Social Selling: The Boon B2B Needs

Do you remember the last time you got a door-to-door salesperson knocking at your door, asking you to buy something at a discounted price?

It’s probably been a while, and today, getting a salesperson at your door is extremely rare. This is because, despite people thinking otherwise, the sales sector has progressed beyond door-to-door selling and cold calls; these traditional methods have been replaced by new, dynamic, productive practices, like social selling.

What is Social Selling?

Basically, social selling uses social media to do what door-to-door salespersons did, no, not bore you with product features you have no need for; social sellers find and target prospects, and since it’s done via the social media, it’s a lot easier for them and a lot less annoying for you.

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With social selling, the salespersons build relationships with buyers, provide prospects with valuable informatio of products that are useful to them, engage potential buyers while tactfully persuading them to take action.

The reason door-to-door selling didn’t work was because the salespersons didn’t try to get to know you and always tried to get you to know their products (which is not what selling is), but social selling changed this aspect of selling completely.

With social selling, the salespersons build relationships with buyers, provide prospects with valuable informatio of products that are useful to them, engage potential buyers while tactfully persuading them to take action.

Why Choose Social Selling?

The essence of selling is forming a relationship with your potential buyers before trying to sell them anything, which is exactly what social selling allows you to do. Not only does this allow you to complete your sales targets using half the time, efforts, and resources, it will also get you a loyal customer base that will stay with your brand long after your transaction is done.

The people who fall under the age group of 18 to 34 years are both, the largest demographic on social media and decision-makers in majority of the B2B companies (almost 46%, according to Google). This means that a large chunk of your target audience is on social media as active, involved members. Social selling gives you the opportunity to connect with all these potential buyers digitally, something traditional sales methods don’t give you.

All these potential buyers on social media engage in a practice, collectively called “social buying”. Essentially, they use aids like social search and social listening to look for sellers, research them, and form opinions about them before they even come in contact. So, if you don’t show up in their social buying process, you are missing out on lots of potential sales.

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Potential buyers on social media engage in a practice, collectively called “social buying”.

Most of your competitors are already onboard with social selling and gaining lost of leads thanks to it. If you’re still stuck using the traditional methods for selling, then they will leave you in the dust. Starting social selling is a guaranteed way of getting on par with the ones using it already and ahead of the ones who aren’t.

Social Selling Stats

Now, on to some interesting and convincing stats:

According to “2014 State of B2B Procurement Study” by Accenture, 94% buyers do some form of research before making a business purchase and 55% do so for at least half of their purchases.

SiriusDecisions found that 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. But this in no way means that a salesperson is not involved in this process. They’ve also debunked that misconception that you should let they buyers find you when they are ready. In fact, LinkedIn’s study on social selling found that nearly 64% of B2B buyers appreciate it when a sales person contacts them with relevant information and opportunities when they need it (when they express a challenge related to your expertise).

Linkedin also found that 75% of B2B executive buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions. A study by Demandgen shows that almost 53% of the buyers use social media as a research tool.

If all of the above stats weren’t enough to make you pro-social selling, here is what Jamie Shanks of Sales for Life found: “On average – for every $1 a company puts into a sales rep for Social Selling training, that sales rep will make the company $5 within 180 days!” So, whatever amount you invest in social selling, you will get back 5 times as ROI.

What You’re Not Doing Right

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Most companies don’t get the expected results out of Social Selling — mostly because they’re not doing it right.

So, it’s obvious that social selling is a good thing, a great thing, in fact, to practice. But most companies don’t get the expected results out of it — mostly because they’re not doing it right.

1. Don’t “Make It Up As You Go”
According to Sales for Life, only 8.5% of social sellers have a program that’s fully integrated into their sales process and stack. Most of them are simply “making it up as they go” while only 22% reps feel that they’re competent enough for that.

2. Fix Your Profile
Another mistake made by business it that they don’t work on their social profile. A Sales for Life study found that 11% of social media profiles still have stock ‘avatar’ images (this makes them look unprofessional and untrustworthy) and 95% of businesses on LinkedIn are using business card type headlines as their profiles that makes them look dull.

Not dressing up your profile and expecting good leads is akin to showing up to a professional meeting wearing wrinkled, casual clothes and expecting it to go well.
Another thing found in this study is that most (61%) summaries look like resumes, only 6% of the summaries offer any sort of value to prospects, while 33% have simply left the summary section blank. So if a prospective buyer does, somehow land up on their page, they have nothing to keep them interested.

And even if people do get interested, they have no way to contact the business; only 47% have any contact information available on their profile, and merely 19% provide their twitter information.

