In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, keeping up with the trends requires a deep understanding of technology, tools, as well as audiences. During their recent trip to India, ETBrand Equity had the opportunity to catch up with Neil Patel, entrepreneur, marketing guru and founder of the agency Neil Patel Digital and Pradeep Kumaar – the CEO of Neil Patel Digital India. The conversation took us through fascinating topics relating to generative AI, search engine optimisation, omnichannel marketing strategies, and common affiliate marketing mistakes.Read edited excerpts from the conversation below –
Can you tell me how you think generative AI can be leveraged to create more SEO friendly engaging content. Can large language models like ChatGPT really be trained on that front?
NP: It can, but search engines don’t want AI to create your content. ChatGPT’s index is from September 2021. Even GPT-4 is still from September 2021.
(Note: OpenAI is testing a feature called Browse with Bing that allows a user to browse the internet for current information using GPT-4, but this feature is only available for premium users)
Instead, search engines want the site to have manually written content. ChatGPT type of content is essentially regurgitated information that’s already similar to the existing web content. They want something that’s new and fresh and exciting. The only way you can do that is to manually create the content from scratch. There’s nothing wrong with leveraging AI, but you still need a human to modify the work that the AI is producing. AI has the potential to create misinformation and is not 100% accurate.
AI however, is more valuable on the search engine side. This is because people are now searching for whole sentences (instead of phrases) and expecting an answer because generative AI is generating the answer for them. We see that more than 15% of the searches on Google each day are brand new searches.
PK: How we leverage AI for the Neil Patel site is that we transform the content by feeding it into a bot that transforms it with a QA model. Irrespective of the content platform,the generative AI will take out all the content which has been built over, say the last ten years. We have made use of the content to give the right answers for whatever topics we are giving as prompts or inputs in the chatbox. That way, the content will provide answers to the questions that users are asking Generative AI.
Google has also recently introduced GA4 to improve measurability and improve attribution. What sort of potential impact do you think it has on digital marketing and measurability?
NP: If you look at the changes Google is making, it’s because we’re entering a cookie-less world. Tracking is going to be a little bit more difficult, not in the Google ecosystem but for other marketing channels. It’s something we have to put up with and be okay with. There is no quick solution and that’s the case even more so because of privacy laws and changes.
PK: The introduction of GA4 is a sign of enterprise evolution from Google because they want to offer some premium features as compared to the previous version of Google Analytics. Everything has now been consolidated into the same platform with advanced features to give users more clarity. This is the evolution from the previous Google Analytics to the present GA4. It will give marketers a much more productive experience once they understand how to use it.
You rightly pointed out that we are entering a cookie-less world. What challenges do you see for marketers on that front? How do they strengthen their databases now?
NP: Marketers have to pay more attention to first party data and people weren’t really doing that before. The other thing you need to do is to look at your data from multiple channels and combine it into one repository, versus having your data in silos. Then use that data to make informed decisions.
AI can look at all the different data sources and get very granular with details. Some of this granular data will help make small changes that add up over time. We’ve been using AI to analyze data and analytics to give us insights that we then pass to marketers. This has been useful because most marketers don’t log into their analytics dashboard on a regular basis to make data based decisions and changes.
PK: In a cookie-less world which is coming up – people need to pay attention to first party data collection. Most of them will be populating their database with previously engaged users as well as new visitors to the website (by asking for first party data like their email or phone number)
AI can then be used to consolidate all this data and give a better, seamless experience by understanding the touchpoints that users interact with the brand with and how they behave at that point. Then the AI tool can be used to identify a list of such users and promote the respective products they were interested in, creating a personalised marketing approach.
We can also make use of programmatic SEO and programmatic ads to speak to users who have shown interest in our sites and have responded to our native advertising efforts.
Can you tell us about some performance marketing trends that you see catching on fast?
NP: We see omnichannel marketing catching on really fast here in India. Globalisation of content is also catching on. Indian businesses are becoming so large that they are expanding all over the world with performance marketing.
PK: Omnichannel marketing and hyperpersonalisation are two huge trends. Its important to understand a brand’s persona and then choose the right marketing channels to prioritise.Certain brands are focussed more on B2B marketing, certain brands prioritise email marketing, influencer marketing and so on.
How can marketers tailor their omnichannel marketing strategy to make it as personalised and relevant as possible for their customers?
NP: The most important thing about omnichannel marketing isn’t about personalisation or relevance. Those are important, but the bigger problem is that when marketers use marketing channels like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google and X (formerly Twitter) – most people have them work in silos. To perform well, they need to work together. Leverage learnings from Facebook and apply it to SEO, leverage learnings from SEO and apply it to paid Google ads, etc.
PK: User engagement tools like Gupshup, Webengage, Moengage have been helping understand the users across channels and it provides insights on what the users are looking for on the page, what content they are interacting with, where they are clicking on email marketing messages, etc. With such tools we can create a better omnichannel experience and recommend the right kind of product to our customers at the right time.
What are some common mistakes you see affiliate marketers make and how can they be avoided?
NP: The most common is that they promote too many products instead of just focusing on the great ones. They might also rely on just one channel instead of leveraging multiple channels and they don’t focus enough on conversions. As an affiliate marketer, promoting a product isn’t enough, you need to help convert the person into a consumer.
PK: Affiliate marketers will try to list the link in a hundred plus websites, but instead, they need to identify the real website where niche based content is present for more than 3-4 months. The site has to have produced organic content for the last 2-3 years. If we list the link next to content like that, it will give the right kind of sale value for the listing price and the commission that has been paid to the affiliates.
The influencer marketing space is pretty saturated right now – how can brands leverage influencers in an impactful way?
NP: Using microinfluencers increases your chances of conversions. You need to further integrate that influencer on the landing page of your website. The influencer needs to have visibility outside their social channels and the areas where they post content. The influencer can of course drive traffic to your website, but you need to tie in with the influencer or else it feels like though the influencer got paid, they’re not there to support the product and service.
PK: With microinfluencers, there is diversity in users, their content, and the community they have built is the value proposition they bring to the table.
In sectors like fintech, healthcare, the influencer has to be trying to solve a problem for the community – then a brand can integrate the product or service with the same.