”We are a B2B company, so we don’t need to worry about organic search or SEO.”

In our experience with various B2B and enterprise clients, we’ve heard this proclamation in one way or another. If and when the discussion comes to this, we typically utilize the example of the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), which essentially boils down to showing up at the right place, at the right time, and with the right content in order to capture customers at the key decision-making instant.

Being in a B2B sales environment doesn’t dehumanize this process, because people are still the ones making purchasing decisions. According to Google, 71% of people they spoke with use the internet on a daily basis for their business purchase decisions. The questions are: are you there (mobile, tablet, PC), is the content relevant, and is it delivered in a timely way?

”Why do we need content development and strategy if we’re primarily B2B?”

Simply put, if you don’t have content being created on a regular basis, it’s going to be like mission impossible to not only acquire new customers, but retain existing ones. Research has shown that content is of utmost importance to all stages of the purchasing process. Having a plan around content marketing is mission-critical in terms of conveying your products’ features, benefits, and key differentiating factors.

This process starts with the right types of content. Content isn’t isolated to just words on pages, but also images and videos as well. People can find just about anything in the search results, from PDFs (brochures) to online video demos. All of these must work to both represent your brand and differentiate your company from the competition.

”But our target audience already knows our products and our company.”

There are companies out there that I feel very familiar with, but that’s completely different from knowing enough to make a purchasing decision. Without proper details, research, and competitive information, the decision becomes far more difficult. This is because so many factors impact that final purchase decision, including the personnel involved (department heads, procurement, etc.).

Internal site search is a great opportunity to help these folks find relevant content about your company. However, if the best practices for organic search aren’t implemented across this information, it won’t matter how much you’ve invested in your enterprise search configuration. Garbage in means garbage out, and in this case, it means a poor experience for someone looking to learn more about (and maybe even purchase) your products.

”Trade shows and publication ads work for us.”

But can you prove it? I’ve noticed that some B2B companies put a significant amount of their budgets into trade shows or conferences without assessing or measuring their influence on the purchasing process. Prospective clients may visit your booth or see an advertisement, but as some point, they’re going to want more proof that you’ve got the solution to their problems. The ideal setup for trade show marketing is a marketing mix that includes organic search, direct mail, a phone call, email, etc. (aka “multichannel”). In the end, it is the process behind nurturing these prospects that will drive sales growth.

”How can we justify the cost of an organic search campaign?”

You can assess the influence that most tactics that are associated with your marketing mix have on purchasing or lead generation. Organic search should go deeper than a simple justification of cost; it should also be a part of a cost analysis for all tactics within your marketing mix. It is the ability to identify what contributes to revenue and high profit margins which are vital to all businesses.

If you’re still unsure of the way organic search, content, and strategy work together in the B2B environment, then I would recommend the following:

  • Read ZMOT for more details that focus on B2B
  • Run a few searches on keywords that prospects are using (see search queries in Webmaster Tools or matched queries from paid search) that led to an action on your website such as a download, form submission, etc. This way, you’ll be able to see if your most engaged visitors are actually getting to the most relevant information on your company, products, or solutions
  • Determine which marketing tactics are attributing to leads, sales, and revenue over the customer’s entire purchase process
  • Take a hard look at your “big ticket” items within your marketing mix and assess the cost per sale
Are you willing to take a second look at your B2B search strategy? Share your story in the comments!

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