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?
I recently got back from SMX West in Silicon Valley, one of the premier events in search marketing. While there I attended many great sessions and also spoke as part of the session on B2B search marketing. Also speaking were Ben Hanna, Vice President of Marketing for the B2B search engine, Business.com, and Patricia Hursh, president of SmartSearch Marketing.
Many of the sessions on the first day focused on the implications of blended search on search marketers. Loren Baker of Search Engine Journal has a good wrap-up of the first session re blended search content at SMX West. Blended search (also called “Universal Search” by Google) refers to the practice of web search results including other types of search results, such as local, blogs, news, video, images, etc. We’re already beginning to see this in Google search results. The search engine Ask has multiple types of results on the search results page, but these results are clearly segmented into their respective sections on the page. On Google, however, you can see more images, news, video, local and the like actually embedded within the typical web search results.
No longer will the top ten Google search results always be ten links to the typical web page. If Google deems a video to be of strong importance and relevance to your search term, you may find a link to that video showing up as perhaps the third search result when doing a web search.
This represents both increased marketing competition and opportunity for B2B companies. Nothing really changes for PPC, or paid search. However, blended search results have significant implications for organic search. On the one hand, often there may not be 10 organic search results for web pages. It may no longer be good enough to be in the top 10 web search results. You may have to be in the top 8 to get on the first page, because you may also be competing with news items or video.
On the other hand, this creates opportunity for smart B2B search marketers. If you’re having trouble getting high rankings in Google for web search results, you may have far less competition creating highly relevant and authoritative content via video, images, or news that could get embedded in the top search results for your keywords.
This isn’t to say that just creating a B2B video geared to a specific keyword will get you a top result in web search. If only marketing were that simple. Google’s goal is to deliver relevant and authoritative content for a given search term. Therefore, the content needs to be good, and it will help if other respected, authoritative sites link to that content. Finally, you’re also going to need to optimize this alternate content properly. For instance, unless you encode and optimize a video asset for search, Google won’t be able to tell exactly what that content is.
Search engine optimization continues to evolve. It’s on to a Search 3.0 world. And there’s plenty of opportunity in that world for B2B marketers.
Business.com recently released 2008 B2B Search Marketing Strategy Guide: Advice from the Pros, a white paper that cites industry stats and advice from those in the search marketing business who also serve B2B clients. The white paper is free with registration.
Distilled from survey responses from 144 search marketing agencies currently managing B2B client campaigns and insights from Business.com, the Guide includes the following:
How B2B search marketing differs from B2C (also see our article on the subject)
Top 10 tips for improving B2B paid search campaigns
Top 10 tips for B2B SEO
B2B search marketing strategy checklist
The Guide also includes a B2B search marketing agency directory, including agency services, location and contact information.
In the United States, finding a supplier is relatively easy. There are trade shows, industry pubs, numerous good general and vertical search engines. But as any company trying to set up operations in China knows, getting things done there can be a little more difficult than in the western world. If something goes wrong with one of your offshore suppliers, finding an adequate replacement can be difficult. Far less companies there have their own websites and the overall business information infrastructure is not as robust.
One of China’s solutions is Alibaba.com. Described as the “online dating service for global business,” Alibaba boasts nearly 25 million members, field sales and marketing offices in more than 30 countries, and more than 4,400 employees. On the site, you can search for just about anything, in any country. And while you may not have heard of it, it’s one of the most popular B2B sites in the world. Currently, it has an Alexa traffic rank of 167, meaning that, per Alexa, only 166 sites on the web have more traffic.
Last week, Alibaba.com went public raising nearly $1.5 billion for the company. Google raised $1.9 billion in its IPO.
On the initial day of trading, Alibaba’s stock price tripled. And while some of the initial exuberance has subsided, the stock currently is double its initial offering price.
If you’re doing B2B globally, whether you’re buying or selling, Alibaba is another search engine you need to consider.
Recently, Lee Odden posted a large listing of blogs related to search marketing as well as the OPML file with these blog addresses.
Thanks to both of you for researching and compiling these listings!