Have you been following B2B marketing trends in 2022, and how the convergence of new technologies and a pandemic has changed…well, everything?
Well we have, and we hope you were among our participants at Experience Inbound 2022. Wisconsin’s Premier Marketing & Sales Conference welcomed participants back in person after a two-year pandemic hiatus, and it was fantastic!
Participants and presenters converged at American Family Field in Milwaukee and Lambeau Field in Green Bay, each for a packed day of learning, sharing, and networking. Thirteen presenters covered topics ranging from SEO and automated reporting to virtual sales and inbound recruitment marketing — and this year saw the addition of two hands-on workshops along with breakout sessions.
Missed the best digital marketing conference around? We’ve got you. Here are our top takeaways from the presentations.
Bring a Start-up Outlook to Your Established Brand
How does a 37-year-old brewery in Wisconsin capture fresh enthusiasm? According to Tim, it certainly helps to keep a beginner’s mindset to continually look for new possibilities in marketing strategies, and to see new value in origin stories, traditions, and connections with people who share the same interests and passions.
Staying dynamic, active, and connected — with customers, prospects, vendors, competitors, and industry landscape — will help you keep informed and inspired, and help you keep a pulse on what customers really need and want.
Sometimes, change can sneak up on marketers, and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) seems to have come on the scene fast for many folks in the field. So Alicia walked audiences through:
Key differences between UA and GA4
Which marketing metrics really matter
Benefits of automating reporting
How to set up your automated reporting system
But above all, her advice (if you haven’t already) is to create a GA4 property in your existing GA account, exclude internal IP addresses from the new property, and update any links that use UTM (urchin tracking module) parameters. Definitely do it now, not later.
Link building is still the most impactful SEO tactic you can use to increase website traffic and improve search rankings, but old marketing efforts like emailing to ask or pay for backlinks? Not only do they not work, but they can even trigger penalties. Tapping into your visitors’ appreciation for purpose and meaning, on the other hand, can help your brand connect and resonate with audiences related to your topic area, building your authority and driving backlinks.
The key to making purpose work for your brand? Authenticity. The mission you support should be a natural fit, such as a trade association or industry cause. Ideally, you don’t even have to figure it out, because you’re already supporting it. You just need to tap into the story to help visitors find and connect with you on the level of shared purpose — earning backlinks in the process.
Wayne’s book, The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-Start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search, now in its fourth edition, does a deep dive into getting the most out of your profile, whether “you” means your business or your professional identity. Wayne guided the audience through a few specific search tips for finding and reaching out to connections — along with do’s and don’ts to keep interactions authentic (and not awkward).
The importance of using keywords in key places on the social media site, including business name, tagline, overview, and specialties, got top billing. Be sure to make the most of every character on your profile and company pages.
Users go to YouTube for lots of things — vlogs, DIY tutorials, and (of course) animal videos — but making a purchase is rarely top of mind. However, there’s a lot you can do to influence B2B behaviors and drive action toward conversions. Use likes, shares, comments, and subscriptions to curate audience lists for next-step campaigns… and make use of the tools at hand to keep your brand visible, eliminate friction from CTAs, and nudge viewers toward additional content.
Plus, consider how often users who don’t convert directly are still driven toward search by information viewed on YouTube. Those observational audiences can also be valuable in your ad strategies, because they have great potential to become future conversions.
Already, 40% of buyers don’t care whether they’re chatting with a robot or a person — they just want their interaction handled right. So if you decide bots are right for your business, to help visitors find helpful information and solve their issues faster (and 24/7):
Be specific and intentional in each bot’s use
Don’t try to convince users bots are human
Follow established best practices for user experience and functionality
Conversational marketing is, by nature, user-centric. A chatbot is a tool for your business, but it should serve your website visitors first. So be sure to deliver a customer experience that doesn’t drive visitors away.
