By all measures, business use of Twitter continues to expand. Twitter can be a great tool used to follow others in your industry, keep track of what’s being said regarding issues relevant to your customers, as well as identify and learn more about potential prospects. Yet finding relevant Twitter users to follow (and making it easy for them to find you) can be time consuming and sometimes frustrating – especially in the B2B space, where the industry lexicons are often very diverse. Here are a few tips to help you in that process.
Click on one of your shortened URLs in Twitter, and your analytics may show a referral from Twitter. But if you click on that same shortened URL in a Twitter client like TweetDeck, the click-through will probably show up as a direct visit, because TweetDeck doesn’t pass along the referrer string in the URL. How many other sources of your traffic are like this? Probably more than you think.
Content marketing is very effective for B2B marketers. Think about all of the case studies, white papers, brochures, technical papers, newsletters you have. Likely, many of these assets are in pdf form. They took a lot of time and money to create. When it comes to analytics, you may know how many people download these assets, but you probably have no idea whether these assets help drive people back into your site.
In the last couple years, I’ve written that risk is a primary motivator in B2B purchase decisions, and that fear of making the wrong decision strongly influences B2B supplier selection. And rightly so. The wrong choice can have long-lasting business and career implications.
This week, Enquiro, released a white paper entitled Mapping the BuyerSphere (registration required). The white paper presents findings of Enquiro’s recent research into B2B buyer behavior; illustrates risk as the common, dominant factor in B2B purchasing; and explores an alternative model for targeting and mapping markets and prospects. Gord Hotchkiss and his team have done a great job, and the paper is well worth downloading.
If you haven’t thought about B2B purchasing in these terms before, it can really make you question and rethink your approach to the market. If risk is the primary motivator, how do you need to adjust your tactics, your messaging, your positioning?
Most web analytics tools, including Google Analytics, attribute online conversions to the most recent visit. Sure, you can define the funnel and see how many people enter the funnel, the visitors who abandon the funnel, and how many people ultimately convert, but only if all of these events happen in a single visit. Conversion in the B2B world doesn’t necessarily happen that way. There may have been many previous visits to your site via other channels that influenced a visitor to finally take the desired action. If you’re not capturing this information, you may not be making good decisions.
In March 2009, Business.com completed an analytics study of more than 27,000 B2B web sites. It’s a great study and well worth downloading. Here are some of the findings:
- 93% of sites can’t see the influence that multiple campaigns/keywords have on conversions
- 49% use a third-party web analytics program that only provides basic site traffic data or which, by default, use the “last click” method for connecting a prospect action (e.g., clicking on a banner ad or link in an email newsletter) with a conversion, such as a purchase or registration. (82% of these B2B sites used Google Analytics or Urchin software by Google)
- 44% use no web analytics or, in rare cases, use a custom in-house solution
Most analytics programs attribute conversion to the last trackable link clicked before conversion, the “last click” method. In some cases, this may be just fine; perhaps conversion actually did happen in a single visit. But with lengthening sales cycles and the significant amount of purchase research that happens in the B2B world, prospects may have visited your site several times through various means before they returned once more to ultimately take action.
Business.com’s study cites the following example:
There are multiple parties involved in the B2B purchase decision. While several parties have the ability to influence the purchase decision (e.g., purchasing personnel), those with the ability to make the decision are typically very busy, often spending significant time on the road, in airports, in meetings. They may not be tethered to their laptop, but most are inseparable from an iPhone or BlackBerry.
While these decision-makers may not initiate purchase research, they often receive purchase recommendations of others via email, and these emails contain links to sellers’ sites. What could be easier than clearing some emails or doing a couple quick searches with Google Mobile while waiting for the next plane? In the next 10 minutes, an executive could form her initial perceptions of your firm based on what she sees on her iPhone. Are you happy with what she’ll find? Do you even know what she’ll find?
Last spring, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released a study on the use of mobile devices. As of December 2007, 19% of respondents had used their mobile device to access the internet; 7% said they did so regularly, on a typical day. Certainly, these numbers have gone up dramatically since then, and they’ll continue to do so.
If you don’t know what mobile users will experience when they visit your site, you should take the next five minutes to find out. How does your site display? Are there features of your site that don’t even load? Is your site’s primary content easily accessible to mobile users?
It seems like professional services firms really struggle with search engine optimization. Few do it well. In the audits we do for clients, perhaps the most common issue is inadequate site architecture. That is, not having enough pages in the site to respond to the diverse range of potential search terms. But there are other common problems, too. Here are some of the issues and what you can do about them.
