6 Parallels Between Old-School B2B Sales Tactics & SEM

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I’m excited to be writing for the first time for Search Engine Land, sharing knowledge and tips that can help you with your B2B e-commerce and lead-gen search engine marketing.

Having spoken recently at SMX Advanced in Seattle about how to “Rock it with PLAs,” I hope you’ll depart on a journey with me for six articles in which I will provide the framework for streamlining your B2B search campaigns to maximize results.

Today’s article is about the initial setup of your B2B search campaign. It also touches on the parallels between old-school B2B sales tactics and search engine marketing.

1. Set Business Goals For Your SEM Campaign

The first step to creating your SEM campaigns is to determine how you will set up your business goals. Best practice dictates one match type per campaign and tightly themed ad groups of keywords. You can utilize broad and phrase match to refine and find new queries that are related to your business, and then add them into your campaigns for full visibility.

What will your KPI be? Awareness is not the best, as we’re in business to make money, not to spend it (unreasonably)!  If you’re e-commerce, a return on ad spend (ROAS) goal is best, but if you’re a service or a B2B solution, lead-gen or cost-per-lead is the best route to go. Once you establish what your search program can generate out of the box, you’ll then be able to start optimizing accordingly.

2. Understand Your Customer & Message Them Properly

So, what do you say in your copy to your potential customers? From a B2B side, pricing is king. CTOs & CEOs only care about cost savings and getting the most bang for their buck, so ensure that yours is competitive.

Where you lack the ability to utilize pricing in an ad copy (e.g., in a solution or service), make use of messaging that details awards won for your products, prestigious projects accomplished, or highly pertinent and relevant details of services offered (e.g., support details, custom solutions or a free trial or consultation).

The simple call-to-action — “Buy now!” “Shop now!” “Official site!” — isn’t enough anymore. Customers want to know what you’re offering immediately — they must be able to read, trust and differentiate your ad from your competitors at a glance.

We recently scrubbed our account and saw this generic copy as an opportunity to improve performance. When we phased out old ad copy that had very generic calls-to-action and created new copy to highlight performance, scalability and durability of our products, we saw increased ad click-through rates and site engagement.

3. Go Above & Beyond For The Customer

Once you get that customer to your site, you’ll need to make sure you engage them and give something back to your potential customers to make them interested in your company, whether it is a whitepaper, video or other information. While there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is an ability to hook a customer and build loyalty early.

If your business is the best in class (which is is!), give some of that informational wealth back to the customer. The same principle here applied to B2B marketing prior to the Internet – treat your customers right, and they will return. Provide them with a wealth of information so they are not only convinced to buy your product, but are also (if necessary) armed with the data they need to secure funding for it.

Make it easy for these customers to engage with your brand on your site. I’ve seen plenty of sitemaps that trap the customer in a specific portion of the site, preventing them from returning to what they were viewing or navigating freely to other solutions. I’ve also seen sites that required visitors to populate lengthy forms in order to gain access to consumable (and shareable!) content.

A customer who’s not interested in cloud computing would not, for example, accidentally end up on the commercial section of the AT&T site and click to download a whitepaper. Trust that if your customer is looking to engage in your content, they’re interested in the product you offer. Make it as easy as possible for them to access and consume your content so they return to your site for more and eventually close the sale on the products you offer.

4. The Customer Is Always Right

Customers want to be nurtured, and different customers need different types of content — some more advanced than others. Advanced customers are turned off when there’s only basic content available, so ensure that you cater to this crowd if that is your target audience.

Conversely, there also exists a niche to cater to smaller businesses, with easy to consume concepts that shows you’re the expert and are ready to help them during all steps along the way. The beauty with small businesses is that they may eventually turn into medium businesses and large businesses — remaining your customer for life if you nurture and do right by them.

5. Businesses Want A Personal Touch

Lastly, allow for ease of conversion on your website. Have a phone number present and easily accessible so the customer can quickly reach you for ad hoc questions or concerns, and ensure that call tracking of this number is enabled to tie value to customer calls.

Businesses don’t have time to waste looking for an answer on your site when they can just pick up the phone and get the answer immediately from you. When it comes to forms, the more that a customer needs to fill in, the more disgruntled and less interested in your product they become.

Utilize forms that have the minimum number of  fields necessary to obtain pertinent information in order to reach the potential customer. Now that the customer has done their research and has raised their hand in their final stages of choosing your company for their need, allow for the sales team to seal the deal on the phone — or organize a face-to-face meeting, the way business was done before the Internet.

6. Word Of Mouth Is Still Important

Despite living in a digital world, word of mouth yields some of the easiest and best leads and sales that business can buy. Ensure to always link back to your social media, and allow customers to share your content with other colleagues, linking back to you and your product.

Business on the Internet isn’t done much differently than it was in the past. These opinions are formulated out of extensive research and testing we’ve done that speaks to how IT decision makers, as well as small and medium business owners want to engage with business technology and solutions. Understanding your product and choosing it out of a sea of competitors should be simple, easy, and clear, with minimal roadblocks to make the sale.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: SEM

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About The Author: has been working in search engine marketing for over 5 years on the agency side with clients in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Her background is in psychology, computer science and economics and she loves automation and has a zeal for data and feeds.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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