David will be speaking about “Business to Business Search Marketing” at Searchfest 2009 which will be held March 10th in Portland, Oregon. Get your tickets now.
1) Please give me your background and tell us what you do for a living (w/ links).
I started working in online media back in 1996 and helped shape the online strategy and sales organization for a few large digital publishers in the B2B space. Currently I am a Strategic Sales Director for Business.com, the leading B2B directory, search engine and PPC ad network. At Business.com, I work with large national SEM agencies and their clients to ensure they see strong ROI and optimize their search strategies. Personally, it has been wonderful watching search marketing mature from a largely tactical and autonomous marketing function to an essential piece of any strategic integrated marketing plan.
2) When somebody tells you that they don’t need to advertise with Business.com because they use AdWords, how do your respond?
Many of our advertisers also run on at least one of the general engines. What many marketers need to understand is that it’s not an either/or conversation. Consider the traditional marketing approach: start targeted, get the messaging down, and then expand to bigger, more general audiences. In other words, you start with a print ad in a small trade pub, then go for the Wall St. Journal once you know your messaging works.
Many people just starting out in online search, and even some vets, begin with the biggest traffic fire hose imaginable – one of the Big 3 general engines. Then they spend the next 3-6 months or more cutting out the clutter until the campaign performs.
Business.com offers marketers a unique opportunity to target only business buyers. We deliver the highest concentration of business decision makers at every phase of the buying cycle. When you dive into Business.com audience composition, there is very little waste. Our demographics tell a powerful story when it comes to high quality traffic that converts. It is very clear that any B2B search strategy that relies solely on the general engines is missing key opportunities with their core audience.
In this economic climate, we are also seeing that most advertisers are looking for increased efficiency in all aspects of their marketing plans, including search. Many of our clients tell us that their SEM budget goes further by increasing the mix of vertical placements. We also hear that more targeted advertising opportunities like Business.com are typically faster and easier to set-up and manage than the general search engines.
3) The “B to B” sale typically involves several touches with each prospect over a period of time. How can advertisers make sure that they touch prospects in every stage of the sales cycle?
This is a great question. Not only is the B2B sales cycle often longer, but there are also multiple decision makers influencing the process. Different types of sites are tuned to specific stages in the buying process – general search engines are great for Awareness, but directories are much faster/easier/more relevant for Research/Negotiation phase.
Business.com provides several tools such as the ability to have four unique URLs in each featured listing, so that the advertiser can speak to the various points in the sales process. As an example, a software company might offer the following links below their main listing; “Free Trial”, “White Paper”, “FAQ”, and “Webinar” to help educate their prospects at all phases of the purchasing process. These multilinks, as we call them, are free with any PPC campaign.
Measurement is also a key factor here. Unfortunately, B2B SEM trails its consumer counterpart in adoption of accepted conversion metrics. B2B is simply not as transactional as consumer search, and conversion activity is often defined by softer metrics. In the past year, we have already seen a sharp increase in customers who have the ability to track their SEM traffic from initial interest through to revenue generation. These insights allow us to work with each client to fine tune their campaign to make sure we speak to their entire customer base at all points of the sales cycle.