How to Unite Content Marketing and SEO Strategies [Sponsored]
You already recognize the value of using content to attract new prospects and retain loyal customers. And, like most of us, you’ve probably built your content strategy on the guiding principles of search engine optimization (SEO).
But, in today’s hyper-competitive content marketing environment, perfecting your content purely from an SEO standpoint is no longer enough to reach your target audience and generate valuable leads. If you want to keep attention on your brand, it’s essential to reevaluate your content strategy to deliver value that goes beyond keywords and social media snippets.
In this article, you’ll learn why savvy marketers need to avoid focusing solely on SEO. You’ll also discover ways to kickstart your content marketing strategy so it caters to your customers’ true content preferences.
Keep reading to learn how to develop a data-driven content strategy that will keep you ahead of your competition.
A successful marketing strategy combines the power of SEO and content.
Content marketing that utilizes data will attract, engage, and convert your target audience even more.
To drive more impact, your content needs to be easily shareable and searchable.
According to recent data, 68% of trackable website traffic begins with a search. SEO is a strategy that focuses on optimizing the content published on your website so it ranks higher on organic search engine results pages (SERPs) and helps build your brand’s domain authority.
In theory, the higher your content ranks on a SERP, the more likely new prospects will click on the links that lead to your website, where they can convert as customers. But as search algorithms are constantly evolving, you’re forced to continually update your SEO strategy to ensure it meets Google’s latest criteria. This means building your content strategy around SEO considerations alone will never be the most practical or cost-effective long-term solution.
On the other side, content marketing focuses on developing quality content that engages your target audiences and provides them with valuable information about your brand, your products or services, and other relevant topics they care about. With a successful content strategy, you can establish trust and build credible authority in your industry. Of course, if prospects can’t find your content when they’re searching, your creative development efforts are going to waste.
Understand your audience: Researching your ideal prospect’s challenges, needs, and interests ensures that your content will appear to the right people when they do a search.
Conduct keyword research: Finding the right keywords to use in your content will help you rank higher in search results and reach more of the people you’re targeting.
Develop more-informative content: Creating relevant content for your customers will improve your engagement, rankings, and overall authority. Even more importantly, it can help you stand out from your competitors.
Remember – it’s not about choosing content marketing over SEO. Instead of viewing the tactics as separate, the key is to take a holistic approach where SEO and content can work together in parallel, thus driving more engagement and conversions.
Yes, SEO does have a vital role to play in content success. But when it comes to your overall marketing strategy, the old saying, “content is king” rings true. Industry research supports this. For example, 82% of marketers in HubSpot’s 2021 industry report say they actively use content marketing. However, simply creating content isn’t enough to ensure that you’ll achieve strong returns on your content investment.
One key to becoming more successful with your content development strategy is to use data to understand your audience’s preferences – both within your industry and across the greater content landscape.
Today, there are advanced platforms and tools that utilize AI and machine learning to analyze data that go beyond SEO results. Contrend, for example, is a SaaS content marketing platform that looks at more than 20 different data sources to learn and recommend the best tones, styles, images, and formats of content that your target audience wants to consume.
With these deeper, concentrated data insights, you can develop a content strategy that will lead you to create content that converts more reliably and delivers the best possible ROI. For example, videos, blogs, and e-books continue to rise in popularity due to their digestible nature. But your target audience may actually prefer engaging with another form of content – something you’ll only know if you have the right data on hand.
Some types of content may be more popular, but will they perform better than others? (Via HubSpot)
Now, this doesn’t mean you should kick your SEO strategy to the curb and just concentrate on creating content. You need to focus on making content marketing work alongside SEO. Here are a few reasons why:
Valuable content answers questions and solves problems First off, technical SEO aspects like headlines, alt attributes, and URL structure are essential to maintaining an optimized and crawlable website. However, whether you rank number one or number 21 in search results, technical SEO won’t keep someone engaged once they reach your website. In fact, it could lead to a higher bounce rate if your content isn’t meeting your visitors’ expectations.
Within your content, use your list of targeted keywords and similar relevant search terms naturally to signal to search engines that your website is a good match for the original search intent.
While “quality” content isn’t a new concept for marketers, it goes well-beyond keywords when it comes to meeting your customers’ needs:
The content needs to be completely original and offer unique information that only your brand can share, which is an excellent opportunity to leverage thought leadership.
Typically, a user lands on your content because they’re looking for an answer to their question. Make sure you include actionable tips and insights throughout your content to help them solve their original inquiry.
For your content to reach “royal status,” it needs to stand alone as an evergreen resource.
The more you develop customer-centric content and build credibility, the more backlinks and industry authority you’ll earn. It’s a win-win!
Sharable content on social media helps your brand rank Your audience uses the internet and social media to find answers, build relationships, and share content. Even if SEO gets you in front of your audience, it doesn’t guarantee that they will like you or want to share your content with others in their digital social circles. While social shares don’t directly impact your Google ranking, social profiles typically appear high in search results, letting search engines and potential customers know that you provide engaging content that’s worthy of a click.
Developing blogs is a top priority for 53% of marketers, likely because this content is highly shareable and optimizable. To create more shareable content and get your social profiles to rank higher in search results, your content should:
Elicit an emotional response from readers
Allow prospects to see themselves in your material
Relate to trending topics in your industry to stay relevant
Provide helpful advice, solutions, and answers
Present information in visually appealing formats, like infographics
Some types of content are more shareable than others. (Via OptinMonster)
Structure content to drive engagement and conversions With the right SEO strategy, you have the potential to drive virtually limitless amounts of traffic to your website. However, all those website visitors contribute nothing to your bottom line if they aren’t converting into customers.
