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How We Got Here & Where We Go Next

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How We Got Here & Where We Go Next

Although the Metaverse’s infrastructure is still being set up, companies and brands are jumping on the opportunity to join this new world.

So if they are on board, how close are we to bringing the metaverse into full reality?

We’ve seen many changes in our society over the last few years, but nothing holds the potential for change quite like the Metaverse.

Last fall, when Mark Zuckerburg announced Facebook’s new parent company, “Meta,” the conversation of future societal implications of such an immersive social platform took the world by storm.

And for good reason.

Virtual reality, augmented reality, smart glasses, social media, and cryptocurrency have existed as separate yet related ideas until now.

The Metaverse combines these moving parts to create a powerful tool for businesses and marketers alike.

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Zuckerburg announced Meta as a “social technology company” with a distinct focus on social responsibility that will change the way people work, socialize, and experience the world around them.

Normal physical boundaries do not limit this world, and therein lies its appeal for those looking for a more global reach.

But where did this concept come from, and where is it going?

Let’s find out.

The History Of The Metaverse

The term “metaverse” was first used by sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson to describe a 3D, virtual reality people could, in a sense, occupy. It was more theoretical than practical.

But in 2022, it’s coming to life. It is an immersive digital environment populated by virtual avatars representing actual people.

In the Metaverse, you can go about many of your everyday life’s day-to-day interactions and occurrences – in your avatar form.

This form can be a human, animal, or something more abstract with its customizable appearance.

You can then interact with other people’s avatars in this virtual world. In the Metaverse, you can buy and sell land, attend concerts and go to museums, build a house, and more.

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In many ways, the Metaverse takes off where games like 2003’s Second Life began.

This creates a whole other level of interconnectivity and another dimension to our global economy.

How Virtual Reality Got Its Start With Online Gaming

The concept of virtual and augmented reality has been steadily leaked into mainstream culture over the last 20 years. The gaming industry was the first to really take advantage of it and integrate it into their platforms.

Games like Pokémon Go (2016) and Fortnite (2017) revolve around using these technologies to connect people through their apps.

Pokémon Go is one of the largest, most successful augmented reality games in the industry.

When its popularity exploded in 2016, it heralded a new era of AR’s integration into our everyday lives.

Fortnite, a virtual reality game using avatars to represent players, lets people fight against each other in real-time and attend events held in that particular metaverse.

These two highly popularized games helped introduce society to the concept of “extended reality” (XR).

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Extended or mixed reality (XR) refers to all events that combine some element of what is real with what is virtual.

This includes augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) forms.

XR creates a more immersive experience for users and blurs the boundaries between reality and what is generated by technology.

This blend of realities creates infinite possibilities of integration for differing technologies to create a more holistic and immersive experience for users.

How Cryptocurrency Made The Metaverse Possible

Since the Metaverse is virtual, it is always active, self-sustaining, and creates incredible possibilities in business. And many of these possibilities hold a basis in cryptocurrency.

The advent of Bitcoin in 2009, alongside the general rising popularity of cryptocurrencies over the last decade, has ushered in a new era in which finance does not have to be physical.

With the recent surge of popularity in Ethereum and NFTs, cryptocurrencies are becoming a more legitimate form of financial exchange for the world at large – especially for investors and business leaders always looking to the horizon for new trends.

Conversations around these currencies will only become more and more mainstream in the coming years.

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Virtual currency only complements this already virtual world and gives every person in the metaverse buying power. Businesses are noticing and following suit.

How Major Brands Are Getting Involved

Some of the businesses preparing for the Metaverse include major names such as Nike, Adidas, and Vans.

In October of 2021, Nike filed several trademark applications for their popular slogans and iconography (like “Just Do It” and the iconic checkmark), which will allow them to make and sell virtual goods.

This occurred in tandem with Mark Zuckerberg announcing Meta.

In December of last year, Nike announced their acquisition of virtual shoe company RTFKT studios, which will help them create shoes to sell in the Metaverse. This is incredible news for sneakerheads everywhere.

