Why should you optimise for voice search in B2B marketing?

“Hey Google, why should you optimise for voice search in B2B marketing?” If speaking those words led you here, or maybe you asked Alexa or Cortana, then you’ve actually answered your own question, in a senseVoice search optimisation of business-to-business content is why you’re reading this right now.

What do I mean by that? Why does voice search matter for your business’s marketing? And what steps can you take to make B2B content rank high in voice search results? I’ll tell you in this article.

 

But first, let’s focus on why voice search is a thing in the first place.

 

The rise of voice search

Today, more and more people are using spoken queries to find products and services. This has been fuelled largely by two factors:  

 

  • High levels of mobile device usage (smartphones) 
  • New ‘smart speaker’ devices and voice assistants 

 

According to a study from PwC65% of consumers aged 25 to 49 years old talk to their voice-enabled devices daily. And another survey from Hubspot found that 74% of respondents had used voiced search within the last month. So, it’s clear that adoption of these individual technologies – smartphones, smart assistants and voice search – have contributed to the rise of them all.  

 

But there are also some other reasons for the increase in voice search uses, which relate to material realities of life today. 

 

More reasons people are going hands-free

The COVID-19 pandemic may also have spurred voice search’s uptake. Gartner’s report ‘Optimizing Voice Search and Features for Mobile Commerce’ found that 32% of consumers are interested in hands-free technology that would limit touching or contamination. No typing and swiping, no viral transmission – although we have to wonder if today’s speech recognition technologies have been tweaked to compensate for mask muffling. That’s certainly a catalyst for algorithmic improvement that nobody would have expected pre-2020. 

 

Also Social Media Today revealed that 52% of people use voice search while driving – which could perhaps be a result of smartphones replacing dedicated sat-nav devices on vehicle dashboards. Enabling people to find what they need while still keeping their eyes safely on the road could be one of the most positive benefits of voice search’s rise. 

 

Okay, but voice search in B2B marketing?

You may be thinking: “So people are using voice search to find the next motorway service station, or a pizza place open past midnight – that’s great. But it all sounds very business-to-consumer. My customers aren’t all saying Alexa, what’s my nearest Microsoft CSP?, are they?  

 

Maybe they aren’t – right nowBut this is a trend that can only grow – and it’s likely to keep growing rapidly. Statista predicts that by 2024, 8.4 billion voice assistants will be in use worldwideAs voice search makes up more and more of the total number of all searches performed, more of those searches will be business-related.  

 

To prepare for greater volumes of voice searches and capture as much of the current voice search traffic as possible, now’s the time to start making your B2B content rank high in voice search results. Let’s look at how.  

 

Our voice search optimisation tips

I asked Fifty Five and Five Marketing Executive Charlotte Chan for her top three tips on voice search optimization. Here they are:

Charlotte’s top three

 

  1. Optimise for ‘rich answers’. Voice search results are likely to draw from Google’s Knowledge Graph, Knowledge Panel, Knowledge Box and Featured Snippets. Rich answers use these sources – Featured Snippets in particular – so make sure these elements are optimised.  

 

  1. Answer questions concisely. Current best practice is that Google prefers the answers to voice search queries to be short and to the point. In fact the typical voice search result is only 29 words in length. That’s even shorter than this paragraph.  

 

  1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Much of your potential voice traffic will be from mobile devices. Therefore, as well as succeeding with voice search, it also needs to meet Google’s criteria for mobile friendliness for it to rank as well as it possibly can.  

 

I’ve also got some of my own advice for optimising voice search in B2B marketing, which I’ll share now.  

 

My advice

 

Focus on conversational keywords. People query search engines in different ways with their voices than with text. That means conversational phrases (e.g., “How do I...”) and long-tail keywords 

 

Create pages that answer FAQs. People use voice search to ask questions, so creating content with frequently asked questions – and their answers – is the perfect way to capture their search traffic. I used a question keyword in the title of this blog!  

 

Optimise for more search engines than Google. While Google results are used for voice searches via Google (obviously) and Apple’s Siri, other voice assistants may use different sources. Alexa and Cortana use Microsoft’s Bing – so optimise for that, too.  

 

Time to make yourself heard

hope this article has helped to illustrate the value of voice search for B2B marketing. It’s still a relatively new field, and it’s sure to evolve considerably as time goes by – so I look forward to exploring new developments in the future.  

 

Meanwhile, if you’d like some assistance in making sure your organisation is being heard by potential customers using voice search, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Fifty Five and FiveWe’ll be more than happy to help.