It’s essential to consider how your SEO and content marketing will impact your sales funnel. To fill your pipeline with qualified leads, structure content with these three components in mind:
Utilize on and off-page SEO to enable your target audience to find you in search results.
Build trust among your prospects through high-quality, high-value content that positions your brand as a clear thought leader.
Drive conversions by helping leads feel more connected to your brand.
While SEO helps you reach the first step, you also need impactful content marketing that will engage your audience and drive them farther down your funnel towards conversion.
Instead of relying on traditional content marketing metrics like SEO and social listening, your content strategy should be built from data that delivers a complete picture of your audience’s content preferences. Applying the right data in the right way to attract, engage, and convert your target audiences not only complements your SEO strategy and goals, but it also increases your ROI.
While you’ll never control the search engine’s ranking factors, Contrend will help you build a content marketing strategy that enables you to build meaningful relationships with your target audience and increase your industry credibility.
Contrend is a scalable, affordable SaaS solution that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to recommend the topics, styles, formats, tones, and images that will convert your audience.
How? Contrend harvests data from numerous content sources, not just from SEO and social-listening metrics. In addition to top search engines, our data partners include YouTube, Alexa, Semrush, Meltwater, podcast platforms, and dozens more.
Tried and trusted by businesses around the world, including KPMG, Hilton, and Standard Chartered, Contrend can operate in any industry and market, requires limited integration, and can be rapidly deployed to help you revolutionize your content strategies, production, and reporting today.
Leverage deep data insights and predictive content recommendations to cut through the noise and create content your audience actually wants.
Ready to revolutionize your content strategy? Get started with Contrend today!
WSJ’s Tarini Parti talks about covering the White House
Tarini Parti is a White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and in this week’s episode she shares stories about her intense and remarkable work.
Parti offers a glimpse of what it’s like to cover a President and Vice President, the collaboration that goes with covering the biggest news of the day and how travel and reporting are keeping her going.
Tune in to find out more about Tarini Parti and her work for The Wall Street Journal.
Gucci And The Sandbox Partner On Virtual Storefront & Event Space
As announced on its Discord server, Gucci has purchased an undisclosed amount of “land” on The Sandbox, which is a digital platform that allows people, brands, and organizations to buy and develop virtual real estate. Gucci plans to create an “interactive fashion experience” within The Sandbox based on Gucci Vault, which is the umbrella term for the brand’s metaverse-related projects as well as the line of business Gucci is using to sell vintage pieces from its collection as well as from other emerging designers including Collina Strada, Rave Review and Ahluwalia.
The virtual world is set to be envisioned and brought to life by Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, and will be “inspired by childhood memories of the search for beauty.” Additional details haven’t been disclosed, but fans of the brand can expect a typically immersive metaverse experience, as well as the ability to purchase select digital fashion items from Gucci designers. The virtual land plot will also feature an interactive maze and a space to host conversations about fashion and the metaverse.
Virtual real estate platforms primed for development like The Sandbox, and competitor Decentraland, have become a new area of focus for brands and designers, as the metaverse platforms enable people to buy, rent out and develop virtual real estate, including stores and event venues, as well as sell virtual goods. Creative agency Al Dente, which works with a number of luxury brands, has similarly purchased and is building real estate in The Sandbox to serve as a testing ground for its clients.
Gucci has been a notable early adopter of digital fashion, NFTs, and the metaverse, so the company’s digital land grab in The Sandbox makes sense as the brand builds out its strategy of connecting with Gen Z and remaining at the forefront of culture. Recently, Gucci partnered with Superplastic to release a collection of 500 NFTs called SuperGucci. The three-part drop comes with physical ceramic sculptures, each priced at 1.5 ethereum and purchase access is limited to previous owners of Superplastic’s NFTs and those with a special access code provided through Gucci Vault’s Discord server. Gucci is also keeping 20 of the NFTs themselves for internal use.
This article originally appeared in the PSFK iQ report, Retail Strategies for the Metaverse.
For years, marketers have engaged audiences with account-based marketing strategies to better align sales and marketing practices and, in turn, provide more relevant, personalized content and messaging. In the B2B space, this process has naturally evolved into buying group marketing, which focuses these tactics toward multiple decision-makers within accounts.
“What it means is looking at identifying and engaging those buying groups and key decision-makers inside your target accounts,” said Nirosha Methananda, VP of marketing at Influ2, in a recent webinar. “It’s about looking at the people who actually want to talk to you.”
“The way to do that is by monitoring their engagement signals and their sentiments, making sure those insights are coming back to sales and marketing,” she added.
Customers don’t care whether the communication comes from marketing or sales, says Methananda, they just want a “holistic experience.” And in the B2B space, treating business prospects as buying groups can help brands work toward that goal.
B2B as a buying group
Many marketers still view B2B marketing as one-to-one interactions, but Methananda pointed to Forrester’s Buying Groups Manifesto, which claims that B2B is also a buying group. And, the data backs this up.
“According to Gartner, the average buying team size is between 14 and 23 people, and that depends on the size of the spend,” she said. “From Forrester’s perspective, 66% of B2B are more than six people.”
