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Keep up to date with the latest content marketing tips and news.

18/Nov/2019
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Excellent content can not only drive awareness, reach and sales but can also create environments where consumers are more open and receptive to advertising, a new study by Integral Ad Science has found.

The latest research dispels the myth that ads are inherently annoying and linked to poor digital experiences.

On the contrary, 91% of the UK consumers surveyed said that ads placed next to high-quality content are actually important to them and are fundamental to pleasurable browsing online.

The good news for brands is that the right ads served up next to engaging content leads to 65% of consumers interacting with these ads in a meaningful way, which can have a hugely positive impact on traffic and ROI.

Premium-quality ad placements are not just a preference for UK consumers either, as 90% of people in France said that they want to see ads next to content, while 83% in the US and 82% in Japan said the same.

However, an important aspect of this premium experience appears to personalisation and tailoring.

87% of UK consumers believe that bespoke ad usage is crucial, and this figure leapt to 93% for those in France.

It was not quite as important for US consumers (80%).

The findings suggest that the rise of ad blockers stemmed from consumers’ frustration at ads not being targeted to them specifically rather than being a blight on the internet experience.

While premium content and ad environments raise the bar and encourage consumers to interact and engage, the opposite occurs when consumers are faced with ads and experiences that do not live up to their high expectations. 

Almost an identical number (88%) of UK respondents said that ads featured in close proximity to low-quality content trigger a feeling of annoyance, which then leads to a huge drop off in engagement.

Just 22% said that they would engage with an ad in these circumstances.

Low-quality online environments also irritated consumers in other countries, especially in France (92%) and Indonesia (90%).

There are even more downsides, as 55% of UK consumers said that they would view a brand less favourably if it was seen in a sub-par setting, while seven in 10 would boycott a brand entirely.

Consumers also put the blame for lacklustre placements squarely at the feet of brands, as 68% in the UK said that companies are accountable for actions, a figure that went even higher again in France (72%) and Indonesia (86%).

Integral Ad Science’s EME MD Nick Morley said that the latest ‘Ripple Effect’ study had highlighted a “clear link” between how ad quality is perceived and the subsequent response by consumers.

He noted: “As a positive takeaway, there is an opportunity for brands to harness the dual power of tailored ads and high-quality placement to drive greater audience engagement.”

Morley also warned that the “counterpoint” of ads served next to low-quality content can have disastrous consequences for a company as it often results in damage to brand reputations and a potential decline in revenue.

He concluded: “To ensure online ads drive the right reaction, brand suitability must be a top ad placement priority.”


11/Nov/2019
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Twice as many manufacturing marketers now have a documented content strategy in place compared to a year ago, but two-thirds believe that their overall efforts are only “moderately successful”, according to a new study released by Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

The ‘Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends’ report found that manufacturers have taken on content wholesale during the last 12 months with a huge increase in adoption rates and attempts to overhaul strategies to improve returns.

The enthusiasm for content marketing is also translating into better campaigns as 65% of respondents said that they would rate their organisation’s efforts as either “somewhat more” or “much more” successful compared to 12 months ago.

In contrast, just 3% said that they had achieved less success.

“With regard to content marketing, manufacturers have arrived,” CMI’s research director Lisa Murton Beets said in a statement. “No longer do we view them as late adopters.”

Overall, manufacturing marketers believe that their content marketing is “moderately successful”, which is a sign that there is still room for improvement across the board.

Currently, only 1% believe that their efforts are “extremely successful”.

However, the use of documented strategies is laying the groundwork for better outcomes, and there has been a notable improvement in this area year-over-year.

In 2018, 21% said that they had a strategy written down, but this jumped to 41% in the latest study, which shows that there is now a greater onus placed on strategic thinking.

Murton Beets added: “We saw a big increase this year in those who are approaching content marketing strategically. In addition, they’re having an easier time accessing subject matter experts and communicating complex content. Overall, manufacturers are reporting healthy levels of content marketing success, which is exciting to see.”

Manufacturing marketers face a range of challenges in 2020, but the most cited unique issue for them at the moment is “overcoming traditional marketing and sales mindset”.

