Since every marketing dollar counts, especially in this tough economy, how can you get the most out of your search investment? Here are three critical questions every B2B marketer should be asking their agency or in-house search marketing team, to hold them accountable for results.
Keyword Targeting Methodology
Every effective search program is built on the foundation of research. Understanding searcher behavior and intent should be a critical component of your SEO strategy.
Question #1: What methodology do you use to select target keyword phrases?
- Your Specific Business Goals (lead generation, brand awareness, online sales)
- Market Opportunity (search volume)
- Level of Competition (number of sites appearing in search engine results for that keyword)
- Relevancy/Applicability to your service offerings
- Actual Searcher Intent
For B2B marketers, it is also important to ensure your SEO keyword strategy addresses various stages of your buying cycle. Some keywords should align with initial research stages, while others align with the vendor comparison process, and especially with the decision-making, vendor selection and purchase stages.
PPC (Pay-Per-Click) data (if available) should also be analyzed. Knowing how much keywords cost and how well they convert will help guide your SEO strategy.
Focus On Bottom Line Business Results
As part of your SEO program, your search team should be tracking the results of their efforts. This means considering more than just keyword rankings or position. Make sure your search marketers are focused on bottom line business results, such as organic traffic and conversions.
Question #2: How do you measure B2B SEO success?
At minimum, I recommend implementing Google Analytics. It’s a free analytics tool and the data is well laid out for marketers and executives to understand.
If your search marketing agency has taken the steps to properly select target keywords and phrases for your SEO program and have correctly implemented your SEO campaigns, your analytics data should reflect an increase in organic traffic and conversions from search engines and variations of your targeted keywords.
A huge challenge in tracking the success of B2B SEO programs can be estimating Return on Investment (ROI).
While analytics can provide a great deal of insight, tracking the path to conversion from organic traffic to sales is not always easy for B2B companies due to long, complex sales cycles and off-line conversions.
Question #3: How do you quantify ROI when conversions take place off-line?
Your analytics program should be set-up to track goals along with the value of a lead. This consists of measuring actions of your website visitors such as filling out a contact form, downloading a whitepaper, viewing a case study, or possibly signing up for a newsletter.
I recommend that B2B marketers assign an estimated value to every online action that may contribute to moving a prospect through the buying cycle.
While these actions may not convert a visitor into a customer right away, these visitors are engaging with your company and should be considered a marketing or sales prospect.
By tracking the value of the lead throughout the entire sales process, you can then properly attribute the ROI to your B2B SEO efforts when applicable.
Balance Accountability With Proper Expectations
A great agency, or an effective search marketing team, will:
- Establish proper expectations
- Employ a rigorous keyword selection strategy
- Measure success beyond rankings
- Estimate ROI (including off-line conversions)
Ask the tough questions and hold your search marketing team accountable for bottom line business results.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.