After Thursday’s sessions, we were all looking forward to the topics and the speakers that we’d hear on Friday. And right off the bat, they didn’t disappoint. Now that we were getting deep into the organic search topics, it did look like the audience had changed a little bit but it was just as big if not bigger. (For those who missed the PPC day, be sure to check out our recaps here and here.)
How to Embrace Today’s Buyer, Stand Out, and Build an Amazing Business in the Digital Age | Marcus Sheridan
The opening keynote was, from start to finish, filled with energy and information. Marcus Sheridan is clearly passionate about this business, and the infectious attitude was just what a lot of us needed bright and early on a Friday morning.
He started things off with a (trick) question:
“What business are you in?”
He asked this to us as marketers, and then after a few basic answers he clarified and asked if we were in the same business as car salesmen.
Many people mumbled a bit at that, some in the affirmative, some not. But then he specified and said that 90% of people in that industry are great people, so why was it that everyone has such a poor opinion of them? Why is car salesmanship perceived as the “lowest of the low” when it comes to moving product?
The answer we came up with was that it was the process that failed them.
So then Marcus shared the story of CarMax to show how one company was able to see how the process was failing the industry and rose to the top by addressing those specific problems. They were able to rebuild actual trust by fixing prices, offering cash back guarantees, and other strategies that showed how much value they’re providing for their customers.
As a company, he said, we need to eliminate negative emotions from the buying cycle. When you can do that, all that’s left is trust.
As an experiment in applying what he said, Marcus had us write down seven reasons people wouldn’t work with your company. Go ahead, try it yourself. How important are these things to your business?
According to Marcus, this is your business.
These are the things you have to get rid of right now to eliminate fear and build trust. And, he said, if you do this list and address all of these concerns right on your website, it will fundamentally improve your business.
They Ask. You Answer
This is the overriding philosophy that can help your business address most concerns. You can become the source for the answers that customers need. We’ve already discussed on Thursday how the buyer funnel has changed, so if you provide all the answers, they won’t have much need to go anywhere else.
6 Fundamental Qualities that are Changing the Game
These are the qualities Marcus says a business needs to really take advantage of that philosophy.
- Understanding the difference between “principles” and “platforms”?
Principles are forever, but platforms come and go. You can’t build a culture around Facebook, but you can around great customer service. This is why you shouldn’t sell upper management on “content marketing,” but on being the answer to everything.
- 70% of a decision is made before the first contact
Does your organization get this? Closing rates are not as important as they used to be because of this. Customers have likely already vetted your company before making contact.
- Management and employee buy in
Embrace “insourcing.” Use the talent that you already have in the company. Either everyone participates, or they’re just not getting it.
- Don’t treat digital like a beta test
You have to go all in on this. It’s not enough to just dip your toes. Get everyone involved – even the sales team – and see how they can contribute content (answers).
- Understanding we’re all media companies, whether we like it or not
Don’t let your dislike of a platform or marketing channel stop you from getting involved. Marcus says that by next year, 50% of all the content you’re creating better be video. If you start obsessing over video today, you’ll be ready for virtual reality tomorrow.
- Understanding this is a “sales” and not a marketing conversation
We have to sell the message to people inside the company as much as outside the company.
Making Content Useful
People who read more – who have more touchpoints with the products/company – you have to make sure your content integrates with the sales process. If you’re answering the questions your customers have, your content becomes a tool that the sales team can use (so they better know about every piece you put out).
Overcoming the Disillusionment with Corporate Social Media | Cory Edwards
The next speaker, Cory Edwards the director of social media and content marketing at Adobe, launched into his presentation by talking about how experiences matter more than ever in social media. A good experience must be:
Impacting the Social Experience with Your Brand
Cory began talking about how social used to be about listening and relationships, but now there’s a new order to things. See, there’s this thing called the Gartner Hype Cycle, which tracks behavior through the stages of early adoption, serious hype, falling into the trough of unpopularity, and then finally levelling back out. Where, he asked, do we think social media is right now?
Certainly we’re past the peak of interest, but are we in the “trough of disillusionment”?
Maybe, maybe not. But too many businesses are losing their confidence in this marketing channel because it wasn’t the absolute solution they imagined it would be. This is basically the same thing Marcus Sheridan said about focusing on the principle, not the platform.
Adobe’s goal, Cory said, is to avoid the trough by taking a different approach through content, activations (buzzworthy events), and distribution networks.
“If you want to be in the media, become the media.” Solid advice.
