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What do B2B marketers need to know about New Bing?

By John Woods  |  May 3, 2023

Generative AI and the future of search marketing 

We’ve been hearing a lot recently about whether the new wave of AI – especially “generative AI” techniques like ChatGPT – will change the world. 

I think there’s little doubt that these will be world-changing technologies. But that’s not a particularly helpful observation! If someone had said “electricity will change the world!” back in 1883, for sure they would have been right, but they weren’t being especially useful. It’s much more valuable to look at the emerging applications of a new wave of technology. Electric lights – just around the corner in 1883. Electric cars – took nearly 150 years to become mainstream.  

So to try to offer B2B marketers something useful in the generative AI debate I’ve narrowed my focus and have been evaluating one particular application. I’m looking at “New Bing”, Microsoft’s ChatGPT-powered search engine, from the perspective of B2B search marketing. 

New Bing – is it relevant to B2B? 

Like most internet technologies, New Bing has been developed primarily with mass market B2C applications in mind. That makes sense – those mass B2C audiences are the easiest places to make money. 

So we shouldn’t assume New Bing has automatic relevance for B2B marketers. Is New Bing going to turn the world of B2B search marketing on its head, so that we B2B marketers have to throw away everything we’ve learned about SEO and PPC and start again? 

That’s a complex question, but to my mind there’s a key starting point: is anyone actually going to use New Bing for B2B research? In other words, will users change their behaviour and switch to New Bing instead of conventional search engines for their B2B buying journeys?  

Changing user behaviour is hard. We’ve all built up habits and expertise about how to use conventional search engines as “magic question-answering machines” and we’re committed to those habits because we know the search engines meet our question-answering needs. User experience experts will tell you that people won’t change their behaviour away from existing successful habits unless there’s a substantial reason to do so. So a switch in user behaviour is only going to happen if New Bing offers a significantly better user experience. 

So this is the question I’ve set myself to answer: does New Bing offer a sufficiently compelling user experience for B2B research that we might expect people to switch away from conventional search engines? 

How I evaluated New Bing 

I wanted to make sure my evaluation was grounded in the reality of B2B research. So before I started, I wrote down a list of real-world B2B research questions. I tried out New Bing with each question and evaluated the results on three criteria: 

  • Ease of use – how easy, or difficult, was it to get a meaningful output from New Bing – if it’s too difficult to use, it doesn’t matter how great the results are, no one is going to switch. 
  • Value of the results – did New Bing answer my question, and was it better or worse than a conventional search engine for the same question? Again, no one is going to switch away from established search habits unless there’s something of at least equal value to be had.
  • The “delight factor” – did New Bing give me something surprising or remarkable – not necessarily directly related to my question – that might bring me back for more? (Even if the ease of use or value don’t quite measure up.) 

One detail here – when looking at the relative value of the result, I compared New Bing with results from “old Bing”. I stuck to Bing because I didn’t want my evaluation to be distracted by differences between Bing and Google. And I used an equivalent query in the conventional search engine – in fact, I used the query that New Bing generated itself:

Here are the questions I used (exactly as I worded them for New Bing) and the equivalent search wording for a conventional search engine: 

New Bing prompt 

How can PV generation be integrated with industrial unit roofing? 

How has COVID affected how people use office space? 

What are the pros and cons of Edge Data Centres? 

How should I split my budget between Google Search and LinkedIn Ads? 

What’s the best coworking space in Oxford? 

How do I choose a data centre supplier? 

What’s the most comprehensive source of construction industry leads in the UK?

What are the leading industrial laundries in the south of England?

Is Sharp Ahead a good b2b marketing agency?

What are the best alternatives to WP Engine? 

Is YPO a good value supplier of school equipment? 

Is the Curious Lounge a high quality coworking space? 

Equivalent web search (from New Bing) 

PV generation industrial unit roofing integration 

COVID office space usage 

What are the pros and cons of Edge Data Centres? 

How should I split my budget between Google Search and LinkedIn Ads? 

Best coworking space Oxford 

How to choose data center supplier 

Construction industry leads UK

Industrial laundries south England

Is Sharp Ahead a good b2b marketing agency?

