I recently read a post which started “for the first time in years, search is sending more traffic to websites than did social media”.
I must admit, I thought “so what?”.
Let go back 20 years. You called up a company and asked them to send you a brochure and it arrived in the post 3 days later. Then came the internet and Google, if you wanted the information you just searched for it.
Let’s go back in time 10 years, we didn’t need brochures, we sent people to our websites in fact having a website, differentiated you. A whole industry was born, called search engine optimisation (SEO), where you did clever stuff to drive people to your website or at least appeared on the first page of Google.
Let’s go back 5 years, most people are used to using search and have become far more sophisticated in the way they search and SEO has become a multi-billon industry. But.
The problem now is that we live in, as Gary Vee calls it, an “attention economy”. Everybody is trying to get access to your time and as buyers now we have all the power. The buyer has power to search for and find whatever content they need for a purchase. In many cases, we are seeing people, search for a solution, work out their requirements and make a purchase all in “salesperson avoidance mode”.
Add to that, it is “normal” in everyday life to filter out corporate messages. We don’t take calls from people we don’t know on our mobiles and then block those numbers, which reduces the cold calls. We ignore advertisements, by switching the radio channel, fast forwarding through TV programs or just ignoring them. We have also become excellent at ignoring corporate messaging. After all, everybody tells you they are the best so it just becomes noise.
Back to our website. Here is the first problem with sending people to your website, it is probably a corporate brochure, telling people how great you are. In fact we are seeing most buyers are now using websites to deselect not select potential suppliers. They have already made a decision based on the content you are producing (or not) and have jumped to a conclusion. For example, if you are not creating content, you are not visible to the modern buyer and they won’t jump to any conclusion as you don’t exist.
We often tell a story (which is two years old now) of the salesperson that got a call from a prospective customers asking to buy the product. The prospect said they didn’t need a demo as they had watched the Youtube videos. This was two years ago!
The other problem with the website and the web form, it is too late in the buying process for you to make an impact. As I mention above, in many cases now the website is used to deselect not select. Why is this?
Intent data. Buyers are now showing intent to buy, why before they come to your website and it is this that you should be worried about. People asking questions that would lead to a purchase. In the business to business (B2B) space, this could involve multiple people searching.
For example, a company makes a decision to buy a new Human Resources (HR) or Accounting (ERP) product. First thing they will do is go to the internet and search. As such products will be purchased by committee, it is highly likely that multiple people will be search. End users, managers, IT. There could therefore be a “surge” of searching coming from some companies.
The people will then consume content. Youtube videos, blogs, anything that they can find that is insightful (so not dull or corporate), educational, something that will tell them what they don’t know. Buyers are also looking for help when they purchase. For example, they will turn to “influencers” for advice. We are often asked which Customer Relationship Management CRM / CX system we would recommend. Just as when you buy a new car, you might turn to a friend who drives that make of car or a mate that “knows about cars”.
In addition, buyers will look for people who are the “solution to their problem” and make contact. This is where as a business you need all your salespeople, in fact all your employees on social, with personal brands. It is here that the company (as we do) get inbound, not just in terms of leads and meetings but also talent.
This searching and intent will go on throughout (so 100%) the buying process, for example at the start, questions might be “I”m looking to buy a new HR system, anybody have any ideas?”, through to “I’m taking our purchase of our new Supply Chain system to the board, anybody have any business cases I could use?”. Different questions, different stages in the buying process, all available for you to find and react to as intent data.
As an aside we are aware of the Microsoft Social Engagement (MSE) application which comes with Microsoft Dynamics 365, which will look for intent. We use it internally, one of the cool things is you can set it up by salesperson. So for example, if you sell to Life Sciences in Scotland you can fine tune your listening capability to your exact territory.
So as you can see, things have moved on in the last 15 years. While sending people to your website is something to have in your marketing mix, but to honest, today, it’s a little dated and if this is central to your marketing strategy, you are way behind.
The modern buyers has moved on, but we can be found, if you look for us.
So now you know why when I read the post which started “for the first time in years, search is sending more traffic to websites than did social media”.
I thought “so what?”
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