New[s] This Week! | Messaging Tools for Inbound Marketing, Social Media Trends for 2018, Digital Tech to Transform Consumer Behavior, & Optimization for Voice Search

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s 2018 now, which means that every software company and marketing team is compiling 2017 wrap-ups and ‘what’s new in 2018’ lists. Rather than inundate you with one of our own, we’ve compiled a few of the ones we’ve seen to give you the best rehash and outlook for the coming year.

This first comes from HubSpot’s review of the Biggest Marketing Lessons of 2017. Among this list of six items, we thought that two would be particularly important to revisit. The first is the use of offsite messaging, that is chat tools that you can communicate with users beyond your website.

Offsite messaging has earned its place in inbound marketing

Another one of the reasons we have been successful at reducing our reliance on email is that we got serious about testing emerging channels. Here’s an offer email we sent earlier this year that gives people the option to access content via Facebook Messenger or a form:

offsite messaging form

If people choose Facebook Messenger, our chatbot automatically delivers the requested content to them in their Messenger app instead of their inbox. We’ve seen offers delivered via Facebook Messenger result in 2.5x lifts in open rates and 6x lifts in click rates vs. email.

This improved performance is partially a function of the channel (it’s great to get push notifications on someone’s home screen), but partially a function of it being a channel that aligns with how people want to shop and buy today, and how they want to engage with companies.

This innovation has obviously led to a massive spark in communication between prospective customers and brands–not that it’s a bad thing. Making use of multiple platforms as a method of connection is actually a part of the inbound marketing methodology. You want to bring your customers through the sales funnel that does the convincing ahead of the final push where you close. If you need to redirect someone from your website to make use of a chat messenger to do it, by all means, do so.

Along those same lines, onsite messenger tools have popped up on websites regularly throughout the past year. The process is similar to the offsite sales funnel previously mentioned, but this is meant to show immediate care to the prospective customer’s needs. It’s the, “is there anything I can help you with” from a retail sales associate at any brick and mortar store you frequent.

Onsite messaging is now playing an integral role in inbound sales.

For the past decade, lead forms have been the go-to way for prospects to express interest in working with your company. But just because something has worked, doesn’t mean it will keep working.

This year HubSpot’s marketing team got very serious about testing alternatives to lead forms. We rolled out onsite messaging across our entire website.

onsite messaging

Yes, this meant hiring more salespeople to respond to the influx of one-to-one communications.

Yes, this meant responding to a lot of irrelevant inquiries with a personal, human response.

Yes, it was expensive and took some internal training and systems finagling.

But customers today expect to get answers to their questions right.now. For serious buyers, a lead-form is just too long of a delay. And all of the short-term costs will decrease as we get more serious about chatbots. Onsite messaging is now an integral part of our inbound sales playbook and we’re looking to start even more conversations in 2018.

The immediate nature of these chatbot tools has allowed for better sales interaction and shorter sales closing periods. For inbound marketers or companies that make use of inbound methodologies, this is a great new feature for both clients and sales teams.

Breaking away from what has been and what will come, SearchEngine Journal compiled the thoughts of 29 different Social Marketers to gain insight into what they thought would come in 2018. Here are a couple interesting opinions from that group:

AR/VR & Live Video

The two biggest trends will be AR/VR and live video.

That’s not to say they will be the most used or best applied.

When it comes to AR/VR, most brands are not aware of the marketing possibilities and still see it as a bright shiny object that’s expensive and years away from adaptation. Storytelling, media relations, content marketing, customer experience will drastically be enhanced with AR/VR.

True, the technology is not 100 percent accessible and affordable; it is very close. So close brands can’t afford to ignore it.

When it comes to live video, yes brands realize this is the best performing content with the most opportunity in 2018. The problem is that they are still intimidated and insecure about actually going live.

Brands are scared of not being perfect or they are going live without a real strategy or plan.

The hardest part for brands and live video is getting started. If this is the case, brands doing live video right will have a huge opportunity since the competition will be low.

Phigital

Almost every social media marketer should become familiar with this term. I didn’t make it up. It has existed for the past year.

What does it mean? It means those marketers that can make their customer experience in the digital world meet their customer experience in the physical world so they feel like one seamless experience will shine. Why?

Most younger consumers have trained everyone to use the conjoint effect to blur the lines between the online and offline worlds in which we inhabit. This will cause major attribution issues. But those have always existed.

If a person comes into a store and buys something but their whole experience started on social media, who gets the credit? How is this tabulated into a success metric?

Ultimately what these two ideas pose is the evolution of digital marketing out of the online-only realm. Augmented Reality is a layering of the digital world on top of the physical one. Live Streaming is the communication between two people in two different location–a brand’s equivalent to “Facetime”. These linkages provide a connection between the brand and its customers that we’ve never seen before. That’s what makes it so exciting!