She added, “That’s why it’s important to focus on buying groups.”
B2B purchases are almost never made by one person — marketers need to be able to build strategies with groups of stakeholders in mind. And, since these buyers often come from different departments, the need for a holistic purchasing experience becomes even more important.
In response to the 2020 pandemic, Methananda’s team enacted a B2B strategy with these buying groups in mind, driving brand awareness through a “digital everywhere” strategy.
“When COVID-19 hit, it was a shock to everyone,” she said. “From a marketing perspective, we had to go entirely digital to be able to reach our audience. So Influ2 launched a campaign that helped show its capabilities to its audience … our platform allowed us to track engagement for each target, which allowed our SDRs [sales development representatives] to be able to follow up with those contacts who were engaged.”
“This approach allowed us to extend our marketing efforts and connect the top-of-funnel to the bottom-of-funnel and drive measurable results,” she added.
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B2B buying group engagement throughout the sales funnel
Methananda emphasized the necessity of buying group engagement when seeking to connect with and drive leads through sales funnels. Recognizing that the B2B accounts you’re marketing to comprise multiple people can help sales and marketing teams coordinate their efforts.
“[Buying group marketing] starts to make your marketing more tangible when you’re able to pipe those insights between sales and marketing,” she said.
Influ2’s buying group marketing strategy focuses on driving awareness and demand with top-of-funnel audiences with social media ads and relevant landing pages. Each of these is designed to highlight its digital capabilities for buying groups.
The next stage — the middle of the funnel — is the ideal place to engage and educate these buying groups. To foster greater interaction, Methananda’s team used social media to provide relevant content for these accounts.
“This was supported through the LinkedIn messages sent from our SDRs, which were supported by ads and landing pages,” she said. “It started to humanize the SDR by proposing relevant content before they’ve even spoken with the prospect.”
Methananda then highlighted her team’s tactics for converting buyer groups that made up bottom-of-funnel audiences: ”The campaign moved to the bottom of the funnel to support our account executives in the conversations they were having, essentially helping them convince and convert key decision-makers. What this means is engagement across the buying group with content that is personalized to what the needs are of that account.”
She then gave an example of Influ2’s work with Autodesk, a company that performs its own 3D rendering work (shown above). The company used a T-Rex image on their website to give customers an idea of what their product output looked like. To foster engagement, Influ2 made an adjustment to the image and sent it over with a message that related its brand message to the priorities of Autodesk. They also included a landing page that spoke to the potential client’s key pain points.
“This helped in terms of being able to back up the conversations happening at the bottom of the funnel and convert the account,” Methananda said.
Although buying groups are made up of multiple people, B2B strategies targeting them must be laser-focused. These buyers are trying to determine their organization’s specific needs, and marketers need a certain level of maturity to understand their audience and secure buy-in.
“Buyer group marketing is dependent on the maturity of an organization,” Methananda said. “There needs to be some maturity in terms of understanding your audience — it is an approach that will help with precision.”
What it is. Account-based marketing, or ABM, is a B2B marketing strategy that aligns sales and marketing efforts to focus on high-value accounts.
This customer acquisition strategy focuses on delivering promotions — advertising, direct mail, content syndication, etc. — to targeted accounts. Individuals who may be involved in the purchase decision are targeted in a variety of ways, in order to soften the earth for the sales organization.
Why it’s hot. Account-based marketing addresses changes in B2B buyer behavior. Buyers now do extensive online research before contacting sales, a trend that has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of marketing’s tasks in an ABM strategy is to make certain its company’s message is reaching potential customers while they are doing their research.
Why we care. Account engagement, win rate, average deal size, and ROI increase after implementing account-based marketing, according to a recent Forrester/SiriusDecisions survey. While B2B marketers benefit from that win rate, ABM vendors are also reaping the benefits as B2B marketers invest in these technologies and apply them to their channels.
Climbing the digital property ladder: Helping real estate brands move with the times
A friend recently told me: “I’m only looking for flats in this postcode, because you can get Deliveroo.”
This tongue-in-cheek comment holds more than a grain of truth. The pandemic has fundamentally changed people’s attitude towards their homes, and technology is fuelling the transformation.
The result? Adaptability, multifunctional space and lifestyle choice are replacing kitchens and driveways as priorities for purchasers who are ‘moving with the times’ rather than on the lookout for ‘a home for life’.
A full-scale re-evaluation of the selling and aftercare journey for digital marketers is gathering momentum. To succeed in this new world you need to have one eye on evolving customer behaviour and the other on new market entrants eager to consume any gaps you leave unfilled.
Key drivers in your strategic plan should revolve around four key tactics.
1. Move customer need to the centre of your search strategy
Search has started to flex. Hybrid working has meant that the desire for more space and all-round experience have shot up the list of requirements, whilst commuting times and transport links have become secondary considerations.
There’s a shift to city dwellers moving to peri-urban zones, slightly further from work but with more space and in closer proximity to family and friends. Others have moved further out to find a place by the sea, or with space for a home office.
The broadening of the ‘search circle’ means your search criteria need to become more nuanced. Plan beyond the single data point of a postcode or location to keep sight of people as they move in and out of the boundaries of their local area.
