For small and midsize businesses, content marketing has been a staple in the marketing mix for decades.
High-quality, strategic content has benefits at every stage of the funnel—from drawing in prospective customers with awareness-boosting blogs and infographics to aiding in the selection and purchase stage with thoughtful email and customer-retention campaigns.
Unfortunately, just when you think your small business has a handle on its content marketing strategy, new technology comes in and pulls the rug out from underneath you.
Consider how just a few years of tech advancements have changed the customer experience of ordering a drink at Starbucks: You can place an order in advance, perhaps using voice-to-text on your morning commute, pay and tip from your smartphone, and spend under a minute in the actual store.
You can bet the corporate marketing team at Starbucks has teams dedicated to reimagining their content marketing strategy, deciding how this technology affects customer experience and loyalty, impulse purchasing, and everything in between.
Small businesses are facing the same emerging content marketing trends. However, they have fewer resources at their disposal to experiment with incorporating those tech trends into their marketing strategy. Keeping up with these trends requires more time, bandwidth, and financial buffer than most small-business owners can spare.
To help you out with this challenge, I’ve gone through Gartner’s premiere research on tech trends that could disrupt the future of marketing to find what I believe are ways this technology can be leveraged by you, the small-business owner. (Full research available to Gartner clients.)
In the coming year, small businesses need to focus on promotional tech trends across both consumer behavior and operational technology. Specifically:
- How conversational agents such as Siri and Alexa are changing how buyers search for and select goods and services, and
- How data analytics will change persona-building best practices.
Conversational agents are changing how we search
Hey Alexa, what is audio marketing?
For decades, our interactions with digital technology have been moderated by a screen and a keyboard. Gartner’s research on disruptive technology trends, however, shows an increase in the use of conversational agents such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri.
Gartner’s research shows that one in five online consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany already use conversational agents. Among these users, more than one-third engage with a virtual assistant at least once per day.
As consumers become more comfortable with conversational agents and voice transactions, our digital interactions are becoming more conversational and less reliant on screen time.
Conversational keywords are on the rise
Gartner’s research says that voice search queries can reveal more details about user intent and motivation because they are more likely to be framed as questions: what, why, where, when, and how. This is a gold mine of insight into the needs of your customer if your small business can collect that data and analyze it.
Think about it this way: If you’re at your computer and looking for a place nearby to get coffee, you might type, “coffee near me” into the search bar.
If you’re out taking an afternoon stroll, though, you might raise your smartphone toward your mouth and ask, “Hey Siri, where can I get a cup of coffee right now?”
See the difference? Google’s organic search algorithms certainly do.
Investing in content marketing software for your small business will empower your marketing team to run these types of SEO analytics, assessing the top keywords and queries that will lead people to your digital content. This analysis can help you track and anticipate how conversational agents are changing SEO.
SEO capabilities of content marketing software SEMRush (Source)
There is a tremendous amount of research on the ways that voice search and conversational agents will change how people perform organic searches and how search engines rank and categorize content. For a thoughtful deep dive into the subject, check out Neil Patel’s post on optimizing for voice search.
Even without getting into the weeds, the discussions around conversational agents and SEO are applicable today to small-business owners. Enterprise and small businesses alike can expect to see more conversational phrases within longer searches.
As your small business thinks about content and SEO strategy, consider how your customers speak about your industry and the goods and services you provide.
Data mining and analysis change how we communicate
Customize your marketing content down to the atoms
In addition to changing how we search for things online, emerging technologies are changing how businesses communicate with their customers. With every advancement in data analytics, consumers increase their expectation for a customized brand experience.
In their research on disruptive technology trends, Gartner illustrates a marketing strategy, called atomic content, that drives the creation of customizable and reusable small content elements. These small content elements are the “atoms” that give the atomic content concept its name.
These elements can then be assembled to create dynamic and persona-driven videos, emails, web pages, and a variety of other marketing materials.
“Atomic content requires marketing leaders to explore new ways of creating and delivering content” Gartner explains. “Individually, these content elements form the building blocks of effective customized messaging, but together, they are a powerful catalyst for customer engagement and results.”
A full application of the atomic content strategy requires businesses to integrate real-time data sources across an array of marketing technologies to deliver and measure these customized experiences. We will likely see this technology fully realized and integrated into marketing automation software within the next decade.
Email marketing analytics capabilities of VerticalResponse (Source)
For now, integrating marketing automation software into your marketing strategy and familiarizing yourself with its capabilities will set you up for success as AI continues to change the game.
Marketers should prioritize software that empowers them to collect and analyze customer data, leveraging findings to customize the buyer experience.
Use your customer data to build well-rounded personas
Your customer data can also inform how you define and categorize customer personas.
Customer personas are built from the attributes and preferences associated with specific buyer profiles. These personas offer businesses useful archetypes of their different kinds of clients, grouping them by their values, needs, and goals.
Small businesses should use their client data to build customer personas. The data collected can go beyond simple demographic information as well. While demographic data is an integral part of building buyer personas, behavioral, transactional, and psychographic data are key components to building a persona.
A persona that begins and ends with “adult female living in a major city” offers marketers very little to inform how they target a person. A more well-rounded, data-driven persona could include insights from social media (e.g. they are interested in sports and cooking) and transactional history (e.g. customers who fit this persona respond well to annual sales).
2019 tech trends for small businesses
If you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits of content marketing software and its SEO capabilities, check out our comprehensive CMS directory where you can filter the options by desired feature, including “SEO management.”
In 2019 and beyond, emerging technologies have begun and will continue to disrupt our assumed modes of customer interaction and engagement. Small business marketing leaders must guide their companies accordingly.
Not all new technologies will have a monumental effect on each and every business, but by identifying and prioritizing those that will, you can keep your small business on the forefront of the positive customer experience.
Looking for Content Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Content Management software solutions.