Attempts to blur the lines between these two groups is a challenge for 55% of respondents.

The need to deliver content that can engage audiences across the sales pipeline (53%) and attempts to differentiate products and services from the competition (48%) are also hot topics in the industry.

A previous study by CMI found that outsourcing now plays a major role in content marketing for B2B companies, and the same is true for manufacturers where the expertise of agencies has gone some way to helping them deliver more engaging and higher-quality materials.

Two-thirds of manufacturing marketers are now outsourcing one or more of their activities to third parties, but it is content creation that leads the way by some distance.

87% of respondents said that creation is now outsourced, and the study noted that this may be the reason why manufacturers have been able to communicate more complex topics in 2019.

Perhaps most importantly, improvements in content marketing have helped manufacturers to position themselves as a “credible and trusted resource” for audiences, to value the craft and creativity central to content creation and production, and to serve the needs of customers in a timely manner.


04/Nov/2019
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Influencers can amplify the power of content marketing campaigns and 84% of brands are now running at least one campaign involving endorsements from celebrities, experts and other high-profile people on social media, according to a new report published by AspireIQ.

The study, titled ‘The State of Influencer Marketing 2019: An Analysis of the Social Media Ecosystem’ brings to light the pervasive use of influencers and their evolution from being a nice-to-have to an essential part of campaigns throughout the year.

More than three quarters are now planning to or are already managing ‘always-on’ influencer campaigns due to the wide-ranging benefits, which include increased awareness, reach, impressions and engagement.

Almost nine in 10 are running multiple campaigns a year, and over 50% say that they manage five or more.

The non-negotiable tactic has been driven in part by the sheer scale of audiences that influencers can tap into, which now numbers more than two billion across social media platforms.

Complementing high-quality content marketing with influencer-generated content (IGC) on social via emails and ads has also become a popular practice, as the latter gives influencers the freedom to use their unique voices to create more authentic content, which can engage with an already established audience.

Two-thirds of brands are now using IGC in some form and 21% have set their sights on leveraging it during the next 12 months.

A wide range of content is being produced, and output has evolved from the static images and photos that were once the staple for influencers.

Eight in 10 expect to invest in video content in late 2019 and into 2020, while 55% will tap into the current trend of storytelling to move and engage audiences.

Written content is also hugely popular, with 42% planning to focus their spending in this area.

The types of influencers that brands are looking to work with is also changing as the move away from high-profile celebrities to micro-influencers with smaller followings continues.

Research shows that smaller channels and influencers have 42% higher engagement rates than their larger, macro-based counterparts.

AspireIQ’s founder and president Anand Kishore said in a statement that we are now in an era when influencer marketing is about more than just promoting a brand on social – influencers now power content engines to assist brands with telling a consistent story on all of the channels in which their users are active.

Kishore added that brands and influencers are going to work even closer in the future to build communities that have a shared passion for what the brands make.

The age of influencers is also trending lower due to the rise of TikTok, with data showing that 70% on the platform are now teenagers between 14 and 19.

Meanwhile, brands are spending $10k on average on campaigns on TikTok.

Influencer costs are rising though and the average price now stands at $0.26 per post, while cost per engagement has also risen sharply since last year and is expected to increase further next year.

Fortunately, return on investment (ROI) is high at 423% from the $6,249.91 per campaign budget.


28/Oct/2019
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B2B marketers are getting better at serving customers at the top of the funnel by creating brand awareness and educating audiences but are still missing out on deepening relationships further along the cycle, according to a new study released by Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

The ‘B2B Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America’ study found that brands are going from strength to strength in their ability to nurture new leads and reach wider audiences.

More than two-thirds said that they had success in this area compared with the 58% who said so a year ago.

In contrast, just 45% of B2B marketers surveyed said that they have been able to use content marketing to build a subscribed audience, while strengthening loyalty and generating revenue have also been more of a struggle compared to the three most cited goals: brand awareness, education audiences, and building trust.

“Getting attention is great, but marketers must keep that attention. Kudos to those who are creating lasting impressions and super fans,” CMI’s general manager Stephanie Stahl said.

