In this guest post, Clare Acheson (main photo), head of content at Melbourne’s Trout Creative Thinking, takes a look at how consumers are dealing with content in the pandemic age and how it will change people’s behaviours into the future…
In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, it is difficult for brands to see beyond the next month. However responding to short-term situations with strategies that have long-term impact means the difference between survival and extinction — and content is no different.
Digital content consumption is skyrocketing while physical interactions and store visits have taken a nosedive for the good of public health, paving the way for new engagement approaches and establishing four key content trends.
Personalised subscription-based content
This year will see subscription-based content that enhances a core product or service become the backbone of new business models. This creates a steady inflow of cash for businesses and establishes new routines where brands can influence customers through content.
Personalisation is key. In exchange for handing over their data, customers expect predictive, data-driven solutions that understand them better than they understand themselves.
Brands that will win will create useful custom content that adapts with user habits, then deliver it directly to homes and devices so we can experience their product in new and different ways.
No matter what your business makes — a car, a toothbrush, a shoe — all brands should be thinking about how they can expand their offering through a paid subscription-based model.
Query-solving voice-first content
Voice search has transformed how we access content, replacing keystrokes with conversations.
This change is not only triggered by the adoption of Amazon Alexa and Google Home, but also by improvements in machine-based voice recognition accuracy, which shifted from 77% in 2013 to an incredible 95% in 2020.
Brands need to research the scenarios that drive their audience to ask questions as well as the questions themselves, then develop online content that provides answers — all the while formating content so that it directly answers specific questions, and stands alone when read aloud as single sentences.
The everyday usefulness of AR
One of the biggest content trends of 2020 is the use of augmented reality in everyday scenarios.
No longer a novelty, AR is now a tool for brands to help customers better understand their products and services.
One hurdle has been the inaccessibility and expense of producing AR content. However, with the launch of tools such as Spark AR (Facebook), Lens Studio (Snapchat) and Plattar (in-browser), AR solutions are more readily available.
The technology is also being integrated into platforms that customers use daily. While social channels have allowed merged realities for a couple of years, the introduction of 3D and AR content within Google’s search results marks a shift, and we can no doubt expect to see AR content contributing to SEO rankings.
What does the everyday usefulness of AR look like? Think instructions displayed on top of real-world objects and animated product guides that help the customer understand features and benefits.
Brands that consider how their products are used within the real world and develop AR apps that allow customers to simulate scenarios (for example, reconfiguring modular furniture) will win favour. Ikea’s Place app is a wonderfully useful, shoppable example of this.
Trustworthy, transparent content delivered with authority and expertise
Society is experiencing a time of extreme uncertainty. Even pre-Covid-19, this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer indicated that trust in governments, media, NGOs and businesses is at an all-time low.
It’s therefore expected that customers want information that reinforces trust, delivered by respected sources that use easy-to-understand language — which is the aim of Google’s E-A-T algorithm.
E-A-T is the new three-part way that Google’s algorithms are assessing content to deliver the most useful search results to customers.
E — Expertise: Content must help the customer by sharing knowledge or providing guidance in an easy-to-understand manner.
A — Authority: Content must be validated by other web sources (ie. backlinking and endorsements).
T — Trustworthiness: Content must be published by a trusted source. Trust is inferred by having legal terms and conditions, contact information, ABNs and other key information documented on the website, as well as third-party reviews of the business on platforms such as Google My Business and Facebook.
As always, Google’s aim is to provide customers with the best possible response to their search queries, so anything brands can do to boost the E-A-T-worthiness of their content while optimising for search intent will lead to search success.
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