Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Search marketing: B2C vs B2B

If you do business-to-business search marketing, this MarketingProfs article is worth a read. There's lots of good stuff there (and it's the first in a series) but there's one great point I want to call out: the challenge of measuring conversion for B2B searchers:

While the ultimate goal of both B2C and B2B marketing is to create a sale, the goal of B2B search engine optimization couldn't be more different from its B2C counterpart. SEO's goal in the B2C environment is usually to generate an online sale in a single visit. Ideally, searchers find a high-ranking site in the search engine results and navigate quickly from the landing page through a prescribed channel, and ultimately through the shopping cart and checkout process.

This, however, is unrealistic for most business-to-business marketers, whose products and services are generally not acquired in an e-commerce environment. The goal of search engine optimization for most B2B marketers is not an immediate sale but, rather, inclusion in the consideration set, the short list of preferred suppliers from which the ultimate provider will be selected.

Conversion in the B2B realm is usually not immediate; nor does conversion typically occur online. In B2B search engine optimization, getting found is merely the beginning.

That makes measurement much harder. (It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who had a housewares/giftware business. He was going to his trade shows, while I was going to IT shows. He said, "Yes, we broke even on the show at 1:30 on Tuesday. I was so jealous - we were trying to analyze our ROI for months after the event.)

I'll just toss out one technique that's useful if you're using something like Adwords, which gives you simple conversion tracking. B2C marketers can use that to see which searchers bought something. B2B folks can't do that, but you can come up with some kind of interim conversion - downloading your white paper, signing up for your seminar, etc.

It's not the ultimate goal but it at least gives you a discrete event to track as you map out the whole purchasing process and try to measure results at each step of the way.

I'm looking forward to the next article in the series.

No comments: