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.


Illustration woman planning content strategy

Content planning: the 3 crucial steps to keeping your audience coming back for more

When it comes to content planning, developing a strategy is easy…in theory. In practice, it can be tricky to create a successful plan that not only reaches the right people but keeps your readers coming back for more. That’s why we’re revealing the three crucial steps to attracting an audience and keeping them primed and interested in what you have to say.

 

Step 1: Know your audience

The first step to great content is understanding who you’re creating it for. It’s been said a million times before, but it’s worth saying it again:

  • Research who your ideal customer is
  • What is stopping them from doing a better job?
  • What do you think they would change about the way they work if they could?

Asking these questions – every time you think about your audience – is absolutely crucial. Never lose sight of who they are, what they need and how you can help them.

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Quick tip: combine tech and human insights

Get in touch with the person in charge of your sales strategy. Ask them to help you with their insights into who your business is talking to. You likely have an idea who your ideal audience is. Your sales team are the people on the ground talking to them day after day. Mine them for all the insights they can muster.

In combination with speaking to the humans who sell your products and services, don’t forget to lean on technology to give you a hand. Conduct keyword research to understand what your audience is searching for online. The phrases and keywords they use should help you understand exactly what they’re looking for.

Try to adopt the mindset that your audience doesn’t know who you are yet and then think of your content as the answer to their questions. You are the solution to their needs. They may just not know it yet.

 

Step 2: Connect with your audience

At first, your audience may be looking for the answer to a question, as mentioned above. But what keeps them coming back to you for more? It’s all down to the way you tell a story. We all love stories and are hardwired to respond to them. The key to growing a readership is to create engaging content that tells a compelling story.

What is engaging content?

Really great content goes beyond answering a question or ‘providing value’. The engaging stuff connects with the people consuming it. The dynamic is similar to a joke or a piece of art. It’s surprising, it rises above the humdrum of everything else you may have read or watched on a subject, and above all it contains your unique voice. But how do you do that?

Well, first, forget the idea of ‘converting’ a reader into a lead and a lead into a customer. These things get in the way. Instead focus on connecting with what motivates your audience. This is where the art of rhetoric comes in.

When creating your content, think about the rhetorical devices that will connect with your audience:

Logos

Use facts and figures that will resonate with a certain type of audience who need to know what you’re selling will get them results.

Ethos

Develop content that shows that you are credible in your field. Awards, length of service and experience in a sector, and partnerships with other brands or vendors are all good ways of highlighting your credibility.

Pathos

Pathos is about emotional appeal. To connect with your audience on an emotional level, appeal to their beliefs. Using anecdotes, a specific tone (e.g., 'straight to the point' or 'irreverent'), along with figurative language are all good ways of doing this.

 

Step 3: Grow your audience

Getting your content in front of people is the task at hand. But to get them coming back for the next piece is the goal. And it’s the key to growing your audience and developing your authority in a space.

So, to recap: you need to put together your knowledge and connection with an audience into great content. That will ensure that they remember you and come back for more. By knowing what your audience wants and what it needs you can create content that is relevant to them.

Produce on a consistent basis

Looking forward to a piece of content requires knowledge and expectation of when it is going to appear. If your content is sporadic, even the most ardent members of your audience are likely to forget you. You need to schedule your work and stick to it. Creating a content calendar is a good step. Putting in place time and resources to develop ideas and create the content is crucial. And following that with a peer review will help make sure what you produce is fit for purpose.

Put your content where people will see it

There are several places your content can be seen by your audience. Your website and social media platforms like LinkedIn are the obvious two. But also creating a newsletter each week or month to send to your email marketing list is another good way of getting your work out there. Along with these, you can also publish your content on third-party sites as a guest blog or a syndication article.

Capture contact details and convert readers into subscribers

Not all your content should be kept behind gates. But long form pieces like eBooks, whitepapers or webinars can be great for capturing email addresses from interested readers. Giving people a way to put their hand up and acknowledge their interest in your content is a great step to establishing an audience base.

 

Amplify your brand

Once you've established a loyal following, then you can expand your content, developing longer/deeper/more niche stories. Your audience will follow you into new formats (such as podcasts). And a loyal audience will share, tell their friends, and help amplify your brand.


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300 million will see this sentence differently: accessibility in design

In many ways, the web is becoming increasingly accessibleAt last count, it was estimated that almost 60 percent of the global population were active internet usersMuch of that’s been driven by the smartphone, social media and other advances in technology that have opened up a world of digital content, communication and experiences to people everywhere. Today, the way we view and absorb content are continuously evolving and diversifying, faster than ever before. That brings new and exciting possibilities but also fresh challengesHow can we ensure everyone, including people with disabilities, can access, enjoy and benefit from all the content we create?  

Accessibility in design is a topic that’s never been more important to marketers and businesses. Let’s look at exactly why that is.

 

More colours, more challenges

For many peopledigital experiences are now more vivid than ever. With new screen technologieswider colour gamut and the introduction of web styling upgradesthe creative options available to designers and developers is as great as it has ever been. 

This means we can push the boundaries of what we thought was possible even further. As exciting as this can be  especially for brands who are looking to gain an edge in the digital space  it can come at a price for customers with a disability. For example, colour blindness affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide – almost as many people as there are in the USAOur design choices don’t just impact on aesthetics and the average user experience – they can be the difference between some users being able to read and interact with our content at all.

 

Standard accessibility guidelines  

In design, executions rest on visual strategies and rules to help guide people through content. So, if we're looking to encourage inclusive design, these executions should comply to certain standards to help people with colour blindness to navigate content. 

The best source for these standards is the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3). They produce a comprehensive overview of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which cover a whole range of standards for people with different disabilities. They include guidelines to ensure that content covers their 4 areas of accessibility; perceivable, operableunderstandable and robust.  