3. Reach Out to Your Prospects
Sales for Life also found that only 52% businesses have less than 500 connections on Linkedin, and 39% of the businesses are in less than 10 groups, while only 3% were actively sharing their content to potential buyers. On LinkedIn, connections and groups are how you connect with people and engage with them. If you’re not actively reaching out to them, they won’t come looking for you.

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Social selling, much like door-to-door selling, brings in revenue and leads but, unlike door-to-door selling, it does so with less wastage of resources, less displeasure for your prospects, and less hassle for salespersons.

With social selling, a salesperson gets to interact and engage with prospects at a point in their buyer’s journey where they are still open to a new approach, not just a new product, while door-to-door forced products on customers who probably weren’t interested at all. This sales method also gives them a means to generate, qualify and nurture leads, and demonstrate value effectively and early.

I will be conducting a one-day workshop on ‘Social Selling – Make 2018 the Best Year in Business‘ on 16th June, 2018, specially for marketers, VPs, CEOs, and business owners. This workshop is been done in association with Tie Pune. This workshop will guide professionals on not only how to use social media channels, but also how to you to use them making business sense. Click here to know more and register.

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6 Tips to Maximize LinkedIn Usage for B2B Marketing

With over 500 million members, LinkedIn is known to be a hub for professionals. Everyone from freshers to top-level executives have a LinkedIn account. It is a shame that most marketers look at LinkedIn only as a platform to increase brand awareness rather than one for generating leads, despite 80% of B2B leads coming from LinkedIn, a stark contrast of the mere 13% and 7% of Twitter and Facebook, respectively.

Up Your LinkedIn Game

To make the best of LinkedIn, it is not enough to upgrade to premium and spam your target audience’s InMail with automated messages in hopes of getting some leads.

No, you will need a little more than that.

So let’s look at some tips that will help you maximize your LinkedIn usage for B2B marketing:

Blog Regularly and Share Often

According to studies, only 3 million users share content weekly, but the LinkedIn feed gets 9 billion content impressions each week. That is around 3,000 content impressions per person per week. Now that is a big reason to make full use of LinkedIn Pulse — the Official LinkedIn Publishing Platform.

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Blogging and sharing regularly not only gives you lots of leads, it also increases the chances of those leads turning into customers.

Other than the stats, another reason to blog and share habitually is that consistency builds trust. When people, especially top-level executives who have a knack for discipline, see that you are unfailing in your posting schedule, they will get the impression that you are unfailing in your service if they choose to hire you.

Blogging and sharing regularly not only gives you lots of leads, it also increases the chances of those leads turning into customers.

Find Your Industry-related Questions and Answer Them

When looking to buy an auto part for their car or heavy machinery for manufacturing, a larger majority of people trust an expert than their friends.

It’s the same logic with B2B marketing.

Yes, engaging with potential customers builds their trust for you and is a very important aspect of B2B marketing, but when it comes to actually buying products or availing services, people will trust experts. And no matter how much of an expert you claim to be, with no proof you’re as good as a layman to your leads.

So how do you establish yourself as an expert in your field?

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Engaging with potential customers builds their trust for you and is a very important aspect of B2B marketing

The answer to this question is to answer questions, specifically, questions related to your area of expertise. Find questions related to your industry, preferably that still need answering, and provide the asker with an elaborate reply.

It is important that you keep your answer elaborate as opposed to big. Give details and facts and statistics, don’t just add words for the sake of it, no one likes that, not even businesspeople.

Manage and Grow a Group Related to Your Domain

When businesses look to hire someone to solve a problem for them, they are usually looking for a people’s person who can easily work with them. So, to get these businesses as your leads you need to showcase your social side to them.

One of the best ways to do this is by joining groups related to your niche. The more groups you are in, the higher the chances are to get more leads. But simply joining a group and forgetting about it isn’t enough as this will tell people that you aren’t committed or have a habit of leaving a task incomplete. So join enough groups that’ll allow you to remain active in all of them without overwhelming you.

Now, joining groups is good, but creating them is even better.

All you have to do is pick a topic that relates to your niche, preferably one that you have expertise in and doesn’t have as many groups for it, start a group (one with a unique name), and invite your connections from your target audience to join.

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Pick a topic that relates to your niche, start a group, and invite your connections from your target audience to join.

It is important to keep posting valuable topic-related content regularly on the group. If the group members find that the content is worth sharing and the group is worth joining, they will invite people from their network and those people will further bring in more members, thus increase your chances of getting leads.

Also, remember to not make your content on the group sound like a sales pitch for your product or service. It will only make your potential customers lose interest, which leads to you losing your level of authority and your brand name getting a bad reputation. Basically, it does more harm than good.

Creating and managing your own group gives you a level of authority that reflects on your social side and remaining active maintains, if not intensifies, it.

Distribute Gated Content Such as Whitepapers, E-books, etc.

