This session, entitled B2B Tactics, focuses on targeting business-to-business users. The session is presented by:

Brad Bauer, Senior Director of Business Development at ClearGauge Paul Slack, CEO of WebDex Patricia Hursh, President of SmartSearch Marketing Moderated by Rebecca Lieb, Editor-in-Chief of The ClickZ Network Sponsored by SLI Systems

Brad Bauer is up first. He explains that B2B is different because it is a considered purchase. Some of the key challenges faced is mostly keyword selection. The challenge is who you are messaging to.

One of the biggest challenges is that you have a smaller audience. Testing is more challenging. Landing page testing should be limited to a smaller number of variables than you typically would if you were focusing on business-to-consumer markets. It is still very valid, however. He shows that the testing results show that there is not enough volume to make good decisions.

How do you reduce waste? Get vertical. Use vertical search channels to produce a set of audience participants. Business.com is a fantastic source - drove 60% more conversions at 1/5 of the cost and generated 14% more page views per visit over Google. You can also qualify your leads through messaging. (e.g. Make an ad that says "offer financing for $10M and up." This targets the desired audience.)

Measuring the entire buy cycle - one of the biggest challenges is developing a thought process around what's really valuable on the site (e.g. giving a phone number, answering a survey, asking a question, requesting a sample, downloading a demo, etc.) Once you think this way, setting up measurement is key. Measurement also requires analytics.

Once you've defined the highly valued activities and begun to have a solid campaign, measuring qualification levels is the next step. Understand where prospect revenue comes from, how they're behaving when they are actually moving through the process with you, etc. He shows an illustration where a form is tagged to see whether people abandon a particular process on a website.

Once the analytics are in place, go to your direct sales force and find out the quality of the lead/sale and take it back to a keyword you purchased on Yahoo, Google, or Business.com.

He shows an illustration of a valuation model - creating proxies for highly valued activities and tracking them back to ad groups, aggregating them to point values, and becoming more cognizant of the value pipeline of your website. He shows other illustrations about trends (graphs) and says that they are fantastic for portability and providing value to your business - what actionable behaviors can come out of looking at these numbers?

Enterprise Search Strategy: key relationships, local search, determining how to create an organizational framework for success - who owns keywords where, etc., and what your customers want and need is delivered from your organization.

Local search is highly untapped. People need to connect with dealers in local areas and can do so in a specific locale.

The next person speaking is Paul Slack. He says that the interesting thing about B2B search is finding the right keywords. He is going to focus on driving qualified traffic to your website.

He will show us the B2B sales cycle, who to target, how they search, and developing an Internet Marketing strategy.

The B2B sales cycle is that you're not focusing on the consumers - sales by committee, large purchases, long cycle. For example, new equipment in a factory, or refresh their IT department. The need is uncovered on the client side and they research possible solutions. They are then looking for companies to solve the problem. From there, they find a qualified company - they go through a bid process and ultimately come to a decision.

A few years ago, there was a study where they went to B2B buyers - where do you engage search in the B2B buying cycle? Usually, more people focused on it in the consideration or research or decision phase - not so much in the awareness phase.

If we're doing a sales by committee scenarios, there are two individuals in the process - influencers and decision makers. Your website should be geared toward the influencer. It should not be designed to the decision maker. The influencers often begin a sales cycle.

You should target your keywords for the long tail (4 or more keywords) as well for these specific concerns. There's a high probability that you will get a lead. There is greater likelihood to respond to a "call to action" with the appropriate keywords - if you center your call to action around to making the job easier. Your website may not necessarily have to focus on selling your services, but instead - focus on the leads. Communicate that by taking the next step, you'll make their job easier and this will give you a higher opportunity for getting a conversion.

He shows an example of optimizing a whitepaper for a specific search term that ranked well organically. This was a long tail search and 539 visitors with 93 leads - 17% conversion rate.

