Basketball Players, Assists, and B2B Tactics

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bbal2.gifThis post is the next of aimClear’s live blogging of coverage at SES New York 2008. This session in particular was titled B2B Tactics.

Optimizing B2B sites is often considered to be somewhat more challenging than optimizing B2C type sites, or at the very least different strategies are needed. Linking and content strategies beyond the basics require very very different approaches. Fortunately, some companies and individuals have developed special insights in this realm, and are willing to share some of their thoughts and ideas.

Patricia Hursh, President and Founder, SmartSearch Marketing

B2B Advertising:
8 elements to better understand b2b ppc advertising:
1. research prospects early in the buying cycle
2. focus and align ad copy with stage of buying cycle
3. pre-qualify clickers (repel those not of minimum quality)
4. create landing pages and microsites (to simplify)
5. test pages continuously
6. offer multiple action options
7. simplify registration forms
8. implement a lead nurturing process

Here are more details on each:

1, Research Prospects early in Buying Cycle:
Tremendous opportunity to reach people early in the process. Those targeting only people at end of process are missing huge opportunity. So how to target those early in process?

2. Align Ad Copy with Search Query:
The earlier in the buying process, the more generic the search term. Capture potential clients earliers in process with generic terms. Then, change PPC ad text and copy as people migrate through the cycle.
eg.
a. laptop computer (first stages of research)
b. laptop information (intermediate research)
c. laptop user reviews (intermediate)
d. ibm laptop models (late in process)
e. ibm thinkpad T61 (ready to buy)

3. Prequalifying Clickers:
Specify who should and shouldn’t click. Most companies don’t want unqualified leads … they often clog the process. So, eliminate them from the outset where possible.
Be very specific, in terms of types of clients (eg. fortune 1000), regions (southern California). Must be careful because this negatively impacts click through rates, and therefore prices per click. Need to find balance.

4. Create Streamlined Focused Microsites:
Seperate from corporate websites, typically 3-10 pages. Targets specific segments …. very focused so people don’t get lost or confused. Done well, also increases quality scores for PPC.

5. Testing Page Elements:
Run A/B or multivariant tests with pages … including forms on specific pages, complexity of forms, layout, images, benefit statements, action triggers (calls to action), names and descriptions of downloadable assets, etc. Case study showed, if she hit visitors with form on main landing page, conversions fell by half. Good example!

6. Offer Action Options
Give people alternative options to outright purchase. Sometimes visitors are further looking to reduce risk before buying, and options help with this.

7. Simplify Registration Forms:
Complex registration forms with many fields often reduce conversions substantially. Keep it as simple as possible. Sometimes, start slow with initial form, then follow up with email or telemarketing.

8. Implement Lead Qualifiecation Process:
Progressively weed out leads that are obviously bogus or unqualified. Automate where possible, and consider only those quality leads in evaluating effectiveness of the media.

Barbara C. Coll, CEO, WebMama.com Inc.

Enterprise Sales Force:
Marketing goal … fill the pipeline with qualified, high quality leads. Segment the leads; A leads, B leads, etc.

What does marketing think people want?
a. free trial
b. view demo
c. screenshots
d. etc.

What is the priority order of trust?
a. download something – If you can get someone to download something, and interact with it … then they become qualified. Should only then goto a sale rep as an A lead
b. demo – many different versions, but typically leads to more qualified leads.

As a result of these leads, sales reps can cherry pick leads. As search marketers, how can we make sure we send nice ripe red cherries to sales?
a. optimize for more than home page and product category pages … specific product pages!!!
b. point paid search clicks at aggressive lead generation pages.

Goal of search firm? Make search visitors an Alead. How?
a. force it into Alead bucket if it is a high converting paid search word
b. can’t treat all traffic the same
c. educate the reps by showing them the paid search numbers
d. check to see what the reps are following up on when search leads come in (sit quietly in a booth next to them when they’re on a call to find more keywords)
e. give them more of the search leads they’re following up on

Review Sales Success Measures:
a. close rate
b. time to close
c. average selling price
d. quarterly quota

Adam Goldberg, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, ClearSaleing

Tracking … when sales are not made online.

Advertising Ecosystem … means for tracking sales and assists through the system:
Advertising Services (Media or keyword) > Capture Advertising Analytics … meaning either
a. No Sale
b. Phone Call
c. Lead Form Submitted
d. Purchase

b and c above lead into CRM software, which again either results in:
a. sale
b. no sale
both of which can be detected by a good analytics solution

In the end, really good quality tracking is possible and available. Not just for search, but for all media.

Currently, most companies evaluate media or keyword effectiveness based on CPL or cost per lead. Adam argues CPL does not matter, but in fact ROI. So … find ways to measure ROI. Ultimately it costs more, but is well worthwhile.

Other metrics cause concern too … eg. click through %. Again, that can be misleading too. In the end, its still about ROI … which keyword or ad text is the best.

Be a careful though to consider Assists (on a personal note … this is a great piece of advice). Advertising is about more than measuring only sales results, much as basketball players cannot be measured merely on points they get. Some players are role players … with a primary role of setting up goals. Same in marketing eg.
3 Roles in advertising:
a. introducers – eg. banner, email … typically broad phrase math on general terms
b. influencers – eg. often search and using terms such as manufacturer names
c. closers – eg. often search using very specific keywords such as specific product names or model numbers

Leads to an understanding or “common purchase paths”, and the progression of terms people used to come to an ultimate purchase decision. Ultimately, you have to be very careful when relying too much oon ROI, and understand the role of each keyword or media in the ecosystem.
If you remove the introducers or influencers, then closers aren’t necesarily set up to make the sale. THe analogy used was that of a basketball coach considering which players to sit. Should he sit someone who doesn’t have many points, though is an assist leader. No … because then the scorer isn’t set-up to work to his strengths.

Karen Breen Vogel, President and CEO, ClearGauge

1. B2B … What’s different than B2C
– B2B is a considered purchase.
a. Goals – start or develop relationships
b. Engines – major search and business/vertical-specific engines
c. keyword – buying cycle and role based
d. Messages – Value prop/offer aligned to buying cycle and role
e. Landing PAges – Options doe Interactions/content/next date
f. Tracking ROI – show ROI pipeline present value, cost/behaviour

2. Case for SEO in B2B
Interesting stat; 64% of search engine users are searching for business information.

Pros:
a. ppc costs increasing
b. higher click-thru rates on organic
c. credibility and branding from organic
d. paid and organic reinforce
e. wider buying cycle coverage
f. cost is mostly upfront and not ongoing
g. more appropriate if sales are not measureable or level of lead quality is suspect

Cons:
a. lack of control in ranking algorithms
b. competition
c. immediacy of results

Conclusion:
a. make seo a priority – add ppc as needed
b. exceptions exist but typically is fruitful for most B2B companies.

3. Key Challenges and Solutions
a. keyword selection
b. low sample sizes – small numbers make multivariant testing difficult. Solution; vary only a very few variables (2-4) at a time.
c. get vertical … the more targeted the vertical search engine the better
d. qualified leads per cycle
e. try to determine the value of people taking different actions (ie. the value of someone downloading, taking an online seminar, etc.)
f. make a quick KPI (key performance indicator) dashboard for the executives so they can see the wins and buy in.

Jeff Quipp is President of Search Engine People Inc. A Toronto SEO, SEM, PPC Firm