‘We give our customers what they want before they know they want it.’
You’ve probably heard that phrase before. Probably more than once. You were most likely skeptical.
We all want to get things without having to ask. It’s one of the ways we define great service. When restaurant waiters top up your wine glass, or coffee cup, as you continue your conversation or you receive a parcel tracking update on an online order without requesting it. It makes you feel like the true master of your domain. The things you want come to you.
Great service is supposed to make you feel good, if only for a few seconds. That’s why businesses often boast about offering services before we know we want them. They want to give you that feeling.
Search Engines And Great Service
While they’re not quite as boastful about it, offering you something before you know you want it has long been a target for Internet search engines. Google, in particular, adds as much extra information as possible to its search results, in case you need it.
Google an actor and you get more than a link to their Wikipedia page. You get biographical & Filmographical content right there on the results page. You might just have been looking for Ryan Gosling’s date of birth to see if your ‘signs’ are combatable, but now you also get a reminder to watch the Notebook for the 500th time. Or try that ‘Drive’ movie… I wonder if it’s another heartbreaking romantic drama? It isn’t.
What Do You Want To Know, Now?
This same thinking has been applied to mobile search in the form of ‘Google Now’, Mountain View’s mobile personal assistant. Rather than take the witty butler route that Apple has chosen for Siri, Google Now is like a diligent, but painfully shy, PA. It pushes through useful pieces of information, in the form of cards, based on its ‘learning’ from your activity, without any coy voice interaction.
The system is designed to pick up certain behaviors, like travel, search or calendar activities and then produce useful information when you need it. Say you always search for news about your favorite sports team, Google Now spots the pattern and starts offering that news on cards whenever you hit search. It can also notify you of travel routes and traffic conditions for calendar items without being asked. It just lets you know as the appointment nears.
Which brings us back to your customers. As this technology develops, and the latest development may be its appearance on Google.com, people will get used to getting information without looking for it. Which is both a problem and an opportunity for brands that rely on search traffic to generate leads and sales. The problem is obvious, less searches means less useful data on keywords to target and less opportunity to get your brand in front of users.
It also provides an opportunity. If you can get your brand onto those cards, you automatically take a massive leap ahead of your competition. Search works as an inbound marketing technique because people trust the results Google gives them. How much extra credibility will be added when Google suggests your brand before a user even starts to search?
Google Now And Inbound Marketing
The whole idea behind inbound marketing is to create content and provide information that your prospects want to find and then use that opportunity to sell your products. Imagine if you could get your prospects to find you before they even start looking.
Unfortunately, reaching that inbound marketing Holy Grail isn’t going to be easy. Google hasn’t really explained how Google Now identifies search results outside of the usual search algorithms. In all likelihood, there is no new formula, Google Now simply identifies a relevant search based on user activity and offers the top results. Meaning there’s no silver bullet for getting onto those magic cards.
But, it may mean it’s time to reconsider how we optimize for search. All current SEO guidelines are built around the theory that a human mind will enter search terms in a certain pattern. We don’t know the exact search terms Google Now uses, or even how it communicates them. It’s search based entirely on needs.
The only way to access those results is to create content that meets your prospects needs as effectively as possible. Google continue to push for content that’s useful, relevant and informative. Now more than ever, your content needs to meet those criteria. If you really want to give your customers what they want, before they know they want it, you need to make sure your content does the same job.
Your content is a critcal component of your inbound marketing strategy. Download our FREE whitepaper which outlines how to create that Winning Content