Search Marketing, B2B-Style

Feb 28, 2008 - 6:41 pm 1 by
Filed Under SMX West 2008

This session looks at some of the best practices B2B marketers should follow when doing search marketing, including the use of downloadable material, actions beyond offering white papers, testing registration and landing pages plus more. Moderator: Chris Sherman, Executive Editor, Search Engine Land

Speakers: Galen De Young, Managing Director, Francis SEO Ben Hanna, Vice President, Marketing, Patricia Hursh, President, Smart Search Marketing

Ben Hanna starts

Research Background of and their research.

The world of business search is different from what people may think. There is general search (Google, Yahoo, etc.) then second tier general search (look smart, Miva). B2B search (,, B2B niche search.

Each of these groups have networks as well, and they show up on search as well. General search engines showing up on B2B search. Complicated picture of ways things send to each other. Information from a B2B site can show up in organic results of big search engines and niche search engines.

Different types of sites are starting points during different phases of the business buying cycle. Closer you are to purchase, more use of niche sites.

General search engines – where people start when they first identify a need Industry information site – supplemental research for niche products B2B search sites – find all vendors and cut down to a short list.

Reaching business buyers is a challenge. Your business buyers are online -- 85% of business buyers will use the net during the purchase process – but so is everyone else.

Is B2B search marketing different from B2C? The answer is both yes and no.

Different: Longer sales cycle. - complex/costly products and services - multiple decision makers -"rational" decision process - evaluate both solution and vendor

Unique audience - limited number of buyers - more experience - different tolerance

Search marketing challenges - multiple keyword meanings - audience targeting capabilities - competitive intensity

Things that are the same for both B2B and B2C Still about the right audience, right message, right offer, and positive ROI. The Tactical approach is the same. Selecting keywords, developing ads, creating landing pages. General search engines play key role, but not only role.

Rule #1: Cover the entire buying cycle. Match your strategy to the buying process. Target ads, keywords, and offers to different buyer roles and buying stages.

Establish campaigns on these types of sites:

1st tier general search engines B2B general search B2B niche search optional – 2nd tier general search engines.

Rule #2 Focus on traffic quality. Poor traffic costs you money. User targeting tactics to improve traffic quality and ROI. Start which niche sites first, this can be set it and forget it. They're already targeting what you want to reach. Then expand yourself out to the big three (Google, Yahoo, Live).

Rule #3 Drive visitors to action and your strong points. Target key audiences and list specific offers in your ads. Design simple landing pages to focus visitors on the offer. Missed two points here.

#4 Measure what you can and acknowledge limits. Measuring B2B search marketing impact is tough, B2B search marketers are pulled in many directions. You tend to focus on easily observable metrics. Develop your program in simple, prioritized steps. Give yourself a break, you don't have to be a metrics pro overnight. Accept the value of different metrics. Avoid substituting guesses for real insights.

Rule #5: Measure both return on ad spend and time. Return on ad spend (ROAS) is clearly important. 40% of B2B direct search marketers track this. However, only 20% of B2B direct search marketers tracked how return on time spent. To boost return on time spent, work from the niche outward. Start with campaigns on B2B sites, the allocate time to tuning campaigns on general search engines.

Patricia Hursh from Smart Search Marketing is up next. She is going to focus on PPC tips.

B2B marketers can use search to do a lot more than they think. They can use search to: - support a brand - uniquely position in a market - drive demos and downloads - generate registration, inquiries, and leads - educate buyers/partners/suppliers. - distribute information - promote special events - test marketing messages - launch new products and services - sell products and services online.

Think beyond lead generation. Visibility, Traffic

Combine Pre- and Post-Click efforts. Focus beyond the click.

10 Tips for B2B search advertisers:

1. Reach prospects early in the buying cycle

2. Advertise in the tail. This is good, because the tail phrases (three and four word search phrases).

3. Include non-branded terms. Measure the search history of a person who ultimately converts on a branded term. They may convert on a branded term, but they do a lot of non-branded terms while they are in the research phase. See if you can track this in your analytics package.

4. Use ad copy to pre-quality clickers. It's not about just anybody clicking on your ad, you want the right person. Address your specific target audience and pre-qualify clickers. Weed out the people you don't serve and who you don't want to click on your ad. This can lower your click through rate and lower your quality score, but can make sense in the long run when it comes to conversion.

5. Align ad copy with the search query. As they move through the buying cycle, their search terms change. Example of phrases used in buying cycle for a laptop. laptop computer -> laptop information -> laptop user reviews -> IBM laptop models -> IBM ThinkPad T61. Write ad copy that changes as they go through the process and is targeted for what they are searching for.

6. Microsites focused on specific industries. Don't necessarily drive all PPC traffic to your corporate website. Create a microsite very focused on your target audience or place they are in buying cycle. People won't get lost on a microsite.

7. Test page elements. What you think would work might not always work. A better conversion actually happened when the registration form was one click in instead of on landing page.

Recommend elements to test: - Page layout - Images - Benefit statements - Action triggers - Names and descriptions of downloadable assets. Can be very different conversion rate.

8. Offer Action Options. By offering more options, company was able to get more inquiries.

9. Simplify registration forms. You can do this and have a robust follow-up process to qualify leads.

10. Implement a lead qualification process. Don't make the mistake of thinking someone who is downloading a white paper is a sales lead. They don't necessarily want a salesperson to call the next day after they download a paper. You need to sort out which leads are valid – remove bogus emails and phone numbers, etc.

Next Speaker: Galen De Young from Francis SEO: Organic Search for B2B

Business Purchases People conduct more research than when in consumer purchases. The purchase is reviewed by multiple people, because of dollar value and the potential for long-term impact. Risk and risk avoidance is a primary motivator.

B2B Search Strong searcher preference for organic results, both in views and clicks. Technical buyers have a stronger preference than average B2B, likely due to risk aversion.

There are multiple influencers, searches, and search terms being used.

Perceptions: If it's a high ranking PPC result, the company is willing to spend the money. If it's a high-ranking organic, they are potentially an industry leader.

There are usually no agreed-upon lexicons within industries.

Keyword Variations: Looking at four different keyword variations, there were 26 unique domains. It does matter what they type in and what you optimize your site for.

There are diverse approaches to searching. Subject matter, problem, person/role, product/service needed, geography, or searcher's industry.

Case study: Acoustics By Design. Company hasn't done much link building, the results are from the optimization rather than linking. Screenshots shown of how page is organized. Results: was in the sandbox for two months, after that site visits were up 6-7 fold. Click-through of 3800 unique keywords last year, and average keyword click-through was 3.6 words. Three months after indexing, increased backlog of consulting work from 45 days to 6 months, eliminated need for new business person, and reduced time senior people spent selling and gave them more time to do the work.

Keyword Research Objective: Broad catch basin. Think about it from different angles. Problem, need, product, solution, etc. Word order, plurals, low-volume and high-value keywords.

Each significantly different search term requires a distinct landing page. Result: page proliferation. Two different terms may imply the same content. Find a way to handle them differently. Organize the site into intuitive, user-friendly navigation. Keep architecture flat, 1-2 clicks from home page.

Where to put in architecture On the web, there could be several navigation possibilities: products, services, people, news, company information, case studies, newsletter content.

Landing Pages Can't mandate landing pages like you can in PPC. Understand your organic landing pages. Look beyond the rankings, you need to look at the meta description that shows in the SERPs, what is the landing page URL. This is just like ad copy.

Build page content for each keyword as if it is a landing page, because that's how it will function. - Information - Navigation to other pages - Most desired actions.

Page Strategies Know keyword target and 3-5 long-tail modifiers. Know it before you begin writing copy. Use it in other on-page factors (headings, navigation, links, etc.) and use in off-page factors.


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