Coronavirus support and digital marketing advice

Archive by Lola Michels

Content Marketing Trends for 2021

17Nov

At the time that we recorded our projected content marketing trends for 2020, we did not expect that this year would pan out the way it has. 

When – after an already troublesome start of Australian bushfires, tragic airplane crashes in Iran and Pakistan and the impeachment of the American president – the coronavirus pandemic hit, we had to bring all sanitised hands on deck to not only adapt our own work environment, but also the digital strategies for our clients. And the fast-changing and unpredictable environment that we’ve been dealing with is likely to spill over into 2021.

As content marketers, however, we have more responsibility than ever to keep our audiences informed and help them navigate the challenges and opportunities that this changing world throws at them.

We’ve been pretty successful at helping our clients adapt to the coronavirus in 2020, and we’ve learnt some valuable lessons in the process about what is and isn’t important in the context of the ‘new normal’. We plan to take these learnings into the new year and use them to our clients’ advantage.

For now, we’re keen to wave goodbye to 2020 and make a fresh start preparing for the challenges that 2021 will throw at us.

What Lies Ahead in 2021

Despite our greatest efforts to rub up our crystal ball, there’s only so much we can predict about what the new year might bring. However, we can look ahead at a few upcoming events that are likely to impact our clients and their industries:

1. The end of the Brexit transition period

Since the UK ratified the withdrawal agreement from the European Union in January 2020, not much changed for businesses or the public while we were in the transition period. On 31 December 2020, however, the transition period will end. What this means in terms of the international exchange of people, goods and capital is still unclear, but it is likely to cause extra checks and delays at the UK border, affecting travel, imports and exports.

2. Roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine

At a press conference on 21 September 2020, the Chief Scientific Officer for England, Sir Patrick Vallance, announced that several coronavirus vaccines were in the very late stages of clinical testing. In 2021, we’re likely to see the roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine amongst more vulnerable members of the population, leading to a lesser need for lockdown restrictions and people going out more.

3. Return of growth in GDP

After an expected contraction in Gross Domestic Product of -11% to -12% in 2020, PWC expects the UK’s GDP to see a growth of 4% to 10% in 2021. According to their ‘contained spread’ scenario, the UK’s economy would return to pre-lockdown levels by the end of 2021, which would be good news for all sectors.

4. A rise in unemployment

The government’s Job Retention Scheme may have been extended to cover the second lockdown, but when it comes to an end both PWC and KPMG expect unemployment to rise. This is expected to lead to an increase in demand for retraining, upskilling, online training and education.

5. Increased WFH culture in certain sectors

The survey by PWC in September 2020 showed that people are now more likely to choose to work from home, especially in the business services sector that has adapted successfully to the digital transition. This opens up opportunities for conferencing platforms, as well as for the furniture and home renovation sector as people want to improve their work from home setups.

6. Potential drop in housing prices

Although PWC’s ‘contained spread’ scenario for 2021 could see the UK’s housing prices rise by 1%, the ‘further outbreak’ scenario could see our house prices fall by 7% – that’s two-thirds of the drop that of the Global Financial Crisis. The housing sector is facing an uncertain time.

7. A general desire to live in lower density areas

In PWC’s September survey, it emerged that around 30% of people who previously wanted to move to a city centre now want to move to suburbs, towns and villages. 45-64 year olds who currently live in London are also increasingly looking to move outside of London. Estate agents should be quick to jump on this bandwagon.

8. Inflation well below 2%

Due to a combination of lower oil prices, temporary tax cuts and weaker demand, inflation is expected to stay well below the Bank of England’s target of 2%. The purchasing power of the pound is therefore expected to stay pretty stable.

9. Base interest rate stays at 0.1% or under

This will help to support the demand in the market, which should benefit all sectors.

2021 Content Trends

So, how will all of this affect our clients’ content marketing strategies for the year to come? Although our fortune telling skills aren’t perfect, we do expect to see a few of the following content trends in 2021:

1. A greater need for research and insight

With government legislation, global market behaviour and consumer needs expected to continue to change significantly, businesses and organisations will have a greater need for research and insight work than ever before. From consumer insights and competitor activity to search trends and buying behaviour, businesses will need to work hard to stay on top of the trends of 2021.

Find out more about our research and insight services.

