In recent years, brands have adopted a wide range of delicate and sophisticated approaches to attracting consumers. Rather than shouting “buy this product” through as many advertising spaces as possible brands have engaged with consumers in a more authentic way. Through content marketing we have found a way of engaging with people who have become desensitized to incessant and forceful advertising. The means by which this more engaging content has been delivered has been transformed by continual technological changes which have made the task of engaging with consumers simpler and more efficient.
Now, with the emergence of new technology on the horizon, we can expect further developments in technology to have a notable impact on consumer engagement within content marketing. If brands can harness the potential of immersive technology like virtual reality, voice search and artificial intelligence then we will see new levels of consumer engagement. Here, I look at three emerging technological innovations which could open the doors for increased consumer engagement within content marketing.
Virtual reality offers a way of consuming content in a more engaging and immersive way. This is shown by a YuMe/Nielsen study which found that virtual reality drives a 27% higher emotional response than 2D experiences. Whilst, the potential for AR was demonstrated by the success of Pokémon Go which at its peak boasted 65 million users. We are seeing how the immersive nature of VR and AR is resulting in users being easily captivated by a new hyper immersive world.
So, how could VR and AR have widespread influence over content marketing? Well, we have seen glimpses of how companies have incorporated digital immersive experiences into services and campaigns already. Ikea’s ‘place app’ for example allows users to view products from the Ikea catalogue by overlaying it onto any room in their house. Whilst Oreo delivered a virtual experience of a ‘Charlie and the Chocolate factory’ style adventure. Consider the possibilities for augmented reality and virtual reality for experientially driven campaigns from anything from realistic driving experiences to exploring new clothing styles. AR and VR could be total game changers in allowing consumers the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in a campaign and reach new levels of engagement.
Google Homes and Amazon Alexas have come from nowhere to become a staple gadget of the modern home, and by the end of 2019 Canalys have predicted that there will 200 million smart speakers installed in households around the world. With such a sudden rise in voice it is inevitable that there will be an impact on content marketing.
The key thing that voice search does is connect the consumer with content in a more direct and natural way. This way of searching fits best with content which slots into natural conversation as searching through voice turns keywords or phrases into complete questions that are akin to the way you might naturally ask a question. If this is taken into consideration when writing blogs and landing pages then content will increasingly mimic the question and answer format which is central to voice search. Instead of “recipe for lasagne” at the top of the landing page, expect “how do I make lasagne?”.
Another interesting way in which voice search can impact content marketing is through video. According to Mindmeld’s 2016 intelligent Voice Assistants Research Report, 91% of people who use voice search give fast results or being otherwise occupied as reasons for using voice search. Video can accommodate for this as it can directly answer voice search queries for people who don’t want to be scrolling through page after page of written content.
Ultimately, voice search allows people to search in a direct and interactive way thus facilitating the creation of more engaging content.
From chatbots to predictive forecasting, AI has also already started to make its mark on marketing. But what can it do for the future of content marketing and consumer engagement?
One of the key ways brands connect with consumers is by understanding the needs and expectations of their individual customers. Personalised content is increasingly expected by consumers, with a salesforce study stating that 75% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. Sophisticated AI will allow brands to personalise their content down to the very last detail. Key customer variables such as location, context, behaviour and even core values will be collectively analysed to create a tailored experience for every consumer. AI can facilitate the creation of engaging content which gains an understanding of consumer needs so you are directing the right content at the right people.
The most exciting technological innovations which are set to emerge over the next decade will change the way content marketing is done and the effect it has on the consumer. Many of these innovations will lift the standard for what we see as engaging content and connect with the consumer in a more immersive fashion. Immersive and innovative technology will transform content from something which is interesting and authentic to something which forms part of a hyper immersive and personalised experience.