Adidas is making their foray into the Metaverse with collaborative NFT projects (which have since sold out), creating exclusive collectibles with other artists.

Their NFTs collectively sold for over $22 million. They’ve affirmed the NFT community by investing in NFTs as a company and have bought a large plot of land in the metaverse to host virtual parties and events.

They are one of the first corporations to not only release NFTs but to actually invest in the Metaverse ecosystem itself.

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Vans is also getting involved.

The company has built an online skate park that’s already seen upwards of 48 million visitors.

This type of engagement is unparalleled. In-person events simply can’t hold the same capacity of people.

Customers can also shop in their virtual store to earn points and customize an avatar.

Brands aren’t just dipping their toes into the water – they’re diving in.

It’s time for others to follow suit.

The Metaverse’s infrastructure is still being set up, but companies and brands are jumping on the opportunity to be a part of this new world.

So if they are on board, how close are we to bringing the Metaverse into full reality?

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What are the Metaverse’s potential effects on society as a whole, but specifically, the way we do business?

Mixed Reality And Virtual Conferences And Conventions

The pandemic catapulted society into a new era of digital innovation and created a significant need for advanced technologies that would allow us to continue our everyday business efforts from home.

Companies that depended on conferences and trade shows had to pivot, and fast.

The Metaverse offers significant opportunities for companies to meet through virtual reality, saving business and attendees money on travel, lodging, and other associated costs.

Employees and participants can put on VR glasses from the comfort of their homes and it’s as if they are there.

Bands and artists can host virtual concerts from anywhere in the world. The potential uses are nothing short of a revolution.

Targeting Millennials And Gen Z

Targeting millennials and Gen Z is of utmost importance to brands.

Digitally-native Gen Z has proven to be tricky to market to. They possess an intuitive understanding of technology unprecedented in previous generations.

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They’re also more inundated than most other age groups.

According to some reports, Gen Z considers digital lives as important as physical ones. For some, there is little to no differentiation.

The virtual world and social media are not separate lives but further extensions of their more present, physical reality.

It also makes friendships around the globe more of a present reality and means exposure to brands they might not normally discover.

This boasts a two-fold impact on marketing and selling potential for brands – exposure is unlimited by physical constraints, and physical and digital goods become players of equal value.

Per Nike’s example, a virtual shoe is not of lessened value because it exists in the digital sphere – it holds the capability to compete (and won’t have to be cleaned with a toothbrush).

If a brand’s target audience is going digital, it’s no surprise that brands must pursue digital innovation to compete.

Now is the time for brands to see what possibilities the Metaverse can open up for them.

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Early-stage adopters will only be rewarded in the long run.

A Deeper Level Of Customer Loyalty

The Metaverse doesn’t sleep. It exists in a 24/7 loop of information and interaction.

Marketers need to develop a real-time, boots-on-the-ground approach to customer loyalty to continue to succeed amidst such endless options for consumers.

Tapping into a deeper level of customer loyalty and relationship-driven marketing might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s a challenge for some.

The Metaverse is not as likely to replace your current marketing strategy as much as it will complement it.

Brands must stay true to who they are in a fully digital space. This I know from experience at AdRoll.

Our company’s platform deploys machine learning to help brands build loyalty in ecommerce.

In helping thousands of brands enhance customer loyalty, I can vouch that success in this arena does not come from technology alone, no matter how advanced – and the same principle applies in the Metaverse.

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Once the Metaverse exists and functions in totality, winning over new customers will be more difficult than ever.

If your company has the bandwidth and resources, start focusing on creating an extremely loyal customer base that will follow you into the Metaverse as it grows and develops.

Is The Average Consumer Really Ready?

The Metaverse will push marketing and most of society deeper into digital innovation and immersion.

But are consumers ready? Early adopters might be excited to try, but what about those who are more reluctant?

It will simply take time for the technology to become more integrated with everyday life and society as a whole.

If you’re creating something that your target audience wants to be a part of, you’ll find success. Don’t join the Metaverse just to join it: Make sure you have something to offer.

Create a sense of community, and more reluctant participants will trust you enough to follow.