Gated content like e-books and webinars are used widely in B2B marketing, mainly because of their ability to generate lots of convertible leads. Gated content is the content your viewers will get after they fill a form or pay for it. The biggest advantage of gated content is that you get the readers’ emails allowing you to send them further information.

However, the downside to this is that the reader may sign up only to get that particular information and may not be interested in the service or product you are offering. In that case, the reader will not like to get spammed with emails, regardless if it is organic or automated and you may lose a potential customer.

In Linkedin, however, most of the users there are not just skimming through for information but are actively looking to hire or buy or read valuable content. So it is especially beneficial to distribute gated content there.

Obviously, it is not enough to send a generic automated message in the prospects InMail once you get their email and forget about it. If you really want the lead to convert, you have to actively pursue it.

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The biggest advantage of gated content is that you get the readers’ emails allowing you to send them further information.

As said before, people on LinkedIn are already looking to buy, and as they have gone through your gated content (whether it is a demo for your product or a webinar relating to your service), you already know that they are interested. So you don’t have to worry about leading the conversation to your product or service as it will naturally lead there since they are a potential customer. This leaves you free to start up a conversation, build a relationship with them before you pitch your product or service.

Engage With Key Events, Conferences, Seminars, etc.

Key events, conferences, and seminars are places where most professionals of the niche come together to discuss and learn; that means most, if not all, of your target audience, converges in one place. So if you use this chance right, you are bound to get lots of convertible leads and potential customers.

It is important to remember that, even though you are using the event as a platform to get leads, the people are not there to listen to your sales pitch. So make sure to gather some information about the topic being discussed, don’t talk about your product, service, or brand too much, and when you do put in efforts to not make it sound ‘salesy’.

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The most effective strategy for LinkedIn is a balance between emotional and professional.

If you play your cards right, LinkedIn is the best platform to up your B2B leads. The points mentioned about will no doubt help you, but you need to do lots more research to come up with a strategy that will optimally help you get the most leads from LinkedIn.

The most effective strategy for LinkedIn is a balance between emotional and professional. This balance keeps tipping to one side to another from time to time based on the new trends and upgrades, so your strategy needs to be flexible and dynamic as well.

How B2B Content Marketing Helps With Authentic Leads

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word business? Do the words ‘Professional’, ‘Serious’, and ‘No-nonsense’ come to mind? Or perhaps you picture a group of professionals dressed immaculately in formals sitting around a conference table discussing serious things like business strategy and market share.

Well, you’re not wrong; business professionals, no matter how much they love partying on the weekends, are exceedingly serious when they put on their business suits (Mostly because their business will suffer if they aren’t). But that does not mean that they prefer reading boring articles over fun, engaging blogs; they are humans after all.

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So how do you appeal to these people while also catering to their business plans? You learn how to (properly) use B2B Content Marketing to your advantage.

What is B2B Content Marketing?

Content marketing, as the term suggests, is using original content to market your product or service, build and grow brand awareness, compel your target audience to take favorable action, and eventually drive traffic to your business.

It’s not like content marketing is some new, recently discovered phenomena; marketers, the smart ones used it as a secret weapon to get an edge over their competition. But slowly, people caught on and today, content marketing is a vital part of a good digital marketing strategy.

In the B2B World, content marketing is essentially content that is made by businesses to appeal to other businesses.

Difference between B2C and B2B Content Marketing

Content marketing, when used in the B2B context, works different than when it is used by B2C marketers.

Think of it as the two being distant relatives with a very noticeable age gap (like one is a Gen Z teenager and the other is their mothers’ fathers’ aunt from the baby boomer generation) rather than sisters. They share the same blood (objectives) but have wildly different priorities.

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There are 3 elements in the ‘Holy Trinity of Content Marketing’: value, engagement, and quality.

All content should be of high quality. B2C marketers give more priority to keeping the content engaging (while still holding value). B2B content marketers, however, prioritize value over engagement, since that’s what their target audience expects.

The reader expects to be able to apply the actionable elements of your content to their business. This doesn’t, however, give you a reason to be boring and use bland language, ultimately creating easily forgettable content.

You are allowed to publish few off-topic — but valuable (if you haven’t figured out already, valuable content is the essence of good content marketing) — blogs but overall, your content should make your potential customers feel like they will benefit by doing business with you.

How to B2B Content Market the Right Way?

1. Identify and Study Your Target Audience

Have you seen the Idea 4G Smartphone Advertisement that depicts the different kind of people that come in to buy smart phones? While funny and over-exaggerated, it tells you an important point vital to content marketers; every buyer is different.

What you need to do is find what kind of buyer will be interested in what you’re selling; which buyer group does your product or service cater to.

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If you’re selling manufacturing machinery, you need to make content that caters to the sales executives in the manufacturing industry. If you’re giving out digital marketing services, your target market can range from big businesses that need an agency to handle their digital front to small start ups that need help with their digital marketing strategy.

