Optimize for B2B Search Marketing – Part 2

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Posted: September 14, 2006 | Search Engine Marketing

AKA, “How an mp3 player is different from a million-dollar CRM system.”

In Part 1, I explained that B2B search marketing requires different techniques and optimization methods than B2C search, and that search marketing vendors should specialize on B2C clients or B2B client, but not both.

In this post, I discuss some of the key differences between B2C and B2B search marketing.  (Disclaimer: Marketo provides solutions for B2B marketing, including search engine marketing.)

Optimize for low volume, high value searches

The keyword “mp3 player” costs much less, gets more traffic, and has more advertiser competition than “CRM”. As I write this, the top position on Google for CRM is more than 2.5 times more expensive than the top position for mp3 player. Although mp3 player gets 10x more traffic, the value of a qualified CRM lead is much higher.

This implies B2C search must optimize for “high-volume, low-value” words, while B2B search marketing needs to optimize for “low-volume, high-value” words. This has implications for which words you select and how you set bids. Since many of the popular bid optimization solutions are tuned for B2C clients, B2B marketers may be left with suboptimal results.

Generate leads, not traffic

There are some impressive solutions out there for B2C search marketing. However, these tools are designed to generate traffic rather than qualified leads. (One popular vendor claims it will “drives throngs of new visitors to your website” and only mentions leads as an afterthought at the bottom of the page.) Look through the list of services they provide, and you see lots of references to automated bid management, but no references to maximizing conversions through landing page optimization.

This works for high-volume B2C keywords, but in the high-value, low-volume world of B2B search it is critical that you focus significant attention on finding the right words (i.e. the words your target prospects actually use when searching) and on converting as many of those clicks into qualified leads as possible. (Stay tuned for Part 3, where I’ll talk about why this is not as simple as it sounds.)

Market to multiple decision makers at different points in the buying process

Buying an mp3 player does not usually require a complex approval process (though my wife might disagree). In contrast, B2B transactions typically have an entire committee of individuals involved in making a final purchase decision, including champions, economic buyers, influencers, gatekeepers, and users.

Each role uses search in different ways, with different motivations, and at different times during the sales cycle. One individual has a problem and uses search just to see whether a solution exists. Another wants to research the space so he can be educated in discussions with peers and bosses. Yet another needs to identify a list of requirements or create a short-list of vendors. And others still want to build an ROI justification, design an implementation plan, or understand how a new system will impact their job.

Each of these searches will use different keywords – ranging from broad descriptions of the outcome they want to achieve to very specific names of solution components. (They may even use different search engines, with early research going to Google and later stage research going to targeted vertical search engines.) The keywords can give you clues about the searcher’s role and purpose – your job is to create different landing pages that speak to each specific search intent.

In Part 3 of “Optimize for B2B Marketing”, I will discuss how to tune your landing pages to speak to each type of buyer and search intent.

Related Resources

Jon (@jonmiller) leads Marketo's product marketing, strategy, and content marketing initiatives. He is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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Optimize for B2B Search Marketing – Part 2

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