From marketing automation to chatbots and now the Internet of Things (IoT) – technology, it seems, is forever disrupting marketing and it can be hard to evolve a content strategy fast enough to keep up.
The way we communicate and engage with our target audiences is in a permanent state of evolution. It wasn’t so long ago that simply having a blog was the most important part of a content strategy – then social media marketing exploded, then video marketing, then messaging apps and chatbot marketing, and then, and then, and then….
We’ve now once again reached one of those moments in marketing history where the increasing proliferation of an emerging technology is poised to change the way consumers consume content – and so we’re going to need a content strategy that can match and indeed exploit it.
The technology in question is the Internet of Things – but what is it exactly?
What is the Internet of Things?
The IoT basically describes the ever-expanding network of “things” – i.e. physical objects: devices, home appliances, cars, coffee pots, fridges, watches, you name it! – that are embedded with electronics, software and sensors that allow them to connect with the internet and exchange data.
It’s the connected world, in other words – and the number of “things” being connected is growing at a very fast pace. In 2005 there were a pretty impressive 500 million things that were connected to the internet. By 2020 (in just two years’ time!) there will be 50 billion.
(Image source: visualcapitalist.com)
Already today, it’s become commonplace for our phones to “talk” to our tablets and desktop computers – and if you’ve got a smartwatch, it will be talking to that, too.
Smart TVs are proliferating, and with items like the Amazon Echo beginning to take off in a big way, it’s not hard to imagine just how close we really are to a futuristic world where practically everything is connected in one way or another.
What Does the Internet of Things Mean for Your Content Strategy?
It might seem like content marketing would be one of the last things to be affected by the IoT revolution. But in fact, it may be one of the first, as it will change the way we both create and consume content.
Indeed, we can hardly talk about the Internet of Thing without mentioning the smart fridge.
Let’s take an example scenario. You go to the supermarket and pick up a few groceries – say, some potatoes and a few pieces of chicken – and pay for them using your smartphone. You get home and pop the items in your smart fridge, which automatically scans its own contents and reports to your tablet on your kitchen table. Your tablet has a record of your other recent purchases and scans the web for a selection of recipes that you could make using the items it knows you’ve got – and it would probably make “smart” suggestions based on which of those items are approaching their use-by-date.
(Image source: information-age.com)
Now, if you were an ecommerce player in the business of selling kitchen gadgets and cookbooks and whatnot, publishing recipes on your website and Pinterest page would likely be part of your ongoing content strategy. And in the world of the Internet of Things, it will be devices themselves that retrieve this content on behalf of users, as and when those devices “think” it would be most appropriate to do so. That has implications for the types of content you create for personalisation and indeed for SEO.
Indeed, one of the most important things to think about in terms of your content strategy and the IoT is the sheer amount of data that will become available as more and more things are connected.
To continue with the ecommerce kitchenware example, knowing that your customers are in possession of smart fridges – and soon enough it will be smart store cupboards, ovens, toasters and coffee pots, too – your content strategy would need to be built around supreme personalisation. Recipes, nutritional information, dinner party planning, kids’ packed lunches – this is all content that you could create that could potentially be absolutely personalised to the individual if the IoT were able to let you know exactly what food the consumer has in the house.
It might all seem a little far-fetched at the moment and there are of course data privacy concerns that will need to be addressed and balanced out – but the technology really isn’t that far off.
SEO and the Internet of Things - Voice Search
The realms of supper recipes and smart fridges may of course be a world away from your business. However, what we all need to take note of – no matter what industry we’re in – is how search is evolving and will continue to evolve as the IoT takes hold.
Particularly, voice-search is going to continue to impact SEO. Indeed, it may be slow, but the way people are searching for online information is gradually changing. Apple’s Siri has been around for a while and there are several alternatives for Android. With the likes of Amazon Echo and the growing proliferation of IoT-enabled devices in general, voice-search is only set to become more significant – that means marketers will have to optimise for voice-search as part of an ongoing, forward-thinking content strategy.
Take a look at this slide from the KPCB Internet Trends Report 2017 and see how voice-search is growing.
(Image source: slideshare.net)
Optimising your content for voice-search means understanding how it’s different from text-search.
Googlers are pretty good these days at keeping queries short, only entering the specific keywords and keyword phrases that they know will bring them the results they’re looking for. Typically, text-searchers use about two words to express their search intent.
However, according to data published in Moz, voice-searchers, though still keeping things relatively short, tend to use longer phrases when conducting a query.
(Image source: moz.com)
When people conduct a voice-search, they are more conversational and, as such, this means that in order to do SEO in the age of the IoT, you’ll need to be including conversational keyword phrases in your content to increase the chances of your content showing up.
Just the Tip of the Iceberg
The Internet of Things will be huge. There’s no ifs or buts about it – the IoT is coming and over the next few years, it will continue to affect digital marketing, which means that we all need a content strategy that can keep up.
What we’ve touched on here is just the very tip of the iceberg. Beacon and location technology, for instance, will continue to allow marketers to serve up personalised content to smartphone users when they are physically present in certain places. Wearable technology, too, will create even more opportunity for content marketers. In short, the IoT will quite literally change the world we live in, and so we need a content strategy that can change with it.