Skip to main content

What Works Now in B2B Lead Generation: SEO and SEM


MarketingSherpa has just released its 2008 B2B Lead Generation Handbook (that's a link to the free executive summary PDF; the complete report will run you a cool $500). The 22-page executive summary contains some useful information for B2B marketers and CEOs (plus a little bit of misinformation best disregarded).

B2B Marketing Has Changed Dramatically

The report authors spend considerable ink on the changes that B2B marketing has undergone since 2000. Parts of this analysis are very helpful, for example, "The easiest way to save money (during the 2000-2002 recession, when marketing budgets were being slashed) was to replace old media with cheaper new media. That meant replacing print brochures with PDFs, post-mailed newsletters with emailed newsletters, road shows and seminars with webinars, and print ads with online advertising, including search."

However, the coverage does have an element of navel-gazing: "Since the year 2000, B-to-B marketing has undergone dramatic changes—in strategy, budget, measurement, philosophy and tactics...the Internet has certainly been a big part of these changes." Yes it has, and so have the other factors cited in the report, but there isn't anything really magical about the year 2000—except that, as the report also reveals, that's the year MarketingSherpa first started paying attention to B2B marketing. There's a strong case to be made that B2B marketers have always been more aggressive than their B2C counterparts in adopting new technologies, due to their smaller budgets and more tightly targeted audiences, or at least that this has been case for the last two-to-three decades.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, B2B companies were aggressive at moving print materials to CDs, then moving CD-based content materials online. B2B companies were building websites, sending out email newsletters and buying ads on trade publication websites well before their B2C counterparts in many if not most cases, and were certainly active in all of these areas before 2000.

It's Critical to get SEO and SEM Right

As the chart below shows, buyers are far more likely to find vendors when they are ready to buy than to respond to vendor outreach that may or may not hit them at the right time.


That's why it's crucial that vendors be "findable" when buyers are looking, and why spending on search engine optimization and search marketing have become a significant portion of B2B marketing budgets. Social media also plays an important role here, and the report provides some tips in this area.

According to MarketingSherpa's study, a typical B2B company spends about 30% of its total marketing budget online, and about 30% of its online budget on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. About 5% of online marketing spending is dedicated to SEO.

For Best SEO Results, Seek Professional Help

SEO is a no-brainer; even a moderately well-done effort will improve a company's online visibility and site traffic at a relatively low cost. According to MarketingSherpa, in-house SEO programs generally produce about a 40% increase in traffic over six months. But hiring an outside expert can grow visitor count even more dramatically: external programs led to 100%+ (i.e. more than doubling) increases in traffic within half a year.

However, the report's advice on hiring an outside expert is disastrously off base. "When hiring an agency or consultant, B-to-B experience is not as important as is dedicated SEO experience. You don't want to hire a team that does SEO 'on the side' as an addendum to online marketing activities...Many marketers hire two different agencies for PPC versus SEO and make sure the two teams play well together to take advantage of measurement and keyword synergies." MarketingSherpa rarely misses, but that may be among the worst pieces of advice the publisher has ever provided.

Separating SEO from broader marketing and PR activities is a really bad idea for several reasons. First, SEO and PPC efforts go hand in hand and need to be coordinated, from keyword selection ("head" terms for PPC, longtail terms for SEO, mid-length terms for both) and testing all the way through reporting (e.g. comparing PPC to SEO conversions, with a goal of maximizing both). Hiring two separate firms to do PPC versus SEO work is like having two shortstops on a baseball team, one to scoop up ground balls and the other to throw over to first base; it just doesn't make any sense.

Second, SEO efforts need to be aligned with PR and social media outreach efforts, both of which are key link-building activities. Having one agency in charge of a coordinated effort assures that all components are working together; hiring an SEO "technician" from a separate firm, who knows nothing about the bigger picture of B2B marketing and PR, greatly increases the likelihood of missed opportunities and synergies.