Microsoft's Gavriella Schuster on resilience, triumph and transformation in business today

What a year it’s been. We caught up with Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner, to get her take on the past twelve months and what’s been happening with Microsoft partners around the world. You can listen to the conversation in full in our podcast here.  

 

Staying connected

Speaking about Microsoft’s partners’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gavriella described a situation many can relate to. Suddenly, with working from home and travel restrictions, partners have been presented with more time. This has meant added potential for productivity but has introduced new issues when it comes to staying connected, so the number of roundtables and checkpoints taking place via Teams have increased accordingly.

 

“...setting boundaries so that work doesn’t become a 24-hour sport...”

 

On the flipside, Gavriella and the partners have also had to ensure they aren’t too connected. That means nurturing the right work/life balance, preventing ‘camera fatigue’, and thinking about how to help people thrive in the ‘new normal’ of work. And cometh the hour, cometh the new Microsoft solution. 

 

Viva la Viva

As Gavriella told us, the launch of Microsoft Viva early in 2021 was a culmination of Microsoft’s learnings throughout the pandemic, and was developed with three aims in mind:

  • Building resilience 
  • Putting people first 
  • Staying connected

Viva brings together communications, knowledge, learning and insight into a single integrated employee experience directly in Microsoft Teams. It’s there to empower people and teams to be their best wherever and however they work and bring organisation and flow to all the elements workers needs to be successful.

 

“We really want people to work smarter, not longer. 

 

Boosting businesses’ immune systems

“No business is immune to a crisis and no business is 100% resilient.” We definitely agree with Gavriella on this point. And we also agree with her following remark: “But digital businesses and those fortified with digital capabilities have been able to pivot more rapidly.”

If the previous 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that organisations need the capability to digitally connect every facet of their business.  A positive, lasting legacy from 2020 may be that partners and customers across the world have created the networks needed for that connection. Something that may have begun as a measure to safeguard business continuity has the potential to be much more, improving speed of business in all kinds of ways – from customers to employees to operations to products.  

 

Helping customers prevail in a crisis

We discussed partners’ responses to the pandemic. The key opportunities have been around remote work: getting customers up and running remotely quickly, ensuring their business continuity and resilience, and putting everything in a ‘bubble of security’ – data, users and infrastructure. Gavriella was impressed by partners’ innovation and how they’ve swiftly and decisively responded to this need, dubbing them ‘digital first responders’.

 

...incredible speed, agility and work...”

 

For those unfamiliar with the term, a first responder is someone who is among the first to arrive at the scene of an emergency and provide assistance. The digital first responders of the Microsoft Partner Network have done just that in response to the COVID-19 crisis, answering customers’ callsputting them first, minimising downtime and enabling business to go on.

Gavriella was struck by how these partners were able to get customers up and running in as little as 24 hours and complete cloud migrations in just a quarter of a year instead of as much as 18 months. They should be very proud of these achievements, we think  and it’s a great reflection on the Microsoft Partner Network as a whole.

 

“The best of our partners has come out through this.”

 

As we’ve also heard from many of our clients over the last yearGavriella noted that Microsoft Power Apps was a very useful tool in a partner’s pandemic toolbox. The low-code development platform’s capabilities for creating bespoke software solutions made it the perfect digital Swiss army knife for organizations everywhere.

With Power Apps, partners could quickly and easily “plug holes and create new business process”, as Gavriella put it. The platform’s value has definitely been put to the test, demonstrated immense value and will now be a firm fixture in many businesses’ innovation initiatives in the future.  

 

Gavriella’s advice for Microsoft Partner marketing

Toward the end of our talk, we brought up a topic we’d been particularly eager to discuss: marketing strategy. We wanted to know Gavriella’s thoughts on what makes for the most successful Microsoft Partner marketing now and moving forward. She provided some excellent advice which we agree with wholeheartedly.

 

Hone in on a single thing that makes you really stand out.”

 

Gavriella emphasised the need to focus on your value proposition and what differentiates you, your business model, your engagement strategy and the solutions you deliver. As she says, that’s how to ensure your organisation stands out from countless others and gets your unique value across to customers.

Once a partner has defined the compelling core of their value proposition, it’s time to make it their digital marketing platformIt’s important to be clear about it and be sure to communicate it in the simple language that’s as accessible and compelling to your audience as possible.

 

Make sure that you’re not talking tech... but talking outcomes.”