Once you have figured out who you’re catering to, you need to really study them.

Every potential buyer that comes to you will differ in one way or another and it is impossible to make your so that it caters to each individual specifically. This is why you need to use tools like Google Analytics to make a rough outline of the psychology of the entire sect you want to cater to. Analytics, although generally used to gauge how your content is doing after posting it, can also be used to monitor your target audience while coming up with a content marketing plan.

2. Consistency is Key

If you don’t have a content marketing schedule, make one. In the digital world, people are looking for content that is fresh, up-to-date, and consistent. If you put up a blog post with irregular gaps of no content in the middle, people consider you to be flaky. And yes, coming up with new, high-quality content that is equally engaging and valuable is not the easiest task, but that is why content curation is so popular among content marketers; it helps you fill in the gaps on days where you can’t create content. Obviously, the dynamics of content curation is a lot different that content creation but doing a little research in it will prove to be extremely valuable in the long run.

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The goal here is not to publish a blog post every day; that will really push you to your limit and spread you far too thin (I mean, if you can pull it off, kudos to you). Being consistent simply mean that your readers need to rely on you to give out content regularly, just like they rely on a TV channel to air their favorite show at the specified time on the specified days.

3. Communication is the Other Key

If you think that holding weekly meetings for something as simple as content is a bit eccentric, you are wrong about two things. Content is not simple and weekly content meetings is what effective content marketers do.

61% B2B marketers meet daily or weekly with their content marketing team either virtually or in person. Furthermore, content teams that meet daily or weekly find the meetings to be more valuable than those who meet biweekly or monthly.

Keeping constant tabs on how your content is faring in the digital world may sound like too much work but it is work that pays off. Besides, with the help of tools like Google Analytics, your job can be as easy as simply collecting the data you need.

4. Map Out Your Buyer’s Journey

50-70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before the buyer even reaches out to the brand. This means that the role of the sales executive comes in only halfway through. So what about the first half? Well, in the initial stages, the buyer first researches about you and then considers who among you and your competition best suits their business plan.

This means that you need to be really persuasive in your content marketing if you want to convert your potential customers into actual customers. By mapping out your buyer’s journey, you get an idea of what your target audience is looking for and what kind of content will make them gravitate towards your brand.

5. Use Visuals

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Research shows that an average human’s attention span is 8 seconds (yes, less than a goldfish). With such an unbelievably short attention span, long articles will just not catch your buyer’s eyes; sometimes an attractive headline will not work either. In such a case visuals usually do the trick.

Using visuals that are intriguing, aesthetic, and relating to your blog topic can increase your views by 94%! To add to that 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact a business when an image shows up in search results.

Those are two very big reasons to start using (good quality) images in your blog and articles.

6. Publish Off-Domain Content

Having a website to upload your blogs to is great; publishing some content off-domain better. Why? Because it engages that part of your target audience that might not have otherwise found your website. And yes, it’s not a one-hit wonder; you won’t shoot to success overnight by publishing on or two or even ten blogs. It might take you somewhere up to six months of consistent blogging to gain any traction on an off-domain site like Medium.

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But if you stick with it, you will get leads that would have otherwise not even heard of your brand.

7 Reasons Why Leadership Is Incomplete Without Vulnerability

Whether you’re a Manager or a CEO, you are a leader that your subordinates look up to. This can, understandably, be a daunting position. You think that you need to know the answers to every question you’re asked, that you owe it to your team members to have the solution to every hurdle your team faces.

But the truth is that you don’t.

You’re human, not a superhero; and your team members understand that, regardless of the façade put up.

So here are a couple of reasons why you are allowed to show vulnerability as a leader, even if you think otherwise.

Just To Be Clear…

Before you read further, I’d like to be clear that when I say “show vulnerability” I mean “allow your team members to help you with a work-related hurdle”, not “treat your employees like therapists”.

Essentially, you need to let your team members know that you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses, let them into your thought process when needed. Don’t go dumping all your problems on them saying, “I read it in a blog…”

1. Showing Vulnerability Makes You Trustworthy

In the pursuit to be The One With All The Answers, leaders tend to not include their team members in their thought process. This makes your team feel isolated, which further leads to them not trusting you as much as you would like them to. Try doing the opposite when you come across a road block that you just can’t break through; ask your team for help. Sit with them and brainstorm ideas and possible solutions.

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Sit with them and brainstorm ideas and possible solutions

If you’re thinking “Oh, it’s an executive decision, they won’t have the answer”, you’ll be surprised to see the creative solutions that come into light; ones you wouldn’t have even thought about no matter how long you’d have scratched your head over it.