Cory said that 30% of their leads had read some of their articles at some point, so he recommended several ways to produce content that lasts as well as content that catches immediate trends. Subject Matter Expert Activation was a term he used for teaming a writer with a company expert. You’re not supposed to be a ghostwriter, but you are activating and enabling the experts to really contribute important answers.
When you do real time content, he said, you shouldn’t try to “trend jack” anything unless it’s really relevant. (In Adobe’s case, they were able to make great use of the Blue-Black/White-Gold dress thing that was circulating through social a while back.)
This fit perfectly with the messaging that they want to get across, and they were able to talk about their products in connection with an internet event that was going on without making it feel like they were just jumping on a band wagon or forcing their way into a conversation where they weren’t wanted.
When you know your audience, you’ll be able to do the same kind of thing.
Cory talked about activations as those things that, well, get people active. It gives them a reason to do something, whether it’s just sharing a post or signing up for a new service. It’s related to the dreaded phrase: “make this viral.” No one can choose what will go viral, but a compelling activation has much the same effect. He defined a compelling activation as:
- Evokes Emotion
- Inspired by “Now”
- Spreads easily
You should always be on the lookout for ways to integrate these 5 things throughout the entire marketing campaign, and then you’ll find new ways to distribute your content to those who are ready to see it.
Get Internal Support
Finally, just like Marcus said, if they’re not contributing, they’re not getting it. Through a process of enablement, governance, and using metrics that matter, Adobe is finding ways to beat the disillusionment.
- Enable your employees to get involved, especially since they’re more trusted than marketers and CEOs.
- Governance is important so you can educate them on how to be an advocate, but you can’t get in the way of their having fun. Govern, but don’t make them bots.
- Metrics that matter will show how social is not in the trough but can still be very effective.
Are You Ready for Voice Search? | Purna Virji
The last speaker before lunch on Friday was Purna Virji, the Senior Bing Ads PPC Training Manager at Microsoft. But wait, I hear you say. I thought Friday was all about organic search. Why in the world are we listening to someone who specializes in PPC?
Well, because she can also teach us all about optimizing for voice search, which is very clearly going to be hugely important in the very near future.
So first, she took us through the general state of voice search and what we can expect in the future.
Voice is gaining popularity because of how and where we can use it. Whether we need quick answers on the go or are otherwise occupied. But more importantly, now that it actually works well, we’re far more comfortable using it. It wasn’t that long ago that the error rate was around 25%, but now Google and Bing have generally gotten it down to about 8%.
It’s also important to note that currently, about 20% of searches on Android devices are done through voice search. By 2020, she said they expect voice to account for 50% of all searches. So this is something we’ve got to be ready for.
Tips for Optimizing for Voice Search
Purna gave us 5 tips for preparing and optimizing for voice search.
- Rethink your keywords – Really focus hard on natural language that is verb heavy and uses the active voice. Question-type keywords are a good choice. She also reminded us to use schema on all things.
- Rethink local-mobile – Voice search has 3x more local intent than text search, so citations really matter, and you need to localize keywords. Not just city names, but actual locations in the area that are close to your business.
- Rethink intent – People who search by voice are more likely to express intent rather than just type in a product name (which can leave the intent rather ambiguous). So you can serve more relevant ads to these people. Remember that the type of question can change intent. “Where” questions mean they’re ready to come in. “How” questions are all about getting info. “What” questions may have some intent to buy very soon.
- Rethink branding – It’s not just misspellings you have to worry about anymore. Now a mispronunciation can make it hard for someone to find your website. As you think of your brand, you need to know the common mispronunciations and how someone speaking English as a second language might pronounce it. If your brand has too many potential pronunciations, you may need to take another look at it.
- Rethink actions – Quick answers (that are provided by schema or citations) are what voice searchers really want. They may not bother visiting a website if the search engine provides contact information in the results, so make sure you’re showing up properly.
Voice search is coming. If you can get ahead of it now, you’ll have the advantage over the competition.
There are not real analytics for voice search at this time, but you can derive some metrics from the numbers that are already available. If you see that you’re ranking for longer keywords that look more natural, there’s a good chance that’s voice that brought them there.
What’s in Store for Us?
We are a trainable people, and we’re getting more accustomed to voice search even as I write this. Our phone actually knows more about us than our friends and family, which is making it possible for voice on these devices to take advantage of some predictive capabilities.
It’s convenient, so we’ll use it, and the major voice search providers are working toward making “conversation” the interface new design that we’ll all be using. So you need to change your messaging to start reflecting this.