 

Understanding the guidelines 

The WCAG is always being updated as accessibility regulations are redefined over time. In a digital world, there are three levels of compliance to be met: 

Level A (minimum compliance)  Necessary for all websites that require accessibility. The criteria are:

  • Navigable with a keyboard 
  • No keyboard traps
  • Non-text content alternatives
  • Video captions
  • Meaning is not conveyed through shape, size, colour etc. alone

 

Level AA (acceptable compliance)  The aim for most websitesStandards include: 

  • Colour contrast is at least 4.5:1
  • Alt text or a similar solution used for images that convey meaning
  • Navigation elements are consistent throughout the site
  • Form fields have accurate labels
  • Status updates can be conveyed through a screen reader
  • Headings are used in logical order

 

Level AAA (optimal compliance)  Ensures that websites are accessible to everyone. Some of the guidelines: 

  • Sign language interpretation for audio or video content is available
  • Colour contrast is at least 7:1 in most instances
  • Timing is not an essential part of any activity
  • Context-sensitive help is available

 

Accessibility in action 

Achieving Level AAA compliance can be tricky and is often a requirement for sites that have commitments for everyday services and important engagements, such as banking or government areas which provide essential access for everyone. A good example of a site that's been designed with accessibility in mind is the UK government’s GOV.UKIn their own words: 

The GOV.UK Design System team wants as many people as possible to be able to use this website. For example, that means you should be able to: 

  • Change colours, contrast levels and fonts
  • Zoom in up to 300% without the text spilling off the screen
  • Navigate most of the website using just a keyboard
  • Navigate most of the website using speech recognition software
  • Listen to most of the website using a screen reader (including the most recent versions of JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver)’

Furthermore, they state that ‘the team has also made the website text as simple as possible to understand. As any copywriter will tell you, that’s not only important for accessibility but a general principle for any content you create.  

 

Our own experiences

At Fifty Five and Five, we've encountered the challenges of accessibility first-handFor instance, during work on a recent project, we discovered that client suffers from a type of colour blindness. This made the accessibility of our designs a significant talking point While exploring initial concepts, some key discussions revolved around colour and contrast of the content, and these were crucial in making sure our solution was accessible. When we discuss colour in particular, we have to accept that colour will appear different from person to person, and the thing that helps people distinguish content is the contrast between the colours chosen.  

What do I mean by that? Let’s look at some examples of how colour can be used in different ways.

 

The difference colour choices can make 

We’ll look at some calls-to-action (CTAs) – which manifest in web pages as ‘buttons’ to be clicked by the user, taking them into different areas of the site, launching contact forms, and so on.  

Accessibility CTA colours

Although this CTA example may look fine if you aren’t affected by colour blindness, the colours here do not meet accessibility guidelines. That’s because the blue used within the button does not pass AA-level compliance for graphical objects against white backgrounds. Th same also applies for the white text on the blue button.

Accessibility CTA colours

This example is an improvement on the first, as the dark blue text now has enough contrast to meet readability guidelines. But, as a whole, the CTA is still not visible on white, so would still be hard to distinguish as a CTA and would still fail AA and AAA compliance for graphical objects

Accessibility CTA colours

This execution is a good example of accessibility compliance. Each colour now has enough contrast against the background it sits on and passes AA and AAA compliance. Although there are other rules around CTAs such as hover stateswe must make sure that our static version is visually available as these are the primary drivers for navigation. This is a great example of perceivability versus readability. The first CTA option would be perceived as easier to read and packs more of a punch using a brighter colour. Whereas the last CTA option is a good example of great readability as it passes accessibility compliance fully.  

 

Always striving for accessibility in design

As our professional and personal lives become increasingly reliant on a digital worldaccessibility will only become more important to people and businesses all over the world. That’s why agencies like Fifty Five and Five – and designers like me  are evermore focused on creating holistic solutions by achieving the kinds of standards I’ve detailed here. Not every business should tune everything to AAA compliance overnight, but even small steps like colour contrast changes are a way of showing we’re starting to bring a focus to an often forgotten part of design.  Keeping all this in mindupholding accessibility standards and best practice can help guide us to a more inclusive digital world.


Illustration woman at computer researching B2B DIY marketing

Getting real: B2B marketing goes DIY with citizen content creators

In the tech world, we’re all aware of the idea of the ‘citizen developer’Thanks to low/no-code platforms, software development is rapidly being democratised. And that’s empowering employees everywhere to seize greater roles in creating technology solutions for their businessesEven if they may not be able to build software from scratch themselves, these citizen developers can still play a far more valuable part in the development process, ensuring their new tools and services do exactly what they – and their customers – need.  

 

Content creation democratised 

I’d argue this is part of a wider sea-change. Unprecedented access to technology, more affordable and intuitive than ever, has opened up new possibilities for people and businesses to create all kinds of things that take them closer to their goals. That includes content creation, which is now more accessible for ‘citizens’ of all industries and professions – and the organisations they work for.  

And I think a lot of that is thanks to a certain video-streaming platform you might have heard of.    

 

The YouTube Effect 

Since YouTube launched in 2005it has become the place to host original video content. And today, when smartphones and laptops have cameras capable of recording in HD, creating that content has never been more accessible to more people. Billions are now able to live out their dreams of being a sort of Internet-age TV star, uploading self-made content to a truly gargantuan potential audience across Planet Earth 

Most YouTubers barely manage more than a relatively small number of views – so maybe they’re more like public access TV stars. But some find their own sizeable (and valuable) niche audience, and a lucky few hit the big leagues 

And it’s all possible with a relatively small outlay in terms of equipment expenses. Obviously, the better your camera and mic, the more professional your results. But, largely due to the YouTube Effect, people have now become accustomed to consuming content that’s a little more lo-fi and DIY. So, video content no longer needs to be the stuff of big budgets, studios and production companies. Sorry, Mr Spielberg – we’ll take it from here.  

 

COVID-19 and the at-home ad 

I’d argue that the YouTube Effect – our willingness to consume citizen-created content – has also been given a boost by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of a sudden, film studios and production houses were forced to lock their doorsand filming had to take place wherever people were. It’s become common to see e-commerce photography shot in models’ houses and apartments, and even at-home ads  TV commercials filmed in the stars’ real-life living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.  

The new sense of realism, honesty and vulnerability in these at-home TVCs has had the effect of humanising celebrities and the brands they represent. Wcan see they’re dealing with the same strangedifficult new reality we all are facing. And when you can relate to someone or something, you become more receptive.  

Record that ad in a studio and I’m overwhelmingly aware you’ve been paid to push a product. Film it in your kitchen? You’re working from home because that’s what we do nowand I know exactly how that feels, and btw I like your spice rack. This sense of greater reality counterbalances the inherent artificiality and obvious commercial motive of a TV spotand as a result puts me at greater easeAs a marketer, that’s very interesting stuff.  