What To Expect From The Metaverse In 2022

In 2022, you can expect more hardware to come to everyday consumers. Apple has already invested in augmented reality, and their virtual reality headsets are coming later this year, with rumors of VR contact lenses circulating in recent weeks.

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The creators of Pokémon Go are dabbling in augmented reality gear as well.

Brands like Burberry and Gucci already advertise and sell virtual goods using AR and VR. New hardware is set to release later this year.

Volumetric video is becoming more integrated into shopping experiences and some work-related events.

Buying virtual land in the Metaverse is on the rise, with some expecting to reap millions (if not billions) in revenue. To put it plainly, it isn’t just a trend – it’s here to stay.

Marketers should pay rapt attention to the evolution and progression of the Metaverse.

Those who are skeptical might miss out on a significant amount of digital innovation set to change the way society does business and functions as a whole.

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Featured Image: thinkhubstudio/Shutterstock

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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

There’s an old maxim in the marketing world, “content is king.” This has been true as long as search engine optimization has been around, and probably dates back even further in the world of general marketing.

But as simple as that adage is, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, namely what kind of content?

In those early SEO days, it meant identifying your keywords and jamming them into pages anywhere they would fit.

But modern digital marketers are smarter (not to mention that strategy doesn’t work anymore).

These days, successful content starts with a plan that’s backed up by numbers, a data-driven content strategy, if you will.

But what exactly does that mean?

In simple terms, it means developing content using an approach built on user information. This can include information like demographics, survey answers, consumer preferences, etc.

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You probably don’t need to be told why this is important, but just to make sure there’s no doubt, let’s be clear: Using a data-driven content strategy helps you decide where to spend your time, effort, and money.

In other words, you have finite resources. You don’t want to waste them on people who aren’t likely to convert.

A data-driven content strategy allows you to tailor your marketing campaigns to generate the best ROI.

For the purposes of search engine and PPC specialists, it can help you decide which keywords to go after, ensuring you’re targeting the right audience.

Sounds simple enough, right? All you need to do is pop open your content research tool and look for commonalities, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

But never fear, that’s why you’re here.

In this helpful guide, we’ll give you a step-by-step approach to developing, implementing, and optimizing your very own data-driven content strategy.

Ready to get started?

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1. Set Your Content Goals

The very first thing you need to decide is what you’re hoping to accomplish. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to make some choices.

Do you want to increase traffic? Are you looking to make sales? Do you want more leads?

Determine what your content goals are and identify the channels best suited to meet them. Once you’ve done this, you can establish your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Be sure to keep this in mind while you’re creating content.

Everything you add to your website or campaign should serve a purpose. If you’re not sure what it’s doing, your audience won’t know either.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to figure out who to go after to make it happen.

Comb through the demographic data and other information you have access to. Spot commonalities that occur across many or some of your targets.

Many marketers find it helpful to create customer personas. Using your data, imagine a typical person for each of the various roles you’re targeting.

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For example, you may have a prospect persona, a lead persona, a buyer persona and a repeat persona.

Put yourself in the shoes of these imaginary people.

What type of language resonates with them? What is their highest level of education? Do they want professionalism or personability? Why are they on your website? What do they hope to accomplish with your help? Be as detailed as you can.

Many marketers even give them a name. For example, if you were creating personas for your plumbing supply company, you may have:

Lead Larry – 45 years old

A mid-career plumber, Lead Larry owns his own one-man business. He makes $75,000 a year. He went to a trade school and his work van is 6 years old. He’s looking for a way to reduce overhead and find cheaper parts than his local supply company. He values hard work, honesty, and professionalism.

Be as creative and detailed as you like, just remember this isn’t a fiction-writing exercise. You’re creating personas based on your typical target, so keep your persona in line with who they actually are.

3. Review Your Competitor’s Content And Do Topical Research

Now it’s time to take a look at what the competition is doing. Maybe they’re just flying by the seat of their pants, but they’re probably putting some effort into their campaigns, too.

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Review what they’re doing and look for what appears to be working.