2. ‘Vulnerable’ is Not the Opposite of ‘Confidence’

People often mistake vulnerability as a sign of weakness or cowardice. But in fact, it’s quite the opposite. When you show your drawbacks to your team, you are essentially letting them know that you’re confident.

Why?

Because only confident people have it in them to show others their vulnerable side.

Showing vulnerability not only shows your confidence, it boosts your self-esteem as well. Once you’ve shown people that you are prone to make mistakes, you’re not afraid of people finding out. This does wonders to your confidence.

3. Learn to Be Relatable

People want to work with (and for) humans. If your team members don’t feel like they can come to you with their problems and suggestions, they will quickly lose interest in working with you.

You may be a leader, but you are still human. By owning up to your mistakes, you’re reminding your team of it. Showing vulnerability consequently humanizes you, making you more approachable and relatable to your team.

4. Make Your Office a Safe Place to Learn from Mistakes

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When you start admitting to your mistakes, you’re telling your team that it’s okay for them to admit to theirs as well

When you start admitting to your mistakes, you’re telling your team that it’s okay for them to admit to theirs as well. Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re allowing them to slack off and be unproductive; it simply means that you’re allowing them to learn from their and each other’s mistakes.

This takes a weight of their shoulder, making them focus on their work better. Eventually, you will notice that they are making fewer mistakes than before.

If needed, use some of your life experiences to set examples. Pick out some stories and the lessons you learnt from them. Tell your team one of these stories at an appropriate time. But make sure you’re not sounding preachy to avoid the exaggerated eye roll and snarky “oh, here comes the rags to riches lecture. Again.” comments whispered under their breaths.

5. Build Authentic Relationships

When you’re with your family, you feel free to share your embarrassing stories; most of your closest friends know some deep secrets that you wouldn’t tell anyone else. This is because you share real relationships with them, built on trust, that allow you to show them your vulnerable side.

When you admit to a mistake you’ve made, your team will do the same. This kind of openness allows you to have a personal, trust-based relationship with your employees, which in turn makes them a lot more productive.

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A trust-based relationship with your employees makes them a lot more productive.

Now obviously, don’t go and admit to the time you got caught using a fake ID in high school or share your embarrassing childhood stories (complete with giggle-worthy pictures); that’ll just make things awkward. Instead, tell them about the first presentation you ever gave and how nervous you were or how you messed up on a simple question in your fifth job interview.

Talk to them about how you learnt from the mistakes you made in your professional life and keep your personal life stories for lunch with your friends. This will help you connect with your team while still keeping professional boundaries in place.

6. Make Brainstorming Sessions More Creative

How many times has it happened during a staff meeting that you’ve opened the floor to discussion, only to be met with cricket chirps and awkward silences?

This is because most of your employees are afraid of getting reprimanded or ridiculed if their idea turns out to be silly. So, next brainstorming session, try starting off the conversation with a silly idea of your own. When the employees see that their boss is comfortable with sharing ideas that are obviously subpar, they will readily share their points, that are, more often than not, more sensible than they think.

7. Earn the Respect of Your Employees

It’s not easy to admit that you’re intimidated, especially if you’re a leader. But if you honestly share when you feel outmatched (whether by a colleague or even one of your team members), you’re letting your team know you’re aware that you still have a lot of learning and growing to do. Not only that, it makes the employees feel respected and appreciated, which will in turn result in them respecting you back.

8. Be Credible and Trustworthy

Being a businessperson means you’re constantly taking risks to further grow your business. And taking risks involves being vulnerable to failure. So if you try to put up a front of being invulnerable, your employees will simply think that you’re being a fake or have a fear of failure and lose trust in you.

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Your employees’ confidence in you will not only impose their trust and belief in you, but also take the leap of faith with you when needed.

On the flip side, showing your vulnerability lets your employees know that you are ready to take risks and that you won’t let one mistake or the fear of failure get in the way of success. This will lead your employees to not only trust and believe in you but also take the leap of faith with you when needed.

In Conclusion

Theodore Roosevelt once said “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Yes, as a leader, you do need to know what you’re doing, have extensive knowledge about you business, but it is equally important to show empathy, show that you care, that you can make mistakes and it’s okay for your team members to make them as well.

Showing your vulnerable side to your team is not a sign of weakness, but a great show of courage, one that will take both you and your business to great heights.

Voice Search is the New Essential for B2B Marketing. Are you On-board?

There is one thing that Google’s Home and Google Assistant, Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri have in common; all of them have changed to the way people search things online. From calling Mom to making grocery lists, most people use voice to search for something or the other.

Even professional executives use voice search to make purchase decisions; in fact, they are more comfortable in using voice search, even in situations where others are not, like in public or with other people (friends or strangers) around.

And that is why understanding voice search is so important for B2B companies looking to better their digital marketing strategies.

