Siri and Hey Google have been around for a while and the category is growing. Now we have Siri on the Mac, Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, Google Home, and other personal agents. As these grow in popularity and capability, what does that mean for businesses that rely on search?
As a new Amazon Echo Dot user (I love it so much I immediately bought a second and may add a couple more), I am wondering. Mostly, I am making inside-the-house requests like “play music” but I’m starting to ask it the type of questions that would have immediately gone to Google. It mostly fails (even more than Siri) but it will get better. Eventually, it will be just like clicking the “Feeling Lucky” button on Google — which means being among the top 5 or 10 entries in the search results will no longer be enough.
An article at SearchEngineLand says that for some marketers, we need to “rank for featured snippets or go home.” (Snippets are those boxes on the results page that give answers instead of links to websites.) The article has a video of an interaction with Google Home that offers a thought-provoking example. For some consumer brands, especially services, this deserves some thought. Likewise for local services.
I think business-to-business companies need not worry about this yet, but it would be wise to have it on your long-range radar.
Congratulations: You’re doing a blog. You’re thinking about search engine optimization (SEO). You have the machinery in place to consistently produce a couple of posts per week on topics that will interest customers and prospects. Now: How will they find you?
Blogs are great search engine bait
One of the reasons I favor blog posts and other content is that it is search engine bait. When someone is searching on a problem they have that you can solve, your content is the most likely way they will find you and see you as the solution to their problems.
Here’s a video from Rand Fishkin of MOZ on how to make it a practice (key concept!) to make your blogs (and other content) appeal.
Some key ideas for optimizing search for blogs:
- Make your content unique and valuable. Are you solving a customer problem?
- Think about who you want to reach (executives? coders? bakers? managers?); what you want them to gain; what you want them to do as a result.
- Pick 3-5 search terms as your target for this article. All should have same searcher intent and be juicy terms that people actually search on, are reasonably unique, and have great click potential.
- Look at who else appears for those terms and readjust of you realize you can’t compete.
- Now: Make your posting, armed with knowledge about what will work.
- Do the appropriate technical tasks and keywording.
- Watch your results so you can learn and adjust.
A little rant, if I may?
Empathy is all the rage in business circles. So let’s apply it everywhere! And since we can’t trust employees to do it right, we’ll use automation and brainless procedures to emulate empathy. Do those who write and approve these scripts think we can’t hear fake empathy? The backfire is worse than no empathy at all.
Here, AT&T emailed after a support call, summarizing the discussion.
Apparently we talked about a mysterious “issue” they are “investigating.” Then they added/changed a feature/plan.
But at least I know it’s not totally automated: The agent misspelled his own name.
“Thank you for calling, we value your business!”
The first commercial ad I ever ran was about 30 years ago. I was working for Hewlett-Packard and was happy that I was working with teams of advertising and marketing professionals, people who knew how ads worked and would be able to guide me to proven marketing practices.
Except that they didn’t, and they really couldn’t, because dammit, they didn’t know. Over the course of my marketing career, I have been party to millions of dollars of advertising. Sometimes we knew what worked. Often, not so much.
So, are advertisers and marketing execs stupid? Driven by ego? Faking it? Sometimes. But there are things we learned from experience and testing. Want to know what they are? I think you would do very well to follow these ten conclusions from Tom Cunniff. A few favorites:
2) Most purchases are habitual. Human beings buy the same brand of toothpaste (or CRM software, or supply chain SaaS solutions, or anything else) over and over again not so much out of hard-won loyalty as pure sloth.
3) Decision-making has never happened in a “marketing funnel.” In most cases, it happens in something like a pinball machine.
5) Most of the time as consumers don’t know what we want, and when we do know what we want we don’t generally know why we wanted it.
8) Most of the effort expended on advertising is like primitive people doing a rain dance. There is a ludicrous emphasis on diagnosing what went wrong when it failed … and an equally ludicrous round of naive self-congratulation when it goes right.
Follow the link for the rest.
The history of marketing has been a steady march toward smaller targets: More and more products, services, and messages aimed at smaller and smaller targets.
What if you could target a market of one? We’re getting there. You can already target one company. Here’s a provocative example: Companies are targeting one publication to reach their journalists. Facebook knows where you work (because you tell them). Imagine placing your company in front of everyone who works at the Wall Street Journal or Wired or Popular Photography.
If you travel much, notice the billboards. I noticed a tendency for billboards to be near company headquarters and suspect the target is the company’s own employees and executives. It quiets some internal conversations about marketing effectiveness if the execs see their own ads every day. What if you could advertise into your own CEO’s Facebook, Twitter, and Google streams?
This might be the best article ever on public speaking. While explaining the “don’ts,” Jeff Haden (@jeff_haden) nicely tosses in a lot of “do’s.” He hits all my pet peeves plus a couple (numbers 6 and 8) I still do (gulp!).
Want to ruin a presentation in seconds? Just drop in one of these sentences.
In my presentation, What Startups Need to Know About Marketing, I list four things small companies often overlook in their marketing plans. Number one is “strategy.” As in, have one! Even if it’s just a couple of pages, a written strategy tells everyone in the company that marketing matters and we have a plan.
David Packard said, “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
Indeed, an understanding of the marketing strategy informs all decisions an employee makes on your behalf, from product design to logistics, to how we answer the phone.
Today, I stumbled on 5 Keys to a Great Small Business Marketing Strategy, from Greg Head, CMO of marketing automation vendor InfusionSoft. Greg says, “All successful businesses have a clear marketing strategy that makes everything they do more effective. Unfortunately, many busy small business owners get so caught up in tactical daily marketing execution like building a website, sending email, tweeting, advertising, optimizing a landing page, blogging and so on, that they are not taking the time to work on the decisions that’ll improve the performance of their tactics.”
It’s a good read. Even if your list of strategy elements differs from Greg’s or mine, the key is to have a strategy. You can improve it as you go, but please do start with something. It’s one of those things a small business owner never seems to have time to do but once it’s in place, it saves time and amplifies the efficiency and effectiveness of everyone in the company, every day.
I am helping a client with branding and logo design, hence have logos on my mind. A logo can’t carry a lot of messaging but some cleverly squeeze in a functional message.
Did you know that the blue and white quadrants of the BMW logo evoke a spinning white propeller against a blue sky, an ode to the company’s aviation past? Clever!
Except that it’s not true. It’s not just a good myth — it’s a great one, since even people at BMW believed the myth for a time.
BMW’s roundel (I love that word!) was born in 1916, using the colors of the Bavarian flag. A 1929 ad used it superimposed over propeller blades, perhaps birthing the myth:
It’s a myth but it’s also a great story. Source: BMW Motorcycle.