Best alternatives to WP Engine 

YPO school equipment value supplier

Curious Lounge coworking space quality

The results 

First of all here’s how New Bing scored on my ease-of-use criterion across the 12 questions: 

Ease of use: % of questions

  • Poor – couldn’t obtain anything useful: 8%
  • OK – got a useful result without too much effort: 42%
  • Good – easy to get a useful result: 50%

Pretty good all told, especially considering this was my first serious attempt to use New Bing. New Bing mostly showed a good understanding of my queries and generated relevant output. Now my value criterion:

Value of results: % of questions

  • No value or badly misleading: 0%
  • Somewhat valuable but less so than conventional web search: 58%
  • Equivalent value to conventional web search: 25%
  • More valuable than conventional web search: 17%
  • Much more valuable than conventional web search: 0%

I have to admit this was a pleasant surprise. There were no cases across my 12 questions where New Bing completely missed the mark or came up with badly misleading answers. And there were a lot of cases where the New Bing results were of similar value, or greater value, than conventional search. 

Finally the delight factor. Fully 75% of my queries included something that “delighted” me at least a little! A really pleasant surprise,  and probably the thing that is most likely to bring me back to New Bing again. 

In this example, New Bing found – and accurately explained – the highly specific industry jargon term “BIPV” which wasn’t present in my original query.

Here the follow-up questions that New Bing suggests are extremely relevant, pulling out price and opening hours which are very likely to be important factors in a decision-making process about a coworking space. This would save a lot of time in a real B2B research task.

Some details 

A few detailed observations, in no particular order: 

New Bing is opinionated, but can admit its limitations: New Bing doesn’t shy away from holding an opinion. So for example when I asked it “Is X a good value supplier?” it said yes. But it often caveats its opinions, or admits when it doesn’t know. 

I liked that humility and found it made me more trusting of the remaining results.  

New Bing’s shortlists are, erm, short: when I ask New Bing for a list, it comes up with a few alternatives – perhaps two, or three, or a handful. This is potentially a good thing – who really wants to wade through a list of 50 possible suppliers? – but is going to be a massive challenge for marketers if this becomes a standard feature of future search engines. In a conventional search engine, being position 5 or 10 or even 20 for a given search will still lead to some degree of success. With New Bing, if you’re not in the top few, you are literally nowhere. 

Conversational approach adds value (sometimes): New Bing’s “chat”-style interface sometimes adds some value by suggesting follow-up questions that are more pertinent than the “people who asked that also asked this…” functionality of conventional search. For example in response to a question about coworking spaces in Oxford, New Bing offered to list comparative prices – really useful and highly relevant to a B2B researcher. (Admittedly with some other questions the chat options were less relevant, or irrelevant.) 

Conversational memory is sometimes limited: sometimes New Bing seems a bit forgetful. For example, I asked New Bing to list coworking spaces in Oxford. It gave me a plausible shortlist and offered to list some more. I carried on the conversation and asked for the longer list, which turned out to include some repeats of the earlier shortlist. This didn’t undermine the value of the results, but it was a bit disappointing.  

New Bing’s results reflect old Bing rankings: New Bing makes a lot of changes to the Bing search results (content, ranking and presentation) but it does clearly rely on them for its raw material. So if you’ve made a huge effort on SEO for Google but ignored Bing, you might find your content doesn’t feature on New Bing. If New Bing gains a lot of market share then we’re going to need to broaden our SEO focus. 

Geographic nuances are lacking: New Bing doesn’t have as much understanding of geographic cues as I’d hoped for. For example, I asked for “alternatives to X” where X is a UK-based supplier of a geographically-based market. New Bing listed US-based alternatives. 

There are ads (at the moment): Good news perhaps for PPC – the New Bing results do include some search ads. I can’t be sure but these seem to be normal Microsoft Ads listings triggered against keywords. It’s not surprising that Microsoft is exploring ways to monetize New Bing. 

Reflections – is New Bing relevant for B2B search? 

I came to this evaluation with an open mind, and if I’m honest with a degree of scepticism about the relevance of New Bing and ChatGPT for something as nuanced as B2B research. 

Based on my evaluation, I’d definitely use New Bing as it stands today as an adjunct to a conventional search engine. I’d expect it to be particularly useful for certain types of question and not useful for others. So I’m not about to make New Bing my ONLY B2B search engine, but I’ll certainly use it for some types of research. 

And it’s clear that New Bing (and its competitors like Google Bard) are only going to get better at these B2B research use cases. There are already some hints of really valuable user experiences where New Bing did “delight” me and exceed my expectations. They are incomplete and unreliable, but I’m certain they will improve rapidly as the technology matures. Here are a couple of examples of the sort of thing I mean: 

Co-working space Oxford prices New Bing Results

New Bing has assembled a useful summary of pricing there. It’s incomplete, and not as directly comparable as I’d like, but it’s already a time-saver versus a conventional search engine. 

Pros and Cons of Pantheon New Bing Results

In that search, New Bing has found a really plausible list of alternative suppliers and has made an attempt to build out a table of pros and cons of each. Unfortunately a lot of the table has no information in it! But I could imagine a future iteration of the technology could fill that out. 