What is Voice Search?

Voice search is a speech-to-text technology that is capable of recognizing the voice commands you give via the speaker of your device and perform searches according to it.

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Voice search technology is quickly gaining momentum thanks to the improved accuracy of the algorithm

Although it was developed to be software, it is also used as a service. The way voice search works — providing the most relevant answer to the query with the source — makes it more credible than text search — that gives you a list of sources for you to choose from.

Position Zero

Voice-enabled search also introduced digital marketers to the intimidating but highly desired “position zero”, the voice search equivalent of “page one”. When a query is asked via voice search, the search engine crawlers scour the internet for relevant material and reads out the most suited answer and the source it was excerpted from. This answer is said to be on “position zero”, which is as good as ranking in the first SERP.

Why is Voice Search So Relevant?

The voice search technology, although not a new one, is quickly gaining momentum thanks to the improved accuracy of the algorithm and the fact that it accepts many more languages (some of which are easier to speak than type due to the number of characters) and accents than it did in the initial stages.

ComScore predicts that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-based.

This is because, when you’re lying in your bed or couch, it is easier to say “Ok Google, look for fast delivery pizza places near me” than to type it on the search bar; it is safer to dictate your text message to Siri while driving than take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road to type it out. It is handier to ask Alexa to read you the recipe for a chocolate cake than washing and drying your hands to type it in the search box only to get them messy again.

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It is handier to ask Alexa to read you the recipe for a chocolate cake than washing and drying your hands to type it in the search box only to get them messy again.

It is because 41% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say it feels like talking to a friend or another person and because an average human speaks three times faster than he types.

Basically, voice search makes life easier.

How to Prepare Your Content for Voice Search?

1. Use Long Tail Keywords

Voice search queries are longer and more conversational than their textual counterparts. To cater to such natural language queries, you need to find long tail keywords relevant to your niche and target them in your content.

Another way of optimizing the keywords in your content is to find the ones that have gotten you to the elite “page 1” of Google. Then you analyze the search results for them and update your content to provide a direct answer for that intent.

2. Emphasize on Featured Snippets

A featured snippet is a summarized form of a user query that Google pulls from an article if it feels like it is the best answer to the said query.

As Google (or Alexa or Siri or Cortana) reads out this snippet (along with the source) in voice search, and essentially declares your article to be the best pick for the query, it is a good idea to work on featured snippet-type of content and include more of it in your article.

To start off, you can optimize your existing content for featured snippets. To do this, think about how your content sounds out loud, if it doesn’t sound conversational, change it around to make it so that it is. If your article has a table or a visual representation, an easy way to voice optimize it is by talking about what is in the image.

3. Make Content That’s Easy for Users to Read

Voice-based searches are highly user-centric which means you need to make your content as close to what your readers want as possible if you want to be on the highly coveted “position zero”. Think like your audience; understand what they want to read and how they want to read it.

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If your target audience consists of teenagers or 20-somethings, they prefer simple-to-understand, relatable language whereas a professional would want to read articles that have a more serious tone.

If your target audience consists of teenagers or 20-somethings, they prefer simple-to-understand, relatable language whereas a professional would want to read articles that have a more serious tone.

4. Don’t Over-Optimize

The phrase “too much of anything is bad” stands true even for voice search optimization. Articles that are very obviously trying hard will make it an unpleasant experience for the readers and make it look unoptimized to the search engine, which, as you can imagine, is counterproductive.

Make sure to put in place some boundaries and guidelines to make sure you are not over optimizing your content.

5. Consider Developing Screenless Apps

Screenless apps replace the conventional graphic user interface with nature interactions like gestures and voice recognition; which is why they are also dubbed as “Zero UI”. Screenless apps are especially useful for businesses with a physical location as voice searches are more likely to be local-based than text searches.

6. Answer Specific Questions

In voice search, the searches are a lot more conversational. This means that users don’t type in keywords relating to what they’re looking for (“colours of the rainbow”) but simply speak out the exact question they want answers to (“Ok Google, name all the colours of the rainbow”).

To optimize your content with this aspect of voice search, you’ll have to find the questions that are relevant to your niche and try to answer them as specifically and optimally as possible in your content.

7. Use Structured Data (Schema Markup)

Google crawlers don’t see your content like a human would; they depend on the metadata you provide. So it is vital that you provide metadata (or structured data) that closely resembles your content and follows the guidelines provided by Google.

The Schema Markup is a form of microdata that, once added to your webpage, creates an enhanced description, or rich snippet, that will appear in search results. It is a more refined form of HTML that helps search engine crawlers provide more relevant and accurate answers to search, especially voice search, queries.

