Voice is the future of search

Both Google and Bing have stated that the majority of search queries they receive take place via voice on mobile.  It stands to reason that, given the hands-free capabilities of handsets and mobile phones, voice would eventually take precedence over text-based search. With the vast improvement in the quality of digital voice assistants like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, it was only a matter of time people discovered the immense convenience of voice search and rely on it for their queries.

But what does this mean for a small business, and how should you change your digital marketing strategy given this trend? Let’s look at some ways in which businesses can make their content voice search-friendly.

1. Focus on Phrases and Longtail Keywords

The search focus has shifted from terse, awkward keywords to long-tail phrases, or even entire sentences. That’s because voice searches make use of natural language. The way we talk is decidedly different than the way we type. The phrases and keywords that we use while speaking to digital assistants would therefore be different than those we use when entering text in Google search.

“What is the weather like in Miami today?” is an example of a conversational/natural language query more likely to be spoken to a digital assistant, as opposed to “weather miami,” which we would type into a search bar. Content optimized for voice SEO would therefore need to focus on this very important aspect of the nature of voice search.

2. Anticipate Specific Questions Asked in a Conversational Manner

Voice search might use entire sentences, but it’s also specific in nature. People do not ramble on when speaking to a digital assistant, possibly because a more specific question leads to a more accurate answer.

A query such as, “Find an Italian restaurant near me,” with the user’s location enabled can return precise results for users. Business owners would therefore want to optimize their websites and content for intuitive but specific queries. This can be accomplished via a detailed FAQ page or a blog containing authority content created around longtail keywords and conversational but specific questions. This would require you to research the kind of questions your target audience most frequently poses to digital assistants and produce content around those queries. It’s a good idea to take each of those questions and flesh out the answers in the form of quality blog posts.

As long as your content answers customer queries in the best and most useful manner possible, expect Google to take notice of it and rank the website/mobile site accordingly.

3. Optimize Your Website for Local SEO

Research has found that voice search is three times more likely to be local in nature. With this in mind, businesses should keep their profiles and contact information up to date, since this is what Google will pull for queries such as, “Where can I get the best coffee in Seattle?”

For a coffee shop owner, this would mean including accurate opening hours in their profile, including the precise location of the shop, and optimizing the content on the website to be found via keywords such as “best coffee” or something more specific, such as “best spiced chai latte.”

Find out the kind of questions your target audience is most likely to pose to a digital voice assistant, and create content that provides specific answers to these queries.

4. Make Sure Your Website Is Ready for Voice Search

According to Google, micro moments (moments during which users need immediate, relevant, and ready-to-use information) are key to capitalizing on any kind of search, especially voice search. Since our smartphones are our constant companions, it is natural that with internet at our fingertips, they are going to be our first source of information. Google has therefore been encouraging businesses to be cognizant of the increasing use of mobile in internet search and accordingly optimize their sites for mobile.

We now have mobile and voice search to pay attention to. Businesses that take advantage of these micro moments stand a good chance of racing ahead of the competition:

  • Anticipate at which stage(s) a user is most likely to need the services your business provides.
  • Anticipate the nature of information they need to make a decision.
  • Provide users with the relevant information at that stage in order to help them make a decision, or leave them with clear further guidance.

For this to happen, businesses must ensure their websites are optimized for mobile, for local SEO, and for voice search. In order for a mobile site to be of use to someone during a micro moment, it needs to load quickly, be user-friendly, contain relevant information (local SEO), and produce the right answers in response to a voice search query. Taken together, this maximizes the chances of a user choosing your service.

Making the Leap

The nature of search and the evolution in search algorithms, based on changing technology and shifting consumer habits, require businesses to move in tandem with newer trends. That is the way for businesses to stay relevant and competitive.

Gen Z Hates Your Ads … but They Love Your Videos

One hope for display

How do we solve for the death of display and consumer aversion to ads? Create a better experience for the end user, and start doing that with the video medium they embrace.

In fact, the industry has been morphing into video, and the speed at which it’s happening is picking up. Facebook has been quickly releasing new video-ad formats; shoppable video ads appear on Snapchat and Instagram; and Twitter partnered with Bloomberg Media on 24-hours-a-day news streaming.

Video completely reinvigorates a consumer’s end experience with an ad. For example, AOL found that mobile video ads are five times more engaging than standard banner ads, with technology and business verticals seeing over 800% higher engagement. Additionally, ads that incorporate video drive 9X as many post-click site visits as standard display ads.

Video is a versatile, engaging and sharable format — three key factors that any ad today needs to break through the noise in a saturated digital landscape.

Not only can video quickly deliver a message in an engaging way, people share well-crafted video with others. No one shares a display ad unit with their friends.

