The way that people interact with and consume content online is ever evolving. People are no longer passive consumers, but active seekers of that which helps, inspires and entertains them.
The amount of online content published is vast, and rapidly increasing, with huge volumes going live every second; also, overt marketing tactics have been overused and are now filtered out by people to avoid sensory overload.
What really gets a consumer’s attention is to what extent the content they find satisfies their needs.
Before Google introduced the Hummingbird update, which placed importance on the contextual meaning of search and a site’s ability to meet audience needs surrounding this, Fresh Egg had started to consider how it could adapt its approach to digital marketing to meet our clients’, and their customers’, needs more effectively.
We realised that this was crucial to enable our clients’ businesses experience success in the digital space, and we were aware that by neglecting the intention behind search, we were missing a trick.
The birth of audience intent
An engaged audience. Image source: unsplash.com. Creative commons licensed.
In a move away from a keyword and search volume-focused approach, and seeking to lead the way in audience-centric marketing, Fresh Egg pioneered the creation of a new piece of investigative work we call “Audience Intent”. This work forms an integral part of the discovery phase of a project and is used as a basis to inform all other areas of our work across the digital marketing lifecycle.
Our head of innovation, Dr David Sewell, engineered this approach in response to a realisation that meeting a visitor’s needs required a better understanding of the reasons people begin to search.
He created a tool called “Search Intent” that we use to help uncover the intentions behind search by aggregating search terms that are related to each other and examining the pathways between them.
Dr Sewell says that the search intent tool helps us to “understand and analyse how consumers use and modify search terms to reject, select and discover useful or interesting content”.
Whilst this may sound rather technical, the essence of this development (and why it is so ground-breaking) is that it allowed us to really understand the underlying intentions of the searcher when the search terms used were either very short or ambiguous.
By classifying and connecting related search intentions, rather than nouns or keywords, we could align our clients’ sites, content, campaigns and technical SEO strategy with this deeper understanding of needs, and take engagement to a whole new level.
A comprehensive, real time understanding of how people interact with sites and search online is the driving force behind the evolution of Google’s search algorithms. Our audience-led approach reflects Google’s own aim to understand an audience’s intent behind its searches.
An audience-led approach helps build industry leading websites
The new KFH website, created by Fresh Egg
Our commercial director, Sarah Tunstall, shared her thoughts on how audience intent research contributed to the success of a recent website re-launch for leading London property experts, Kinleigh, Folkard and Haywayd (KFH):
“Our audience-led approach was the driving force behind the build of www.kfh.co.uk, independent property services group KFH’s new website.
“Having completed detailed audience intent analysis to understand the behaviours, intentions and needs of people buying, selling, renting, letting and investing in property in the Capital, we were able to structure, design and build an industry-leading site that meets the needs of KFH’s key audiences and sets a new benchmark for websites in the property sector.
“Our audience intent analysis has also provided an invaluable foundation for an integrated digital marketing strategy that will now drive business growth for KFH moving forwards.”
Quality content is crafted around an audience
The content that people really take note of and look to share with their friends is that which connects with them on a personal level. It is that which is framed in a way that connects with their way of thinking; that which empathises with and solves a problem they are experiencing.
Content can also allow them to take an existing interest to a new level; enabling them to move forward with their personal prerogatives. This article on the Guardian explores some other qualities that make content shareable, such as its emotive aspects: whether it is awe-inspiring, emotional, positive or surprising. It is an understanding of our client’s audience that enables us to create content that has these qualities.
Our content director, Matt Long, explains the role our audience intent work plays in our approach to content marketing:
“Fresh Egg’s audience intent analysis is the foundation of our audience-led approach to content marketing. Our methodologies for content creation, strategy and promotion are all founded on the in-depth research it entails.
”By ensuring the content we create meets the needs of the audience, a client’s business and search engines, we get the best possible return on investment for our clients’ spend on content marketing.”
Compelling campaigns come from an understanding of the audience
It isn’t just onsite content that needs to reflect an understanding of an audience in order to engage them; our audience-led approach is also the springboard from which we create campaigns that have the ability to hook an audience and attract them to your site.
David Somerville, our head of inbound marketing, explains how the Audience Intent work that we do complements our campaign approach and contributes to campaign success:
“Fresh Egg’s audience-led approach is a perfect fit for planning and implementing successful digital marketing campaigns. The Internet is a very big place, so it’s really important to learn more about your audience to find out not only who they are, but also where they are spending their time online.
“Within our Audience Intent research pieces we identify the key digital marketplaces where the different audiences for the brands can be found. This is then fed into the planning for the campaigns so that we ensure that we are creating the right content for the audience and working with the channels/websites where the audience is most likely to engage with it.”
Fresh Egg’s audience-focused content and campaigns
A strong example of how our campaign and content teams have combined is our work for a leading UK holiday cottage rental company, Sykes Cottages. Fresh Egg created an innovative content hub where people could “Discover Cornwall” in response to detailed work that investigated people’s wants and needs when researching holidays in Cornwall.
For example, we discovered that lots of people were searching for information on Michelin-starred restaurants in Cornwall, so we created a guide on the hub that explored this topic in detail. As a result, Sykes Cottages gained visibility around Michelin-starred restaurants in Cornwall, a topic that they had never previously appeared for in search results.
The Michelin restaurant guide on the Sykes Discover Cornwall content hub
Through our audience-led campaign, we enabled Sykes Cottages to gain increased organic visibility for terms related to Cornwall, which led to an increase in relevant quality traffic to their site.
We also helped them to establish a reputation as an authority on holidays in Cornwall, through producing quality written and visual content on the subject that directly responded to the audience needs we had identified.
Audience is a key component of technical SEO strategy
As well as informing web builds and being at the centre of our content and campaign ethos, our audience-led approach feeds into ongoing technical SEO strategy, as our Senior Technical SEO Manager, Steve Jones, explains:
“Technical work on a website has rapidly moved beyond the basics, which could be boiled down to the essential ability of a search engine to discover and visit the pages on a website.
“Search engines are now determining what will be useful for someone entering a query at different points in their buying cycle, in different locations and on different devices.
“To ensure a website is technically capable and optimised to provide this functionality presumes a thorough understanding of the make-up and search behaviour of that site’s audience. Otherwise, it’s like a landscape artist trying to paint fields without using any greens in their palette: you’ll be missing a key component.”
Experience success in the digital space
Gone are the days where a focus on keywords and search volume was sufficient to chase traffic, without a regard for what the visitors arriving at your site actually wanted from it. To be successful as a brand in the digital space, it is necessary to align your website and overall digital strategy with the way in which your audience behaves online: their wants, their needs, the places they go to consume content and the types and formats of content they engage with best.