How B2B SEO Fits Into Lead Management Optimization

In a recent study from CSO Insights, nearly 83% of marketers indicated that new customer acquisition was a top strategic marketing objective for their organization. While this may seem obvious from the sales perspective, it helps to illustrate the increased alignment between the marketing and sales functions of the B2B organization.

2011 Lead Management Optimization Chart via CSO Insights

Lead Management Optimization

In part, this refers to the increased collaboration between marketing and sales to provide quality leads and improve overall sales conversion rates. B2B search engine marketers need to be attuned to this concept, developing tactical SEO initiatives with the impact on overall marketing and sales strategy in mind. This article explores how B2B SEO’s provide value to the lead management process, before and after conversions from organic search traffic take place.

Optimizing The Top Of The Funnel

Arguably the easiest place to fit SEO is in new customer acquisition strategy; filling the top of the sales funnel with lead nurturing opportunities. What’s lead nurturing? Via Marketo, it’s the process of building a relationship with your qualified prospects in hopes of turning them into sales.

Consider how these tactical SEO steps fit into the process:

  • Focus on the basic elements of SEO for all content assets developed:
    • Keyword focus in HTML titles, meta descriptions, page headings, body copy
    • Use of canonical and meta robots tags where appropriate
    • Cross-link related content assets and pages with related keyword targets.

    B2B SEO’s want to be involved in the optimization of articles, blog posts, new product pages, etc.

  • Integrate SEO-friendly landing pages for downloadable and multimedia assets.

Individual white papers, video content, presentations, etc, should get wrapped around a traditional web page, which explains basic information about the asset, key takeaways, and potential conversion actions as well. These pages become ideal locations for more long-tail keyword strategies, designed to drive forum submissions or download requests.

  • Establish an “SEO Roadmap” of keyword opportunities that can be incorporated into new content strategies going forward.

In other words, keyword research done at the start of any SEO project should become a working resource for content ideas moving forward. B2B SEO’s should build organized lists of keyword targets, broken down by strategic themes or business unit objectives.

The more content opportunities B2B SEO’s can be involved with, the greater the likelihood an organization’s content assets will be found in search results.

It takes time to develop, but the broad results speak volumes over time. Here is one client example, in which a primary SEO tactic is in the ongoing optimization of content developed on a monthly basis.

Example: SEO Keyword and Traffic Growth

Evaluating Keyword Themes That Close Business

While the ongoing optimization of content is essential for lead nurturing, search engine marketers working with B2B organizations need to take SEO one step further. The slide below is my attempt at illustrating how B2B SEO’s must look to uncover specific keyword strategies that end up driving sales conversations as well as overall lead nurturing opportunities.

SEO Lead Optimization Path

Via Wikipedia, marketing automation helps streamlines sales and marketing organizations by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions. This includes a deeper look into marketing channels to determine the sources of traffic that sent leads.

In coordination with a CRM tool, marketers can pinpoint the sources and touch points associated to high quality leads.

Specific points B2B search engine marketers need to be concerned with, and proactively evaluating, in coordination with marketing management include:

  • Keywords used in search referrals, for prospects that made it into the sales pipeline.
  • Content marketing assets viewed, from prospects that made it into the sales pipeline.
  • Comparison of keywords used in search referrals, where no action or sales opportunity was found.

Armed with this information, B2B search engine marketers can make informed decisions on where to place keyword priority in relation to content strategy, and the types of assets prospects find valuable. This in turn helps marketers help sales, to obtain better leads going forward.

Final Thoughts

You will note that I did not focus on closed deals in the keyword evaluation process. That is because the B2B sales cycle often contains many more touch points and phases and while SEO improves the overall process, rarely is it the primary factor in a closed deal.

The ability of SEO to increase the volume of opportunities in the lead nurturing stage, and leverage marketing reporting tools to uncover patterns in keywords and content that lead to sales opportunity, is the priority. However the more aligned B2B SEO is with overall marketing strategy, the more valuable SEO becomes to the entire B2B organization.

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 a Managing Partner of KoMarketing Associates, a B2B internet marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC, and social media strategy. You can reach Derek at derek@komarketingassociates.com and follow him on Twitter @DerekEdmond.

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



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  • http://www.optify.net Uri@optify.net

    Great post Derek.

    I completely agree with the importance of aligning B2B SEO with Lead Management and as a B2B marketers also know how hard it can be.

    The big challenge, as you mentioned, is driving leads that will make it into the sales pipeline and become opportunities, and in order to do that you need to align your SEO strategy with your overall marketing strategy, something too many companies fail to understand or do.

    Before you even dive into the optimization of your current content and pages, you need to put together a keyword list that reflects the search behavior of your target audience. Only then you’ll be able to write content that aligns with your messaging and sales process and drive visitors and leads who will be interested in the content as well as your product.

    I can offer some basic steps for selecting the right keywords in a white paper we wrote on the topic (http://www.optify.net/whitepapers/7-steps-to-building-your-keyword-list). There’s also a great blog post on search persona posted on Search Engine Watch that talks about the basics of developing search personas as the first step of developing a SEO strategy that will drive qualified visitors and leads – http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2098165/5-Steps-to-Building-a-Search-Persona

    Thanks again for the post.
    Uri

  • http://www.aims.co.il S.I.

    Hi Derek,
    First of all I must compliment you on an outstanding article, well written and well documented. One way to increase leads and sales is to increase traffic. However there is an additional, overlooked method–Conversion Optimization. Increasing the number of sales on your site from 1% to 2% is equivalent to increasing traffic from 100,000 visitors to 200,000 visitors. Conversion rate optimization requires uncovering and describing the personas of the potential clients who visit the web and removing all obstacles to conversion using landing page testing, A/B testing and usability studies.

 

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