To ‘manage, monitor and move home’, disruptor brand Twindig enables buyers to track the property of their dreams before it comes onto the market. By exploiting the power of data, its customers can ‘find and follow any home’, whether currently available or not. This extends Twindig’s presale pipeline and gives them earlier engagement with future buyers than their competitors.
Similarly, PropertyHeads is a new intelligence-led platform that also tracks the status of properties and encourages users to find out more about a location by ‘asking the neighbours’. All before someone has even decided they want to move.
2. Embrace the hybrid viewing experience
Lockdown accelerated buyers’ appetite for virtual tours. They swiftly adapted to using the digital journey for research and initial selection. This hasn’t, however, replaced their desire to step inside a property before buying it. At this stage, the digital opportunity shifts to the potential up- and cross-sell of associated products and services and more enriched experiences, for example by enabling them to visualise their own furniture in the rooms.
When designing the user journey for your brand, therefore, think about houses as repositories with multifunctional assets. New player Boomin’s ‘playground’ has capitalised by adding ecommerce to its site, so buyers can add new sofas, beds and designer furnishing options to the sell.
3. Focus on customer lifetime value
The ‘pre-search to aftersales’ journey is cyclical and can happen multiple times in one person’s lifetime. Zoopla acquired Yourkeys to digitise the sales process and manage the sale of new-build properties, streamlining the journey from reservation through to exchange and completion.
Other new entrants are looking to put the power squarely in the hands of the consumer by delving into NFTs (Propy.com), developing blockchain mortgages (BlockFi) and, in the case of Apartment Ocean, introducing AI-powered customer service representatives.
4. Strengthen your foundations
With this relentless drive to meet new customer expectations and ‘fill the gaps’ with digital, how can you keep up? It’d be naïve to suggest staying ahead of the curve is simple. In reality, many real estate brands are sizeable organisations with centralised HQs and large teams in the field. The technical changes required to deliver more joined up experiences can be a blocker.
But existing platforms, whether off-the-shelf property specific or not, can become a piece of a broader solution, like that offered by the Kentico Xperience Platform. This robust and secure digital experience platform (DXP) combines content management, digital marketing and commerce under one roof.
Joining up the data points to improve the customer journey can still remain a logistical challenge for digital marketers. There’s a growing movement to digitise much of this journey and maintain a connection point with a buyer via branded portals or partner solutions.
But the gaps are still wide open. By pulling data from every source into a single aggregator and aligning your architecture and data via a customer data platform (CDP), you’ll start to gain a true end-to-end understanding of your customers’ pain points – and then focus on how to solve them.
Kate Fitzpatrick is a senior strategist at award-winning agency unrvld.com – famous for their work with Winkworth, Barratt Homes, Carter Jonas, McCarthy Stone, Safestore and other leading brands in the property sector.
From the pros: job-seeking advice everyone should know
You’ve thought long and hard about this career move. You’ve weighed the pros and the cons of leaving your job. You’ve had those moments of making the best out of your current job, after all, it’s not that bad—but it is.
What now? If you pack your bags, where are you headed?
There’s a journey ahead that includes finding your people, polishing your materials and stepping up at the interview. Here’s some job-seeking advice that will have you unpacking those bags in your new office in no time.
Where to start? If you are not on LinkedIn, make that a priority. In addition to peeling through the jobs posted there, LinkedIn provides you with a networking opportunity that can open doors.
Michael Kaye, communications manager at LinkedIn, shares the importance of networking:
“Networking is a necessary skill. At the core, public relations professionals are connectors and storytellers, and you’ll rarely meet someone at the top of this field who isn’t a skilled networker. On LinkedIn, the ‘People You May Know’ feature on your My Network page suggests LinkedIn members for you to connect with. So, you’re able to build your professional network by adding suggestions from this tool or by inviting or connecting with people on LinkedIn.”
Connect directly with people even if you do not know them, “I had one person reach out via LinkedIn DM who asked to have an introductory call. I gladly took it because not everyone has the confidence to ask for this,” explains SVP at DKC, Pristina Alford. Moves like that showcase your ability to skip the line and get work done,and might also open some doors quicker than filling out applications and waiting for a reply.
You’ve freshened up your LinkedIn profile and sent out some DMs. Once your networking game is strong, you’re ready to dive into those job listings to see what is out there. What do you need to know?
Angela Berardino, Turner PR chief strategy officer insists the cover letter is key. “Spend some time crafting a thoughtful cover letter, a well-written letter can make a huge impact on the hiring manager and overcome some (not all) challenges with a resume that might not be a perfect fit for an opening. Someone who knows how to pitch themselves well has an innate skill that will translate into the profession.”
She also warns, “If you Google ‘cover letter’ and use any template from the first page of the results, your letter could have the opposite effect intended.”
Once cover letters are personalized and ready to go and résumés are looking fresh and represent your hard work, it’s time to brush up on interview skills.
Nathalie Cazeau, recruiter for Ruder Finn offers a good perspective:
“The company is interviewing you; it is important to interview them. Make sure you get a good understanding of what your day-to-day responsibilities will entail. It is equally as important to understand how success is measured in the prospective role. Asking questions regarding the position, team structure, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) plans, return to office policies and work-life balance will help you gather information to make an informed decision. You want to make sure that the place where you will spend 8+ hours of your day, meets your standards and expectations. It is your responsibility to check and factor in all the important things.”
And stand strong on what matters most to you.
