How many channels does the average cable subscriber have access to? Hundreds? Thousands?
And how many of those channels do they actually watch — maybe 10 or 20?
Over the past few years, most savvy search engine optimizers (SEOs) have traded in their outdated SEO tactics for a more modern, content-focused strategy. This is great, but make no mistake — content, even really good content, will eventually fail to drive organic rankings due to the fact that it won’t stand out.
Consumers can only consume so much content in a day. The quality of content online used to be so low that any brand that consistently created quality videos, compelling infographics and useful web pages could naturally attract links, followers and even media coverage. But now that quality content is becoming the norm, what’s the next big online marketing trend to follow it?
The answer: experiences.
Three years ago, Audi’s social media team at M80 kept seeing a strange new hashtag, #WantAnR8, appearing on Twitter.
It started with a D.C. area women who tweeted #WantAnR8 almost daily. Because of her social reach, others started to use the hashtag, including the legion of Audi enthusiasts.
The social team monitored the virality closely and realized they had an opportunity. Shortly thereafter, Audi’s marketing team approved the plans and decided to surprise her with the car to drive for the day!
With a camera crew in tow, the social team captured the moments of surprise and delight that delivered great content for the entire marketing and advertising team to work with.
Today, Audi is repeating the campaign for the third year in a row. Why wouldn’t they? It’s generated thousands of videos, hundreds of thousands of tweets, and tens of millions of impressions for the cost of “extended test drives” and a few film crews.
This is an amazing case study for both social and content creation, but that wasn’t the goal initially. It started out with a simple desire to create a wonderful experience for just one person — and the natural output of a great experience is powerful content and authentic social mentions. In this case, Audi expanded this tactic to include many “surprise drives.”
I’m not suggesting that experiences are used as a tactic to merely create high-quality content; rather, great experiences in themselves generate trust and affinity, which in turn gives brands the right to have their existing content ranked higher than competitors that lack trust and affinity.
After all, organic rankings are all about relevancy and trust. Today, trust is measured by backlinks, user engagement and social (to a degree). In the future, search engines will get even better at measuring that trust, which will determine who wins the right to rank at the top of my search results. So let’s start figuring out how to create these experiences today!
How Does A Brand Create Great Experiences?
Like “going viral,” there is no one formula that’s guaranteed to create great experiences every single time. There are, however, some principles that brands can follow to improve their odds.
1. Surprise & Delight
Edge shaving gel recently launched a campaign aimed at reducing some of life’s irritations. They scoured Twitter to see what people were complaining about, and responded with funny replies or free gifts to help them out.
For example, David Berkowitz, a creative agency CMO and AdAge blogger, tweeted about how frustrated he was that he ran out of cereal for breakfast.
Edge Shave Gel responded with the following:
@dberkowitz Lack of cereal is #soirritating, but we got your back. DM us and this is yours: http://twitpic.com/2xlzyw
— Edge Shave Zone (@EdgeShaveZone) October 14, 2010
(Here’s the picture they linked:)
2. Know Your Audience
New York frozen yogurt chain 16 Handles used Snapchat to ask customers to snap a picture of themselves tasting their favorite yogurt flavor; in response, 16 Handles snapped them back a coupon for 16%, 50% or 100% off their purchase.
In true Snapchat fashion, the coupon disappeared in 10 seconds, so customers had to be fast if they wanted to take advantage of their savings, and over 1400 customers did just that.
This sort of promotion could have worked on Twitter or Foursquare, as well, but 16 Handles knows that many of their customers are teens who prefer Snapchat. This was the best platform to reach them (not to mention, disappearing coupons check the “Surprise and Delight” box above, as well!).
3. Let Technology Help Scale
Not everyone will be able to walk on Mars, but that doesn’t mean we can’t experience it through virtual content.
This Mars experience is a partnership between NASA and Sony for Sony’s new Playstation Morpheus, a virtual reality gaming device.
Virtual reality devices are poised to break into the mainstream gaming environment this year and next, but make no mistake — Morpheus is not just for gaming. It’s a conduit to explore and experience the physical world without leaving your house, and it could be the bridge marketers need to bring immersive experiences to more consumers at scale.
The Future Of SEO
Content is, and will remain the building block of a solid SEO strategy, but simply having great content won’t be enough. Brands will soon begin fighting for the right to get their content in front of consumers organically; those who begin building consumer trust and affinity through delightful experiences today will be in a good position to reap the SEO rewards of tomorrow.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.