By Rosie Brooker, Head of Search, Equi=Media.
Search marketing is well established in the B2C market and can be hugely successful. For online retail, for example, a good search marketing strategy can drive huge numbers of consumers to your website, and from there you are in a strong position to convert browsers into buyers.
Search marketing strategies for B2B are not dissimilar in the use of fundamental marketing tactics, but business campaigns have certain characteristics that require different tactics and approach to a B2C campaign.
The sales cycle of a B2B purchase is often much longer than with B2C. Business consumers are less likely to be browsing and making purchases on a whim, so will take longer to arrive at a sale. Business purchases tend to be of a higher value or involve investment in a longer term relationship, which can also contribute to a longer decision making process.
There will be more research involved and more often than not there will be more than one person involved in the decision-making, so the person who first lands on your website may not be the person who makes the final decision.
That’s not to say they are not important, their opinion may be highly valued within the business and any decision made is likely to come off the back of their recommendation. However, they are not likely to make a purchase the first time they visit your website.
A B2B search marketing strategy needs to focus on getting return visits from potential customers, and ensure that you have content that will be of interest at each of the different points of the sales cycle. This can seem like a daunting task, but a well-executed strategy can deliver huge success.
Outlined below are some top tips for ensuring a successful B2B search marketing strategy:
1. If a first visit is merely a research exercise, then make sure you have clear and visible information about your product that the customer can take away with them. They are more likely to return to you if they are able to understand what you sell and show it to other people in the decision-making process.
2. Others involved in the decision may want to see the product online, but because they have more precise information they may use different search terms to find it, so you need to make sure you have a good selection of key search terms in your paid search campaign and on the product page to help with natural search page rankings.
3. Offer them something of value, such as a whitepaper or research. Typically a consumer is more likely to remember you if you can demonstrate your thought leadership and give them something that is of use and broadens their understanding of your market.
4. Make sure you track all conversion points. Because of the nature of the longer sales cycle, it’s important that you record every customer touch point, so you can see what’s working and what’s not.
5. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your strategy. It may be months before a final purchase is made and if you can see that one element of your strategy is working more than another, focus on that. With such a long lead time it’s important that you are able to constantly remind the customer who you are.
6. Focus on the right audience. A B2B search marketing strategy is much more focused than B2C and its crucial that you identify your target audience and ensure that everything you do is aimed at them specifically, and the features they will be looking for, rather than wasting budget to be the top of every related search results page.
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