Third, SEO and PR/marketing shouldn't work at cross purposes. For example, any company offering insurance or financial services to Fortune 1000 enterprises needs to build and maintain a reputation for quality and trust. Having an SEO firm blast out spammy link requests, and worse, add a collection of questionable links to the company's website, can instantly nullify years of credibility-building efforts.

Finally, getting SEO and marketing assistance from different providers can lead to inefficient duplication of effort. One tactic commonly employed by gray-hat SEOs is to write keyword-rich "articles" designed more to get high ranking from search engines than for actual human reading. A marketing/PR firm, however, can write thought leadership content that appeal not only to search engines but also enhance your image among prospective customers, and can also help get value out of the article (through social media, for example) beyond simply publishing it to your site for SEO purposes.

SEO Must be Sensitive to IT

Your webmaster or internal web team will be understandably nervous about any outsider touching your site, particularly if it is also hosted internally. A good SEO firm should meet with your technical team first, explaining exactly what is going to be done (transparency is critical factor in selecting an SEO agency), when and how—as well as what won't be touched. For significant changes, such as modifying the URL structure, the SEO should be able to explain, in plain English, why the change is a high priority.

More to come...

*****


Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com

Comments

All Time Greats

Best of 2008 - SEO Tools, Part 1

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: SEO Tools on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: SEO tools, backlink checking, search engine rank, website grade, link building, Searchlight, Brian R. Brown, Netconcepts, Link Counter, Search Engine Land, Mona Elesseily, Page Zero Media, SpyFu, Search Marketing Blog Online, Jon Clark, TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld, Website Grader, HubSpot, Rank Checker, KeywordEnvy, Trevor Claiborne, SEO People, link ninja, Paul Teitelman, Traffic Marks, Small Business Search Marketing, Matt McGee, SheerSEO, SearchNewz, Navneet Kaushal, Search Engine Journal, Ann Smarty del.icio.us tags: SEO tools, backlink checking, search engine rank, website grade, link building, Searchlight, Brian R. Brown, Netconcepts, Link Counter, Search Engine Land, Mona Elesseily, Page Zero Media, SpyFu, Search Marketing Blog Online, Jon Clark, TechCrunch, Erick Schonf

How to Use SEO: Leverage SEO To Be Found Online and Boost Your Online Marketing

All businesses that want to attract customers online, no matter the business size or age, have few options other than Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  SEO In The Box™ by Results Driven Marketing®, LLC There are roughly 1.8 billion websites online, and basic SEO allows Google to find and index or catalog your webpages.  After that, Google serves you up to searchers in the organic section.  The question remains: where they list your site, on page one or page 22 or further back? SEO controls your positioning. Do you want to be found online or not? If your business is online or you want your product or service to be found online, then Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a must, and knowing how to use SEO to leverage the power of the internet is vital. Arguably, an effective SEO strategy gets you on the organic results section of the search engine results pages (SERP). Organic traffic is highly valuable and requires high-quality SEO. But even businesses that use l

Email Campaign, Newsletter and Banner Ad Click-Through Rates (CTR)

When planning online advertising and email promotion budgets, it's critical to calculate the likely ROI upfront whenever possible, as well as to establish campaign benchmarks. The first step is understanding the average and likely range of CTRs for various programs. The growth in online advertising, the proliferation of enewsletters, the emergence of new forms of information delivery such as RSS and the emergence of social media sites have all affected CTR, so planning based on current data is crucial. It can be challenging to find current statistics, but based on several studies, these are typical CTR ranges for email newsletter ads, email campaigns (blasts or internally-produced enewsletters), and banner ads. Email newsletter advertisements Open rates range from 28-40%, with an average of about 33%—meaning that roughly one-third of the subscriber base is likely to see your ad. The Advertising Is Good For You blog tracks these statistics from DoubleClick . The average CT

Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 6

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: Social Media Marketing on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: online video SEO reputation management social bookmarking social media marketing SEO and reputation management Search Engine Journal Loren Baker Google Video ClipShare PHPmotion 30 largest social bookmarking sites Anything Goes Blog Stuntdubl social media can increase revenue Social Media Today Jacob Morgan increase blog traffic How To Make My Blog Marko Saric what not to do in social media Interactive Insights Group Robin Broitman social media gaffes Target Motrin Starbucks Whole Foods FedEx del.icio.us tags: online video SEO reputation management social bookmarking social media marketing SEO and reputation management Search Engine Journal Loren Baker Google Video ClipShare PHPmotion 30 largest social bookmarking sites Anything Goes Blog Stuntdubl social media can increase revenue Social Media Today Jacob Morgan increa

Top Notch Digital Marketing Tip: Google AdWords and PPC

Looking for some online marketing strategy or social media tips to grow your business? Well, you’ve come to the right digital marketing resource! Web Market Central has been doling out the proper digital marketing advice for years. And as you already know, marketing to customers online is 100 times easier than using dated, expensive and traditional marketing tactics. Like seriously, who uses billboards in 2019? But you already know how effective digital marketing can be in the modern age. So now that you're totally convinced of what you already knew, let’s give you today's top-notch digital marketing tip! The Pure Unfettered Power of PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and PPC Campaigns Just like optimizing your site to rank for keywords, you can use our online marketing tips to pay to run advertisements on Google so that your business is shown on the first page of search engine results. Ranking this way is instantaneous whereas SEO (Search Engine Optimization) takes some

Top-Notch Digital Marketing Tip: Advertisements That Make Sense

Looking for some online marketing tips to grow your business? Well, you’ve come to the right digital marketing resource ! Web Market Central has been doling out the proper DM advice for years. And as you already know, marketing to customers online is 100 times easier than using dated, expensive and traditional marketing tactics. Like seriously, who uses billboards in 2019? But you already know how effective Digital Marketing can be in the modern age. So now that you're totally convinced of what you already knew, let’s give you today's top notch-digital marketing tip! Advertisement Congruence If your business is running ads this is one of our most important online marketing tips! Ad congruence is when your ads and landing pages look alike or have the same message. Have you ever clicked on an ad and been taken to a page that looked nothing like the ad? When your ads look like the web pages they lead to, customers will feel like they are in the right plac

The 8 Layers of a B2B Web Marketing Plan

One way to think about designing a B2B technology web marketing plan is as a series of layers, like an onion. At the core is SEO—simply making your website "findable" through organic search to buyers who are looking for what you offer. Working out from the center are concentric layers of additional investment and sophistication. Small companies and start-ups with modest budgets will focus most of their efforts on the inner layers or rings, which are primarily designed for lead generation. As the company and its marketing budget grow, efforts can be expanded to the outer layers, which are aimed more at branding but support lead generation efforts. Ideally, a company eventually reaches the outer layer where pure branding activities (such as print advertising) help to maximize the effectiveness of lead generation programs (such as SEM) near the center of the circle. This diagram shows how different types of web marketing programs can be prioritized in order to maximize the re

Top Notch Digital Marketing Tip: Optimize Your Site

Looking for some online marketing tips to grow your business? Well, you’ve come to the right digital marketing resource! Web Market Central has been doling out the proper digital marketing advice for years. And as you already know, marketing to customers online is 100 times easier than using dated, expensive and traditional marketing tactics. Like seriously, who uses billboards in 2019? But you already know how effective digital marketing and an seo strategy can be in the modern age. So now that you're totally convinced of what you already knew, let’s give you today's top-notch digital marketing tip! Optimize Your Site to Improve Search Engine Rankings Most small business owners know that their websites need to be optimized in order for search engines, like Google and Bing, to find them and rank them on the search engine results page. If you don’t know, that’s okay. You can learn all about Search Engine Optimization and SEO best practices here to help impr