So I don’t think that New Bing as it stands today is going to replace conventional search engines, but I think it’s already good enough to deserve a place in the toolkit that we use for B2B research. And I’m certain that in the future, the evolution of New Bing and other generative-AI-enabled search engines WILL replace conventional search. That could happen in a lot of different ways – we have an arms race between Microsoft and Google, and potentially other players. We might see a new player emerge. Or we might see an incremental evolution of conventional search engines so that generative AI gradually becomes more prominent in search – that sort of thing has happened before with other evolutions of search engines. But one way or another, there’s going to be a big change in B2B search engines and B2B search marketers are going to have to take note. 

What should B2B search marketers do today about New Bing? 

There are two simple things that all B2B marketing teams can do right away to gain some experience with New Bing and to prepare to manage the impact of this wave of change.

First, get some experience with New Bing yourself. It’s now open to all (having previously been accessed only via a waitlist). Just go to to sign up. Once you have access, try some questions that are relevant for buyer research in your industry, such as:

  • Top of funnel research like “what are the best solutions for [some problem that your product addresses]?”
  • Opinions about your brand such as “who are the competitors for [your company]?” and “is [your product] good value for money?”

Secondly, make sure you have Bing Webmaster Tools set up. This is the Microsoft equivalent to Google Search Console and it’s the method that Microsoft will use to give you feedback on how your content appears in Bing search. If New Bing causes Bing to gain market share over Google, Bing Webmaster Tools will become more important. So get it in place now so that you can refer back to the data in future. Visit about for details.

What’s next?

This wave of AI technology is certainly going to change the world of B2B search marketing, and that will have important implications for B2B search marketers. But exactly what will happen when is highly uncertain. Right now, most people are still using conventional search engines for their B2B research. So there’s no urgent need to change. We are all going to need to watch, wait and be prepared to adjust our strategies and tactics when the timing is right.

Given the significance of this technology change you can be sure we’re going to keep a close eye on developments with generative AI-powered search in the future. So sign up for our email newsletter and keep an eye on our blog to stay in the loop!
If you have questions about how New Bing might affect your business, or simply want to continue the conversation, please get in touch! 

When is a content audit not an audit?

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 23, 2023
When it’s an opportunity.

A content audit, or any audit for that matter, probably sounds like as much fun as getting your teeth cleaned (except it takes a lot longer). 

But it can be hugely rewarding and should set up your content, SEO, and lead generation strategies for success. 

Read on for top tips on what to look for and how to benefit from a content audit. 

Why audit your content

So, what are you going to get out of the audit? First and foremost you will have a catalogue of content that will enable you to understand what assets you have, where they are and how good they are. 

You can then start to plan how to repurpose, amplify and reuse these assets.

You will also be able to identify gaps and opportunities for new content, aligning the outcomes with your SEO and lead gen strategies to create content gems that help you meet your marketing and business objectives.

You are likely to be surprised at the results: there is usually a gap somewhere between what you think your content focus is (and should be) and where it is now. 

How to audit your content

A robust audit needs to look at a number of criteria with a measurable means of
evaluating them.

Some examples of the criteria we use to evaluate our clients’ content:

  • UX – how good (or bad) is the UX of the asset?
    On brand – is the asset on brand (especially important if your organisation has recently undergone a rebrand)?
  • Focus – what is the focus of the content?
  • Purpose – what purpose does the content serve, for example: brand awareness, lead generation, or customer service/support?
  • Persona – who is the content for?
  • Values/USPs – which of your company values or USPs does the asset convey (there is sometimes an argument to audit against both values and USPs)
  • Engaging – is the content engaging?
  • Pulse – is the content recent (or evergreen)?

What to audit

What exactly should you audit? The most obvious place to start is your website and a quick scrape of your site using a tool like Screaming Frog (link) will provide a robust list (assuming most of your content isn’t hidden behind a login).

You will also want to consider:

  • Any paid ads
  • Organic social pages and posts
  • Emails (including autoresponders, customer communications, and sales emails)
  • Presentations
  • Sales enablement tools
  • Email signature files

The exact scope will be dependent on the time and resource you can devote to the audit but the more that you include, the greater the impact and the better the outcome.

Not just digital

When we work with clients on content audits, we don’t just stick to digital assets. Offline assets, including printed materials, event collateral, press releases (which are to be fair mostly in digital format) and even physical signage are all included and can provide hidden gems or serious opportunities for improvement.

