In a world that continues to evolve digitally, many consumers absorb more content than ever before. In fact, consumers take in more than ten pieces of content before they make a decision to purchase or choose a service. This explosion of content not only gives more opportunities for users to discover new brands, ideas and products – it can also lead to finding new annoyances.
While content marketing gives brands the ability to craft the ‘perfect’ message, it can backfire and push their target audience away. Many companies are being accused of greenwashing and using PR-centric copy that has no value or relevance, therefore failing to retain their defined audience. Inevitably, this leaves customers feeling a sense of mistrust as the message has become unauthentic.
Research by Clutch found that 67% of people consider content marketing as useful and valuable, however, 33% consider it to be unreliable and biased. This echoes the challenge that content copywriters and managers face daily; finding the balance and crafting a message for a brand that also appeals to audiences but also has the expertise, authority and trust that Google’s Page Quality Guidelines look for.
While some businesses may be all-digital, content marketing is still a human-to-human interaction that needs to be maintained. Digital marketers need to stop pushing content for content’s sake – we know this never works. We need to focus on providing users with a message they not only engage with, but they find valuable and ultimately trust.
In the oversaturated world of digital marketing, how can you ensure your content is authentic and stands out?
What Is Authentic Content?
Authentic content is content that’s genuinely created to be of service to readers/users and its industry without trying to manipulate its target audience. While traditional content has focused on showing a product or service it offers in a purely good light, authentic content listens to its customers and clients (also known as real people) in real situations. Creating an authentic message doesn’t just focus on what the final product is, but how it got there and the stories of why, how, when and where customers are using it.
Brands That Got Authentic Content Right
Dove’s Beauty Campaigns
A successful example is the Dove Real Beauty campaign (or Dove Self-Esteem Project). Since launching in 2004, the company most known for its range of soaps transformed itself into a business with a vision. Every campaign they’ve produced echoes their new mission statement; “beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety.”
The new message from Dove presented itself as a company that champions women’s empowerment and body positivity. Campaigns including My Beauty My Say, Real Body Image Pledge and #NoLikesNeeded are all effective for the following reasons:
- Focused values: Dove empowers women and challenges the world’s perception of beauty.
- Real people: All adverts use real people instead of models, making it relatable and ultimately more powerful.
- Emotional connection: Women’s reactions and statements in the ads create strong emotions which all women can relate to.
- Consistent message: Each campaign contributes to the larger campaign.
The real beauty campaign has seen sales for Dove leap from $2.5 billion to over $4 billion. Authentic marketing pays when a brand gets it right.
Jack Daniel’s No. 7
Drinks brands are especially good at creating an authentic message, as their campaigns echo the real stories behind each product. Jack Daniels has a full timeline of its growth listed on its website which tells the true story of the brand, with images of people involved at different points of its existence. The brand’s history is usually displayed on every bottle and its recent advertising campaigns focused on its popular No. 7 batch. The Hands TV advert displayed the care and attention involved in creating a single bottle for consumers which felt real and appealed to every Jack Daniels consumer:
Innocent Smoothies – Innocently Authentic
Innocent Smoothies has always presented itself in a quirky, conversational way to connect with its audience. Reading a simple product description gives audiences a real message they can engage with:
Pomegranates, blueberries & acai (smoothie)
This recipe is a bit special. We’ve squeezed three of the world’s finest superfruits into it, a combination of pomegranate, blueberry and acai.
Tastes great and much better than getting busy with a funnel and a piece of hosepipe.
2 of your 5 a day in every bottle or 250ml glass
it gives you the goodness of 7 different types of fruit
The product description is simple, effective and is consistent with the message of the brand. It feels like the brand is having a conversation with you, rather than just giving you a message which provides an authentic connection.
The Benefits of Authentic Content
There are numerous advantages that come with ensuring your content is unique and authentic.Brand authenticity should be something every copywriter and content marketer thinks about from the conception of a campaign to its completion. The reality is, most marketers are more concerned with their analytics data and forget to think about what they’d want to see if they were the consumer. After all, it’s the consumers that help build the brand.
- Gives businesses the opportunity to refine their audience focus, reaching people more likely to engage/convert with their content.
- Allows content to be more readable and relatable, leading to increased engagement.
- Value is added to the content giving you an authority in the industry.
- Places your brand at the forefront of a customer’s searches and purchasing decisions.