Amy Crawford, copywriter at www.amybethcrawford.com, warns that perks are not pay. “Negotiate your salary during the hiring and signing process,” she says. “At most companies, what you agree to is what you stay at until a promotion, no matter how long you work there or how awesome you are at your job. It never hurts to ask if there is any wiggle room in the base compensation. During the interview process, ask what the interviewer feels will be the most challenging part of the position. It gives you an idea of where the pain points are, and another opportunity to talk about your strengths. And I stress: Perks are not pay. Snacks and foosball are fun, but try investing those in a 401k…”
Manners matter. Always send a thank you note after you speak to someone regarding a position, even if it’s an informal interview. Alford shares, “This used to be the norm, but so many younger job seekers do not do this and senior staff still appreciate this gesture.”
At the end of this journey, you’ll be proud of the steps you took to leave a job that wasn’t right, and find one that makes you happy—finally!
LoriBeth Greenan is a professor of practice at Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University.
The idea of the metaverse has captured the attention of brands, retailers, media companies, marketing agencies, and technology platforms. Pioneering business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs see new opportunities to stake their claim in an as yet-to-be-defined space that promises to revolutionize the internet and what it means to be online and completely change the way people work, play, learn, and shop.
Some imagine virtual reality goggles as the key entry point into immersive worlds that seamlessly combine elements of gaming, social media, entertainment, and retail, where users are embodied as avatars of their own design. Others believe society already exists in some version of the metaverse by virtue of the ubiquity of always-on mobile devices and the ability to tap into digital content and experiences from anywhere at any moment. These opposing points of view begin to converge with the widespread adoption and use of augmented reality and hands-free computing protocols like gesture and voice.
Whichever vision of the future you ascribe to, it’s clear that the lines that delineate on and offline behaviors and physical and digital worlds have nearly eroded, as people slide further into fluid, hybrid lifestyles with many ceasing to make distinctions between the two.
Alongside the excitement and wild speculation associated with the metaverse itself, there has been an almost equally meteoric rise around topics like web3, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), cryptocurrency, and DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), which are often hard to separate from the broader conversation. These ideas will most certainly play a key role in shaping how people experience the metaverse moving forward.
As always, PSFK seeks to help frame how our audience understands and thinks about an emerging space like the metaverse by looking at the experimentation taking place, listening to expert POV, and tracking consumer sentiment to identify key insights and highlight emerging trends. In part one of our three-part series ‘Exploring The Metaverse Opportunity’ we deep dive into the ways pioneering companies are reimagining the retail, shopping, and product experience. Through the lens of seven trend-led strategies, our researchers look at immersive commerce on platforms like Decentraland and Sandbox, IRL stores with embedded experiential layers, and the ways digital goods elevate the brand-customer relationship and beyond.
This report is the first of a three-part series. – Retail Strategies for the Metaverse – Marketing and Brand Experience Strategies for the Metaverse – Infrastructure and Tools Powering Commerce in the Metaverse
LinkedIn is piloting its own podcast offering, known as the LinkedIn Podcast Network. The pilot program will include shows about topics such as technology, recruiting and mental health, from external experts as well as its own in-house news team.
Why we care. Podcasts aren’t just for true crime, politics and comedy any more. HubSpot launched its own podcast network back in summer of 2021 aiming to put engaging content in front of marketers and marketing operations professionals. LinkedIn now follows with podcast content clearly aimed at users’ professional personas.
But be patient. Brands can’t just publish on this new channel — there’s a process. Existing podcasts can express an interest in participating by filling out this form.
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Where to listen. All LinkedIn Podcast Network shows will be available globally on LinkedIn by following the podcast hosts and subscribing to their weekly newsletters. These shows are not exclusive to the professional social media network — they can also be listened to on other podcast platforms, like Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Additional reporting by Kim Davis
About The Author
George Nguyen is an editor at Third Door Media's Search Engine Land and MarTech publications, covering organic and paid search. His background is in journalism and content marketing. Prior to entering the industry, he worked as a radio personality, writer, podcast host and public school teacher.
Despite the continuing domination of big retailer.com sites, and the rising trend for direct-to-consumer brands, “The bit that most people don’t realise,” said Lewis, “is that ecommerce is, pretty much, mostly marketplaces.”
So, how can marketers grasp the marketplace opportunity? Here’s a run-down of Lewis’ strategic advice, including the benefits of marketplaces and how brands can win on them.
Marketplaces are rapidly growing
The Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to the acceleration of marketplaces, helping Amazon’s gross market value to grow 40% in 2020.
“It was already huge at $200 billion, but it grew to $300 billion in just one year,” explained Lewis. “The marketplace part of Amazon is 62% of total sales and is the fastest growing area of anything that Amazon is doing.”
This growth can be explained in the context of wider societal trends, “such as entrepreneurship and cross-border shopping, and the gig economy, and so on.”
As well as niche marketplaces such as sneaker-focused StockX, Lewis suggested that the success of Amazon-only brands has spurred on other big retailers to invest in this area. “Walmart, Kroger, Carrefour… they all have their own marketplace,” he said.
Reasons to be present on marketplaces
So, what are the major benefits of marketplaces?
“First of all,” explained Lewis, “no matter what way you look at it – in particular Amazon, but I know this is the same in many other markets around the world with local marketplace brands – Amazon is the default product search engine.”