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Articles and blog postings on B2B search marketing are often hard to find. But during the year, I’ve found a lot of other great content, too. I chose 30 of my favorite B2B search and internet marketing posts from 2009. To that I added three of my own articles that were especially popular or helpful to people. I know I’ve missed some great content. If you know of others, please add them via comments.
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Business-to-business (B2B) blogging is be a great way to forge relationships, talk with customers and prospects, demonstrate thought leadership, and dramatically increase visibility in natural search results for targeted search terms. Done right, it ultimately drives substantial traffic when others in the media and blogosphere link to compelling or noteworthy content. Yet the Fortune 500, many of which are B2B companies, has been slow to embrace blogging.
Last year, Forrester Research reported that only 29 of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging. While the number of large companies blogging is still relatively small, that number more than doubled in 2008.
If you’re looking for insight into big business blogging, both for B2B and B2C companies, check out the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki, a directory of Fortune 500 companies with business blogs. The wiki, started as collaborative project between Wired Magazine’s Chris Anderson and Socialtext’s Ross Mayfield, is a compilation following active public blogs by company employees blogging about their companies and/or products. Easton Ellsworth of We Know Media and John Cass of PR Communications joined the effort to expand the project.
As of November 15, 2008, the site indicates 12.8% of Fortune 500 companies (64 of them) are blogging. That’s up from 54 companies in May 2008. Initial findings at the start of 2006 found just under 4%, or 18 Fortune 500 companies, had corporate blogs.
Included on the site are lists and links of blogging Fortune 500 companies, example blogs for each (many have multiple blogs), examples of other social media in use (such as Twitter), and reviews.
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Many people have a “set it and forget it” approach when it comes to SEO. But if you have a good site (in terms of organic search), you should be taking advantage of it—especially during these tough economic times.
SEO remains one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies, especially over the long haul. If your site and the pages on it have historically responded well to desired search terms, you should be tweaking your site to speak to the changing market. Here are seven inexpensive strategies to help you win during these challenging times.
Understand the changing landscape
Have the needs of your prospects and customers changed during the downturn? Are there products or a segment of you business more suited to these times than before? Do you need to change how you position some of your offerings? Are the keywords used by your prospects changing? What words are your prospects including now including in their searches that they didn’t include before? The primary words used in queries may be the same, but the long tail of those queries may be different. Does your site speak to the changing long tail?
Tweak existing content
Likely, there are many pages on your site that should be modified to speak to these tough economic times and the changing long tail. Adjust and expand the copy to ensure it resonates well with your prospects’ concerns, and also with search engines when those prospects search for solutions using long-tail terms that reflect those concerns. For some hints on optimizing page content, see Copywriting Tips for B2B SEO.
Beef up relevant content
In addition to tweaking existing pages, you should consider adding more optimized pages to your site’s architecture. Perhaps there are products or services you haven’t strongly promoted but now are in strong demand. There may be some offerings you previously only mentioned in a passing sentence or two that now deserve an organic landing page or perhaps several pages. There are a lot of ways you can quickly add more optimized content to your B2B website, including product/service pages, case studies, white papers, etc.
Manage your landing pages
What would happen if you increased your site’s traffic by 10% or converted just 5% more of your site’s traffic? Chances are you have a lot of potential traffic that isn’t converting, both on your site and in the SERPs. Make sure you understand and manage your site’s landing pages. First, know what your search engine results look like for each desired search term.
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B2B copywriting is tough stuff. Instead of, “Wipes clean with a damp cloth,” you may find yourself trying to simultaneously explain and extol the virtues of some complex mechanical system while being creative and persuasive at the same time. Copywriting for B2B SEO is even tougher. Here are ten tips to help you succeed.
Watch the Lingo Make sure to use generic terms on the page. In most cases, B2B searchers are more likely to use generic terms than brand names. Proprietary brand names tend to be unusual, so searchers Googling for one of your brand names will likely find your site quite easily. Go ahead and use the brand name in copy, but make sure you also include the generic terms just as much, if not more.
Keep Page Copy Focused. Search engines attempt to discern the topical focus of the page. Don’t confuse them. Keep the content of a given page focused on the page’s keyword strategy. If you have multiple topics, better to put them on multiple pages. Don’t try to use a single page to go after numerous unrelated keywords.
Remember the Long Tail. Before you even start to write copy for a given page, you better know the likely long-tail words B2B searchers may also include in their queries. While the keyword focus of the page may be “conveyor systems,” your target prospect for that page may also be entering words like “distribution”, “sortation”, and “full-case” when they’re searching for a solution to their problems. Good B2B SEO copyrighting seamlessly includes these long-tail words.
Watch the Word Order. In some cases, word order doesn’t matter for PPC. In SEO, however, word order matters a lot. Obviously, you don’t want to create stilted copy…
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