This isn’t a new concept, but it is one which a lot of companies are underutilising, or not using at all.
Facebook and Instagram both have a live video option, and one of the best features is that it sends out a notification informing your followers that you are currently live! This is a great feature to help increase your engagement. It is easy for posts to be lost in timelines, but a notifications give them a little nudge to see what is going on.
Once they are engaged live videos offer a unique way to interactive with your customers. During your live video you can send and receive messages, answering questions as they come in. Remember to keep your video fun and engaging. Spend some time brainstorming what your customers would find useful. You could even try asking them, with a poll to ask for topics or speak with your team and see what they are asked most often by customers.
There are a range of different subjects you could cover from behind the scenes tours of the office or venue to product releases and live Q&As. If your content is popular then don’t just limit it to a one off video, this is just your starting point, and with customers engaging along the way it can be a melting pot for new concepts and content.
A recent study found that 80% of people would rather watch a live video then read a blog. Consider some of your ideas for blog content next year and consider if they would make a good live video piece. You can still write the blog, and maybe even add in anything extra that came up during the video. It might be that people asked a whole range of different questions to the ones you expected, allowing you to make your blog post even more informative and useful.
Don’t just limit it to a blog either. You can record as you go and publish it on your YouTube channel, you could create a new Q&A based off popular questions or turn it into a podcast. See live videos as a melting pot of ideas.
With live video you can engage with people all over the world like never before. For example, If you are running a conference then live video allows you to expand your audience far beyond the physical restrictions of your venue. You could be speaking to thousands of people from a room that holds a dozen.
If you haven’t already started using live videos, or have tried but wasn’t sure what to do, we would recommend spending some time coming up with a new strategy. Have a look at what others in your industry are doing, speak to your staff and customers and find out what they like to watch or what might be useful for you to be sharing. Like all content, don’t force it, make sure it is useful and engaging so invest some time into planning.
Following on from the point above, but not to be confused with it. Many believe that video content is the future, and in some regards the only future. A few years ago a top Facebook executive claimed that he believed in 5 years the whole platform would be video only. While I don’t think this will ever be the case, it feels too close to Instagram and YouTube and would lose Facebook’s USP, it is clear that industry experts feel video is the future.
Videos are certainly the way forward for advertising. Running an advert as a video you have the ability to see exactly how much of your content was viewed. This gives you a rather unique insight into your content, tailoring your video to include the most important information and CTA in the part of the advert people are actually watching.
In fact, with a video advert you only pay in a user clicks on it or watch more then 30 seconds. This therefore gives you a free 30 second window to pitch your product, service or business to customers.
Hubspot found that 54% of customers prefer to see video ads from the brands they support then any other marketing content. With a video they can sit back and watch rather than have to read your pitch or scroll around your website. You can showcase the product, event use it in the video, highlight the benefits, give customer feedback and even give them a special offer, and they haven’t had to do a thing.
Don’t just limited video content to your advertising and social media. Having videos on your website can have a huge impact on conversions and your ranking score with Google. One study found that including a video on a landing page increased conversions by 80%. Just like in an advert you can use the video to showcase a product or service.
Instead of presenting a user with a screen full of text, they can simply watch a video and be told everything they need to know, while seeing the product in action. You could even have real customers offering they thoughts and reviews. Video can build trust with your customer base, and like with the live videos, it allows them to see your team, even your office, and get a feel for the company.
According to one study having a video embedded on your website can also help your ranking with Google. They claimed that you’re 53 times more likely show up first on Google if you have a video embedded on your website! While I don’t think this is entirely accurate, we cannot look inside Google’s ranking algorithm as much as we would love to, having a video on your website, properly tagged with an accurate keyword description for the Google Bots, will certainly help. Combine that with the increased conversions statistics and a high-quality video should soon be finding its way on your site.
Artificial Intelligence and Chat Bots
Love them or hate them chat bots are on the rise, and Business Insider claims that 80% of companies will be using chatbots by 2020.
As AI continues to develop chat bots are increasingly able to have engaging and human conversations with customers. This is giving companies the opportunity to leverage the inexpensive and wide-reaching technology to engage with more of their consumers. The Chat Bot function can be left running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They will never need a sick day or have annual leave. They offer you and your customers a non-stop salesman and help desk.