Lewis cited Nike as proof of this fact, with search volume for Nike on Amazon staying more or less the same even though the brand stopped selling on Amazon two years ago. Searches remain high due to the third-party sellers who are selling the brand on Amazon. Consequently, this shows that “decisions by Nike or Amazon do not appear to have any influence on what customers search for.”
Lewis continued with nine more reasons to look at marketplaces:
Access to customers. Be where the customers are.
Cross-border. Ease of access to international markets through local marketplaces.
Product discovery: Shoppers search for products, not brands.
Search engine: More product searches start on Amazon than Google in the US (74% of US in one survey)
Compete and win against big brands.
Discovery through advertising: “customers who viewed this item.”
Better customer data: brands can study competitors’ pricing, and get direct feedback from consumers through ratings
Time to market. Brands can spend years trying to get a meeting with a real buyer. On marketplaces, they decide to do it themselves.
Access to fulfilment services. E.g., Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or Alibaba’s Cainiao. Brands don’t need to set up their own fulfilment infrastructure.
Finally, there is the fact that marketplaces have their own loyalty programs, such as Amazon Prime. “You will be using FBA, customers will automatically see your products, you’ll get better search ranking which can give you more new customers which will give you more reviews, and you can take part in Prime Day. These loyalty programs are very, very powerful,” Lewis said.
How to win on marketplaces
The benefits are clear, but what can brands do to win on marketplaces?
Go global, regional, or local
“The first decision is do you want to go for a global marketplace like Amazon or eBay, or do you want to go for one that is heavily focused on a region, such as Lazada in South East Asia or Mercado Libre in Latin America?” asked Lewis. “Or, you can go super local. For instance, Allegro has already got 20 million users, based out of Poland.”
“Although you’ll hear me talk about Amazon, many of the things I am talking about are directly applicable to these other brands, because everything they see Amazon doing, they apply to their own individual marketplace. I’ve recently come back from the middle east and it’s not Amazon that matters, it’s Noon and Talabat.”
“The second thing to do,” Lewis suggested, “is to work out [some] things in advance.” In summary, these things are:
Commission: What percentage does the marketplace charge?
Initial deposit: Is there a deposit required by the marketplace?
Subscription fee: What is the annual cost of operating on the marketplace?
Brand enhancement: Is there rich A+ content, or branded store front?
Customer fulfilment support: Does the marketplace offer delivery to customers? Cost?
Payment: Does the marketplace facilitate payment using a number of solutions?
Advertising: Does the marketplace have an advertising proposition to help discovery?
Data and insight: Does the marketplace give sales performance and other data?
Optimising content and winning the Buy Box
Further to these points, Lewis stated that it is vital “you understand how customers shop online.” To do this, he suggested, “for your particular product category and for your particular brand, go into your chosen marketplace and put the words in – you can work out what the customer sees.” Then, “get your content ready for the product pages.”
“The quick things you need to know,” he continued, “[are that] the product title is the most important piece for search rankings, so it’s key to check the usage of keywords that customers are using.” Meanwhile, other information should be “very specific, very features and benefits-focused”, and “you need multiple photos from multiple different angles, and ideally a video.”
The Buy Box is another area to consider when selling on marketplaces. As Lewis explained, the Buy Box is “an algorithm that recalculates the highest-ranked seller based on their performance every time that product is searched for.” Amazon picks the winner based on various factors such as high seller performance, competing price point, availability, and delivery options. So, Lewis said, “if you are on FBA or Prime, you have a better chance of winning the Buy Box. If you are cheaper, you have a better chance.”
Advertising, A+ Content, and customer reviews
“The advertising that Amazon and a lot of other marketplaces are doing is super powerful,” he continued. “Amazon’s advertising business is growing $5bn a quarter.”
So, what type of advertising is worth investing in? According to Lewis, Sponsored Products is still the most popular, accounting for around 80% of all advertising on Amazon, while Sponsored Brands is less so but still useful. Interestingly, he said, “Video Ads is rarely used, so that is one of your opportunities. Everybody I’ve talked to has said that Video Ads is getting much more results for them than they did years ago and there is a lot less competition.”
Second to advertising, A+ Content is also a worthwhile tool. “It’s quite detailed, so you’ve got a lot more visuals, a lot more material to play with. I highly recommend that you do Amazon A+ Content. It’s free… you can give a lot more content that helps the customer make the decision.” In conjunction with this, Lewis also recommended using Amazon branded storefronts, which is “their way of trying to do the direct-to-consumer stuff.”
Finally, “on winning on Amazon,” said Lewis, “it’s super important to get across this idea of customer reviews.” This is particularly the case in comparison to some of the aforementioned factors like the Buy Box, which is tricky to win.
By contrast, “not only do [reviews] give the customer a better idea of what to expect, but Amazon uses them as part of its algorithm,” said Lewis. “As a result, they lead to increased conversions and increased basket size. They’ve got a very specific process listed on the Amazon Seller Central website, and I highly recommend you follow those to a T.”
“If you want to win on Amazon, ratings and reviews (and having a strategy around ratings and reviews) are super important.”
Now, I want to share some new marketing opportunities for 2022. This is the perfect time to dust off our crystal balls and start predicting what digital marketing trends we can expect.
There are several factors to consider in the content marketing realm, such as the continuing impact of the global pandemic, the growth of social platforms like TikTok, and the rise of the creator economy.
So, there’s a fair chance that the state of the marketing industry will be more exciting and unique than ever before.