 

Showing your audience the real you 

In the B2B world, this pandemic-born twist on cinéma vérité translates to webcam-shot footage from your staff-members at home, or socially distanced how-to videos filmed on your COVID-safe premises. Nobody cares if the lighting isn’t just so, or you’ve forgotten to tidy up a few coffee mugs 

And the B2B podcast boom has arguably followed this zeitgeist. Recording your own audio content is now more accessible and affordable than ever. The fact that multiple participants can join over a Teams call means the show can go on even if restrictions mean you can’t all get together in the same room. And just like with video, audiences no longer expect everything they hear to be a big-budget production. Thanks again, YouTube.  

 

Professional B2B marketing with DIY authenticity 

B2B marketing’s new DIY possibilities allow organisations to shape all kinds of new content that vividly showcases their value and USPs. But it would be a mistake for citizen content creators to take on too much and neglect certain considerationsDIY’ doesn’t mean shoddy, and you want to go viral for the right reasons – not because people are forwarding your URL with the subject line: ‘look at this, lol’.  

For instance, even if you can handle the recording part in-house, you may still need a hand with editing it all together. You may also benefit with some assistance when it comes to scripts and ideas – especially for an extended series of films or podcasts. And then there’s ensuring everything is aligned with your brand and content strategy 

And that’s what we’re here for. Fifty Five and Five are keen to help our clients harness every new and innovative method of connecting with their audiences and nurturing sales leads. We can help you create a firm foundation, with the right strategic underpinning, for your citizen content creators to build onAnd our experienced team have the creativity and craft to ensure your content really shines.  


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Behavioural science; gimmick or a marketer's secret weapon?

Have you ever wondered how Derren Brown can predict how people will behave when put in certain situations? Does he have supernatural powers, or can anyone influence behaviour if they have the right skills? This got us thinking about how we could help our clients lead their customers towards desired goals and, ultimately, improve the effectiveness of their marketing. Hint.. it is all about behavioural science.

If you’re not familiar with Behavioural Science, it’s the study of human behaviour and why people tend to do completely irrational things. We make decisions based on biases that we’re unaware of and make choices that defy logic. It’s why people regularly play the lottery even though the likelihood of winning is minuscule; they over-estimate their odds of success (optimism bias) and under-estimate their chances of failure.

Here are a few of our favourite biases below that we think every marketer should be aware of with some tips and advice you can implement right away.

 

Decision paralysis

Customers want to feel they have control of choosing, but don’t want to spend too much time making decisions. When it comes to how you market your products and services, limit the choices you give them to avoid choice fatigue in increasing conversion rates. This is a 101 behavioural science tip.

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Immediate advice

Count how many choices you are offering visitors to your website, both in places you want them to click and/or products and services you are selling. Perhaps the number of them is interfering with the decisions you are trying to achieve. Can you reduce this number without limiting the user journey?

 

 

Social proof

We tend to copy the behaviours of others, especially in unfamiliar situations. Framing your marketing messages by showing why existing customers selected you, helps encourage new customers to pick you, too. That’s why testimonials, client reviews and brand ambassadors are such powerful behavioural science techniques.

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Immediate advice

Evaluate the customer testimonials on your homepage. Or, if you don’t have any on the homepage, consider how easy is it to navigate to where they are elsewhere on your site?

 

The IKEA Effect

Did you know we’ll pay disproportionately more for something we’ve helped create? Providing low-risk personalised options to your products and services early on (whilst avoiding decision paralysis) builds an emotional connection and often triggers an uplift in sales figures.

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Immediate advice

Consider how customisable your products or services are. Are you offering your potential customers enough options when it comes to what you provide?

 

Framing

People tend to make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented – like a milkshake that’s 90% fat-free vs contains 10% fat. You can significantly influence decision-making by reframing information through imagery and context according to your needs. And if you need an additional boost, set the statistics against a different data set, e.g. don’t focus on a 20% staff turnover rate, instead highlight that it’s 5% better than the industry average.

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Immediate advice

If you want to see the importance of contextual factors in how audiences perceive a product or service – take a look at this brilliant video: would you have paid the $2?

 

Loss Aversion

We feel twice as bad losing something than the positive feeling associated with gaining something. This loss aversion may be impacting our attitude to risk. If you can offer free trials or delayed payments, your buyer is more likely to purchase – since we are predisposed to want to avoid the loss we would feel once we give up the product.

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Immediate advice

Consider offering a demo or a free trial of your product and see if there is a difference in the response rate. If you are a service-based business perhaps free consultation of your services can help your leads see what they are missing out on.

 

Decision-science in marketing

When decision-science is used in the corporate world, especially in marketing, it can have a profound effect. By understanding customers, and their behavioural science biases, marketers can tackle objectives head-on and nudge them towards the desired outcome.

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Immediate advice

Take an audit of your current marketing strategy, with the biases we’ve discussed above in mind. How much thought have you put into your strategy when it comes to customer decision-making?

 

Choose an agency that puts data into decision-making

At Fifty Five and Five, research and data are the foundation of our work for clients. Whether it’s the role of behavioural science or the insight behind a joined-up marketing strategy, we put thought into what we do. If you want to see a greater return on investment from your marketing, contact the team at Fifty Five and Five and see how we can help.


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Marketing in the Black Mirror: Our industry’s sci-fi (near) future

I’m a massive, unashamed sci-fi geek. I went to the Blade Runner Secret Cinema, I just got a replica (replicant?) of Deckard’s whiskey glass, I can’t wait to see Katsuhiro Ōtomo’s Akira in pin-sharp 4K, and if any technological development that’s vaguely cyberpunk turns up in the news, I’ll be the first to exclaim ‘William Gibson predicted that!’. I love this stuff.  

So, I often look at the world through the lens of speculative fiction (the ‘literature of cognitive estrangement’, as academic Darko Suvin put it) and apply this kind of speculation and extrapolation to all kinds of things in everyday life. That includes aspects of my work, our industry, and so on. ‘What do you mean by that?’, you may rightly ask.

Recently, I was creating a marketing persona for a project, inventing an imaginary sales lead from the clay of research and experience, and something struck me:  One day, AI will be doing this for me. What will that be like?

And that thought led me down the rabbit-hole.


Making fake people from real data 

We live in a time when more data is created and recorded, covering more aspects of our lives, than ever before. It’s already being used in all manners of ways – from the recommendation systems of Amazon and Netflix to deciding whether you’re a safe bet to borrow money.  

And, as our burgeoning digital lives increasingly blur with our physical onesalongside the growth of the Internet of Things and devices like Alexa, this big data is only going to become bigger. That will provide those that hold it with deeper and more intricate insights into who we are. What once may have been a relatively shallow and generic impression of a customer now has the potential to become really nuanced – to the extent that a buyer persona becomes a buyer simulation. But why does that interest me so much? 