2. Agile content creation

This year, we’ve already started seeing our clients expecting a much faster content delivery time than ever before. And indeed, in a fast changing global landscape, keeping your audience up-to-date with the latest information is key to your brand credibility.

See how we’ve worked with Teletext Holidays to create an up-to-date travel advice hub for their priority destinations this year.

3. Focus on performance

In volatile times, no organisation will want to risk wasting money on activities that don’t deliver quantifiable value. As a performance-led content marketing agency we are aware of our responsibility to report on the results of our work and extract learnings for how we can improve going forward, so that we can deliver quantifiable value to our clients’ businesses.

Read more about how we report on our content marketing metrics.

4. Personal stories

Although, as a population, we’ll need to distance from each other for a while longer, there is a greater need than ever to talk openly about the effects that the pandemic is having on us. With the internet having become the main medium through which we connect with each other, personal stories are going to play a valuable role in helping people feel less alone, both on a personal and on a professional level.

5. Visual media for light relief

Let’s face it: after a year of job losses and lockdown, we all could do with some light relief. As people are starting to welcome some more positivity into their lives, platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest will open up great opportunities for brands to bring some joy to their followers’ lives.

Contact us for tips on how to make the most of your organic social media activity, or explore the social advertising options!

How do you envision the future of content marketing? What trends do you anticipate for 2021? Let us know in the comments!

2020 Trends: Content

09Jan

Well, 2020 was a wild ride! While we couldn’t have predicted coronavirus, most of the trends that we foresaw still played a key part in 2020. For now, here are our latest predictions on the key content trends for 2021. Hopefully, this year will be full of better surprises!

My name is Lola Michels and I’m the Content Strategist at Passion Digital. These are the top three content marketing trends for 2020 according to the content team.

Next-Level Visual Storytelling

In 2020, visual formats such video content, customised gifs and augmented reality filters are going to continue to be on the rise. However, it’s not just about the format that you choose. The story that you’re telling and the reaction you want to get from your audience are the most important factors.

Real Life Action

There’s nothing like content that’s been created around real life events. In 2020, brands are really going to have to step up their game by tackling pressing current events issues to do with climate, human rights, accessibility and sustainability.

Campaign-Based Content

Instead of creating content for the sake of content, think in terms of campaigns where cornerstone content is linked to by supporting assets.

What are your thoughts on these three trends? Let us know in the comments below!

Let the content team here at Passion help you get your content ready for the new decade – get in touch with us today!

An Introduction to Search Intent

08Nov

If you’re in charge of creating content for your business, you want to be well aware of search intent. Incorporating this concept into the work you produce will improve its quality, help your website rank better on the search results page and ensure you are putting out content that users will actually find useful. After all, no one likes content just for the sake of content.

By the end of this blog post, you’ll be a whiz when it comes to anything related to search intent.

What is Search Intent?

Search intent is the reason why someone is searching for something. It’s the answer they are looking to get when they type a particular key phrase into Google.

Our stock image friend was confused about search intent, too – but not anymore after reading this post!

Search intent usually falls into one of the following three categories:

  1. The user wants to know something. In short, they have questions and they want answers. Searches often include terminology such as ‘how to’, ‘where is’, ‘why is’, ‘what is’, etc.
  2. The user wants to do something. This could include purchasing something online, making a phone call, visiting a store, etc.
  3. The user wants to go somewhere. They want to visit a specific website or webpage.

With this information in mind, it stands to reason that the key phrase a user types into Google gives you hints about their search intent. For example, ‘how to use my iPhone’, ‘new iPhone deals’ and ‘new iPhone amazon’ (all of which are searches that use similar words) have very different search intents. It’s important to look at your key phrases logically and think about what information the user actually wants to find in the search results.

Keywords, Key Phrases and Search Queries

In the very early days of SEO, we used to talk of ‘keywords’: we would be optimising for ‘holidays’, ‘dentist’, ‘jumpers’, etc. Google could only see a page as relevant to a key phrase if it found multiple instances of that exact keyword in its entirety. As users – and therefore SEO experts – got more familiar with search engines and Google continued developing its algorithm, we saw the birth of ‘key phrases’: combinations of keywords, such as ‘cheap family holidays’, ‘dentist in Peterborough’, ‘cashmere jumpers’, etc.

Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for ‘cheap family holidays’. Look at the second result – that’s our client, Teletext Holidays!

Nowadays, the Google algorithm has become more human and capable of understanding increasingly sophisticated search intent behaviours. Us SEO and content professionals now prefer to use the term ‘search queries’. Search queries can be anything a user may type into Google, from ‘best European holiday destinations for kids’ and ‘Peterborough dentist reviews’ to ‘how to care for cashmere jumpers’

Each search query has its own, unique search intent and, as SEO and content professionals, it is our job to identify the search intent groups that we want to target with the content and sales copy we produce. These groups may be more generic with a lot of search volume, or very niche and targeted with not a lot of search volume. What search intent you target is all part of your strategy.

In this blog post, we sometimes refer to search queries as ‘key phrases’. This is not because we still think in those terms internally, but because – you guessed it – it meets your search intent better!

Google Updates That Have Helped Us Target Search Intent

Google’s algorithmic change from keyword targeting to search intent modelling hasn’t happened overnight. That’s why when Google recently rolled out the BERT algorithm, we weren’t exactly panicked here at Passion. We have been thinking in terms of search intent for years already, and there have been plenty of Google updates over the past 10 years that have encouraged that:

  • 2009: Google confirmed the irrelevance of the ‘meta keywords’ field in meta data. Some industry professionals speculated that ‘keyword stuffing’ may be a negative factor when it comes to ranking.
  • 2011: Google started moving to secure search, leading to more keywords being ‘(not provided)’ in Google Analytics.
  • 2012: Google announced its Knowledge Graph, which gives users the most relevant information about things, people and places.
  • 2013: Google announced its entirely new search algorithm, Hummingbird, which was designed to understand the meaning behind search queries rather than simply match them to words.
  • 2015: Google announced Rankbrain, the machine learning extension of their existing algorithm that helped answer ambiguous search queries.
  • 2019: BERT, the latest addition to Google’s algorithm, is a neural network-based technique that helps Google map the context of words in search queries better.

Although SEO experts haven’t always been excited about Google’s algorithm changes – change is challenging, after all – the good news is that some of our favourite tools such as Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and SEMrush have started to suggest search intent based on our main target key phrases already. Here is an example of what that might look like.

The SEMrush ‘online visibility management’ tool suggests keywords and search intent indicators based on your chosen topic.

The SEMrush SEO Writing Assistant suggests search intent based on your target keywords.

How to Seamlessly Meld Search Intent and Key Phrases Together

The most straightforward way to make sure search intent and key phrases go hand-in-hand is to respond to selected questions and queries suggested by tools such as SEMrush. 

For example, say you want to write a piece about mental and physical wellbeing in the workplace. After some keyword research, you see that your relevant key phrases are ‘wellbeing at work’, ‘wellbeing at work ideas’ and ‘health and wellbeing activities at work’. From this information, you can infer that searchers are looking for the definition of wellbeing at work, ideas for improving wellbeing at work and examples of activities that will promote wellbeing at work.

This makes for a very easy way to structure your article while naturally including the suggested search queries – you can slip them into your subheadings! 

Start with an introduction, then move onto a section with the definition of wellbeing at work – you can call it What is Wellbeing at Work? Write a paragraph defining this phrase, then use your key phrase suggestions to influence two more section headings: Wellbeing at Work: Ideas That Are Easy to Implement and Health and Wellbeing Activities at Work. Now you don’t have to worry too much about getting the key phrases into your body text – once or twice should be fine.

Remember: You don’t have to use key phrases exactly as they come up! You can add in filler words. For example, if your key phrase is ‘fancy hotels Madrid’, it’s perfectly fine to change it to ‘fancy hotels in Madrid’, ‘fancy hotels near Madrid’, etc.

Search Intent and Outsourcing

If you’ve decided to hire a freelance writer to write your article, providing subheadings informed by your key phrase and search intent research is a great way to structure your brief. It will help to guide the writer, ensure they include all the points you want and make sure the article’s key phrases are incorporated correctly.

Here at Passion, we love briefing articles based on search intent! It makes things easier for the writer while ensuring you create a useful article that has the potential to rank well and will answer searchers’ burning questions – all in all, it’s a win-win for everyone involved! If you want to outsource an article that meets search intent requirements, you can download our briefing template here.