AI also has the ability to learn. It can store customer information and analysing their buying habits, likes and dislikes. This then allows the AI to predict user behaviour and improves its ability to talk with your clients. I’m not sure how I feel about an AI learning more and more about me to predict my actions but it is hard not to see the benefits of such an automated service, only offering me what it knows I’m interested in.
These types of algorithms and predictive learning are common place in some of the top brands. Netflix for example will monitor what you watch and recommend films based on your viewing history, and Amazon will have products and sectors they recommend whenever you log in.
But AI isn’t perfect and, for now, still requires human assistance. New scenarios are one of the instances where an AI will need a human’s input. This could be a customer presenting a problem it’s never accounted for, attempting to respond to a troll trying to mess with it, or even something as simple as incorrect grammar. Poorly functioning AI can also be frustration, especially when you are trying to sort out a serious problem.
But it is clear that as AI continues to develop and improve it will be a widely used function, allowing you to offer customers support day or night. It is hard to predict if it could ever completely replace humans in some sectors, but it is estimated that by 2022 chatbots will be helping businesses save over $8 billion a year.
There has been a lot of discussions on the future of voice search and how it will impact digital marketing and Google’s results pages.
There is no doubt that voice search is the future, or at least a significant part of it. ComScore predict that by 2020 50% of all searches will be done via voice. With the rise of voice assistants such as Alexia and Google Home, it is becoming more and more common for people ask questions rather then type them.
But what will voice search actually change? People are still searching for a product or service, just as when they were typing. Well one of the factors to consider with voice search is that Google told us they are 30 times more likely to be an action query then typed searches. As they are being made on phones, the phrase near me is often used, and searches are then based on the phones GPS.
Another factor to consider will be how it increases the importance of the featured snippet (or “Position Zero” as it has been dubbed by many). The featured snippet has been around since 2014, and is used to answer simple user questions. This is now what Google often uses to answer voice searches, reading back it’s featured answer. So if 50% of searches become voice based this snippet becomes by far the most important position.
This creates a new consideration to be mindful of when creating content. To get into Position Zero your content needs to be answering a question. One way to do this is to have a question as your H2 title, with an answer in the body text below. Make your answer concise, clear and easily digestible so that Google can easily pick it. Answers in the form of lists have fared particularly well in featured snippets thus far.
But there is a slight twist to this. Google has begun to answer simple questions itself. An example of this might be the date of birth of a famous figure. Google with simply list this at the top of the screen, rather than include a website snippet.
It is even answering basic questions in the search bar. If you type in name of your city and then start typing the word weather Google with predict the question and answer it for you.
This means you need to be targeting more complex questions. Your keyword research needs to look at questions that people are asking, ones that require deep meaningful content. You can have a look at what people are searching by looking at the “people also asked” suggestions. This is a fantastic resource when thinking about content and questions. Located at the bottom of the Google results page it shows you related questions. Build some content around these. If you have a large piece of content, then consider adding in a brief overview. You can use bullet points and turn these into mini answers Google can scan and pull out. Phrase the answer to the question as a complete sentence somewhere in the content. Also look for other variations on that keyword question and look to answer those too.
Simply adding question and answer content to your website won’t jump you into Position Zero as 99.58% of featured snippets come from a page that ranks in the top 10. This means you need to have an effective digital marketing strategy in place with strong SEO in place. Think about how the questions can form part of this rather than becoming the main theme of your content creation. If you are utilising live video, you should have a stream of new questions coming in so these can form the basis of this new content.
Mobile First Indexing
This was a new feature that was rolled out by Google in March, and something that not everyone is aware of. It changes how Google crawls and indexes websites by prioritising your mobile version.
This change was to match the ever-increasing use of mobile phones to search the internet. In 2017 63% of internet usage in the US was made on a mobile device. So as more and more people view the mobile content, it is now what Google consider the most relevant.
This is an important change, and one which gives us an insight into the future of internet browsing. While a smart looking desktop browser website will always be crucial, especially for B2B companies, a bigger importance must be placed on the mobile responsive site.