It’s alive!  

As a marketing writer, there’s a tendency to become attached to the personas you createIt’s an imaginative act, after all, and imaginative acts are inherently interesting and enjoyable. When you’re inventing a person, with their name, professional and educational history, along with numerous other incidental details, they begin to take on a life of their own. You could be forgiven for thinking things like Ah, classic Persona! Of course they’d do that. When you start inventing significant others, families and pets for them, it’s time to click ‘Save’ and step away from the computer. In every marketing persona, there’s the seed of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (the first sci-fi novel of alland, before that, the Prometheus myth: “It’s alive!”. 

But devising comprehensive personas and delving into the lives and mindsets of possible customers isn’t only an enjoyable part of marketing work – it’s vital for engaging and connecting with your audienceAnd who knows how much more valuable it can be when AI (our digital Igoris using today’s data goldmine to help with the creationThe possibilities are strange, maybe a little unnerving at times, but ultimately highly intriguing. 

Fact is quickly catching up with fiction 

In an early episode of Black Mirror (season two, episode one: ‘Be Right Back’)Domhnall Gleeson’s character Ash is killed in a car accident. OK, this article’s taken a dark turn, but stay with me. His grieving partner Martha, played by the excellent Hayley Atwell, signs up for an online service that builds a new virtual Ash out of all the data floating around, including social posts and other digital communications. He/it is very, very accurate.  

I won’t spoil what happens next (apologies if I’ve already revealed too much) as it’s a bloody good episode. But you see where I’m going with this. What could marketers do with this kind of technology? And the central idea behind the story – building a synthetic person out of all the data they emit simply through existing today – isn’t just science fiction. It’s closer than you think.  

Be Right Back aired in 2013, and as I always say, tech years are like dog years. The previous decade might as well be 50 years ago, and as we hurtle toward the singularity at ever-increasing breakneck speed, what was once a strange future is quickly becoming our strange now.  

 Do synthetic personas dream of electric sheep? 

Development of synthetic buyer personas is already well underway, with some companies already mooting market-ready solutions. Such is the depth of the data and sophistication of systems that there are even elements of personality-based marketing entering the equation. This has the potential to provide even richer insight into how customers really 'tick'. How risk adverse is Persona as an individualWhich psychological motivators are at work here? What would Persona’s instinctual reaction be to X or Y? Would Persona respond more positively to this analogy or design choice as opposed to that one?  

Personally, I’m eager to see what will happen when today’s highly advanced chatbot technologies, such as Pandorabots’ Mitsuki, are thrown into the mix. Imagine having a full-blown conversation with a buyer persona – on their virtual lunchbreakperhaps (insert old tech joke about ‘having a byte to eat’). What would a focus group be like, conducted with a (chat)room full of synthetic subjects? These are questions that I think (and hope) will probably be answered soon enough.  

The machines have been busy  

This is only one area of marketing where AI is making itself useful. For some time now, it’s also been helping to manage and optimise pay-per-click (PPC) advertisingpersonalise website experiences and email marketing, and predict customer churn – which is extremely valuable for Software-as-a-Service companies, among others 

If you can think of an aspect of marketing, chances are ‘there’s an AI for that’, able to help us make better choices, speed up processes, and do what we do more effectively. There is even the prospect that one day, design and content may become SUPER responsive, personalised and dynamic – to the extent that no two people see the same website. Or even the same website twice. Everything from the style and tone to the user experience would be perfectly curated for you and you alone, at that moment in time, by a very smart machine.  

AI can already write (to an extentand assist with designWhat’s further down that road? Will writers like me someday become AI’s editors? Will designers and developers become their art/technical directors? Could you one day even engage the services of a digital agency that’s literally a digital agency?  These are all pretty dizzying concepts for someone who cut their copywriting teeth on old-school banner ads and still hasn’completely gotten over the death of FlashBut, again, they’re very intriguing thoughts – for me, for Fifty Five and Five, for our clients, and for the industry as a whole 

The spark of human creativity 

With the universe of possibilities around synthetic buyer personas, and the growth of AI-powered marketing in general, you’d think I'd be little worried about someday becoming obsolete. “Hire a human marketing writer? That’s so 2020...” Replaced by the Machine in the Grey Flannel SuitBut I’m a firm believer in the spark of human creativity and ingenuity. So, at the risk of coming across like Neo or John Connor: I believe we’ll triumph over the machines. 

Machines can gather the data. They can collect and corral it in huge quantities, analyse it and make it available in a form we can comprehend. But they’re not yet able to make the intuitive connections and creative decisions, the subtle leaps of understanding and insight, that make great marketing that really resonates with other humans. Ultimately, we know us better than computers do – even with all the data in the worldBut AI certainly can – and will – give us a lot of help

If you’d like to discuss how Fifty Five and Five can help you target your audience more effectively and ensure your digital marketing is firing on all cylinders, get in touch with the team today.  


Illustration SEO in Google colour palette

What is a Google core algorithm update – and why should you care?

Every so often the world’s content creators and SEO specialists become suddenly impassioned by what’s known as a ‘core algorithm update’. These happen a few times a year and can have a significant effect on a web page’s Google rankings. But what is a core algorithm update? And more importantly – is it really something you should care about?

Algorithms, updates and rankings 

An algorithm update means Google has made a significant tweak to the way they determine search engine result rankings. Admittedly, these can be quite small. But for the world’s biggest search engine, small changes can make a big difference to people who rely on their search engine results pages (SERPs) to generate leads.  

Google algorithm updates happen all the time. In fact, even referring to the Google algorithm in the singular it a bit disingenuous – the truth is it’s a complicated web of loosely related algorithms which has been in a near constant state of flux since Google first got going. Keeping track of all that is a fairly tall order, because updates happen virtually every day. Luckily for SEO professionals, most of these are relatively minor and no cause for alarm 


OK, so what’s
 a core algorithm update? 
 

Core updates aren’t just your run-of-the-mill minor adjustments. As the name would suggest, this is a change to the fundamental algorithm that powers the Google search engine. It’s easy to see why these updates happen - if you’re in charge of the world’s most popular search engine, you’re going to want to make sure it responds to changes in how people write, post and read content over time. So far, so understandable.  

The problem is, algorithm updates are a bit like dropping a large fishing net into the middle of an ocean - there's no clear cut line between the content you want to catch and the stuff you'd rather leave where it is 

That means whenever one of these core algorithms turns up, several well-meaning bystanders tend to get caught in the net. Virtually every core algorithm update comes complete with horror stories of businesses whose rankings change dramatically overnight. It’s also why these updates tend to make SEO folks pretty stressed.  