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Conclusion

Voice search started out as a weird, futuristic technology that people had only ever seen in sci-fi movies but as developers continued to work on it, this tech slowly started gaining acceptance. Today, not having a voice search AI in your smartphone is akin to still using a pager — ancient and impractical — and if you don’t get with the trend (one that is definitely here to stay), you will be put in the same category.

There are lots of ways to optimize your content for voice search, and it is easier and not half as scary than you think, so start now and do let us know if you need any help with anything related to digital marketing.

The Essentials of an Effective B2B Digital Marketing Campaign

Marketing to a business is a lot different than marketing to individuals. People look for relatable, business looks for realistic. Your content needs to be less flowery and more to the point. But the business is still run by people, who like relatable stuff. So your campaign needs to be a mix between realistic (for the business) and relatable (for the people running it)

Sounds stressful?

Well, it isn’t, or at least it won’t be if you take a note of these essentials that make up an effective B2B digital marketing campaign.

  1. Update Your Website

Your website is your brand ambassador; it tells potential customers all that they need to know about your business. They are gauging whether or not you are capable of making a good website for them, so it’s not just the words and aesthetics that they look focus on, it is the overall functionality that they look at. If your website is outdated, clumsy, too wordy, has an impractical layout, or lacks in any other way, your potential buyers are sure to turn away.

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Another reason you need a good website is because no one wants to click through 10 different links to find your contact number — most people will give up after 2. They will simply click out of your website and into your competitors.

Nowadays, more people prefer to use the mobile phones to do everything, including looking up things. Not only that, Google has started ranking responsive websites higher than ones that aren’t. So keep in mind to make a responsive website, which is different from a mobile-friendly website. While a mobile-friendly website looks good on mobile phones, it usually has lots of glitches and does not cater to any other devices like tablets. A responsive website, on the other hand, adapts to all devices from desktops to tablets and smart phones and is functional.

  1. Optimize Your Content and Website for Search Engines

SEO is vital to your organization in the sense that, if done right, it can get your website to rank high on search engines, ultimately leading to an increased number of potential customers. Studies show that SEO is one of the top priorities of most high-growth firms; and for a good reason. When looking for something, people usually don’t visit a particular website (unless it is referred to them), but simply type in the term in the search box of Google and go through the pages (mostly only the first two or three) till they find what they need.

So, no matter how good your website is, unless you are ranking high on search engines, you won’t get as much traffic as you’d like.

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Now, SEO can be separated into two components that make up the core of your SEO strategy: on-site SEO and off-site SEO.

  • On-site SEO mostly focuses on keyword optimization. You use keywords or keyword phrases that the search engine crawlers can pick up on. These keywords — and how frequently they appear on your website pages — help the crawlers figure out how high or low too rank you; and although this is only one of the many criteria Google uses for ranking websites, it certainly is a start. So if your page doesn’t have enough of the keywords, or if your website is crammed with them, you won’t rank high on the search engine. Also, if the keywords you use aren’t relevant to the searches, your site won’t rank at all. So make sure to choose the keywords carefully and include them in the flow of the content.
  • Off-site SEO is all the backlinks you get. So if another site mentions you and links your site, or if one of your customers mentions you on their social media, it all contributes to off-page SEO. The more people start linking back to you, especially if the people (or websites) are popular, the more search engines start recognizing you as a relevant and credible website. This will lead to your website being ranked higher and higher on the search engine algorithm.
  1. Use Social Media Platforms to Your Advantage

Social media, if used correctly, is a great boon to your brand. More than 50% of your customers are on multiple social media platforms, waiting for you to promote your brand. Share your blogs, interact with your audience, answer their queries, and build your brand on every social media platform you can.

But be careful with how you allot your time for each platform you choose, because some platforms are more useful to one niche than others. For example, Instagram is mostly used by celebrities and cosmetic companies while businesspeople like to frequent Linkedin. Also, the kind of content consumed by each platform highly differs (like Instagram is more picture-centric while Linkedin users prefer stats and informative articles).

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However, simply posting things on separate social media platforms is not enough, you need to practice channel integration to give your content and brand more exposure. This means you need to share your content across channels rather treat each of your social media account as separate entities.

  1. Stick to Pain Points and Useful Content Format

One of the many reasons any business – whether a small-scale, family-run business or a fully fledged company with 1,000+ employees – looks to hire another company is because they have a problem that they can’t get around and need professional help with. These problems are called ‘pain points’ and these pain points are the ones you need to focus on if you want to get companies to hire you.

Research about your target audience and pick the most common or major pain points and aim to solve those in the content you write. Choose formats like how-to, lists, guides, question-based, etc. to convey these solutions to potential customers.

  1. Feature Past Clients in Your Marketing to Increase Referrals

The biggest points businesses consider before hiring you is whether or not you are good for them and if you will help them solve their problem. And there is no better way of proving this than showing your work. With the permission of your past clients, you can use their information to draw up case studies and success stories that talk about how your products and/or services have benefitted them is the best marketing strategy B2B companies can adopt.