Here are our top marketing trends and predictions in digital marketing for 2022:
The Social Impact of Storytelling
Rank and Win with Consumer-Driven Content
Use Personalized Content
Why You Need Shareable Assets
The Influencer Economy
Social E-Commerce: The Innovative Way to Shop Virtually
Accessibility in the Digital Age
The Future of Browsing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Let’s take a closer look at these 2022 digital marketing trends!
Marketing Trends & Predictions #1: The Social Impact of Storytelling
We are in an age of conscious consumerism, which means being transparent with your audience is necessary.
Storytelling is still a powerful marketing trend that makes your product or service feel more positive and authentic. Your users should be immersed in the world your content creates that puts your brand values, voice, and style front and center.
There are many ways to go about storytelling in your content. Here are a few examples gaining popularity to extend your brand awareness via storytelling:
Customer Testimonials: Customer testimonials are sourced directly from real buyers. If people crave authenticity from brands, highlighting customer stories will establish trust and credibility with your audience.
Data-Driven Narratives: Instead of storing data away internally, share it with your audience in creative, thought-provoking ways. Data-driven storytelling makes raw data more appealing and can turn insights into action.
Visual Content: Visual content, like graphics or videos, help put a face to the brand. Video (on social media especially) is gaining traction because it allows brands to connect with their audience, showcasing themselves in an appealing way. A staggering 93 percent of marketers consider video content critical to their marketing strategy, meaning it’s almost certain to contribute a positive return on investment (ROI). Also, the completion rate of interactive videos is 90 percent, proving it will be effective for generating more leads this year.
Whether you use customer testimonials, data, or video content, there are many ways to weave an exciting story and forge a stronger relationship with your users.
“Storytelling isn’t new, it goes back thousands of years. But even today we still use it. Why? Because it’s effective. The only issue is, people don’t use it enough.”
Airbnb Introduces the Bélo: The Story of a Symbol of Belonging
Storytelling is a long-standing trend, but with conscious consumerism on the rise, there is now more emphasis on brand ethics.
Airbnb used this marketing prediction very well and created a video to tell the unique story of their “Bélo.”
After seeing this video, viewers associate Airbnb with a sense of belonging and inclusion—that’s just good marketing.
Marketing Trends & Predictions #2: Rank and Win with Consumer-Driven Content
Consumer-driven content centers the pain points and needs of your target audience. Instead of guessing what your audience wants, use data, surveys, and reviews to understand what type of content they need.
When ideating and producing content, if brands don’t consider all the details that make their audience unique, there is a greater chance that the content will not engage the user in a meaningful way,” says Chad Gilbert, Sr. Director, Content (NP Digital).
He adds, “when brands put more emphasis on researching and defining their audience and specific personas, the content production is more successful in terms of quality and ROI.
What types of educational content do they spend the most time engaged with?
What products drive the highest sales?
What causes the most returns?
Talk to your customer support team to find out the most common questions and complaints. By understanding your audience’s pain points, you can create a better web experience and product for them.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers directly what they want.
For instance, with this marketing trend in mind, you can use social polls or on-site surveys to gather data.
In 2022, customer-centric content will be vital for brands. Customers depend on you to solve their problems and deliver information throughout the buyer journey.
By uncovering your audience’s greatest pain points and needs, you can provide solutions that resonate long after purchase.
Dove Ad Makeover Campaign
Dove is a great brand that shows us that they pay attention to marketing predictions and marketing trends. They have become famous for creating inclusive campaigns and challenging the status quo.
Their Ad Makeover campaign was no exception.
Dove goes after the harmful messaging in online ads that target women.
Dove recognized this pain point and took it on with grace. They involved their customers in the fight against body shaming and became a stronger brand.
Creating authentic, consumer-focused content will help qualified leads become long-standing advocates for your brand.
Show your customers you care.
They will notice.
Marketing Trends & Predictions #3: Use Personalized Content
A study conducted by Salesforce found that 66 percent of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.
Customers do not want to feel like a number, so personalized interactions and connected experiences are not just smart business moves—they’re necessary.
The experience a company offers is the differentiator for today’s consumers.
Personalized content uses demographic, behavioral, or contextual data to provide customers with ultra-relevant and relatable messaging.
Get to know your audience with chatbot features that offer personal shopping or create quizzes that present users with a product that best fits their needs.
Aveda’s Hair Quiz
Aveda personalizes its content experience by presenting users with a hair quiz that helps them learn which Aveda products work best for their hair type.
When you’re done with the quiz, you receive product recommendations specific to your personal hair needs.
Using this marketing trend correctly helps customers feel confident in their purchase since the recommendations are based on their personal preferences and needs.
Marketing Trends & Predictions #4: Why You Need Shareable Assets
Shareable assets are content meant to generate brand awareness through digital public relations (DPR), backlinks, and social engagement.
From on-page downloadable templates to infographics, sharable assets can take many forms.
Shareable assets help build brand awareness and authority for your business,” says Tierney Brannigan, Content Production Manager (NP Digital). “By showing search engines that you are a trustworthy and engaging resource via backlinks and social interaction, you can bolster your entire SEO campaign.”
Tierney Brannigan, Content Production Manager at NP Digital
Try using shareable assets to touch on relevant and current affairs.
Sharing these materials can generate SEO-boosting backlinks, establish authority in your niche, and offer helpful information to your target audience. Shareable assets can:
Increase brand awareness or awareness around a new product or service.