The first thing to consider is if you even have a responsive site! If you do make sure you haven’t hidden any crucial content to make your pages fit onto a mobile screen. If you best content is hidden, Google won’t be able to index it and you will begin to see your rankings drop.
Your site speed on mobile is another factor that needs to be given serious consideration. Google considers your site speed in its ranking algorithms, and a slow slight can have a big impact on your bounce rate and user experience. Did you know that around 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load?
One of the best ways to help improve your mobile speed is optimising your images. Don’t have use files on your site. There a plenty of free piece of software to help shrink images down, the challenge is finding the line between a well optimised image and retaining its quality.
The user experience of your mobile site needs to be a priority. Features that look great on a desktop can end up squashed, stacked or even fall off the page. One feature that I feel often lets sites down is client logos. On a big desktop screen having a group of logos from some of your top clients looks great and helps demonstrate your experience and expertise. But on a mobile these can end up stacking on top of each other, creating an endless screen to scroll through. Trying limiting this to a top two or three for your mobile site.
The second I call to action (CTA) buttons. You want these to be informative so a user knows when to expect when they click them but too much text will again cause them to stack. If your CTA initiates a call the instead of listing your number in full simply put ‘call us’ or ‘call now’. Good short phrases like ‘email us’, ‘enquire now’ and ‘contact us’ tell the user what to expect and will sit nicely on mobile screen.
So, this year you need to be considering your mobile site. Have a look at your analytics account and see how many users do visit on a mobile or tablet device. Even if it is lower than desktop consider how Google views, indexes and ranks your site. Make sure content is visible, well laid out and the site speed is quick.
Content will continue to be king!
It is easy to read through all of these new ideas and start thinking of drastic changes for your website. But if we look closely at what each of them truly revolve around, its content. We are simply finding new ways to create and showcase great quality content in the most up to date manner. The word content can underplay the vast spectrum that is covers. It is easy to think of it as purely the text on your website, but it is in fact everything you create. Think of content as your overall brand voice.
When you run a live video everything you are saying is content, and if it is useful, insightful and helpful more people are going to watch it. As we mentioned above you can turn the live feed into blogs, and the interactions with clients into Q&As, which is more of the classic content. Blogs are a great way to keep adding new content to your website, whether it is breaking news or evergreen content. If you don’t have blog on your site then this should be a priority. Link it with your new video content, write informative and helpful pieces, share client feedback or team news. Companies who have regular blogs receive on average 55% more traffic then those who don’t. Each blog is a piece of content that gives a user another doorway to enter your website.
Voice search is going to be the most revolutionary trend in terms of content, as it looks at new ways of presenting our most important data. I think we might see people look to redevelop their whole sites based on voice search, but be smart and consider the user experience. Blogs and Q&A pages can offer a great avenue to produce content for voice search, while maintaining the overall look and feel of your website. Remember Google is pulling the answers from page one so you need your website to rank well organically before even aiming for position zero.
Your organic ranking needs to be your number one priority. The factors listed above will all help but SEO, of which content is a significant factor, will still help drive you the highest amount of traffic. Paid ads are effective but one study found that in 2016 around 25% of users in the US had an ad blocker installed. This means that companies who rely solely on paid marketing could be missing out on a quarter of their market.
If you haven’t look at your website’s content recently then see the new year as a chance to change that. Invest in keyword research, think about what people are actually searching for, and how. Consider how is your website laid out, do you have videos, non-stock images and good clear CTAs?
These are just a few points to consider for the new year, and by no means a definitive list. Each of the above points will certainly have an impact next year and should be at least considered in your digital marketing strategy. I’m sure Google will roll out a few new algorithm changes to keep us on our toes, and we will be publishing blogs throughout the year offering our advice on a range of digital marketing aspects.
The overall point of this article is to always be thinking about new trends and changes. Just because something worked once, it doesn’t mean it always will. Never rest on your laurels, and it is never too late to change your brands voice or marketing plan. Take inspiration from other brands, follow social trends and find the best way to reach the audiences most relevant to you.
But don’t forget the basics! Make sure you have a quick, functioning website. Optimised for your industry keywords, with good title tags and content written for your users not Google’s Bots. Publish informative, fun and engaging social media posts and blogs. Don’t over complicate your website and ensure users can navigate and convert with ease.