R2i on SEO: The Future of Persona Marketing

r2integrated is a leading technology-enabled digital marketing agency. Mike Tirone is r2i’s Digital Marketing Search Strategist, and Kara Alcamo is the Director of Search Marketing. 

At R2i, you work closely with digital marketers from just about every size and vertical. What challenges, trends, and opportunities are you seeing in the industry?

Mike Tirone:

When it comes to digital, the trend is bigger, faster and more mobile. What I mean by that is the demands from the digital landscape are that users want bigger ideas, faster answers and on their mobile device.

Content is the main driver of the big idea boom. After Google encrypted organic keyword data, the shift was made to be focused on categories, bigger concepts and expanding the idea of your site’s pages and overall messaging. The quality of content in turn improved.

“Content is the main driver of the big idea boom.”

Structured data markup is the avenue for getting your information in front of your users faster. By implementing detailed structured data onto your site’s pages, we’ve seen the click-through rate increase significantly. And that ties in the last part of mobile: by having more structured data, mobile users can access the data faster and more efficiently with applications such as Voice Search, Siri, Google Now, etc.

Kara Alcamo:

Personalization in my mind is the biggest thing. From personalized Coke cans to the hyper-viral ALS ice bucket challenge, the trend I’ve noticed across successful campaigns is that they’re heavily personalized. In both of those cases, they’re literally calling people out by name.

Today’s marketing technology allows us to bring more meaningful content to people at the right times. We are so far beyond just including a person’s name in the email salutation, for example, and getting into things like serving different banner images or different page content to different visitors based on their interests and histories.

“Today’s marketing technology allows us to bring more meaningful content to people at the right times.”

Adobe and Sitecore both come to mind as having this capability. Google already does this themselves with personalized search results, so it isn’t new, but the degree at which we as marketers can do it has improved.

coke personalized bottles

The implications of dynamic content on a site are clearly impactful to organic search, so as SEO experts we need to be prepared. I’m not talking just about making sure that you don’t run into issues regarding duplicate content or cloaking, but also how Google will react to these developments.

They already test site performance and delivery on various mobile devices, and show different results based on location and search history, so it isn’t a far stretch to think that Google may have different profiles to test what content is delivered by a site to various personas or profiles. They may then adjust their search results based on how relevant a site is to that profile/persona. This type of personalization technology isn’t widely adopted yet, but as with any technology I think it will become more accessible with time.

“…It isn’t a far stretch to think that Google may have different profiles to test what content is delivered by a site to various personas or profiles. They may then adjust their search results based on how relevant a site is to that profile/persona.”

Localization to me is just a subset of personalization, but that also has major implications. Things like iBeacons, for example, which can serve up ads or coupons for specific products as people shop in the store, are one taste of the hyperlocal, hyper personal style of marketing that could grow. Adoption rate or acceptance by consumers is a pretty big variable on that one though.

Mobile has been on the docket for a long time, but I have to say it. Mobile continues to grow and the approach to it is getting more refined. For example, how do your different personas interact on a mobile platform? Do they have different needs or asks on mobile versus desktop? Should you be setting different conversion or engagement points for people on mobile versus tablet or desktop?

Finally, predictive tools like Google Now, which use people’s history to serve up results before they even ask, are extremely interesting to me and also fall into that personalization realm. They can eliminate the need even to search for something, which of course is extremely relevant for search marketing professionals.

For example, Google Now can use your location and time of day to serve you restaurants near you that are open for dinner precisely at the time that you may be thinking about getting something to eat. How that impacts the way people interact with search remains to be seen, but it’s worth watching.

Are there any resources (like blog posts, books or videos you love) that you’d like to recommend to our readers?

Mike Tirone:

I live and breathe by Moz’s Top 10, Google Webmaster Central blog, and anything coming from Search Engine Land. I also just scour Twitter to find really good insights from @randfish, @dannysullivan, @wilreynolds, @hubspot, @emarketer, @yext, @msweeny and obviously @conductor.

Kara Alcamo:

I’m a big fan of newsletters, actually. A few of my favorites are:

  • MediaPost Publications – They have a bunch that you can choose from, but I find they’re great for thinking beyond just search and can spark ideas based on what’s happening in other channels.
  • SearchCap from Search Engine Land – Gives you a recap of what happened in search every day. Super helpful.
  • Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Central Blog– Sign up for the newsletter to get the latest blog posts delivered to you. Quick and easy.
  •  Moz Blog – Again, just an easy way to get great content delivered to you.

Want to start focusing on persona-based content marketing? Check out our Interactive Persona & Buyer’s Journey Worksheet.