Kajabi’s Shareable Asset on the Imposter Phenomenon
Kajabi used this marketing trend and created a shareable asset on imposter syndrome. They ran a survey asking entrepreneurs and small business owners about their experience with this condition.
The data is insightful and appeals to publications about business and mental health.
This piece helped Kajabi’s extend their reach to an audience they may not have previously had access to.
Marketing Trends & Predictions #5: The Influencer Economy
According to Market Watch, the influencer marketing industry nearly doubled in value between 2019 and 2021, growing from $6.5 billion to $12.8 billion.
Meanwhile, experts at Collabstr project influencer marketing will be a $15 billion market by the end of 2022.
“Influencer marketing is becoming a necessary component to a successful organic social media strategy,” said Emma James, Social Media Lead at NP Digital. “Users are more likely to trust a person they follow on social media than a brand, so brands that are creatively leveraging this tactic are the ones that are making waves.
Find out what types of influencers your target market follows and put your product in their hands. If you’re working on a budget, don’t forget about micro-influencers who won’t cost you thousands of dollars.
They may even be game to advertise your product in exchange for free samples.
Moncler’s Bubble Up Challenge
Moncler’s Bubble Up challenge was named one of the ten best influencer marketing campaigns of 2021. TikTok mega-influencers, Bella Poarch and Charli D’Amelio, took the #MonclerBubbleUp campaign to the next level.
The viral challenge gained 7.6 billion views and successfully spread awareness and engagement. The success of this campaign lies in the number of people this relatively obscure, high fashion Italian clothing brand was able to reach.
With the right content marketing strategy, you can see tremendous results from this trend.
Social e-commerce was already set to be the next trending marketing strategy for the coming years. However, the pandemic brought explosive growth to online shopping and accelerated the rise of social e-commerce.
By 2025, predictions show social e-commerce is set to grow by nearly $80 billion. This means 5 percent of the country’s retail e-commerce sales will be coming through social.
According to research conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Sprout Social, 73 percent of businesses already include social e-commerce in their marketing strategy, and 79 percent expect to sell on social in the next three years.
Your brand’s social e-commerce strategy should incorporate user-generated content and niche-specific influencers.
Don’t forget to include calls to action in your social posts, either as clickable elements on your photos and videos or in the social copy itself.
EagleCreek’s Instagram Store
‘Buy Now’ options on Instagram:
Eagle Creek uses the ‘Buy Now’ features of Instagram’s social e-commerce settings to adapt to changes in consumer trends. This feature allows users to purchase items as they scroll through a brand’s feed.
The user can also save the item to their Instagram cart if they want more time to think it over.
However, the goal of ‘Buy Now’ is for the user to purchase straight away without being pulled away from the page.
Marketing Trends & Predictions #7: Accessibility in the Digital Age
Prioritizing accessibility in 2022 will ensure your brand makes inclusive strides in communication efforts. Digital accessibility refers to reducing barriers to enjoying a system’s design, tools, and technologies.
Essentially, creating a universal design ensures all online properties are optimized for people with disabilities or impairments.
Fifteen percent of the world’s population experiences some form of disability. When customer experience is a leading priority in 2022, brands should care about making their digital properties more accessible.
Creating accessible content isn’t just a best practice. It’s a necessity. A growing number of companies have been sued for not having accessible websites.
Don’t be a part of that list!
A lack of accessibility stunts business growth and tarnishes brand image. Put an accessibility audit on the roadmap for 2022 and see how an inclusive design pays off in the long run.
Here you can see BBC’s website design offers a Minimal Viable Design (MVD). Their interface and familiar design give control while providing choices to the user. The prioritized features give users the option for quicker navigation, content discovery, and preference management.
They also include an “Accessibility Help” button that activates alt text descriptions and sign language content for users with visual or hearing impairments.
Marketing Trends & Predictions #8: The Future of Browsing with SEO
SEO is not a new strategy, but local SEO and multicultural SEO are starting a new conversation in modern-day marketing strategies.
SEO enhances the discoverability of websites and content—especially on Google.
“Now more than ever is the time to invest in a multilingual SEO and multicultural content program. International consumers are largely overlooked yet can generate significant growth if properly engaged,” says Tony Uribe, Content Production Lead (NP Digital).
“Get ahead of your competition by creating world-class content with language and cultural nuances that speak to new audiences. A multilingual-multicultural combo that addresses technical and on-page elements creates a more diverse content ecosystem, moves your brand ahead of your competitors, and generates more revenue long-term.”
Local SEO populates searches for a specific, local area. Businesses with brick-and-mortar stores can benefit from having their local audience find them through a web search.
In 2022, we expect local content and a well-optimized mobile website to play a more significant role in SEO. A staggering 93 percent of shoppers recognize the importance of shopping through small businesses, so local SEO may be worth adding to your marketing strategy.
Multilingual campaigns can also increase your reach and show your brand’s social awareness.
If your brand wants to resonate on a larger scale this year, showcase your content in multiple languages.
SEO still promises to evolve as one of the most scalable and cost-effective investments for digital marketing strategies.
Small Shops Win Big with Local SEO
This is a great example of how local SEO can increase a business’ visibility and revenue, regardless of its size or notoriety. When you search “birthday gifts”, Google returns a mixed SERP. There are:
Traditional links, which are dominated by marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy