – and also that you can think ahead. Concured's new content brief automation tool brief builder enables marketers to create the personalized and fresh content your audience is searching for. It’s no good trying to answer their questions when they’ve already been asked; by that point it’s too late. Either they’ve asked them in search and found the answer elsewhere, or they’re already on your site and, having not yet found what they need, there’s no reason to stay.
Content intelligence tools are designed to precisely deliver this kind of content forecasting, by analyzing a range of metrics including user behavior on your own properties and trends on the wider web – and comparing them to your defined audience persona. Where it finds a correlation, it can predict the kind of questions your audience will be asking.
Used appropriately, content intelligence systems could have forecast in January that, by late the following month, business users would have been asking how they could facilitate remote working, the kind of equipment they’d need to provide their staff and how they could replace business travel with video conferencing. It seems obvious in retrospect, but only those brands already using content intelligence would have been in a position to answer those questions in a fashion tailored to their audience persona at the time.
The unspoken conversation
The most effective communication is conversation. Once, this would have meant keeping comments open on your corporate blog, but this is a blunt and potentially dangerous move. Today, that conversation is more nuanced, and, in most cases, it will happen entirely passively.
Content intelligence tools adapt in response to audience data. As they learn what engages your readers, they refine the algorithms that define the next iteration of your content. Thus, to your audience, there’s a sense that you’re responding to their emotions even before they’ve realized it themselves. This interaction is like an unspoken conversation, in which you, the content creator, listen to what their actions are telling you, and ideate in response.
When done most effectively, you can go further, effectively eliciting the emotions themselves to induce purchases or enquiries that the reader hadn’t intended to make. Just think how effective a well-placed ad on a social feed can be; it’s tailored precisely to your interests and, if you don’t react right away, there’s a chance you might not see it again.
When that reaction happens, it’s clear you’ve connected on a level that imparts equal benefits. You make the sale or get the lead; your audience received a product or information.
Audiences won’t engage with brands they don’t trust, and they certainly won’t be prepared to take their relationship further unless they can be sure that the brand knows who they are and what they like, – and shares some common ground.