2022 Website Content Trends Focus on User Experience Improvements
Janice Dombrowski, Content Director, and Steve James, Partner, Stream Creative
What’s an effective way to make visitors feel at home on your website? Make it quick, easy, and convenient for users to find their way to the information they’ve come looking for… and then show them the way to even more content that’s likely to help them even further.
Janice and Steve recommend taking a “fixer-upper” approach to website review, starting with your data foundation and your functional floor plan — i.e. user experience. As for trends in online spaces visitors can appreciate, here are their recommendations:
Give Customers Power Over Their Story & They’ll Want to Share
Trust is the number one factor that motivates customers to talk about what it’s like to work with you. So if you’re having trouble landing testimonials, endorsements, reviews, or recommendations, that could indicate a trust issue.
Among Jeff’s practical recommendations for building that trust and capturing your customer’s voice:
Give customers choice and control over how you use and share their stories
Reach out at the right moments, like after resolving a major issue or receiving a survey
Make sure the right contact is the one reaching out
Pay attention and listen in interactions to catch the “spontaneous testimony”
What’s the most important key to getting your emails to land in recipients’ inboxes? It’s your sender reputation — and you can protect it with good email marketing practices.
Basics like using a good tool and sticking with it, making sure your name and address correspond, and sending from a real person instead of “info@” or “contact@” help make it clear you’re not sending spam.
But it’s even better to be proactive. Make sure you’re sending emails your recipients want, and make it easy to unsubscribe. But above all, don’t buy lists.
Yes, nearly half of all U.S. workers are currently looking for their next job. And it’s not just about the money. Today’s employees want work-life flexibility, appreciation from employers, opportunities for professional development, and a sense of purpose and fulfillment. So your recruiting efforts need to show candidates how they’ll get these benefits by working for you.
And just like customer-focused inbound marketing, inbound recruitment marketing takes a flywheel approach to:
Attract visitors to your job opportunities
Convert them into applicants
Close on offers with the right candidates
Delight your employees and turn them into your most effective promoters
Virtual Selling Isn’t the “New Normal,” it’s Just Normal Now
Nicole Mertes, VP, Client Services & Business Development, Weidert Group
The shift to virtual and hybrid sales models took many industrial companies by surprise. Initially, the learning curve was steep—and often, so were the investments involved in the change. But as tempting as it may be for some sales teams to look back to the “good old days,” here’s why that’s a bad idea:
80% of B2B buyers prefer to interact remotely when making purchasing decisions.
The good news? Inbound marketing is an ideal fit for hybrid sales, which refers to the right mix of in-person and virtual selling to meet prospect expectations and maximize your Sales team’s ROI. Nicole offered recommendations for marketers to provide the support their Sales teams really need to succeed, as well as tips for sales reps to stand out from the competition, including:
Get comfortable making one-to-one, personalized videos
Resist call reluctance
Start meetings on a personal note — and turn your video on!
Keynote speaker Tim Washer, whose resume includes writing for SNL and managing product marketing for IBM, tapped into his background in improv and the importance of trust in building teams and making meaningful creative content. And the fastest, most effective way to establish trust? Being authentic and vulnerable, and connecting on a human-to-human level. Showing you understand your audience’s pain is about more than offering a solution: it’s about making them feel seen, heard, and connected. And humor can help you do that.
What’s an easy way to tap into your brand’s humility? Tim suggests curating a video blooper reel (featuring top leaders, if possible). Show it internally so your team can share a laugh, and go from there. Getting buy-in on humor in content can start internally and expand externally.
Conquer a Changing Marketing Landscape with Inbound
While it’s always fascinating to get a leg up on changing trends and technologies, several themes echoed through the esteemed venues at Amfam Field and Lambeau: words like trust, helpfulness, humanity, respect found their way into every topic. And that’s where inbound marketing’s power to create and strengthen meaningful connections wields its power.
Posted by Jo Phillip Jo is a Content Manager who thrives on complexity and challenge. She has a knack for active listening and in-depth research. She loves to draw out important details from subject matter experts and use her new understanding to craft content that spurs action.