Content hubs for lead generation – an organic answer to GDPR?

When the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into effect earlier this year, many marketers were faced with a dilemma: risk falling foul of the new rules, or abandon previously dependable lead generation and engagement models.

The new data protection laws demand two primary bases for the collection of customer data: “legitimate interest” and “unambiguous consent”. For many companies, these changes presented immediate challenges. How do you go about getting explicit, granular consent to various forms of communication from customers who are time-poor and already being bombarded by email marketing messages on a daily basis? And, particularly for B2B businesses, how do you balance legal compliance with a vital need to acquire new customers through outbound activity?

Now that the dust has settled and marketers are gaining some visibility on the GDPR’s legacy, many are coming up with the same answer to this question: content. And, while content might not be a GDPR silver bullet, it can certainly be part of the solution.

Here’s a look at how ecommerce businesses can leverage an on-site content hub to generate – and maintain relationships with – leads in the age of GDPR.

Lead generation is taking a turn for the organic

By placing so much emphasis on consent, and introducing increased penalties for unsolicited contact, GDPR is prompting businesses to invest more in developing organic, customer-oriented lead generation processes. This in turn discourages traditional ‘push’ marketing methods – for example, mass email.

While this notion is by no means new – it’s the whole idea behind inbound marketing methodology, after all – GDPR has made the issue more pressing. By encouraging consumers to voluntarily submit their data (and provide granular consent) in exchange for personal benefit, brands not only ensure GDPR compliance but also improve the quality of their leads. Whether accomplished through subscriptions, gated downloads or competition entries, the result is the same: engaged, genuinely interested leads.

Of course, organic lead generation comes with its own challenges. In the hyper-competitive environment of modern ecommerce, where search engines return thousands (or millions) of results for every query, how can brands increase their volumes of organic visitors? Publishing high-quality content is perhaps the most significant step online businesses can take to influence this key metric.

Consider the content hub

Google’s no. 1 mission is to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Successive updates to its search algorithm (from Panda to Penguin, Hummingbird and the less exotically named ‘Fred’) have rewarded websites with high-quality, authoritative content, while punishing those that are information-light and populated with ‘filler’.

As a result, one of the best ways to demonstrate value to Google is to build an information-rich content hub. For maximum effect, such resources should be populated with high-quality content addressing commonly searched topics and queries pertinent to your industry (including relevant keyword terms and vocabulary).

In the post-GDPR era, content hubs can act as a vital tool to increase a site’s visibility in search results:

– High quality, compelling content draws in organic traffic and establishes credibility.
– Traffic and credibility combine to attract an audience.
– Audience members are converted into valuable, well-primed leads through data capture.

One effective way that businesses can boost organic traffic is by producing helpful guide content themed around relevant high-volume search queries. Consider that searches that begin with “how to” are on the rise, growing by 140% in the last 14 years – a trend visualised in entertaining fashion on Google’s ‘How to fix a toilet‘ microsite.

A retailer selling arts and crafts materials, for example, may want to produce a guide around the popular term ‘how to crochet a granny square’ (2,400 monthly searches in the UK) to attract potential organic customers. Equipping the page with a data capture form (e.g. newsletter sign-up) and supplementing the content with internal links to relevant products will further enhance its revenue generation potential.

Even if those organic visits don’t translate into an immediate purchase, this initial engagement still contributes positively towards brand awareness and consideration – making it more likely that the shopper will return and convert at a later date.

To maximise the SEO performance of these guide pages, ecommerce businesses should bear in mind Google’s ongoing changes to its SERP functionality – in particular, the introduction of structured data and dynamic features. Google has been gradually introducing a range of dynamic features to its results pages, ranging from simple additions such as trending tweets to local packs, image packs, knowledge panels, reviews, shopping results, featured snippets and related questions.

Content that is displayed within these features is positioned more prominently on results pages, and therefore yields a higher click-through rate – making these positions highly valuable. To make the most of this opportunity, brands need to be optimising web pages with ‘structured data’ – on-page markup that enables Google to better understand the information on the page, and then use this information to surface the content in the most appropriate position within search listings. By producing content that lends itself to these dynamic features – and then optimising pages with structured data – brands can secure top billing in search results to increase organic traffic.

Building the organic relationship

In an age where 83% of customers believe businesses are seeking ways around GDPR rules, it is becoming more and more important that brands build trust with the customer early in the relationship. If you have developed your audience organically, using high-quality content relevant to the consumer, then not only are you increasing brand visibility but brand trust – boosting the chances of conversion and return custom in the long run.

To find out more about building organic leads from on-site content hubs, get in touch with us.

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