How to Bring the Human Element Back into Your Online Marketing
The more that search giants such as Google delve deeper into Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related fields, the greater the focus (ironically) comes back to the end-user and humanistic elements fundamental to search marketing success.
Understanding and serving humans are after all what search engines are for, and I like to distill this down to the following type of statement:
The primary function of Google (and related search engines) is to provide people (users) with the most relevant, highest quality results driven by their search query.
The remainder of this article provides practical and actionable ways in which you can incorporate the human element effectively into your digital marketing approaches.
Bringing Faces Back to the Brand
Surfacing staff stories, expertise and practical help, tips, and advice, is a fantastic way to overcome the challenges of being seen as a faceless brand.
People want to engage with other people, regardless of how effective your content marketing may be.
There are many credible ways to incorporate people as a core part of your online marketing, and a few of my favorite tactics are detailed next:
- Produce video content - This helps your business target highly competitive search topics with top-ranking (and often less competitive) visual content. Google Universal results are present in all industries and most frequently deployed to the highly commercial search engine results pages (SERPS). Video content can expedite Organic search success and drive brand and non-brand visibility in a value-enhancing way.
- Introduce chatbots - OK, this may seem contrary to applying a human element by using technology, but actually the human-computer collaborative approach is fundamental for getting access to users in a repeatable and 'always-available' fashion. Key staff can interact directly with users during office working hours, plus chatbots can be programmed to apply the decision tree approach to providing people with clear routes to content and advice 24/7.
- Become part of the conversation - Experts within your core business areas can include regular audience nurturing as part of their working priorities. This can include participating in forums, creating content for off-site use, answering questions on social media channels (including sites like Quora), and generally imparting knowledge to new and existing persona groups.
- Tell staff and company stories - From daily routines and small insights into staff roles and responsibilities, through to award ceremonies, business expansion and the company in the community. This form of 'people content' reinforces items such as the company mission statement, core values, and wider lifestyle choices which help expose the brand to people outside of the traditional online marketing channels.
Getting Active With Conversational Search
Conversational Search can be something as simple as targeting long-tail key terms with appropriate content creation, or something more complex like chatbot use.
People are seeking conversations to help them make purchase decisions, and online marketing is the perfect medium to facilitate this within any organization.
Whilst traditionally people would actively pick up the phone or walk into a local branch of businesses to ask questions and remove barriers to conversion, nowadays people want access to that information and expertise immediately and delivered through technology.
The growth of Google Rich Results, Google Answers, and market-leading aggregator sites that offer comparison, advice and forum interactions demonstrates this shift from offline to online (as does the decline in high streets combined with the rapid growth of home speakers, voice search, and the Internet as a whole).
Actions you can take to increase the gains your make online from conversational search include:
- Adding regular FAQ content to your website tied to the latest and changing user search queries
- Creating content clusters/hubs that offer comprehensive topical coverage and reflect various stages of user intent
- Reposition existing content so that it is organized to appear for longer tail keywords and more natural search phrases
- Include structured data to relevant content (example QandA schema for FAQ content) to help target Google Rich Results and other voice search opportunities
- Become more aware of conversational trends and intent items - for example 'near me' 'close by' and related search behavior trend booms which tie into mobile 1st result preferences and home speaker technology changes (including Amazon Alexa and Google Home)
Solving People Pain Points, Wants and Needs
At the heart of value-driven online marketing is people aware problem-solving.
It's easy to gather data to drive the content types and topics you create related to this (Google Search Console and other tools such as AnswerThePublic just two of many freely available data collection points for this).
Here is an example screen grab of AnswerThePublic data outputs in this case is based on the search query of 'moving house':
Some of the pain points identified include:
- moving home fridge
- moving home fixed mortgage
- moving home for the first time
- moving home furniture
- moving home essentials
- moving home electricity
- moving home after living abroad
- moving home address change checklist uk
- moving home announcement cards
- moving home and energy suppliers
- moving home abroad
- moving home after divorce
- moving home housing benefit
- moving home help
As you can see from the above, there are many immediate content and value-led online marketing opportunities - and this is just a snapshot showcasing some direct actions that can be taken.
Vary Content Types to Target Peoples Preferences
One of the ways in which people express their content preferences is through engagement, social sharing and related metrics including time on page and pages viewed data.
Google Analytics is a useful, free tool to gather data for this, plus social media listening is an important ongoing online marketing activity to see changing and news trends.
Ahrefs and SEMRush have good, paid-for ways to check your website content against the competition to find gaps in content types and topics that work ('work' for backlinks, social sharing, traffic, and other business online marketing objectives and KPIs).
Bringing us back to our content purpose - 'How to Bring the Human Element Back into Your Online Marketing', it is clear that digital marketing teams and businesses of all sizes can integrate more of a human element into marketing approaches.
Items specifically covered in this article include:
- Adding faces to the brand
- Incorporating focus on conversational search
- Solving people pain points
- Varying content types