- Authenticity can lead to brand loyalty.
- You can increase customer retention by providing value to your message.
- Encourages user-generated content and positive reviews.
Authentic content is essentially about finding your niche audience and keeping them. They’ll reward you with loyalty. It isn’t for everyone but that’s okay, as your core audience will probably make the most purchases.
The Importance of Authenticity in SEO
User Generated Content
Authentic content has taken on greater importance in recent years. Online reputation management greatly impacts SEO and is often forgotten about in marketing strategies. Bright Local found that 84% of customers trust online reviews by customers as much as recommendations from friends. One bad review or negative press article leads to people forming a poor opinion of your business.
Why are customer reviews important? Why does Dave’s opinion about Brewdog Beer matter more than what Brewdog has to say? It’s because Dave’s review is unbiased; he’s a real person (allegedly!). Customer reviews are the epitome of authentic. They might not always be right but they’re still genuine. All consumers are susceptible to opinions from the media and word-of-mouth gossip because our buying decisions are often influenced by emotional reactions, rather than logic. Human language has evolved as a way of gossiping, listening to stories and basing your future decisions on past experience and what others have said. For example, if you’ve had an iPhone for years and love it, you’re more likely to continue to upgrade with Apple even if there are better, cheaper options available.
Perceived Lack of Authenticity in SEO & PR Submissions
Many online magazines and publications include a “write for us page” to get user-generated content on their site. It can also come with a message discouraging SEO and PR professionals from submitting articles due to a perceived lack of authenticity and passion in their writing. It’s up to SEO content marketers to change this perception and banish the agenda that we’re only there for links. This has been a problem for many publications in the past – we’ve got a bad name because we’re clogging up inboxes without really knowing or caring about that sector we’re pitching to. We need to work with our clients and find a better way to work with online publications – after all, the content we pitch should be an asset to the site, not the other way round.
E-A-T & YMYL
In regards to SEO, the presence of user-generated content and reviews has become more important when Google ranks a website. In the past 12 months, recent algorithm updates have focused on two page quality factors: E-A-T and YMYL.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority & Trust. E-A-T is a quality assurance algorithm that judges the page quality and if it’s providing a user with the information they’re searching for. Google’s Quality Guidelines state that websites must consider:
- The expertise of the creator of the main content.
- The authoritativeness of the creator of the main content, the main content itself and the website.
- The trustworthiness of the creator of the main content, the main content itself and the website.
As much as users are looking for brands to be more trustworthy, Google is also expecting the same. Google won’t show users any content they consider to lack expertise, authority and trust.
Your E-A-T score is dictated by the reputation of the content creator, the content itself, negative reviews, a poor ‘About Us’ page and unreliable sources.
There are various ways to remain authentic with EAT. Giving users the opportunity to review your product/service and displaying them on your website is important. The user-generated content is authentic and gives users something other than your message to trust when making their buying decisions.
Sometimes, users will look for expert comments about a product or service. Optimising existing content to include comments from experts will increase your E-A-T score and benefit users more.
YMYL stands for Your Money Your Life and has had a huge impact on education, financial and health websites. If your service provides information on those topics, it could have a huge impact on a user’s life (both positively or negatively). Ensuring the advice you present is not only authentic but truthful, matters here.
For more information on these ranking factors, read our E-A-T & YMYL Explained guide to find out how you can optimise for both.
How Can Brands Make Their Content More Authentic
Remember, a brand is nothing without their consumers – you need to listen to what your customers are saying and echo this. Once you’ve done that, this is what you have to consider:
- Find your voice: Is it conversational, formal, authoritative or even humorous?
- Create consistent content campaigns across all channels: Don’t change up randomly – avoid content for content’s sake. Be what your users expect.
- Understand your niche: Know your audience and keep them engaged.
- Personalise content: Post your own research, screenshots and experience to gain an authority in your niche – perfect for your blog and guest posting.
- Keep up your relevance: Everything from product descriptions to meta titles should apply to each other.
- Respect your audience: When responding to reviews and comments on social media.
Content marketing is a driver of sales. 82% of people have made purchases because of consuming content marketing which shows its importance for getting the message right. Ensuring you have the right brand message and personality which fosters trust is vitally important. While many aren’t including it in their SEO content strategy, it’s about time you did.
If your business needs help finding its voice, get in touch with Ricemedia today!