But how can we tell when a core algorithm update has happened – or even better, when it’s on the way? 

 

How to spot a wild core algorithm update 

Unlike the smaller everyday updates, core algorithm updates tend to get a lot of attention. Sometimes Google announces them in advance, sometimes they announce it on the day (generally via Twitter), and sometimes they keep it to themselves. The bigger the bombshell, the bigger the publicity and the bigger the splash it’ll make throughout the SEO world.   

If you want to find out what’s changing, it’s helpful to follow the Google Search Liaison account on Twitter, as well as paying attention to blogs like Hubspot and SearchMetrics – (and, of course, Fifty Five and Five…) who are generally pretty quick to spot these changes. 

Sometimes, Google will publish guidance on who these changes are likely to effect and what the ramifications are likely to be. Other times, they prefer to keep tight lipped and see if anyone notices. Their search engine, their rules. Naturally, this makes it pretty difficult to keep up of what changes are coming and when.  

The only definite way to limit the damage of such changes is through regular and thorough SEO auditing. That way, if there’s a big change to the SEO rankings of your content you can quickly see what’s affected, identify the trends and take positive steps to mitigate any damage. But as well as this, the type of content you create makes a huge difference.  

 

What pandas can teach us about SEO 

About a decade ago, Google decided that they'd had enough of 'content farms'. Such website were filled with realms of low value, keyword-stuffed content that made it onto page one of the search results through black hat SEO trickery - without providing much value to their readers. Google described such content as being "as close as possible to being spam, without actually being spam". An update was clearly in order.  

The idea behind the update, known as Panda, was to make search results better match the intent of their users. But what does that mean in practice? And what can we learn from that almost a decade later? 

Well, imagine you want to find out more about a topic such as, for example, Google core algorithm updates, and type “What is a core algorithm update?” into the search engine. Which of the two following articles would you say best matches your search intent? 

  • A detailed breakdown of the context and background to Google core algorithm updates, as well as an explanation as to what it means to you. 
  • An article with virtually no relevant informationwhich just happens to have the words “what is a core algorithm update” strategically placed all over the page to game the SEO rankings.  

Well I hope it’s the first one, anyway.  

The point is, the low-value, keyword-stuffed content might have been successful at gaining a temporary SEO boost, but it wasn’t really what readers were looking when they typed in the search term. Eventually, the rules were always going to catch up.  

 

Content that stands the test of time 

This game of cat and mouse has been going on since the earliest days of search – and isn’t likely to change any time soon. As long as search engines exist, there will always be people looking to game the system. But content that seeks to fulfill the user’s search intent has consistently managed to stay on the right side of the fishing net, for the clear and obvious reason that it’s precisely the kind of content that Google is trying to promote.  

If you’re writing content that’s genuinely valuable and satisfies the search intent of the people reading it, it’s highly likely you’ll be able to handle whatever spanners the gods of search throw in the worksSo, if you want to avoid getting caught out by the latest core update, the one helpful piece of advice is the only thing you can rely on Google to tell you every time an update happens: Write good content.  


Illustration paper planes

6 digital marketing technologies to help you raise your game

Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, from the way we communicate to the way we shop. Marketing has become an art that’s primarily digital. No matter what you’re selling, and to whom, technology can improve the quality of your marketing output and, ultimately, help you generate more leads. In this post, we’re going to examine the current state of six digital marketing technologies, and how you can use them to raise your game. 

  • Social media 
  • Paid media 
  • SEO 
  • Email 
  • Reporting 
  • Training 

You already use all of these technologies, right? Well, let us blow your mind.  

Social media  

Social media can be used to build your brand identity, to reach out to your existing customers and to find new audiences. It can be used for thought leadership, to enhance your SEO rankings and as a direct channel for people to interact with your brand. Most organisations already know this, but they invest hours in social media management without having a good idea of how to get return on investment.  

The key to using social media is knowing what you’re using it for. Are you looking to create brand awareness? Then that goal needs to inform the way you use social media - you need to target your audience, create relevant content and maintain a strong brand.  

What tools to use and why? 

If you’re looking for greater visibility over your social channels, detailed insights about what is does or doesn’t work or greater control over publishing posts through automation and scheduling, these tools can transform what’s possible with social media. If you want to produce quality posts that engage and grow your social following across multiple channels, then these tools are exactly what you need. 

Hootsuite is one of the most popular tools for enhancing your social media output. It supports over 150 integrations, allowing users to update multiple networks in one step. It’s also capable of analysing over 200 metrics, so you can create a dashboard that perfectly tracks your business’s goals . It’s the perfect first tool to get started when you’re investing in your social media management. 

Hootsuite’s dashboard 

Sprout Social is a social media scheduling, monitoring and reporting platform that offers a customer relationship manager (CRM) feature. This enables you to create profiles of your customers, which will lead to stronger relationships. When it comes to social media followers, it’s about quality over quantity: having many followers who don’t interact with your channel is less valuable than a few followers who do.   

Sprout Social’s CRM platform 

Revive Old Post is an excellent tool to get maximum impact from your content. It helps you schedule new and old content that can be automatically posted in regular intervals that targets your audience. Many businesses make the mistake of never reposting their content, but it’s essential to reshare content in order to improve its performance. This tool will help you create a schedule that works for you.  

Revive Old Post PRO 

Loomly isn’t just a social media management tool – it’s also an idea generation platform to help you create ideas that will resonate with your audience and tie in to current trends. It suggests ideas related to your industry, any holidays or national days that are close, trending hashtags, and more. You can even integrate it with Zapier so that your content generation and publication processes are entirely streamlined.  

Loomly’s post builder 

Having a social media channel is an excellent way of reaching new audiences and creating a recognisable brand. These social media tools represent just a fraction of what’s available on the market to help you make the most of your content and your social channels. Brands are going to be expected to keep up with social media and be present on an increasing amount of channels as times go on – best get started sooner rather than later.  

Paid media 

Paid media is an external marketing effort that involves a paid placement. This can include PPC advertising, branded content and display ads. It’s a crucial part of any marketing strategy: by picking the right platform and targeting the right demographic, paid media can ensure your message reaches the right audience. However, to do this you need the correct tools to track your campaigns. There are also great tools to help you develop a competitive strategy.  

What tools to use and why? 