She noted that brands should look at competitors that are “doing it right” and take inspiration from successful strategies and campaigns to nurture long-term relationships as consumers are now “all too ready to swipe left”.

One way that companies can improve their efforts is by outsourcing larger projects to agencies and other third parties as smaller internal teams are now the norm.

The study found that 50% are now outsourcing one content marketing activity or more, and ‘creation’ is the most popular activity, with 84% doing so.

The need for outside assistance is also highlighted by the fact that 32% of B2B marketers say that there isn’t a single full-time person assigned to their content marketing efforts.

Perhaps more interesting is that the top performers rely even less on internal personnel as only 13% have a full-time employee, while companies generally rely on a mixture of team structures to get the job done.

Moving on to data and analytics, 80% of respondents are now using metrics to keep tabs on the performance of the content they publish, and this is a good habit to get into as 95% of ‘top performers’ are evaluating data on a regular basis.

While tracking metrics is commonplace, only 43% of B2B marketers are measuring the return on investment from content marketing campaigns, and many are not establishing key performance indicators (KPI) to link data with marketing objectives and wider business goals.

Top performers are again at the vanguard, with 67% evaluating ROI and 83% monitoring KPIs regularly.

Only 14% of all respondents said that their ability to demonstrate AI is “excellent” and more than a third admitted that they are average or poor in this area.

CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose urged B2B marketers to stop thinking of content marketing as only a means of creating leads or an opportunity and instead aim to “AMAZE” audiences to really reap the benefits.

He concluded: “Treat your audiences as customers because that is the way you can lean into data acquisition and personalize your experiences.”


21/Oct/2019
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UK consumers are currently “hungry” for information on Brexit, and brands and publishers can boost traffic and other metrics by using the right keywords to rank higher in Google, according to a new report released on Monday by analytics company Searchmetrics.

With the UK still set to leave the EU on 31st October pending developments in parliament this week, Searchmetrics looked at the types of queries and questions that the general populace are inputting into Google to keep up with breaking Brexit stories.

In a statement accompanying the release of the study, Searchmetrics’ senior content marketing manager Stephen Bench-Capon said that there is currently a “huge opportunity” for news websites to take advantage of the demand for a 24/7 cycle of content related to Brexit.

More specifically, people are looking for answers to questions about the differing stances on Brexit, most notably remain or leave, and what the deal and no-deal options actually involve.

Bench-Capon revealed that “expertise, authority and trust” are the primary signals for ranking on the first page of Google SERPs and that the BBC is considered the “number one” destination for relevant info pertaining to the UK’s upcoming exit from the continental bloc.

The BBC has a 30% share of all the content featured on the first page of search results when ‘Brexit’ is inputted, which puts it way ahead of other major publishers such as the Guardian (12%) and the Independent (9%); Wikipedia and the Telegraph both have a 4% share.

However, when looking only at broader Brexit-related keywords, the Guardian reigns supreme ahead of the Independent, the Express and the Telegraph.

While the Guardian is more focused on publishing content related to the remain side of the Brexit equation, the Sun website is the most cited hub for keywords related to ‘no deal Brexit’.

The Guardian also has the drop on other news sites for Google News boxes, which require more extensive optimisation – it appears in 20% of news boxes related to Brexit, putting it well ahead of the Independent and the BBC, which both have around a 9% share in this area.

Searchmetrics also found that major political parties are also using SEO to get their messages across to voters by winning ‘share of voice’ in search results.

Bench-Capon said: “A political party’s aims on Google are different from those of a news publisher. By appearing in the search results for certain keywords they can make it clear to voters that their party should be associated with this kind of policy. The Liberal Democrats ranking for ‘Stop Brexit campaign’ is a good example of this phenomenon.”

The study found that the conservatives.com website’s current top-ranking Brexit related words are ‘brexit policies’, ‘brexit 12 point plan’ and ‘reasons why brexit is good’.

Meanwhile, labour.org.uk leads with ‘why is the brexit deal no good’, ‘theresa may brexit deal’ and ‘negotiation brexit’.

Bench-Capon said that parties can perform better in Google by providing “high-quality Brexit-related content’ capable of informing and education readers and optimising content for SEO so that it ranks higher in SERPs.