The decision maker is important too. No decision maker wants to make a bad decision. They are late cycle searchers. You want to focus on high level searches - 2 or 3 words. He doesn't know if not finding the results organically would be a deal-breaker, but in his example, he didn't rank organically, so he had a PPC campaign for visibility.

Your website isn't about you. They fulfill a specific purpose to satisfy a specific consumer need. Make sure you have defined goals, etc. He focuses on imperative analysis - using results of offline marketing as a benchmark for online marketing to set the baseline for success. Once you have this baseline, you can take a dollar figure that gives you real goals. You focus on the budget and realize that to profit, you will need to generate a specific number of leads to be as good as traditional marketing. Search is the lowest cost per lead than any other marketing method.

In summary, begin with an end in mind. Understand who you are targeting, how they are searching, what you want them to do, how you will measure success - then focus on what makes best sense for them.

Patricia Hursh is the final speaker. She tells us that she will cover B2B marketing trends (Forrester research), thinking beyond the "click," and four ways to improve results.

Trends - Forrester research asked B2B marketers asked - what are the tactics you use today? In position #11 was search marketing, but in the top - trade shows, PR, direct mail, and print advertising. B2B customers are slow to embrace search marketing. With regards to focusing on spending, they acknowledged that emerging online tactics and search marketing are the two highest growth categories. Forrester asked how marketers fund this increase in search marketing - they will spend less on sponsorships, print ads, direct mail, and trade shows.

Patricia then overviews the process: find prospects online (put a compelling message online), drive them to the website, let them do actions and convert them to leads, and measure to improve ROI. This can be tricky for B2B companies: multiple buyers, a sale may occur offline, etc.

Finding prospects and driving them to the site = pre-click marketing Converting these prospects and measuring = post-click marketing

The big lever is conversion, a competitive advantage. Campaign optimization has its limits Conversion has the largest potential impact on marketing ROI. An improved conversion rate allows you to pay more for each click and beat the competition. Integrate pre-click (campaign) efforts with post-click (website) solutions to maximize your return.

Four ways to improve post-click conversion: 1. Mapping visitor needs to solutions. Identify the types of visitors, assess their needs and pain points across the entire buying cycle, associate their needs with your assets, information, experience, and solutions, and turn your assets into actionable, online conversions. 2. Offering options for conversion. For example: download a trial, free web seminar, self-guided product tour, etc. Many websites have one conversion and that can be a little short-sighted. Her example shows a company that has a desire for one conversion - to download that trial. When the free web seminar and self-guided product tour were added, there were many more (720) inquiries. 3. Testing different registration forms. She shows us a form for downloading a whitepaper. It's very long (3 pages) - and she noticed that the minute you ask for a phone number, you'll get a huge dropoff of prospects. There's a real disconnect between the customer's perceived value of what's being asked and the time they have to put into filling out the form (privacy, etc.) With her customer, she tested several different forms. Conversion rate is radically different when there are fewer required fields. Often, you'll ask - how useful is an email address? The client followed up with these individuals via email to get more information from them. 4. Continuously improving landing pages. Registration forms are one element of a landing page. Rapid iterative testing process of landing pages. She shows us how an original landing page was transferred into two test pages with the following focus: general look and feel, page layout, images, messages, action triggers, name and descriptions for downloadable assets, and registration forms. Don't underestimate the huge variances between what you are calling them and the reason that your users will click. Different landing pages showed different conversion rates (first one 5% conversion, others 10-12% conversion rates).

There are certainly challenges with B2B but it is different than traditional marketing. As more verticals get into this, it will accelerate the process.

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Comments:

Ramesh

04/16/2007 07:34 pm

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David Koopmans

05/07/2007 03:28 am

Great wrap up of the use of search in B2B marketing. Search marketing is such a logical thing for B2B if you consider the fact that B2B purchases almost always have a research of fact finding stage. It will be interesting to see how quickly it will eat in to the traditional channels.

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