 

Gavriella was preaching to the choir here. At Fifty Five and Five we are firm believers in telling powerful, benefit-led marketing stories that present clients’ full valuereally speak to their customers and address their goals and challenges – instead of just bombarding them with technical terminologyThat’s central to our approach to business-to-business tech marketing – before the COVID-19 outbreaktodayand long into the future.

Aalways, it was great to catch up with Gavriella, and we’re always fortunate when she shares her insights with us.

If you want to hear everything Gavriella said, including her advice for women in tech todayit’s all here in our podcastOr if you’d like to discuss how Fifty Five and Five can help you reach your marketing goals, just get in touch.


Illustration marketing person with laptop trying to overcome four marketing hurdles

How to overcome the 4 hurdles to great content marketing  

Building a brand, gaining an audience and generating leads is important for organisations of all sizes. Content marketing is a valuable tool to help you achieve these outcomes. But to really stand out, your content needs to have something special about it. It all starts with overcoming the four hurdles to content marketing greatness.  

 

1. Build your brand 

All good marketing begins with a story. What’s yours? 

B2B marketers often make the mistake of thinking their marketing material should be dry and functional rather than emotive and story-drivenThe argument goes that B2B buyers are driven by cool, logic-based decision making, rather than the airy-fairy emotional whims of consumers. Apart from being just a little patronising to B2C customers, this also misses a fundamental point: people are people, whether they’re wearing their business hats or they’re shopping for budget holidays.  

Emotive stories can be found in even the driest of B2B technology marketing. The story lies in what technology allows real people to achieve. Just look at this example: 

 

“Dan the HR manager used to spend two hours a day replying to emails and combing through Excel spreadsheets. Now automation takes care of that – and Dan’s much happier for it.” 

 

It has all the important aspects of a story and is a lot more compelling than a list of features and product specifications. Storytelling sits at the root of any successful brand.  

 

2. Generate leads 

Gaining leads is the goal of any marketing campaign. Fundamentally, we all want to sell something, whether that’s an intraneta security solution or our expertiseYour marketing strategy should prioritise getting your readers into the marketing funnel. Whether they make contact for a demonstration of your product, download another piece of content to continue their research, or are at the point of making a purchase. Luckily, if you’ve built your brand well enough, you’ll be well on your way to encouraging your users to fill in that lead generation form and take the next step in the process 

Getting the rest right is all about understanding your user journey and allowing your content to guide your readers through that. Every marketing strategy, whether paid or organic, short or long term, should make use of a marketing funnel. This means that different types of content are tailored to readers at different stages of their journey, usually as they learn more about the product you’re offering and the value it delivers. That, combined with a well-optimised website and robust SEO approach, means your readers have a clear route to conversion. 

 

3. Measure your campaigns 

It goes without saying that if you want your marketing campaign to be successful, you need to measure, observe and improve. This is as true for the marketing content you’re creating as it is for anything else in life.  

The first step is to set targets, or KPIs. When embarking on an organic or paid strategy, you need to understand what success looks like. That could be “gain 20 leads”, “post a blog every week”, or “gain 20% more views on our content than last year.” There’s no right or wrong answer here, but it’s important to draw a line in the sand that you can measure against later.  

Then, as your campaign progresses, you can use your KPIs as a metric of how successful your tactics are. Are you gaining a healthy number of leads, or are you still too far away from your target? What can you change in order to help you boost engagement? Then, once the campaign is over, you can review your targets, your tactics and how successful you have been. After that, simply rinse and repeat until your marketing strategy gets you the results you need.   

 

4. Solve your resource gap 

For many organisationsit’s very easy for day-to-day work to take precedence over marketing. Effective content creation requires resources and skills. All the goodwill and skills in the world won’t make quality blogs and case studies appear if your best people have too much on their plates 

There are several solutions to this problem. If you have the expertise and resources, then being firm about the time people need to create effective marketing, and not allowing that to get swept aside, can be a good way of achieving your goals. Alternatively, getting some outside help can be an effective way of ensuring your content gets written to a decent quality and published on time.  

 

The right help from the right people 

If you want to make sure quality content appears on your website or social media platforms when you need it, it’s worth considering partnering with a marketing agency that understands your industry and what can help differentiate you in a competitive marketplace.  

As a full-service digital marketing agency in the world of B2B technology our job is to ensure your content can build your brand, generate leads and achieve your strategic marketing goals. If you want to find out more about how we do that, get in touch with the Fifty Five and Five team today.