The “Secure Search” change in Google Analytics has again changed the SEO game completely.

As such, we’re left to forge new devices for predicting and interpreting search data. A Google search is the first step toward engagement and engagement leads to conversion- if you play your hand right, of course. So now what do we do without the keywords? The answers are in content marketing.

The advent of (not provided) has led to a renaissance for engaging content. In the golden age of advertising, exciting content was everything. Ever seen Mad Men? You had to make someone buy into your brand, into you, before they bought your product. There was no Google to manipulate with SEO, after all. Google hid the keywords so that content could reclaim its place in the sun. The future of integrated marketing is driven by content marketing, the most inventive and the most engaging stuff. Here’s what it will look like.

1. Multimedia “Conversations”

A conversation means that more than one willing party contributes, so let the consumer participate. Incorporate creative media (visual, in the case below). Testimonial pages are great and all, but the new school of content marketing is more complex. Nightmares Fear Factory, a haunted house in Niagara Falls, has a Flickr page that captures the abject terror in its attendees’ faces as they see the horrid climax of the tour, but the object is a tantalizing secret. To hear how this conversation ends, you have to buy in and go see it for yourself. On one hand, the customers are helping to tell the story for the brand. On the other, it’s a cliffhanger, and don’t you just need to know what’s responsible for fear this profound?

2. Offer Creative Participation

It’s much more fun to be empowered than to be controlled, right? Content marketing, again, is about engaging people with who you are, not with what you have. Coca-Cola is an expert in this department. They have a pair of vending machines that are working to bridge a long-standing cultural divide. One is positioned in India and the other in Pakistan. The machines allow people to talk to and see each other from across the partition with cameras and touch screens, asking them to work together on simple tasks before it will dispense a Coke. Coca-Cola puts power into the hands of the customers and quietly asks if the world can’t fix big divides with small connections. It’s a powerful experience for the customer at the machine and a powerful message for the rest of the world.

3. Beg the Question

Sometimes, subversion translates to incredible content marketing. At the very least, it gets the consumer asking questions. And curiosity is GOOD. For example, the “teaser” is obviously nothing new, but there are new, more experimental ways of incorporating it. Spanish company Senador Volstead Beer is named for the Senator who decreed prohibition in 1920. As such, its website mimicked Prohibition Era speakeasies in 2013. When you first see the page, it appears to be a page that sells Teddy Bears:

Confusion, questions. There are, however, subtle hints that this is, in fact, the beer site. At the bottom of the page we see “If you think they’re not what you’re looking for, don’t give up, they are.” Eventually, your patience is rewarded, and a pop-up prompts you to resize the page. Follow the instructions, and the window rolls over to the beer website’s homepage.

It’s genius because it piques curiosity without making promises. The effect is that when the page changes, it’s as though the consumer has been accepted into a club, just like the 1920s speakeasy format the site appropriates. It’s effective content, it tells a truth about the brand and about history, and it’s just plain awesome.

These are just a few ways content is evolving. For marketers, the era of (not provided) doesn’t have to be an awful thing. In fact, it’s inspiring. Now more than ever before, we have to put on our creative cardigans (or cravats?) and get into some out-of-the-box brand thinking. This is only the beginning.

What would you like see from the future of content marketing in 2014? Tell us about it in the comments section and keep checking the lotus823 blog for more news from the future.


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