Talking about your past clients has more than one benefit. Firstly, it increases your credibility because people like reading about people and relating to them. When a businessperson reads about another business stuck in a problem similar to theirs, they will continue to see whether the problem was solved. Once they figure out that you helped solve the problem, they go from being a viewer of your blog to a potential customer.

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Another benefit that you can reap from this is getting referrals. Sharing stories about your past clients on social media leads to them sharing it in their social circle. When people see someone from their circle recommending your services or products, the chances of them choosing to hire you increases.

  1. Switch to Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Usually, marketers include lead generation in their marketing strategy. And while it is a good strategy to use to generate as many leads, you need to get more personalized if you want to target specific accounts. This is where Account-Based Marketing comes in. Account-Based Marketing or ABM focuses on outbound marketing as opposed to lead generation that focuses on inbound marketing.

Basically, in Account-Based Marketing you focus on locating and targeting specific accounts. Once you have compiled a list of potential customers, you design targeted marketing campaigns based on their specific wants and needs. Since the pitch you make is highly personalized to fit them, these accounts are more likely to hire you.

So once you have a good amount of leads, switching over to ABM is a highly productive tactic.

  1. Test and Analyze Every Strategy and Campaign

Marketing, especially digital marketing is a dynamic field. It is not enough to come up with one strategy and stick to it; you need to constantly change it up based on the new trends and what your customers want to see. Testing out every strategy to see which works best is vital when you have a dynamic approach to marketing. Sometimes you will also find that various elements from different strategies work better together, giving you a completely new strategy that works perfectly for you.

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It is just as important to analyze the progress of your campaign after you launch it as it to test a strategy before. Analysis gives you an idea of what is actually working, which part of your target audience is engaging more than the other and why. It also tells you areas of your campaign that need improvement and what you can include or exclude in the next campaign.

Digital marketing is growing and changing faster every day, digital marketing even more so; to get the most out of your B2B digital marketing campaign, to stand out among your peers, and to remain relevant among your target audience, you need a strong, dynamic strategy build on the basis of extensive, in-depth research done on your target audience.

Social Selling: A Modern Method for the Modern Salesperson

Every aspect of B2B marketing has moved on to social media… except sales, right?

Wrong.

Sales is no longer going door-to-door trying to sell your product only to have the door shut on your face. Neither is it getting hanged up on because people don’t want to be bothered with cold calls.

No, sales has moved on from the traditional practices and has adopted modern methods, one of these methods being social selling.

Coined in 2006, this buzzword has become one of the best marketing strategies that benefit both, the salesperson as well as the buyer.

In his digital marketing workshop and social selling workshop, motivational speaker Mr. Amit Jadhav talks about the importance of including social selling in your marketing strategy. Let’s take a look at what social selling is and why you should consider using it in your strategy.

What is Social Selling

Social Selling essentially means that you use social media as a tool to find and target the right prospects, just like cold calling or door-to-door selling (except a bit more convenient) (and more productive) (and a lot less annoying).

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This form of modern salesmanship allows you to build relationships with your prospects and give them valuable information while subtly persuading them to buy your product or service.

Why Choose Social Selling

As mentioned earlier, social selling helps you form a relationship with your prospects, which is vital when it comes to sales. If you have a good relationship with a potential buyer, not only will you be able to reach your sales goals, but you will most likely get some loyal customers for your brand.

The largest social media demographic, the people who fall under the age group of 18 to 34 years, are also decision-makers in most B2B companies. That is a lot of target audience that is actively engaged and involved online. Social selling gives you an opportunity to connect with all of these potential prospects.

Majority of your target audience is already on social media, using social search and social listening to look for sellers, researching them, and forming opinions about them before they have even come in contact (“social buying”). If you are not showing up as an option for them to chose when they social search, you are missing out on a potential sale.

To add to that, most of your competitors are already on social media, pursuing leads and converting them into sales. If you don’t get onboard with social selling, you are going to be left far behind.

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Uploading creative videos and sharing interesting blogs yields a lot more leads and has a better ROI than traditional methods like cold calling. In his blog, Mr. Amit Jadhav, a keynote speaker and social selling speaker, says that “Videos have chiefly become the pre-dominant content form over the Internet.”

Conclusion

Social selling, if used right, is a great asset for anyone looking to use social media as a platform to reach their sales goal. In the pursuit to closing deals, though, you have to remember to not spam your potential buyers with generic automated messages that will definitely put them off.

Instead, engage with them personally; build your relationship with them; provide them with valuable information. It may sound more work than simply creating a list and sending them all a generic mail but the effort is well worth it if you get more leads and sales.