The static display ad will become one of those relics our children laugh about because, eventually, video will move into its rightful place as king of advertising. The industry needs to embrace this, and focus on better video user experiences (new formats, best practices on length, content and brand safety).

If the “Snapchat” generation is a barometer for what the future of consumer ad expectations will be, experience needs to overcome thoughtless monetization. It’s time for all advertisers — and the ad tech companies they rely on — to deliver.

The Era of the Empowered Consumer: Insights From the Gartner Digital Conference

Marketing is getting smarter.

Jake Sorofman, a research vice president at Gartner, said that CMOs are on track to spend as much (or more) on technology than their CTO and CIO counterparts this year; more than one-fourth of every marketing dollar is spent on technology.

Dan Curran, CEO of PowerPost, a client of ours, was really intrigued by this finding. “The conference certainly left everyone feeling optimistic regarding the evolution of content marketing technology,” he said. “However, every stage of the content supply chain must evolve.”

And as marketing evolves to become savvier and more intelligent, so will the content it’s creating for audiences. Most audiences and content consumers have grown to expect somewhat more personalized content from the brands they interact with, and that content marketing trend is only going to continue with a move to “atomic content.”

2. Customer journeys are discovered, not created.

I’ve seen plenty of marketers waste time and resources by trying to develop buyer personas and engineer their customers’ path to their company and then create content around what they’ve put together. However, the best customer journeys aren’t created; they’re discovered.

And with additional players in the game — especially social media platforms and other tools that make it easy to distribute content — your audience members’ journeys are more complicated than ever. Andrew Hsu, CEO of Spotlight, noted, “Marketers must acknowledge the remarkable roles Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google play in their customers’ lives. From customer acquisition to relationship building through customer servicing, marketers will be borrowing moments from, shaping experiences within, and co-existing beside these market-shaping platforms.”

To improve your customer experience, study what your customers actually do, what kind of content they consume, and where they go for it. Use data to discover how your best customers are coming to you, and create content that enables their journey.

3. Content is your best tool for hitting trust touchpoints.

Marketing is expected to create exceptional brand moments at every customer touchpoint, and audience members touch six different channels before they become customers.

Think of touchpoints with your audience like moving targets: It’s not going to be easy to hit each one every time, but as marketers, it’s up to you to hit as many as you can — and content can be your biggest help. The more you hit, the better you keep your audience engaged and the more trust you build with them. So listen, learn, and engage with triggered, personalized content.

https://www.inc.com/john-hall/the-era-of-the-empowered-consumer-insights-from-the-gartner-digital-conference.html

Been thinking about local

A year ago, Google location searches exploded –  “closest,” “nearby,” and “near me” searches were performed 35 more times than they did in 2011.

People demand instant, accurate, and helpful information on Google. Because of this, it likely comes as no surprise that Google has had to make many complex updates to its algorithm to keep up. Gone are the days of “cookie-cutter” search results. Google now strives to deliver the most customized, local search results possible. A Brooklyn pet owner, for example, searching for “veterinarians nearby” will get totally different results than a pet owner in the Bronx searching the same keyword phrase – all thanks to Google’s local-search result algorithms.

Amazing Local Search Stats to Consider

Here are some specific local search trends that are good to be aware of if you are trying to put together a local marketing strategy for your client or business:

How to Rank for “Near Me” Searches on Google

It’s one thing to understand the latest local search trends, but It’s another thing to know what to do about them. Here are some specific tactics that veterinary practices (and other local businesses) can use to improve their rankings for high-volume, high-value “near me” keywords:

  • Keep your Google Map listing up to date. Make sure your Google map listing is claimed, and has accurate information about your clinic, including address, hours, services offered, and website URL. After you’ve set up your map listing, you’ll need to maintain it and keep it updated ongoing.
  • Get those reviews!  These days, pets are considered family members. Location matters, but what matters even more is quality medical care, which is something that can be gleamed easily by reading online reviews. Small businesses that have many reviews, and a high star rating to go with, will benefit from higher rankings, and thus more exposure on Google.
  • Include information on your website about the locations you serve. Instead of targeting broad locations, focus on less competitive areas and neighborhoods.
  • Focus on your mobile site. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it needs to be! People are increasingly searching on their mobile devices, so your website must be (a) mobile-friendly and (b) deliver a great user experience. This will play a big role in your SEO efforts.

“Near me” searches are not slowing down, but the real takeaway is that we live in a mobile age, wherein we demand instant answers to all our questions.

Mobile Usage Trends on YouTube [Infographic]

Last week, YouTube announced an amazing stat – the platform now serves a billion hours of content per day to viewers. That figure towers over last reported numbers from Facebook (100 million hours of video content per day) and underlines why YouTube is still the key destination for online video content.