Using a third party platform means you can extend visibility of your advert placements and find a larger audience. Your ROI needs to be optimal, which means a lot of planning and overseeing your long term strategy. A management platform simplifies the process, allowing you to target your audience more effectively and reduce your overall spend.  

There’s a great tool called SpyFu, which enables you to carry out PPC competitor research. Whether it’s a competitor’s estimated monthly spend, the keywords that they are targeting or how well their ads are ranking, SpyFu gives you insights to help put together a highly competitive campaign strategy . 

SEMrush is a popular paid media tool that offers an extensive keyword database. It makes building ads simple -using information about the ads posted by your competitors to ensure that they have the best chance of ROI. This chance for better audience targeting means your PPC campaigns will be more likely to succeed. 

SEMrush’s dashboard 

Leadpages is a tool that’s suited for smaller businesses who are looking to engage with their core audience on social media channels. It acts as a funnel, sending your target audience to a specific landing page designed for them. When it comes to social media followers it’s a case of quality over quantity – if you can engage with a small selection of more interested followers, your content is more likely to see conversions. It’s integrates with with Google Ads and Facebook Ads, so you can capture leads effectively and quickly.  

Leadpages’ dashboard 

PPC is an investment that takes research and precision to get right. Before intelligent digital marketing tools, it was simply a case of buying ads in places you thought your audience would see them and hoping for success. But now, with the amount of research and segmentation that’s possible, your business stands a much better chance of getting seen by the right people. 

SEO 

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is all about staying visible on search engine results pages. It feels like an arcane art sometimes because Google is forever changing its algorithms. Staying on top of these changes is hard enough but being able to adapt your SEO to these changes and stay ahead of competitors is the real challenge.  

What tools to use and why? 

Moz is a great bet for continued SEO success. Not only does it offer useful educational resources to keep on top of SEO best practice, but the Moz all-in-one SEO toolset provides the full range of capabilities that you need. It tracks desktop and mobile keyword ranking, allowing users to easily keep tabs on any and all active keywords. This intelligent keyword analysis is supported by other features like link building and opportunities, site audits, search visibility score and page insights. 

Moz’s dashboard 

DeepCrawl is a unique website crawling tool. It provides SEO auditing that shows you a deep dive of your site issues to assess your overall site health. With features like backlink tracking, device breakdowns, ad hoc keyword research and more, DeepCrawl puts you in a great position to begin improving your SEO from. It’s not a tool for keyword research or position monitoring, so it’s perfect for SEO newbies.  

Deepcrawl’s dashboard 

In today’s competitive online world, it’s not enough just to use SEO practices and hope you rank above competitors. You need to use the right tools to find the right online niches to occupy. Long tail keywords, in particular, have become a beacon of hope for small businesses hoping to rank on results pages. Taking SEO seriously means doing your digital research and picking the perfect keywords.  

Email 

Our email inboxes are awash with communications competing for our attention. With so much competition, you need to make sure you optimise your emails so they stand out from the crowd. Great email marketing isn’t just about open-rates but click-throughs and conversions. It’s not just about getting people to open your emails; you need to offer actual value.  

What tools to use and why? 

MailChimp is our tool of choice for sending out emails. MailChimp allows you to automate your email marketing with simple A/B testing, ready-to-use campaign templates and a simple email designer, so you can focus on the strategy to guarantee that your emails add value to the target audience. ‘MailChimp reports’ make it easy to track how successful your emails are at engaging with your audience, using advanced segmentation for precise targeting, distribution by time zone and comparative data reporting. 

Mailchimp’s dashboard 

SendinBlue is a digital marketing suite that includes an email marketing platform. It’s easy to build emails with a drag and drop editor, and it offers personalisation, data list segmentation, automation and analytics. The free version is more than enough to keep a small business going, offering unlimited contacts and up to 300 emails a day, so this is an ideal way to get started with email campaigns.  

Omnisend, as the name suggests, is an email marketing tools with omni-channel capacity. Within the automation workflow, you can add additional functions like push notifications and social media messages alongside your email campaigns. This is a wider approach to email marketing, incorporating it into targeted workflows that reach your audience using multiple personalised methods. It’s ideal if your marketing resources are stretched, giving you a single tool with plenty of functionality.  

Omnisend’s automation dashboard 

Email marketing is one of the core tools for a marketing team for a reason; it’s excellent at nurturing leads into customers. It also offers an opportunity to create a dialogue with your audience, sending them targeted updates and offers that’ll pique your interest. It’s a more one-on-one dynamic, and that means gauging the tone and the relationship between you and your audience correctly. The name of the game here is personalisation. 

Reporting 

40% of marketers said that demonstrating the ROI of their marketing activities is one of their greatest priorities. Marketing professionals are under pressure to prove that their campaigns are creating business value. These days, marketing is very much a numbers game. You need to be able to report back to the C-Suite with hard evidence that your campaigns are working – otherwise the budget for your next social campaign will dry up. 

What tools to use and why? 

Most tools and platforms – from the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to the dedicated-marketing tools like Hootsuite – offer in-depth analytics. Google Data Studio collects real-time data from YouTube, Google Ads and Google Analytics to help you create dynamic, interactive dashboards. It’s also compatible with multiple third party data sources like Twitter, MailChimp and Salesforce. Google Data Studio helps users put together reports that are fully customisable, easy to filter and easy to share.   

Google Data Studio’s dashboard 

However, for that added bit of magic to pull everything together, Google Analytics stands head and shoulders above the rest as a tool for measuring the bigger picture – particularly by monitoring traffic arriving on your website and how site users are behaving. Google’s machine learning capabilities mean that Google Analytics can generate insights you just can’t get anywhere else.  

Google Analytics dashboard 

Cyfe is a popular tool for marketers because of its comprehensive reporting. It tracks just about everything within your business, from social media to analytics, and sales to KPIs. There are more than 250 metrics available to measure, and it’s easy to integrate with other services like Google and Salesforce. The dashboard is fully configurable with pre-populated widgets that can be tailored to each marketer’s need. The reporting is all-encompassing across your business, so this is a great tool for businesses without much room for new tools.  

Cyfe’s dashboard 

Instead of thinking of reporting as the culmination of your efforts, you need to think about it as the way that you justify future investment in your marketing efforts. After all, management want to see results and return on investment – this is the best way to show that the tactics you’re using are successful, and that you have ideas about how to improve in future. Digital reporting tools are your best friend when it comes to innovation in your marketing efforts.  

