Zero Click Content – How To Leverage It In The Era of Dark Social

Zero click content

This article was originally published in the Elevate Your Marketing newsletter and has been repurposed and republished here

Zero click content is a concept that made a buzz in the marketing world for a while and kind of faded out. But today, with most of the modern B2B buying journey being ‘hidden’, zero click content becomes all the more relevant.

In this article, we will learn:

  • What is zero click content?
  • Why is it important in the dark social era?
  • How can you leverage it to grow your business?
  • Methods to measure the impact of zero click content on your business.

As we dive deep into the topic, we will look at not just the theory but practical ways to implement zero click content across the marketing spectrum. We will also look at real examples of how zero-click content is implemented.

So let’s roll.

Let’s first give credit where it’s due

When it comes to zero click content, Amanda Natividad deserves a mention for sure. Her article on the topic published last year went viral and sparked a lot of conversation about the concept. I have taken the article as a reference to create this piece. However, we will be covering many more dimensions of the topic today, especially with respect to dark social.

What is zero click content?

Zero click content refers to any piece of content that doesn’t require you to click through to find the information you need. More and more platforms are trying to retain users within their ecosystem by serving (or encouraging others to create) content that resolves a query on the platform itself. This trend manifests predominantly in two ways:

  • Search engines trying to deliver results to search queries in SERP (Search Engine Results Page) itself (Google’s new initiative called Search Generative Experience is a step towards this).
  • Social media and community platforms killing the reach of content that has external links while at the same time enhancing the reach of native content.

Whatever the case is, all of them are attempting to retain and reward users who create more native content that helps to increase on-platform engagement.

Why is zero click content important?

As I mentioned before, when the most commonly used online platforms are prioritizing zero click content, as users we are forced to consume and create more of it. Instead of making a guess about this, let us look at some data points to validate this trend across platforms.

  • According to a Hootsuite study, posts without links outperformed those with links on Linkedin. Another experiment by Hootsuite proves that tweets without links performed better.
  • As Amanda states in the SparkToro article, more than two-thirds of all searches on Google did not end up in clicks in 2020.
  • With SGE (Search Generative Experience), the search engine giant is prioritizing serving the right information in SERP itself rather than serving 10 links where the users have to take up the job of finding and consolidating the right information.

In addition to this, there are two more important reasons why you need to invest more time into creating zero click content – DARK SOCIAL and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

I have discussed dark social multiple times in my content before. We derived its correlation with generating demand and spoke about creating content and building measurement systems for it. One of my most popular articles on B2B revenue attribution is written on the premise that dark social exists and we all need to embrace it rather than trying to fight it. I also covered how you should design your marketing strategy for this new era of dark social in this post.

Now, if you are wondering how the ongoing AI revolution has an impact on zero click content, here is why:

Creating content at scale is not going to be very challenging with AI finding its application in creating text, image, voice, and video content automatically. So, the only way to stand out in the crowd is to create value-driven content that an AI system will not be able to replicate.

To do this, you need to either serve information to users on-platform or hook them enough to click on that link and visit your website to consume the long-form content. Staying top-of-mind of your target audience is the key here, and using zero click content is the best way to achieve it.

Essentially, for these reasons, the importance of zero click content cannot be ignored.

Is zero click content entirely ‘zero’ click?

Don’t mistake zero click content as something that doesn’t give users an option to click through and look for more details. For instance, if you take Google SERP’s rich snippet or knowledge panel as examples, you do have the option to click through to the long-form content which provides more details on the user’s query.

Another tactic that is followed on social media platforms to make it easier for users to find more information is to add links after the post with zero click content is published. This is the reason why you see a lot of creators on Linkedin adding links as comments on their posts.

So, the objective of zero click content is not to restrict access to information, but rather to act as a tool for users to get comprehensive information in the easiest and fastest way possible.

Zero click content examples

Amanda has given some great examples of zero click content in her article. I recommend you go check them out. But, in this section, I wanted to talk about how I myself have been leveraging the concept to build a personal brand in the B2B marketing space.

