One of the problems I’ve seen in inbound marketing is the occasional lack of real, human interaction. Some might argue that you can actually accomplish this with better content and guided by better analytics.
But that’s precisely the point. There are still plenty of businesses out there who don’t exactly appreciate that. They’d rather crunch numbers to prove why their software leads are qualified instead of at least confirming what was on a prospect’s mind prior to sending the contact form.
It’s almost tragic given that more marketers are calling everyone to humanize their practices as 2015 gets closer and closer.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to have reached the limits of ‘search-fu.’ Don’t get me wrong. Google does a very good job of answering a lot of questions. There’s also the chance of me still having the apparent chops to master search.
On that note though, can we really say that a master of using Google is really representative of the average, B2B customer? For example, say I needed some help choosing a cloud storage vendor for holding some of my stock of digital marketing materials. Do I just Google it and spend the next half-hour reading reviews or do I talk to my good friend, the resident IT guy?
Answer: I’ve just spent less time walking up and just asking the IT guy.
Granted, maybe the IT guy has his own limits. But given that plenty areas of the web are already fencing themselves off from search engine reach, I say the same argument applies to them too.
So with that out of the way, the next big question is what are the first things people consult prior to hitting a search engine?
- Their experience – This could possibly be the first of the first. It’s not always wrong to assume that people mistrust the internet sometimes. That’s usually because the voice of experience speaks to the more strongly than any other influence. It could be right or it could be wrong, the takeaway here is to always probe through that experience before offering any alternative perspective.
- Their nearest expert – Anyone who’s watched just a couple episode of Pawn Stars will already have an idea on how a local expert can beat an online one purely in terms of just distance. Business owners can be busy at times and the internet even helps that along with localized search instead of just giving distant competitors another leg-up.
- Their nearest fellow buyer – Sometimes an expert’s view can differ from the experience of someone who’s actually bought your product. What does this mean? It means you really should consider investing in some long-term experience with your current customers. Generating new ones can be good but if your former customers are many and their complaints are many more, it won’t be long till the cycle perpetuates itself when they reach more ears.
While there are plenty of statistics that support the idea of actively researching internet customers, it’s not something worth ignoring their offline activities for. Not everyone has the luxury of mastering keywords from the customer’s perspective. There are some who’d rather just get up and ask someone else the question.