From content marketing to SEO, Passion is here for all your digital marketing needs. We’ve got a great team who are here to look after you and help make your digital footprint pop – and right now we’re expanding! If you want to take the next step in your career and become a Passionista, have a look at our current job openings

Research Reveals New Stats About Mental Health at Work

07Nov

At Passion Digital, we care about supporting mental health in the workplace and enabling others to do the same. As more research is being done around the topic of mental health, employers are becoming increasingly equipped to understand the impact of mental health at work and to create a supportive environment.

According to Health and Safety Executive, an astonishing 57% of annual UK working days are lost in sick leave due to mental health disorders. A recent study conducted by online health service Babylon Health sheds light on the personal experiences of individuals with mental health problems. 

Their data revealed that a staggering 79% of Brits would not feel comfortable speaking to their employer about their own mental health, while 72% think mental health is not discussed enough where they work.

Research results: mental health is not discussed enough

Improving Mental Health Support for Staff

Dr Claudia Pastides, GP at Babylon Health, suggests that there are two key areas where employers can improve their mental health support for staff. 

The first, she refers to as ‘mental health literacy’ – having the right knowledge and beliefs about mental health problems. This knowledge will help employees, colleagues and managers recognise the signs of poor mental health at work and manage or prevent further problems. “We know that early recognition and intervention is best when it comes to mental health,” says Dr Pastides.

Dr Pastides suggests holding mental health awareness days and mental health literacy training for both managers and employees.

Dr Claudia Pastides, GP at Babylon Health

Dr Claudia Pastides, GP at Babylon Health

The second area Dr Pastides suggests employers can improve in is encouraging open conversations and support when needed. “Reducing the stigma around mental health is important, as is early identification and access to support,” she recommends. Ways to address this include:

  • Training up mental health first aiders in the workplace
  • Offering access to an advice line or psychotherapy service to all employees
  • Offering access to medical services or establishing links with local mental health services

How Employees Are Dealing with Mental Health at Work

Josh*, 26, from London opens up about his experience in dealing with mental health at work: “I think all offices could benefit from discussing mental health more openly. It can be a difficult subject, but I think a lot of people would be surprised to find how many of their colleagues struggle with the same problems as them.”

Statistics state that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, however Babylon Health’s survey shows that just 25% of Brits would feel comfortable discussing their mental health with a work colleague.

 The survey also asked the public what factors had previously impacted their mental health. ‘Workplace pressures’ were listed as the second-largest cause, behind ‘personal relationships’. ‘A poor work-life balance’ also made the list.

Josh* explains: “We like to think that we are professionals and can completely switch off from these [mental health] issues when we work, but this is not always the case.” 

Research results: the main causes behind feeling stressed, anxious or depressed

He adds: “My role is creative and therefore offers lots of time for freethought, and this can often have a negative effect on my mental health if things aren’t right in my life.”

Marina*, 27, from Manchester, explains how her mental health issues are hard to separate from her professional life: “For me it can be difficult to leave personal relationships and issues outside of work, as a lot of the time they are directly linked. Working in [the] media makes it hard to avoid crossover between work life and personal life, as circles are closely linked and everybody knows everybody.”

Reducing Mental Health Stigma at Work

Babylon Health asked respondents where in everyday life they thought mental health issues are stigmatised. Over half (57%) of the public said ‘at their place of work’. ‘In British society’ was the most voted for, with 71% of respondents selecting this option.

Research results: where mental health is stigmatised

24-year-old Sandra* from Bristol stresses the importance of working somewhere where your mental health feels supported, and further highlights the steps that you can take to raise the discussion at work: “Firstly, reach out to HR and a trusted colleague (preferably a manager) – gauge their response. Workplaces love to tout an inclusive work environment and jump on the mental health awareness bandwagon but crumble when they’re put in a position to put their money/integrity where their mouth is. Save yourself the frustration, guilt and shame and find a new role. Support needs to happen at home and at work – it’s not just on you.”

Research Results: who we're most comfortable discussing a mental health problem with

She adds: “If you meet employers who want to question the law just remember that you are the priority and you really don’t owe your mental wellbeing to anyone – don’t compromise on your happiness. There are plenty of employers who do get it and understand how to prioritise wellbeing at work.”

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals

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