14/Oct/2019
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Small enterprises can go toe-to-toe with the largest corporations by publishing content and managing excellent marketing campaigns, but many still fail to invest enough money into the practice to reap the benefits, according to a new study by software company Intuit.

Digital marketing is proving to be a double-edged sword for SMEs as they can transform their business and drive greater sales by implementing it effectively, but they can also be weighed down by the time and resources needed to follow documented plans and align it with broader business objectives.

The latest study by Intuit analysed smaller businesses in Australia and found that just 34% are putting aside funds as a priority for content and other marketing endeavours, which means that two-thirds are missing out on a myriad of benefits and potentially falling behind more accomplished peers.

A sizeable 46% of respondents said that they constantly face constraints on their budgets, which forces them to focus on other areas of business – though ironically, these processes could also get a boost from marketing, SEO and advertising.

Intuit says that many enterprises fall into the “trap” of prioritising spend for other business activities as marketing can often help immediately by buffering cash reserves during the formative years of trading.

“It’s concerning that so many small business owners in Australia are sacrificing opportunities to grow their business profile as a consequence of having to spend on other priorities,” Intuit’s Australia Country Manager Natira Drayton said in a statement.

She added: “This is a classic trap for small businesses.”

Day-to-day operational demands can make finding the money and time to invest in marketing hard, and it is difficult to keep cash flow healthy and achieve potential without it, according to Drayton.

While marketing is being pushed to the sidelines by businesses eager to double down on what they perceive to be more important processes, 80% of the 500 owners of small businesses surveyed said that they believe that marketing offers great value and is a useful tool.

In terms of marketing channels, 47% say that websites are the most valuable overall as these hubs enable them to publish content and bring consumers in to view their products and services with the aim of completing sales digitally.

The next popular channel is social media, with 42% eager to leverage Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and similar platforms to reach and engage with potentially millions of users around the world.

Email marketing and digital marketing are also viewed as essential channels, but again, a lack of funds and desire to optimise budgets are preventing many from pursuing these options at times when they could transform the success of a business.

Perhaps the reason why marketing is not viewed as critical is that SMEs are not aligning it with other areas of the business and are instead content with using it as a tool for reaching more customers.

Intuit found that 39% believe that the value of marketing is tied to its ability to grow a customer base, while 42% say that it mostly brings in new business leads – a similar number also claim that it helps them achieve direct sales.


03/Oct/2019
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Editorial content can play a key role in inspiring luxury shoppers and guiding their purchase decisions, according to a new independent study by Attraqt that suggests that brands in fashion and retail are not doing enough to influence customers at various stages of the purchasing cycle.

The study of 3,000 shoppers in the UK, the UAE and France aimed to highlight behaviour expectations and frustrations and the factors that lead to a purchase being made.

It also looks at the rising number of digital channels and how they can be used to support a consumer’s buying journey.

Physical stores were the traditional starting point for retail shoppers, and while 40% say that they still visit stores to peruse new products, the same number are now using smartphones, retailer websites and brand apps to discover new trends and offers and make purchases.

Attraqt’s director of customer experience Jon Stephens says that the journey for luxury shoppers is currently evolving rapidly and change is being driven by younger consumers.

The report predicts that Millennials and Gen Z will account for half of the luxury goods sector by the middle of the next decade.

In order to keep up with the evolution, the report suggests that brands need to look beyond digital channels merely being a source of inspiration and use them instead to deliver “more immersive, personal and frictionless” experiences.

Luxury shoppers regard finding new products with ease as the single most important factor in their shopping experience, while discovering new trends, personalised recommendations and advice from stylists were also ranked highly.

Every one of these ‘essentials’ can be demonstrated via high-quality content marketing campaigns, either through interactive ‘shoppable’ videos, which allow viewers to click on items of clothing to discover more information, or blogs highlighting new trends.

One in 10 say that bloggers are their single biggest ‘influencer’, while 26% say that a brand’s online content is very influential in the decisions they make about luxury purchases.