Training 

In a sector where change is almost always constant – SEO is a great example of this – it is essential to keep on top of the latest marketing platforms. In this respect, to succeed in marketing you need to be a life-long learner. You need to be open to change and ready to pick up new skills all the time. 

What tools to use and why? 

There are several tools that can help you keep up with the latest digital marketing platforms and skills. LinkedIn Learning is a great example – with a wide range of professional courses and tutorial videos. There are courses for every level from beginner to expert, and even over 16,000 entirely free courses. From the technical aspects of PPC to the writing skills you need for engaging content, there’s a course here for everything.  

LinkedIn learning  

Another great example is the Partner Benchmarking Tool, a tool created by our team at Fifty Five and Five. Using a wide variety of metrics, you can rank your company’s marketing efforts across its social output, website and blog. Now the tool identifies where your marketing efforts are lacking and offers training through articles and videos to help you improve those areas. Check it out. 

Partner Benchmarking Tool dashboard 

Google Digital Garage also offers a fundamentals of digital marketing course that’s extensive enough for any beginner. After all, a lot of digital marketing is about working with Google, so why not go directly to the source for more information? It’s self-directed, with 26 modules coming in at around 40 hours, so it’s a handy way to get started for free. 

Keeping on top of your marketing education is essential – things are always going to change, and if you don’t keep up then you’ll get left behind. We like to think of training in marketing as a way of investing in the success of our future efforts.  

Why are digital marketing technologies important? 

There’s now such a wide range of applications to help B2B marketers that it can be hard to decide what your team requires. A recent BrightTALK study found that lack of resources such as staff, funding and time remains the biggest obstacle to successful B2B lead generation for 61% of respondents’. With that in mind, more marketers are going to rely on digital tools to streamline their marketing efforts. 

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer variety in the market, but the key is remembering what your business is trying to accomplish. Create a strategy and set goals – this will make it easier to identify features in tools that will be most beneficial to you. There are thousands of tools available, so make sure to create a list of the most beneficial services your business needs before you get started researching. 

We hope this guide can point you in the right direction to find the technology that your marketing team requires.  

 

At Fifty Five and Five, our expert marketing team use a variety of digital marketing technologies to help them deliver the best results for our clients. To find out more about our team, what we do, and the technologies we use, get in touch with us today.


Illustration intersecting paper-clips

How to write for email campaign success and actually get results

When it comes to email campaign success, starting from scratch can be daunting. It’s predicted that we will be sending and receiving upwards of 347 billion daily emails by 2022. With all this noise, how could your emails even be noticed – never mind opened?

But there is a way. It’s about being simple, engaging and consistent. We’re going to share some straight-forward steps you can use right now to bring your email campaigns to life and enjoy actual results—and good ones too.

Identify the goals for your email campaign 

The first step in this process is identifying exactly why email should be your preferred option. The clearer your goal, the easier it will be to measure progress and results once the campaign has been executed.  

For example, goals for your campaign could include persuading recipients to: 

  • Download an eBook 
  • Sign up to a webinar 
  • Buy a specific product or service 

As well as provoking actions like these, campaign goals could also include: 

  • Getting recipients interested in your offerings 
  • Raising brand awareness for your business 
  • Re-engaging or nurturing current subscribers  

Once your goal is established, you can get started on defining your audience.  

Who’s reading these emails, anyway? 

Now, before diving into copy, you must first outline exactly who your emails will be seen by. If you’ve been doing email marketing for a while, you’ll no doubt already know who your audience is. But if you’re new to the scene, you’ll probably need to make a few educated guesses so you can tailor your content effectively.

Use Google Analytics

To do this, you can use Google Analytics to access data on demographics, interests, locations and so on. This will provide a snapshot of who your customers are and what they are interested in. 

The trick with successful emails is to make them personal. By segmenting your audience, it’s easier to send emails that at least feel personalised.

Curate effective emailfor your audience 

With your purpose and audience in mind, you’re all set to begin writingHere are a few simple pointers to keep in mind:  

  • Keep it short and sweet 

When taking into account the sheer volume of emails sent and received every day, it’s important that your copy is engaging. Avoid wafflekeep to the subject and add value 

  • Provide clear and obvious value 

If you only send promotional emails, your readers will likely lose interest. Keep them interested by outlining how your business or product can benefit themSeems too obvious but make use of bullet points and bold text so that the important parts of an email are easy to find.  

  • Stay relevant  

When writing your emails, always keep your audience in mind. What is it that they want and need? How can you address their pain points? Rather than focus on what you’re trying to sell, you should focus on what your readers need.  

  • Include a clear CTA 

What is the overall objective of your email? The call to action you include needs to be immediately obvious and move the recipient towards your goal. So, if you’re looking to encourage sign-ups for a free trial, your CTA might read ‘Sign up now!’  

  • Check, check...and check again 

Once the email is written get a second or third opinion, proofread and ensure you’ve ticked off every point in this list. When sending out an email to a large mailing list, you really don’t want to make any avoidable mistakes.  

Add the finishing touches 

When it comes to selecting imagery for your emails, we’d recommend avoiding stock photos – or at least the most obvious and artificially-posed ones – as these can deter readersAdding a few interesting images can boost the click-through rate but be mindful of the file size – as images that are too big can trigger spam filters, sending your email to the junk folder. 

Your email campaign also provides a good opportunity to highlight your website and social media platforms. Add links where possible to drive people to your site. This shouldn’t distract from the overall objective of your email, but it certainly can’t hurt to include a few inbound links where relevant.   

Create your email template  

Fortunately, there are plenty of email providers (we use Mailchimp) that will allow you to set up and schedule emails with no need for coding.  

A crucial consideration here is responsive design. This ensures that your email looks great on every device and will improve your click-through rate (CTR). If you’re using an automated email platform then this will be taken care of for you. If not, there are lots of tips out there for responsive design best practices!  

Set up tracking devices  

Before sending your emails out into the world, you’ll need to track them. This is the best way to quantify the success of your campaigns, and it can be executed with relative ease by using a tracking pixel.  

The gist of it is that a tracking pixel is added right before the closing body tag of the email. Then, when this image is loaded by the reader, the image request is logged by the server. This information is then collected by your chosen analytics service and you can access statistics on click-through rates, open rates and more. 

Testing! Testing! 123 

With all of the above in place, you’re ready to test your email. This should involve sending it out to multiple email accounts (accessed from a variety of devices) so that you can ensure everything looks as you want it to. Different email providers tend to display emails differently, so you need to check that yours works across the board.  