My newsletter on LinkedIn Elevate Your Marketing is a great example of zero click content. Until recently, I used to include the content of the entire article on LinkedIn itself. This meant that readers didn’t have to click through to another page to access the full content (However, I have started leading people to the Skalegrow website lately).

Following are some of the other ways in which I have leveraged zero click content on LinkedIn.

  • Adding a new perspective or tips to a topic that I have already written about. This post is an example of this. Here, in slide 8, I attempt to direct readers to the full article that discusses in detail the steps involved in creating a marketing budget. The link to it is also added in the comments for easy access.
  • Summarizing the content of an article. Here is an example of this. As in the previous case, I am leading readers to the full article in the middle of the carousel. This post is another example of this.
  • Establishing trust using testimonials. If you have been following me on Linkedin, you know that I offer mentorship to people who need guidance with respect to their careers – especially B2B marketers. In this post, I shared testimonials of some of my mentees who found the interaction with me helpful, and then of course, added the link to book a mentorship call with me in the carousel as well as comments.

There are many more ways for us to leverage the idea of zero click content (which we will discuss in detail in an upcoming section). I gave you examples of LinkedIn posts since I am mostly active on this platform.

Zero click content and dark social

A Gartner research finds that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase‚ they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with any sales rep may be only 5% or 6%. If you read this along with the other facts – about content with links – I mentioned earlier, it means that companies have fewer opportunities to influence buying decisions by bringing them to a website or sales conversation.

So what’s the solution?

Stay top-of-mind of your ideal customers. How do you do it? By creating more and more zero click content. The more places you show up in the dark social world, the better.

How to make the best use of zero click content in the dark social era?

We learned in the previous section that we need to create and promote more zero click content. But how, and where? That’s what we will discuss in this section.

Creating zero click content before everything requires a shift in mindset from ‘I want to measure everything in marketing’ to ‘there are things that cannot be measured but yet have a significant positive impact on the business’. Examples of touchpoints or activities in marketing that cannot be measured include:

  • A mention of your product in a podcast or community
  • An interaction with a salesperson at an event (well, this could be measured to some extent if you mark it as an offline touchpoint in your CRM)
  • Recommendation of your offerings to a buyer by his peer

All of the above are not examples of zero click content. However, they prove that all marketing activities cannot be measured. At the same time, they contribute to generating awareness – and even revenue and pipeline – for your business.

This fundamental change in mindset is what will encourage you to invest more dollars, time, and resources into creating zero click content that might be challenging to measure (there are a few ways in which you can measure a part of it, which we will discuss in detail in the next section).

Keeping this in mind, let us look at some of the tips and tactics that will help you build a zero click content engine.

zero click searches

Tactics for building a zero click content engine

  1. Optimize your indexed content for user queries, not for keywords alone
  2. Create more native content
  3. Invest in creating content that gives away some of your best tips
  4. Create avenues of discussion around your content
  5. Make it possible to share your content

1. Optimize content for user queries

Did you know that Google recently updated its quality rater guidelines by adding an extra ‘E’ to its E-A-T framework? The new framework is called E-E-A-T, where the new E stands for ‘Experience’ (the other letters represent expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness respectively).

Though this new E is not directly related to zero click content, your likelihood of making it to a rich snippet or knowledge panel (which are nothing but examples of zero click content) will increase if you optimize your content for all four elements – including experience. This would in turn mean that your content has to match users’ queries. Hence, instead of stuffing keywords in a blog post or webpage, focus on resolving the query or problem your content solves.

2. Create more native content – one of the best zero click content tactics

This goes without saying. Whether it’s in the form of short videos (Instagram reels, YouTube shorts), long videos, images, or carousels, your priority should be to retain the user within the platform.

Note: This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t create content that links to external sources. A best practice would be to mix it up. While the majority of your content should be native and without links, a small portion can still be the other way to add more value to your audience by sharing relevant external content.

3. Invest in creating content that gives away some of your best tips

Hiding the best from the outside world is a thing of the past. Since you need to catch your prospect’s attention much before he/she even talks to your sales team, you need to educate and engage with them by creating zero click content that:

  • Establishes you as an authority in your industry
  • Genuinely helps your prospects solve their problems
  • Emotionally connect with your audience

Some of the content types that can help you do this are:

  • Podcasts
  • Panel discussions
  • Newsletters
  • Courses and tutorials

All these content types sort of mirror your abilities to solve specific challenges for your customers and prospects – while giving away tips and tactics they can practically implement in their business. These content types are self-sufficient in a way but also offer opportunities for further exploration.