Business Standard had an interesting article discussing the transformation of customer behavior following a study that spanned seven countries. The results ultimately painted a picture of how the digital technology that’s been created has slowly shifted desires or expectations. That’s what pushes some of the trends you just read about.

Digital technology has witnessed a dramatic growth, a rapid evolution and a total integration into everyone’s life. 2018 could be a year where perhaps the deepest impact of how consumers consume and marketers sell products and services may be felt.
Way back in 2009, IPG saw a need to help our clients get a better understanding of how digital disruption was changing consumer behaviour. No longer was the consumer learning about a product or service just from a print ad or a TV commercial. She was also confronted with information via websites, blogs, social media, price/product comparison sites, mobile platforms…and, oh yes, increasingly from friends down the street.
It is for this that IPG and their group company FCB Cogito Consulting have fielded an important global research that covers seven countries viz. India, Russia, Brazil, China, South Africa as well as the USA and UK. The 600 sample per country is split across youth, young adults and baby boomers, male and female split being 50-50 in each age group. The group recently completed the fifth wave of this research and the results are more than interesting. Here are some interesting consumer trends for 2018 that our study brought to light.
The study found three key elements in the results:
  • The use of brand knowledge as social currency
  • More honesty and transparency desired from brands
  • The rise of the last mile influencer

What these indicate is that, on an international scale, people are reacting to the digital changes in similar ways. Consumers use their friend’s opinions in deciding where they buy. They want to know about the company, its practices, and social responsibility. And finally, sometimes the content publishing platform does more to make a sale at the end then advertising did.

Our final piece of news comes from Search Engine Land to discuss the optimization for voice search which will be a crucial adaptation for 2018 and beyond. Afterall, the number of Amazon Echo Dots and Google Home Minis that were sold for Christmas is in the tens of millions.

More visibility on featured snippets

One of the interesting things about Google Home is that when it answers a question with information from the web, it will cite the source of the information by saying the website’s name, and it will often send a link to the searcher’s Google Home app.

Currently, Google Home and Google Assistant read snippets from sites that are ranked in “position zero” and have been granted a featured snippet. This is why more people than ever are talking about how to optimize for featured snippets. If you look at the articles published on the topic (according to what Google has indexed), you’ll see that the number of articles about how to optimize for featured snippets has grown 178 percent in the past year.

Understanding voice search queries could help us better understand the types of queries that surface featured snippets. As marketers, we could then devote time and resources to providing the best answer for the most common featured snippets in hopes of getting promoted to position zero.

Better way to meet consumer demand and query intent based on context

We saw two major things happen in the early days of mobile SEO when we compared desktop and mobile queries:

  1. Searchers often used the same keywords in mobile search that they did in desktop search; however, certain keywords were used much more often on mobile search than desktop search (and vice versa).
  2. Whole new categories of queries emerged as searchers realized that GPS and other features of mobile search could allow them to use queries that just didn’t work in desktop search.

An example of the first point is a query like “store hours,” which peaks in volume when shoppers are headed to stores. In 2016, mobile searches for “store hours” peaked on Christmas Day. It’s the highest day of the year for that search.

An example of the second is “near me” queries, which have grown dramatically with mobile search and mostly occur on mobile phones. 88% of all the “near me” searches are done on mobile.

The mode of search therefore changes search behavior as searchers understand what types of searches work well on mobile but not on desktop.

Consider this in the context of voice search. There are certain types of queries that only work on Google Home and Google Assistant. “Tell me about my day” is one. We can guess some of the others, but if we had voice search data labeled, we wouldn’t have to.

Understanding extent of advertising and optimization potential for new voice-based media

The last reason to pay attention to voice search queries is probably the most important — for both marketers and Google.

Let me illustrate it in very direct terms, as it’s not just an issue that I believe marketers have in general, but one that affects me personally as well.

Recently, one of my company’s competitors released survey information that suggested people really want to buy tickets through smart speakers.

As a marketer and SEO who sells tickets, I can take this information and invest in Actions on Google Development and marketing so that our customers can say, “OK Google, talk to Vivid Seats about buying Super Bowl tickets,” and get something from Google Home other than, “I’m sorry but I don’t know how to help with that yet.” (Disclosure: Vivid Seats is my employer.)

Or maybe I could convince my company to invest resources in custom content, as Disney and Netflix have done with Google. But am I really going to do it based on this one data point? Probably not.

There’s much more to that article, so I highly recommend giving it a read if you have the time and interest in voice search optimization. For now, just make sure you are adapting your long tail keywords based on how people speak rather than type, and make sure your local SEO is fully optimized if you operate a brick and mortar location.

We hope you’ve enjoyed your weekly news bulletin of marketing information. Until next time!

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