Yes, Facebook video is on the rise, and live-streaming is growing, but YouTube has become part of our interactive process – searching for something on YouTube is now as commonplace as ‘Googling’. Any brand planning a video content strategy needs to consider YouTube in that mix.

And here’s another YouTube stat to consider – according to this new infographic from comScore, 70% of all time spent on YouTube is now conducted via mobile device. comScore’s data underlines the importance of mobile for YouTube – which lead to them creating a new data report on mobile video metrics for YouTube and its channels.

While YouTube content is obviously optimized for mobile by default, the data underlines the importance of considering the mobile experience when creating YouTube content, along with some important mobile consumer trends to keep in mind.

Check out the full infographic below.

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/mobile-usage-trends-youtube-infographic

Disruptors in 2017: What’s on the Horizon for Marketing Technology | MarTech Advisor

If 2016 is any indication for 2017, it will be the year of the customer experience. Jamie Anderson, Senior Vice President & CMO at SAP Hybris explains how with the surge of new technology and, with it, the increase in the number of different channels available to connect with consumers, customer experience has taken on an entirely new meaning. There are more ways than ever for the customer to touch the enterprise

In order to be successful in the coming year, CMOs must understand the technology that works behind the scenes to create a seamless customer experience. Recent research from the CMO Council and SAP Hybris showed that 39 percent of marketers believe their technology investments have met expectations in areas such as measurement and customer interaction, but they appear to be falling short when it comes to connecting content, commerce, conversation, and campaigns with back-end operational realities, supply chain logistics, and organizational capabilities that will ultimately impact the customer experience.

This year, marketers must advance their pools of intelligence from being largely marketing-focused into those that are entirely customer-focused. This demands that the entire organization – from HR to operations and the supply chain – be digitally connected and aligned around a live view of the customer as an individual –  a view that takes the past, present, and future state of that individual into context in real-time.

Understanding this underlying technology will become even more critical once virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and general machine learning become a standard practice within marketing technology – something I believe will come to fruition this year. VR and AR have the potential to completely transform the way that consumers interact with technology and, therefore, a brand. This year we saw furniture companies implement VR to allow consumers to visualize what a piece of furniture would look like in their home and retail brands use smart changing rooms to more easily connect the consumer with sales associates. These are two examples of how the shopping experience can be augmented by virtual reality to enhance the customer experience and help retailers make smarter merchandising decisions. With this technology at the core, machine learning will begin to drive customer engagement.

Which brings me to my next prediction: in 2017, physical and digital retail will merge entirely to create one consistent shopping experience. It’s become clear that consumers expect to interact with a single brand, while jumping across in-store and online touchpoints to research and make purchases. Therefore, retailers shouldn’t think in terms of individual channels. For a truly connected retail experience, they must embrace technologies that bridge the physical and digital divide.

For example, in-store sales associates should have access to customer data, including past behaviors and preferences to help personalize the shopping experience. Taking it one step further, brands can offer online ordering for in-store pick-up and vice versa. Consumer shopping behaviors are drastically changing year after year and retailers must keep up with this evolution. With approaches available to help blend the retail experience, shoppers will be able to more easily control their experience, pursuing a variety of tools and channels to complete a purchase. It is the duty of the brand to make this journey as easy and seamless as possible.

This type of connectivity of back-end systems requires a marketing automation system that uses current, relevant data to drive engagement – something all companies will need in order to compete. If their data is out of date, marketing automation is a waste of time. This year, marketers must learn to use automation systems to apply intelligent algorithms to the context of the consumer interaction that has taken place. It’s not about mass outreach – instead, automation can be used to touch each individual customer based on their past behavior and general propensity to buy. AI and machine learning will play a big part in the success of marketing automation systems next year.

Lastly, microservices will be a major disruptor in 2017. At a base level, microservice is a new software that will fundamentally change the agility with which businesses can operate. In the short term, microservices will be most prevalent at the front-end of the business (i.e., the way that brands interact with customers). Microservices can easily be integrated into organizations’ existing technology stacks to create an end-to-end solution that will set a higher bar for engagement between brands and consumers.

If there’s one key area that marketers should focus on in 2017, it is leading the digital innovation that drives change. Once businesses are fully acclimatized to operating in the digital world, they will learn to use it to use it to their advantage – by following consumer journeys from beginning to end, determining what engages a target audience, making predictions about what’s on the mind of customers – and ultimately using this information to form deeper relationships.

https://www.martechadvisor.com/articles/customer-experience/disruptors-in-2017-whats-on-the-horizon-for-marketing-technology/