There are a ton of examples I can give you when it comes to this. Some of them are:

4. Create avenues of discussion around your content

This is about making your content a topic of discussion in different ways. The methods for this include leveraging communities (both online and offline), social media groups, and even webinars.

Related: Webinar Marketing – Everything You Need To Know

5. Make it possible to share your content

The best way to make zero click content work is to make it more shareable. Doing this involves 3 steps:

  1. Create share-worthy content. Examples include stats, facts & figures, how-to guides, playbooks, templates, market research reports, etc.
  2. Publish and promote them on platforms where the likelihood of others sharing them is high.
  3. Leverage technology and tools to have your content shared more. This can be done in two ways. The first is to run ads with your zero click content (I know, sounds counterintuitive. But if an ad can help spread more awareness about your content, why not?). The second method is to use a tool like QuuuPromote that encourages real people to share your content on social media platforms.

Measuring the effectiveness of zero click content

While it’s true that zero click content is not as measurable as many other forms of content, there are definitely ways in which we can gauge whether they are making an impact or not.

We will look at measurement at three different levels:

zero- click searches

Measuring the effectiveness of zero click content

  1. On-platform measurement
  2. Indirect measurement
  3. The Mixed attribution method

1. On-platform measurement

As the term suggests, this involves measuring the engagement your content receives on the respective platform.

For instance, for YouTube, the metrics would include video views, likes, comments, shares, etc. Similarly, for a LinkedIn post, they would be the number of impressions, reactions, engagement rate, etc. The idea is to measure the effectiveness of the content using metrics natively provided by the platform.

2. Indirect measurement

This is very similar to measuring the brand awareness and reach of your business. You essentially understand the consequences of creating more zero click content by looking at indicators. These include:

  • Branded keywords data
  • Total website traffic
  • Direct and referral traffic
  • Backlinks
  • Customer and prospect feedback

I suggest you give my article on measuring brand awareness and reach a read to understand the above metrics in detail. The article discusses 10 metrics, out of which, only the above 5 are relevant when it comes to measuring the impact of zero click content.

3. The mixed attribution method

I have discussed this in one of my other articles. If you are interested in learning in detail about the method, please visit the below link:

Why B2B Revenue Attribution Is Broken And How To Fix It

Here, the idea is to use the method to understand which of your content pieces have led to conversion or actual revenue/pipeline. In case you wish to make the attribution simpler, you can go with just the self-reported attribution method.

Note: Attribution in itself is a vast topic. If you find this complicated, do it this way (to measure the impact of zero-click content). Add a field to your website forms that asks the user to fill in how he/she heard about the company. Mapping that with the different zero click content items you have should give you a fair idea of what is working and what is not.

Final words about zero click content

Zero click content as such is not a novel concept. It has been around for a while. But it has seldom been discussed in the context of dark social – which is what I attempted to do in this article. I hope you found this content useful.


Skalegrow – B2B marketing agency

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About the author

Naseef KPO

Naseef KPO is the Founder and CEO of Skalegrow. He comes with rich experience across multiple areas of B2B marketing including content marketing, demand generation, SEO, account-based marketing, marketing analytics, revenue attribution, marketing technology, etc. He writes thought-provoking and relevant articles on The Skalegrow Blog and his weekly LinkedIn newsletter Elevate Your Marketing.

Prior to starting Skalegrow, Naseef led large marketing teams in multi-million dollar B2B organizations where he made significant contributions to the topline growth of the business. He has also appeared on numerous podcasts where he shared his thoughts on trending marketing topics such as the application of AI in marketing, startup marketing, ABM, and B2B content marketing, just to name a few. Being the founder of Skalegrow, he is currently focusing on helping its clients stay ahead of their competition by using innovative yet practical marketing tactics.

You can connect with Naseef KPO on LinkedIn.