More specifically, when shoppers don’t know what to buy, 34% say that product recommendations can push them in the right direction and 26% say that editorial and featured stories can be helpful.

Social media site Instagram is also a notable influence on purchases.

“The importance of orchestrating a luxury shopping journey fit for the digital era – connecting the customer with relevant products and creating a series of ‘wow’ experiences to nurture a customer to a sale – has never been more important,” adds Stephens, who says that a failure to serve needs in micro-moments can lead to lost sales.

“In the luxury market this means removing the data silos in their organisation to ensure they influence every touchpoint – from the curated editorial content to the search and navigation process right through to the packaging of the delivery and re-engagement.”

The need to optimise digital platforms and channels is brought into sharp focus by the fact that 65% of Gen Z and Millennials now start their respective journeys online, and this age group will be responsible for the lion’s share of purchases by 2025.


30/Sep/2019
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Keeping up with the content demands of B2B consumers and partners is a major concern for decision-makers, according to a new study released last week by Episerver, which found that 84% believe that meeting digital expectations is now the single biggest “external” issue.

The ‘B2B Digital Experiences Report 2019: How Companies Are Meeting Rising Expectations’ explores the tactics and strategies being deployed by B2B companies to deliver consistent, high-quality campaigns and highlights a number of problems and challenges to overcome.

The need to provide excellent digital experiences was highlighted in a recent, separate report by Episerver, which acts a prelude to the latest exploratory research showing that 91% of B2B consumers believe that they have a better experience and think more fondly of a brand when the latter is able to publish personalised content that speaks to them.

Personalised, tailored content has been a key trend in marketing for a couple of years now, but it still remains a top priority for business-to-business organisations and will continue to shape the direction of campaigns during the next 12 months.

The study found that personalised content is the single website feature that B2Bs plan on adopting the most during the next year, with 36% saying that they plan to focus on personalisation, putting it ahead of mobile experience improvements (33%).

The emergence of cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) is making it easier for B2B brands to improve personalisation, and 82% revealed that they will use AI during the next three years to increase the quality of their digital experiences.

“Consumers expect more from our organizations every day,” Episerver’s senior director of content management strategy Deane Barker noted in a statement.

He added: “Unfortunately, the accounting department expects…well, less. Digital marketers are in a tug-of-war between rising expectations and dwindling budgets. With this report, we’ve looked at the factors pushing and pulling these teams toward their decision points. If you work in digital marketing, I promise you’ll see yourself somewhere in these results.”

Personalised content also fits neatly into the trend of one-click purchases on e-commerce sites as it helps to streamline a buyer’s journey by providing the information they need to take action and buy products and services without having to navigate elsewhere.

The previous ‘B2B Digital Experiences Report’ by Episerver found that the majority of B2B enterprises are at least using basic web personalisation but that there is significant room for improvement in terms of providing content that consumers crave to drive engagement and sales.

One in five B2Bs say that they see the growing number of digital channels they use as an opportunity for even better personalised customer experiences, and those able to act on this will see happier consumers who believe that companies actually care about their journeys with a brand.

Another report released last week by Uberflip and Heinz Marketing defined the new “marketing standard”, which is based around data and content.

It said: “The new standard is centered around a buyer experience that’s built around ease of access and discovery, frictionless consumption, personalized and relevant suggestions, and curated engagement paths – a buyer experience designed to delight, engage, enable, and empower better decisions.”


23/Sep/2019
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Making B2B buyers feel confident about their decision-making has been overlooked and is in fact a determining factor in the strength of relationships with customers, according to a new study released by Gartner.

The Elevating Marketing’s Role in B2B Account Growth report, which canvassed the opinions of 1,000 B2B customers, found that growth strategies centred on bringing about change in the behaviours and habits of target audiences in isolation are largely futile as they rarely have a positive impact.

Instead, B2B brands should aim to deliver content that makes customers more confident in their ability to assess a situation and make correct purchasing decisions, as Gartner found that this can lead to more purchases and greater brand loyalty over time.

“85% of commercial leaders report they are leaving significant amounts of growth on the table,” Gartner’s marketing practice managing vice president Martha Mathers said in a statement.

