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The psychology behind content – psychoanalysing Bas van den Beld’s ’16 Benchmark talk

Bas van den Beld is one of Europe’s most sought after speakers on search marketing and his talk – ranging from Game of Social Thrones to the Kanisza Triangle via Donald Trump – was ample evidence as to why

The amount of psychology involved in search marketing is often overlooked – though it is generally accepted in traditional media, the relative youth of the digital sphere is often confused with a relative simplicity of technique. In actual fact, guiding choices online is as difficult a prospect as in any other medium and, as a result, just as complex. Bas van den Beld’s talk not only makes this clear but provided some fantastic metaphors, advice and descriptions in addition.

The talk began with a framing simile – Bas had been planning a holiday and had been looking to buy a back pack, his trouble finding the right backpack for the journey, however, he rightly compares to general consumer intention. He was confronted with 100+ million results for the term ‘best bag to travel with’ and, despite a real and immediate desire to purchase, he says, the choice was actually making purchase more difficult.

This is, as the title of his talk suggested, not just applicable to eCommerce of course and the excessive choice is equally applicable to content marketing. What the talk argues is that sometimes less is actually more – provided this less is of a higher quality. Referring to Hootsuite’s ‘Game of Social Thrones’ Youtube video (listed in a Click Consult blog a while ago as one of the best examples of content marketing), Bas makes a fantastic argument for personalisation – for finding ‘shared values’.

Bas fantastically conveys the importance of contextualising content for the target market, and – as the maps he shares do with countries – placing your consumer at the heart of your content. This can be done in a number of ways – whether by finding common ground or common enemies, consumers want to recognise themselves in content, for content to have meaning for them.

The implications of this may appear obvious to anyone well versed in content marketing strategy, but one element of the talk which should certainly be more widely implemented is the view that each piece of content should be weighed in terms of trust. People, as Bas points out, make decisions based on past experience and trust, though hard won, is easily lost (as Rob Hughes pointed out in a previous talk) and content which does not reinforce the trust that consumers place in you can actually be counterproductive.

The talk, when viewed as part of the conference as a whole, is an incredibly timely one. While other speakers have shown us what is forthcoming with mobile and other digital technologies, one thing which will remain constant (though perhaps in differing forms) is the practice of content marketing. It is increasingly the case, as we at Click have stated previously, that consumers want relationships with the brands they buy from, and while the content we offer them may change as VR and AR become more widespread, what will not is the consumer’s desire to feel part of the experience, valued and catered for by the content.

This all feeds in to the underlying message of the talk – which we, as an industry, need to make it easy for the consumer to make the purchase. The more useful we can make our content the more relevant we can make it and the less we need to produce. The less confusing it is for the consumer to find what they are looking for, the less time a consumer has to search, the quicker they are able to buy and the sooner we can build a lasting relationship with them that will be important to both parties for years to come.

Bas van den Beld was another returnee to Benchmark stage and anyone who watches the presentation will be able to see why we were delighted he accepted the invitation to speak again. A thoroughly engaging speaker and consummate expert in his field, the talk was among my personal favourites – not least because it had a happy ending. They did, at last, find the right bag.

For more slideshows and videos from the Benchmark Search Conference, visit our conference page, or for additional search marketing insights why not check out our resources, or contact us today to see what Click Consult can do for your brand.

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