US election 2016: how Google Trends beat the pollsters
The US election didn’t introduce this concept. We’ve seen it all before with Brexit. However, it did provide the strongest evidence yet that the era of the pollsters has come to an end.
Most polling agencies were using advanced algorithms, surveys and influential commentaries to put Hillary Clinton comfortably ahead of her rival for the majority of the campaign. But, Maclean’s business editor, Jason Kirby, was busy scouring Google Trends for insightful search data.
The New York Times’ final prediction before polls closed gave Trump and Clinton a share of Electoral College votes that broke down like this:
- Hillary Clinton: 310
- Donald Trump: 228
At the same time, Kirby got his hands on this nugget of data from Google Trends:
*Graph courtesy of Google Trends
Based on these figures and a nifty little equation, Kirby predicted that the candidates’ share of Electoral College votes would be as follows:
- Hillary Clinton: 229
- Donald Trump: 309
The final result was:
- Hillary Clinton: 228
- Donald Trump: 290
- Unclaimed: 20
It wasn’t until 4am on the morning of the election that the Times got their act together and called it broadly in line with Kirby’s prediction — after the vast majority of states had already submitted their voting data.
This is no fluke, either. Kirby pulled off the exact same trick during last year’s Canadian election.
As fascinating as Google’s polling accuracy should be to any voter, this has striking implications for content marketers. The argument against Google has always been that it can’t separate notoriety from electability. But, Kirby’s prediction and similar forecasts made before the EU referendum show this factor isn’t that big a deal.
Google Trends — with a smidgen of human help — has become possibly the most accurate predictor of the public’s interest in a topic, product or service in history. Any copywriter worth their salt should be consulting Google Trends regularly. They can use it to find out more about how to market their product or service, including:
- How frequently the topic is being discussed
- Whether the topic is viewed in a positive or negative light
- What type of language they’re using to discuss it
The same Google traits that’ll soon put pollsters out of a job should also form a central pillar of your content strategy.
Fewer than one-fifth of B2B brands have an editorial mission statement
The ‘B2B Content Marketing 2017 — Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends’ report is the gift that keeps on giving. And, the latest piece of insight gleaned from this great stack of unpolished data suggests that B2B brands may be undermining their own content marketing efforts.
An editorial mission statement should be at the heart of your content strategy. It enables you to figure out:
- Who you’re creating content for
- Why you’re creating content
- What your audience is interested in
- How your content should represent the things your brand stands for
- What you want to accomplish with content marketing
Without an editorial mission statement in place, your content strategy can become disjointed. Articles might get published on an ad hoc basis and lack a cohesive voice. Effectively, this removes traits of your brand from your content, so the reader could essentially be reading the same data from any source.
This undermines your efforts to build trust and authority with prospective B2B clients, which might well see many of your highest value transactions go to competitors with a clearer, more unified brand voice.
‘Hype Cycle’ indicates content marketing should be a priority in 2017
The latest edition of Gartner’s legendary ‘Hype Cycle’ has been released. And, while things initially look ominous for content marketing, it’s clear that this technique should still play a key role in your future marketing strategy.
As you can plainly see, content marketing is currently languishing somewhere near the bottom of the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’. But, within two to five years, content marketing should have risen onto the ‘Slope of Enlightenment’.
If the growing importance of personalisation is anything to go by, then the future looks bright for content marketing.
It looks so bright, that the Content Marketing Institute appears to have jumped the gun slightly when it declared content marketing free from the trough earlier on this year.
You could write a (long, and pretty dry) book about why marketing trends tend to follow this Hype Cycle, but it boils down to two main elements; confidence and competence.
What we’re seeing right now is that brands have become so confident in content marketing that there’s been massive uptake, making it harder to be heard and therefore generate results. Content marketers must now improve their competency and come up with innovative ways to stand out from the crowd if they’re to keep pushing content marketing through the Hype Cycle.