Not just content

We also suggest looking beyond the traditional definition of content and including brand assets such as imagery and icons. In a digital context, these types of digital assets are quite often tied closely to content in terms of the user experience and auditing them is likely to reveal some outdated assets and opportunities to repurpose some fabulous assets you may not have known you had.

What to do next

Finished your audit? Next you need to analyse the results.

Are there some assets which need to be retired or remedied immediately? You are likely to find a few outdated or flawed assets during the audit. Determine their priority for fixing or retiring and set out a plan to get them tidied up.

Where are the gaps? Are all of your personas being served equally (or at least in proportion to their importance)? Are you providing a good balance of brand awareness, lead generation and customer service content? Are all of your values communicated equally or are some being ignored?

Where are the opportunities? Are there some killer assets that you can reuse or repurpose? Are there sales assets that could turned into lead gen hooks? Are there longer form marketing blogs that would help the sales team?

The answer to all of those questions can only be answered by a robust auditing process. So don’t put it off any longer, book in that teeth cleaning.

If you have questions about how to audit your content, or simply want to continue the conversation, please get in touch! 
GA Retirement Update Image
GA Retirement Update Image

Google Analytics Retirement Update

By John Woods  |  March 22, 2023

Tick, tock, click, stop – time is running out for the old Google Analytics 

I may have, ahem, mentioned this before – but just in case you’ve missed it: there’s not much time left to switch to the new version of Google Analytics. 

The headlines: the established version of Google Analytics (“Universal Analytics” or “UA”) will stop collecting data on 1st July 2023. If you want to continue measuring your website with Google Analytics after that date, you need to switch to the new version (“GA4”). And ideally you need to do that well BEFORE 1st July 2023, so that you have some overlap between the old and new systems. 

Google have recently announced that they will automatically migrate UA to GA4 in some circumstances – see for details – but please don’t let that make you complacent. Google admit the automatic migration process isn’t the best choice:

As Google states in their help article:

“We strongly recommend you manually migrate your Universal Analytics settings to GA4. If you do nothing, a new GA4 property will automatically be created for you, and your Universal Analytics configurations will be copied to the new GA4 property. Not all UA configurations have an obvious GA4 counterpart, and the automated process might not make the same choices as you would.

Emma Walker and I discussed the current state of the UA->GA4 migration in this short (2 minute) video: 

As I mention in the video, there are still some frustrating barriers to switching to GA4. In particular some third-party tools with Google Analytics integrations still don’t support the new system. So there are some tough choices to be made in some cases. But the good news is there are always pragmatic compromises that can get you to at least some sort of usable GA4 system. 

If you have questions about migrating UA to GA4, or need help with any other aspect of Google Analytics for B2B marketing, please get in touch! 

Our highlights from Search London’s 12th Birthday

By John Woods  |  March 9, 2023
One of the most useful things I learned in business school is the NIHITO Principle…

There’s no Professor Nihito! Rather, it’s an acronym – Nothing Interesting Happens In The Office.
In other words – if you’re looking for new ideas, get outside your normal work environment.

The Search London event that we sponsored and attended at the end of February was a great example of NIHITO in action. My team and I came away with a bunch of ideas and inspiration about how we can improve our best practices for SEO and related areas of digital marketing.

Search London's 12th Birthday

Highlights from the talks

  • A reminder of the importance of accessibility for SEO-related content (and indeed for everything else in digital marketing) – it’s not hard to make your content a bit more accessible, and both the search engines and your users will reward you.
  • An in-depth look at the complexities of technical SEO on dynamic Javascript-based websites. Most of our clients don’t need to worry about this sort of complexity, but it was great to hear the gory details from an expert practitioner.
  • A fascinating overview of SEO in China, in particular for China’s dominant Baidu search engine. A few of our clients are active in the Chinese market, so some of these ideas are directly relevant for us, but more generally this talk was a reminder about the qualitative aspects of SEO. Whether in China or elsewhere there’s a lot more to the modern SERP than just “ten blue links” and somehow seeing examples in an unfamiliar language helped to highlight this. Our team had some great conversations sparked by this talk!

Google’s EEAT guidelines

We took along a printed version of our recent article and checklist “how to use Google’s EEAT guidelines to win at B2B SEO” and it was great to see so many attendees reading and keeping these. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone working in B2B content marketing. You can download the checklist from within the article.

We still have a few of the printed ones available – if you’d like one to keep handy on your desk please get in touch and we’ll gladly post one to you.


