At the risk of sounding like every other b2b blog post published on the internet this month, we've done some research and found what we reckon marketers should seriously consider doing (or scrapping) to improve their sales this year.
1. Optimise your content for voice search
Apparently, 44% of consumers use voice search on a daily basis, and come 2020, it's predicted that 50% of all searches will be voice searches. So if you really want to future-proof your inbound marketing strategy, your blogs and web pages should probably be readable via voice search.
We need to really start thinking about helping all the various voice technologies that are available now read our content aloud. By helping our web pages be machine readable with clear information about let's say, an event you're hosting —when it is, how much it costs etc. – you're taking away the guess work and making indexing easy for search engines.
To get your content read aloud by Alexa, Google Home or whatever smart home assistant comes next, you want to be included in a featured snippet on Google search (they're the answers that always come first on a search).
A good way to do this is to use structured data and create bullet-point lists. For example, Google can read aloud a set of bullet-point instructions like a cooking recipe for when you're busy in the kitchen and don't have a spare hand free to be scrolling down a recipe.
You need to create content that uses long-tail keywords with natural and conversational language. For example: "How many people live in Nottingham?" Vs. "Nottingham population". You should also optimise your content around frequently-asked questions and always strive to have a higher Google Search ranking, of course.
2. Try out a chatbot
Recently, a Japanese company called C4 Inc. used click-to-messenger ads to reach construction management engineers, resulting in a 68% lower cost-per-acquisition, a 2.2X higher enquiry to completion rate, and 2X more people filling out the enquiry form.
The best part about chatbots is you don't actually need any coding experience; in fact, there are plenty of options out there that you can just 'plug-in-and-play'. Einstein Bot from Salesforce, for example, has a builder which is just a point-and-click setup tool. All you need to do to set up your new team member is help it understand your customer's intent by asking questions, sending responses, entering commonly used phrases, and setting process rules. You can learn more about that right here.
3. Get a marketing automation platform that syncs with your CRM
Both sales and marketing are trying to achieve the same goal, so why are most teams still operating in silos? Salesforce CRM and Pardot marketing automation integrate seamlessly, so your sales and marketing teams can be more aligned.
With a marketing automation platform like Pardot, you can automate emails, set up engagement programs, and create gorgeous landing pages. But you can also then automatically score your contacts according to their engagement, and pass them through to your CRM to make sure they're hitting the right sales person at the right time, for a better chance of conversion.
4. Try your hand at podcasting
Every business out there is offering e-books or whitepapers to leads these days, so to stand out from the crowd, it might be time to jump on the podcasting train!
Podcasts are rising in popularity; they're a convenient way to intake information about the stuff you're interested in, without having to commit time to reading a book or watching a video. This makes them perfect for people who are seeking information about a certain topic on-the-go or busy doing something else. And while there are a tonne of podcasts out there that cover popular topics like true crime, politics, and history, if you try to find something related to your specific industry, I bet there won't be much out there... yet!
5. Stop relying on vanity metrics
Figures like email open and click rates are all well and good to see if you're enticing leads, but they don't prove that your emails and CTAs are actually resulting in sales.
Open and click rate are what we call 'vanity metrics' because in order to understand if they actually contribute to sales, you have to dig much deeper. A good starting point is analysing the data that links to the bottom line business impact. So this year, you need to start concentrating more on contact list engagement, segment evolution and lead scoring.
6. Be less boring
The trouble with b2b sales and marketing is there's still a mountain of clunky industry jargon littering what could be some really engaging content. It's weird that we sometimes forget that our b2b customers are still human beings who want to be entertained, so stop dialing down the fun!
Before you start sounding like you've swallowed a business jargon dictionary, think about the individual people involved and their unique personalities. People want to buy from people, so being more human-to-human than business-to-business with your communications will show that you've taken the time to get to know your audience, help them see you as the person you are instead of a selling machine, and above all, stop them snoozing on your content!
Happy 2019, folks! Got any more tips you think we've missed out? Let us know below!