The world of digital PR is constantly evolving, especially when you consider that new trends emerge, impacting the way communications teams plan their strategies.
Content marketing, in particular, is an important part of any digital PR strategy. Why should you spend time on content marketing?
- Content marketing strategies generate over 400% more leads per $1,000 (in 36 months) in comparison to paid search campaigns. (Source: Kapost & Eloqua)
- 71% of B2B buyers consume blog content during the buyer’s journey. (Source: Demand Gen Report)
- 74% of B2B buyers conduct extensive research before making a purchase. (Source: Forrester)
For your brand messaging and PR efforts to make an impact on your audience, you need to produce high-quality content that meets specific standards to support it.
What are these standards? Trends often dictate how your content will perform.
Plus, there is the cause behind the effect: organic search is easily the biggest and most effective digital channel that brings traffic to your website. It is an essential and core aspect of your content marketing efforts. Therefore, you want your content to rank high in search results and be optimized for visibility on search engines.
Bearing this in mind, take a look at these content marketing trends to inspire your digital PR strategy for 2020.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
You might be wondering what artificial intelligence and content marketing have in common.
Well, Google uses artificial intelligence to enhance user search results. When implementing your content marketing plan, it’s important to understand how AI works to optimize your content for maximum impact, not only for the reader but also for search engines.
Google has been using AI for over four years now to determine if your content is valuable to readers or not. If your content is considered more valuable, it will rank higher in search results, helping to drive organic traffic to your website. Not only that, it is using AI to provide an integrated experience to users and marketers across its products like search, Google Ads, Google Assistant, YouTube, and so on.
Image credit: https://blog.aimultiple.com/ai-is-already-at-the-heart-of-google/
AI can be used in more ways than simply for search engines. Many businesses are using AI to capture customer data, helping them to strategically pinpoint who their ideal customer is. This data can then be used to assist with their digital PR strategy, including marketing.
In a study by Forrester, 78% of the 700 business leaders surveyed planned to spend at least 5% on AI technology in the following 12 months, signifying the growth of AI in business.
When intent-based digital channels such as organic search are leveraged for PR, AI is crucial in helping marketers identify and target a niche audience that is receptive to their brand messaging and content.
With the growth of mobile devices and home voice assistants, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, voice search is growing in popularity. Optimizing your content for voice search can drive more organic traffic to your website since it has an effect on SEO.
When people use voice search, they tend to ask specific questions. This means that search engines have to work harder to find relevant information. By next year, more than 50% of all online searches are expected to be voice initiated.
So, how can you optimize your content for voice search? Short keywords are less relevant for voice search results, meaning you should focus instead on using long-tail keywords or sentences which users may be searching for.
Consider specific queries, such as, “Is there a taxi service in London that uses electric cars?” Optimize content for natural but conversational queries—you could use keywords in your blog posts or use a FAQ page to target certain queries. Research questions your audience are looking for. You could even use these questions as blog titles! A tool like Answer The Public can help you do this—it generates questions that people ask on Google, provides comparisons, and filters queries by certain kinds of words like prepositions.
Image credit: https://answerthepublic.com/
Additionally, optimize your content for local SEO. For instance, many voice search users may be asking for local content, such as, “Which is the absolute best coffee shop in Orlando?” Ensure information about your business (including opening times, contact numbers, and location) that appears on search results, social media, industry listing sites, and review platforms is accurate. This will also help optimize your content for voice search, directly or indirectly.
So you’ve put in place an integrated PR and content marketing strategy that brings in your audience in droves to your owned (your website and social properties), earned (third-party sites and platforms over which you don’t have administrative control), and paid media. But are these visitors staying long enough on these websites or digital platforms for your message to be absorbed?
User experience plays a huge role in keeping readers on your site for longer—you want them to read all your PR stuff, don’t you? On the other hand, bad UX kills good content like locust swarms devouring a field of crops. If your website doesn’t load quickly enough, or if information is hard to read (especially on mobile devices) or navigate, readers will leave with a poor impression of your brand in their minds, perhaps never to return.
Further, speed is one of the most important factors influencing the UX for today’s impatient and information-overloaded audience. It leads to more time spent on your page, lower bounce rate, and higher content engagement. Page loading speed is one of Google’s few acknowledged (and emphasized) ranking factors, especially on mobile devices, which search engines are now giving priority to while indexing your content. In fact, Google has recently incorporated speed data into its Search Console reports alongside the mobile usability stats:
Image credit: https://searchengineland.com/a-deeper-look-at-google-search-console-speed-reports-323714
Again, there’s a tool to do this! As far as owned media are concerned, a web builder platform like Duda comes in handy, especially when your content has to conform to Google’s new Lighthouse testing standard for page speed. This takes into account optimization of code, new image formats, loading and rendering of content on the screen, browser-server communication, and so on. It also provides other options to customize your content to improve targeting and increase engagement:
Image credit: https://www.duda.co/
Finally, the one topic PR folks just can’t stop talking about. Influencer marketing has come a long way in the last few years. It is expected to become a $10 billion industry by 2020, so there has never been a better time to integrate influencer marketing into your digital PR and content strategy.
The right influencer-generated content can drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, and create a sense of trust—after all, if a trustworthy, authoritative, real person is using your product, then it must be good enough, right?
Celebrity influencers are also highly effective in promoting your brand in various ways, towards different campaign-specific goals. Airbnb has used celebrities including Mariah Carey to increase their reach.
Embed post: https://www.instagram.com/p/5w29mVLeK7/
Using the right mix of influencer and sponsored posts, Airbnb has achieved an engagement rate of 4% on Instagram, with over 18 million likes and over 500,000 comments.
Keep in mind the beliefs, values, and preferences of your audience when selecting the influencers you work with. You can then determine whether to work with them for just a campaign or two, bring them on board for the long term as a brand ambassador, or in a product-specific capacity as part of an affiliate-like program.
Over to you
Content marketing is a highly effective strategy, especially when combined with SEO and PR. Educating and informing your prospects, building trust with your audience, enhancing brand awareness, and standing out from the competition are just some of the goals that an integrated digital strategy can help you achieve. Sustained efforts in digital PR help drive ROI via content and gives you the potential to keep growing by connecting with new audiences.