Business buyers use search engines throughout the entire research and buying process. For this reason, most B2B marketers utilize search marketing as a cost-effective way to build brand awareness, engage prospects, and generate leads. In terms of lead gen, a potential buyer is typically required to complete an online registration form in exchange for… what?

The value vs. hassle equation

Getting the “what” right is a crucial part of any successful B2B search marketing program. Marketers must truly understand what their buyers are looking for in order to offer something of value. And more importantly, the perceived value of what is being offered must be greater than the time, effort and risk associated with the act of completing the registration form.

I’m sure you have personally experienced a situation where this isn’t the case. Have you ever been asked to complete a long, complex registration form just to access a mere marketing brochure? I bet you bailed before you hit the download button! Not surprisingly, these types of programs have very low conversion rates because the value of what’s offered doesn’t justify the effort required.

What are business buyers looking for?

So, what do business buyers want when they go online? According to a B2B survey conducted by Enquiro and Marketing Sherpa, buyers are primarily looking for:

  1. Pricing information
  2. Product information
  3. Reviews and comparisons

B2B marketers should:

  • Evaluate your website
  • Review your search ads and landing

Most importantly, you should take a look at the information and assets you’re offering behind your registration forms. Are you giving prospects what they’re actually looking for?

Sharing pricing information online

I realize that many B2B firms do not provide prices online. This is especially true of companies selling complex, high-consideration, expensive products and services. Even so, don’t ignore prospects’ needs altogether. Ask yourself: What information can we share? Ideas include:

  • A summary of your company’s pricing methodology
  • Information on general service/product packages and price ranges
  • A comparison chart showing how your pricing approach stacks up against the competition

Prospects appreciate any type of helpful information, especially related to pricing, as they explore options and evaluate vendors.

Value varies by phase

What searchers find valuable varies depending upon where they are in the buying process.

In the early (awareness) phase, buyers are looking for insightful, educational information. Downloadable assets such as a market overview, a summary of emerging market trends, and industry research are very helpful.

As buyers move into the research and comparison phases, they start to formalize their needs and evaluate alternatives. Product information related to features and functionality, technical spec sheets, buyer guides and comparison charts are valuable.

Finally, in the negotiation and purchase phases buyers are analyzing their specific choices and evaluating risks and consequences. At this point, purchase check-lists, pricing information, and service agreements are useful.

What?! You’re going to contact me?

Your prospects may not be as naïve as you think. Based on a study by Google and TechTarget many IT buyers realize that companies they register with will likely be contacting them.

  • 25% of online registrants expect to be contacted by a sales person via email
  • 14% are expecting a sales-related phone call.

Why is this significant? Marketers must ensure that what is offered in exchange for contact information is unique, valuable and (in the registrant’s mind) worth the perceived value or inconvenience of a probable sales contact. Searchers will be thinking, “Is this white paper worth a sales call?”

Think like your customer

To ensure success, B2B search marketers must understand customers’ needs and give prospects exactly what they’re looking for online. Provide valuable information and assets that are aligned with buyers’ needs at each phase of the purchase process, and keep the complexity of registration forms reasonable based on the perceived value received.

Think like a customer! And then directly align your search marketing program with their needs.

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

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: Search Marketing

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About The Author: is president and founder of SmartSearch Marketing, a Boulder, Colorado-based search engine marketing agency. You can reach Patricia at patricia@smartsearchmarketing.com. The Strictly Business column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.

Connect with the author via: Email | LinkedIn



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  • David Temple

    Excellent insights! Spot on about giving value for contact info and making sure it’s the right value. Understanding the searcher’s intent and providing relevant information is definitely the key!

    I can’t believe only 25% expect to be contacted. What do the other 75% think? Also would be curious as to how well the sales force is following up and if they are providing the relevant information moving forward or if they are segmenting those leads at all.

    Also the report you referred to says “43% of respondents state they read search advertising”. What an excellent opportunity to test the messaging for each phase.

 

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