This stage is vital as it gives you the chance to iron out any creases before your email is sent. Any issues that you spot should be addressed, and the testing process repeated 

What are you waiting for? It’s time to push the button 

Sending mid-morning during working day seems effective in terms of open rates. To find your optimal time, it’s best to trial a few different times and analyse which gets the highest engagement.  

Let the data do the talking 

Hopefully, you will gain lots of useful insights from the data your campaign accumulates. Understanding this data is vital to understand what works and identify areas for improvement. We suggest looking at:   

  • The success of your CTA – does it need tweaking next time? 
  • How many readers are using mobile devices? If you have lots of mobile users, you’ll want to focus on mobile-friendly design. 
  • Who is least engaged with your emails? You can segment these contacts out and then try to retarget them with tailored content in the future.  

Pick a partner to do all the grafting for you 

We hope this article has provided helpful insights to get your email campaigns off the ground and produce fantastic results. However, if you don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to achieve this by yourself, we have heaps of email marketing experience and would love to lend a helping hand.  

 

If you’d like further help with email marketing, get in touch with a member of our team today. You can also check out our website for more information. 


Illustration men shaking hands

It’s time to reinvigorate your best lead generation strategies

What your marketing can learn from Rocky IV 

(Please bear with me while I relate lead generation strategies to a boxing film from 1985...) 

Remember that training scene in Rocky IV? Sylvester Stallone goes to a Russian farm in the dead of winter to get in shape for his bout with Ivan Drago. While his opponent uses state-of-the-art equipment, Rocky trains by hacking at trees with an axe, lifting logs, sawing wood, pulling sleds, crawling face first through the snow.  

What’s my point? Well, who won the fight? (Spoiler alert: it was Rocky) Cutting edge technology can provide an advantage but it doesn’t replace good old-fashioned grit and determination.   

Let’s move from the boxing ring to the marketing gauntlet - 61% of marketers say generating leads and site traffic is their top challenge. 85% of marketers say lead generation is their most important goal. Lead generation is hard. Almost as hard as defeating a giant Russian boxer surrounded by his comrades.  

It can be tempting to look for the ‘silver bullet’ that claims to boost your leads. in reality, it’s a result of consistent marketing efforts, ongoing relationships, interactions and everything else happening in a business’s day-to-day. 

Below we’re going to run through some old lead generation strategies and introduce some new ones too. But to generate those leads, just like defeating Ivan Drago, it’s going to come down to good old-fashioned hard work and staying persistent.  

#1 - Microsurveys 

Microsurveys are extremely short surveys, made up of a handful of questions that take a couple of minutes to complete.   

This has a variety of benefits over regular surveys. The short nature naturally brings a higher participation rate and, in terms of lead gen, you can approach people at a specific point in the customer journey. Sometimes, without them even leaving the page.   

Lead generation strategies in practice 

Let’s say you’re an IT consultancy targeting the top end of the sales funnel. By locating and focusing on customer pain points (pre-identified through marketing personas), you could create a microsurvey on the challenges they want to solve with your services. Embed this microsurvey on a webpage with high traffic and watch the responses roll in.   

A little further down the funnel, you could embed a microsurvey into the top of your email newsletter. Here, you’ve got a more engaged audience than your website and you can use that to your advantage. Adding a one or two question microsurvey in your newsletters is a great way to gather consistent, unique insights. Ask your subscribers what content they’d like to see and include it in your next newsletter!  

#2 - B2B influencer and word of mouth marketing 

Influencer marketing is where you encourage, persuade or pay market influencers to promote your product or services. This can encourage word of mouth marketing (even if those words are said over the internet) which can result in 500% more sales than a paid media impression.   

People listen to their peers. An individual is far more relatable than a brand. A shoutout from an influencer in your sphere can provide a big recognition boost, they can also add authenticity and credibility to your business through thought leadership content.

 

Lead generation strategies in practice 

Now, let’s say you’re an ISV. The first step is to build a pool of potential influencers. Tools like Audiense andFollowerWonk are great for this, helping you find and rank leaders in your industry or niche. Even something as simple as looking at the ‘most popular’ social accounts that follow your brand can net surprising results.   

Why not combine microsurveys and influencer marketing by asking current customers who (in your field) they like to listen to, read and watch?

It’s important to remember that building relationships with influencers is a gradual process. B2B purchases usually involve multiple decision makers, giving the ultimate decision more nuance than in the B2C space. The good news is, the average B2B purchase dwarfs that in the B2C market, giving successful referrals a huge impact.   

Aim to start small. Thought leadership content is a good first step and can be a gentle introduction to your product and brand. Once they’re on board, educate them on your product. Despite being experts in their field, the more they know about your product and brand, the more genuine their marketing will be.   

#3 - Lead magnets 

Also known as gated content, lead magnets offer a long-form resource, such as an eBook or whitepaper, in exchange for contact information. Essentially providing information for free, this can be hugely tempting for the reader.   

This might be number one on the list of lead generation strategies, but one lead magnet stands tall in terms of success rate: webinars. Adobe Connect found a 51% average registration conversion on their webinars, leading to 36% live attendance and a further 55% viewing the recording post-event. This opens the door to a series of polls and further communication during the webinar as well.  

Lead generation strategies in practice 

Start a webinar! Or other content that involves the ‘human’ element, like podcasts or a video series. If these are live events, signing up will feel like a natural step of the process. Even if visitors are getting pre-recorded content, knowing that they’ll see or hear from a real person - not just read some text - helps usher form filling.   

#4 - Never underestimate the power of a landing page 

The landing page is the step between lead magnets and form filling - the dedicated space where a visitor becomes a lead.  

This might seem obvious, but that’s because it’s proven to work, time and again. It’s also because we still see companies link CTAs to their homepage. A call-to-action should always drive a visitor to a place designed to convert them into a lead.   

So, you know that landing pages are critical to success. How do you make sure they actually convert your visitors into leads? We’ve got a step-by-step guide that explains exactly how. 

Lead generation strategies in practice 

This time, you’re a marketing agency offering best practice advice and content marketing for B2B tech companies. You’ve got an avid reader approaching the end of your blog (sound familiar at all?) and there’s some relevant, in-depth content that could help them further.     

Lead generation is an uphill battle, but every great training montage features a rise to the top. Rather than reaching for the next advanced piece of technology, change your mindset. Go back to basics, thinking of ways to improve and optimise what you’ve already learned. Yes, it’s hard work. But as Rocky said: “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change.”