“There’s a clear disconnect here and an urgency to understand what marketing can do to truly help drive growth in existing accounts, particularly with signs of economic uncertainty in view.”

Gartner found that customers are 2.6 times more likely to purchase more products or services from a company if the latter can provide content and experiences that increase their ability and confidence to make crucial decisions.

This can be achieved via the distribution of ‘buyer enablement’ content, defined as the process of accelerating B2B sales by providing what buyers need to make quick and informed decisions.

Brands that are able to deliver articles, blogs, web copy, whitepapers and videos at the right time through the right channels can ease buyers through the critical phases of the purchase process and thus increase confidence by around 300%, which then leads to loyalty and greater sales.

“It’s about building customer confidence in themselves,” Mathers added.

“Marketing organizations that can build customer confidence in their ability to make decision change that’s good for their business will not only differentiate themselves from the competition, but will be better positioned to drive high-quality growth.”

Bringing about change through content and experiences is the best option for B2B brands as it gives customers a compelling reason to take action.

When supplemented with content outlining clear steps to an end goal, brands can increase decision confidence significantly.

Gartner recommends using content for an onboarding experience of sorts as guiding customers through the basics of new products and services can lead to higher adoption levels, which is especially important in sectors such as tech, business and finance.

Again, this integration support drives a 2.9 times increase in decision confidence.

Mathers said that marketing leaders now play a major role in expanding business (the study found that they now pursue the majority of all leads) through existing accounts and that marketing has the tools to drive substantial growth with the right strategies and campaigns.

Content marketing, in particular, can help customers to realise that they can force change and cope with all of the challenges that may arise from taking a bold course of action.   


16/Sep/2019
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The liberal use of marketing buzzwords is causing confusion for IT professionals and making it more difficult for both departments to communicate, collaborate and align objectives according to a new report released last week by CMS provider Magnolia.

The report, Straight Talking Content Management, incorporated a survey that polled 400 professionals evenly split between IT and marketing about the digital experience (DX), which is defined as the interactions between consumers and organisations facilitated by digital tech and the attitudes of the key players involved.

Buzzwords, such as SEO, micro-moments and algorithms, are now commonly used in marketing, but IT teams are struggling to keep up.

More than three-quarters say that they don’t understand the range of buzzwords marketers use, which leads to growing tensions between the two groups.

About 29% of the IT professionals surveyed believe that there are too many buzzwords being used, especially in relation to digital marketing and experiences.

Among the phrases that are causing problems include omnichannel, which 21% admit to not knowing, and call to action, a term that continues to stump 24% of respondents.

The disconnect may not appear to be a major problem in isolation, but the study found that 80% of marketers are collaborating with IT every week, while almost half are doing so every day.

With confusion often reigning in important interactions, both teams are finding it more challenging than necessary to achieve goals and objectives.

Magnolia CMO, Rasmus Skjoldan, said: “In order for brands to create great content, both IT teams and marketers must work together to understand each other’s unique pressures and objectives.

“Talking in technical jargon and marketing buzzwords isn’t helping, if anything it’s just causing more frustration for both groups.

“Too many CMS brands add to this problem, expanding rather than bridging the divide.

“As an industry we need to focus on developing straight-talking solutions that work for everyone across the business – from marketers, to developers, to customers and IT teams.”

However, the frustration is not just a one-way street, as the study, which was completed in June, also found that 84% of marketers do not fully grasp the complexities of IT and the work undertaken.

Meanwhile, 70% of IT professionals believe that they “should own the digital experience”, which suggests they do not look favourably on the interference of other departments.

A separate study released this week by Yext and Forbes found that brands are missing out on an opportunity to ‘differentiate themselves’ by providing verifiable and relevant information about products and services both on their websites and across the web, after a study that found consumers often find inaccurate information in searches.

More than half said that they prefer to navigate directly to a brand’s website rather than rely on a blurb in Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo, as they believe that they will get a better chance of finding complete and accurate information.

Yext CEO, Marc Ferrentino, added: “Our research shows that regardless of where they search for information, people expect the answers they find to be consistent and accurate – and they hold brands responsible to ensure this is the case.”