For example, if they’re blogging, they may have a view counter on the page. If so, what type of blogs are getting the best results?

Look for trends in your industry. What’s everyone talking about? Is there a big trade show coming up? Or a new technology about to be released?

Figure out who you’re competing with for clicks, not just to see what’s working for them, but also to gain ideas for content of your own. Start making a list of things you want to cover.

If there are influencers in your niche, this is also a good time to check and see what they’re posting about.

4. Conduct Keyword Research

Once you’ve settled on what your content should be, it’s time to perform that old SEO staple: keyword research.

Using a tool like Google Analytics, Semrush, or something platform-specific like YouTube’s Search Insights, figure out the type of language your content needs to use.

This will help you in more than just the SEO aspect, too.

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Using keywords in your content demonstrates to your audience that you speak the same language they do. And that doesn’t mean English, it means using the nomenclature everyone in the niche will understand.

Going back to our plumbing supply example, that means referring to a product as a “three-fourths full port threaded ball valve,” rather than a “metal connection thingy.”

Okay, that’s a ridiculous example, but you get the point.

The good thing is that you probably already have a working, if not expert knowledge of this.

5. Create Content That Aligns With Your Goals

If you remember, the very first step to creating a data-driven content plan was to determine your goals.

Now, equipped with everything you’ve done since then, it’s time to create the content that addresses them.

Don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald to write the kind of content your audience wants. And you’ve already done a lot of the foundational work – now it’s just time to put everything together.

Your content could take nearly any form, videos, blog posts, infographics, case studies, or white papers.

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If you’re not comfortable doing these on your own, it should be reasonably easy to find a writer or videographer in your area or extended network. Just ask your connections for recommendations.

If you’re still not confident in your ability to deliver or you can’t afford to hire someone, don’t worry. We have an excellent piece that will walk you through everything you need to know about content creation.

6. Promote Your Content On The Right Channels

You’ve created your masterpiece of relevant content. Now it’s time to share it with the world. But how do you do that? Do you just post it on your corporate blog and wait for Google to index it?

You could take that kind of passive approach, but this is great stuff you’ve just made. Everyone in your niche will want to consume it. And to make sure you get the eyes you want on it, it’s time to promote it.

But before you go linking to it on Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, and every other social media platform and aggregator site you can think of, pause for a minute.

When you were developing your user personas, you hopefully received some data about where your targets live online.

Are they regular Twitter users? Do they haunt industry-specific forums? Are you connected to them via Slack or other instant messenger apps?

Find out where they hang out and post away. In most cases, if you’re not sure if your targets use a platform or not, you should just go ahead and post anyway.

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There are some sites where you can be dinged for unpopular content (Reddit, for example), but most of the time, there’s no harm.

This is also a time to start thinking about how you can repurpose your new content.

Do you have an opportunity for a guest blog post on another site? Or, would your new infographic fit perfectly in your next investor report?

If your data-driven content is built on the solid principles we’ve discussed, it will get engagements.

7. Use Analytics To Measure Results

After your content goes live, you can begin measuring your ROI to see what you did well, where you missed the mark, and what could be optimized to perform better.

This is where the KPIs discussed back in step one come back into play.

Some of these are easier to track than others.

If increasing sales or conversions was your goal, you should have data that backs up performance. Likewise, if you set out to improve traffic to your website, you should have the analytics to track that.

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Things like brand visibility can be a bit trickier.

Regardless of what it is you’re using to determine success, you should find the data you need to track performance in Google Analytics.

For a detailed walkthrough of this process, we’ve provided information on exactly how you can measure content marketing success.

A Data-Driven Content Strategy Is A Winning One

Data is a marketer’s best friend. It tells you exactly what works, what doesn’t, and often, why that’s the case.

And a data-driven content strategy is vital for success in today’s hyper-competitive business and SEO environment.

Use the tools available to you to gather data – that’s why they’re there.

Learn to identify what the numbers are telling you and use them to help you craft the kind of content that not only attracts views but gets shares and achieves your goals.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: metamorworks/Shutterstock

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