You can get a flavour of the event from the photos here:

Massive thanks to the organisers Jo Juliana Turnbull and Tim Sheed for a great event. Hope to see some of you at a future Search London for some more NIHITO action! 
A blog post exploring the upcoming rebrand from SharpSpring to Constant Contact Lead Gen & CRM
A blog post exploring the upcoming rebrand from SharpSpring to Constant Contact Lead Gen & CRM

SharpSpring and Constant Contact Lead Gen & CRM: More than a Rebrand

By Nicola Haynes  | 
If you are one of our SharpSpring clients, or if you generally dabble in the world of marketing automation, you may notice some changes to the platform over the coming weeks.

SharpSpring Rebrand

What’s happening?

SharpSpring was originally acquired by Constant Contact back in September 2021 with the promise of extended capabilities and better results for smaller businesses.

Things have been quiet since then, but changes are now coming in hot and fast. From the 15th March, the SharpSpring platform will officially rebrand to ‘Constant Contact Lead Gen & CRM’ including:

  • Changing the name
  • Changing the logo
  • Updating social channels
  • Releasing an official PR announcement

What doesn’t change?

It’s important to note that at this time nothing changes in terms of the functionality available to your business or your licence costs.

The SharpSpring website will live on and you will access your account in exactly the same way.

What will change?

While the new name doesn’t quite roll off the tongue (has no one considered ad length??) there are some real benefits that come with the acquisition:

New tools & feature development
Once the rebrand is out of the way, Constant Contact Lead Gen & CRM will embark on a pretty exciting roadmap of product releases:

  • Improvements to their account level CRM functionality
    • Life of the account: The life of the lead timeline, but for a whole account! This will enable sales teams to very quickly see individual engagement including email opens, website visits, form submissions and media downloads, company wide.
    • Account reporting: Including a whole host of new widgets that can be used for customised reporting and personal dashboards.
    • Accounts and opportunities: Linking these two areas of the platform in a much more seamless way.
    • More sophisticated reporting: Easier access to analytics and data, allowing more detailed reporting around campaigns and traffic sources.
  • Email editor: A complete overhaul of their current email builder including more modern design capabilities and a closer working relationship with Outlook and Android, putting an end to some of those design conflicts cross-platform (I have everything crossed).
  • Integrations: Building on the suite of integrations that they currently offer and ensuring that they are developed in a more robust way.
A graph showing the 2023 product roadmap for the future of SharpSpring
(Source: Contact Contact - New Year, New Updates Webinar, Jan 2023)

Greater flexibility
SharpSpring has always worked on a one size fits all licence model, offering customers – no matter how big or how small – a standard package, with price overages for going over your limit on contacts or email sends. Of course, it’s great to be able to offer an all singing, all dancing licence, but if specific features won’t be used or contact limits are double what someone is looking for, it could be a turn-off, particularly for smaller businesses. Greater flexibility around licences allows customers to get exactly what they are looking for at that time, and expand their account as they grow.

Brand power
SharpSpring has always had a much smaller share of the marketplace (around 1% recognition at the time of writing). The acquisition is anticipated to increase brand recognition by over 40 times, allowing them to rub shoulders with the likes of HubSpot and SalesForce. And who doesn’t love an underdog?

So who are SharpSpring?

SharpSpring are a full-funnel marketing automation and CRM system designed for agencies and small to medium businesses, looking to drive growth, simplify processes and free up resource. We’ve been partnering with them for about 3 years now, helping over half of our clients with initial integration, automation strategy and ongoing technical support. We also use it for our own marketing activities (we practise what we preach) – that PDF you clicked on, that wasn’t any old link, and the email you received, that was scheduled when we had resource available and automatically sent while we were making our morning latte – SharpSpring helps you to work smart.

And Constant Contact?

Constant Contact is a digital and email marketing platform designed to help businesses meet their goals. They’ve been in the game for about 25 years now, helping sales and marketing teams to build connections with their customers.

Better together?

Overall, it seems as though things are heading in the right direction! Improved technology, product development and a larger support team – these are all concerns that have been raised over the last few months, so it’s great to see them starting to address issues. It’s still early days, and the first set of changes are on the small side, but I for one am excited to see how things progress over the next few months.

As soon as there are any further announcements, we’ll make sure to keep you up to date via our client communications and newsletters.

Not on the list yet and want to hear more? Sign up to our newsletter on our website to hear more about the acquisition, along with other B2B marketing tips, best practices and new developments.

If you are one of our SharpSpring clients (or if you are reading this after the 15th March, a Constant Contact Lead Gen & CRM client!)  and you have any concerns, please reach out to your account manager so that we can answer any questions that you might have. 
Equally, if you are interested in finding out more about marketing automation and how it can support your sales and marketing strategies, take a look here or get in contact with one of our marketing automation experts.

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