Last Wednesday, the first B2B Search Strategy Summit was held in San Francisco. The conference was chaired by Mary O'Brien, of Overture/Yahoo and PPC Summit fame.
The premise was simple (and long overdue): bring together the top minds in B2B search for a day of focused discussion and networking. I was excited to attend, and honored to be asked to speak on the case study panel.
After the show, and as I reflected on the day, it occurred to me just how practical and applicable much of the content was. That's something many conferences can't claim.
What follows are highlights of the most interesting and practical nuggets shared at this great event.
Technology Enables Change
Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro kicked off the event during his opening keynote by introducing some of the key discoveries from Enquiro Research's "The BuyerSphere Project." Seeing and hearing Hotchkiss walk through this material was fascinating.
Of everything that Hotchkiss discussed, the piece that stood out to me most was his conclusion that "technology doesn't cause change, technology enables change..." As B2B marketers, we'd be wise to remember that chasing the shiny new object isn't necessarily the best approach. There is always a lag between technological change and audience adoption/behavioral change.
The use of technology to help shape and inform purchase decisions among a C-suite executive audience is one behavioral change that has been documented. The C-suite had previously been considered somewhat removed from the information-gathering process that precedes a transaction. Hotchkiss referenced that shift, a discovery that was introduced formally in a 2009 study, "The Rise of the Digital C-Suite." Proof that accessibility of information has changed a key component to organizational buying patterns.
Expert Hot Seat
The Expert Hot Seat session was purely Q&A; there were no formal presentations, just dialogue between the audience and panelists. There were representatives from Google (Frederick Vallaeys), Microsoft (Valerie Bolduc), Business.com (Patricia Neuray), and Enquiro (Hotchkiss). Of note:
- Microsoft: They're set to release new tools within its adCenter platform that will better enable the B2B search marketer to reach its audiences.
- Google: Better mobile device targeting is coming soon. Think ad formats for specific mobile platforms. Frederick also gave the somewhat ambiguous promise that Google is "committed to help advertisers make sense of the data available to them." This followed a comment that, generally speaking, many advertisers are overwhelmed with the amount of data that is accessible via AdWords and Analytics.
- Business.com: They offer advertisers campaign tracking that ties together display and search, and also shows the linear progression of touches that lead to conversion enabling simple attribution modeling for better campaign optimization.
- Enquiro: Hotchkiss commented that during later stages of purchase consideration, people begin searching for brand queries that revolve around understanding more about an organization: how do they treat employees? How do they treat customers? Favorably answering these questions across landing pages and websites could net more sales for the savvy B2B marketer.
Effective Landing Page Optimization for Lead Generation
Lance Loveday, Closed Loop Marketing, presented three client examples as exemplary of the type of conversion optimization work his firm does. Closed Loop's landing page optimization methodology revolves around the "3 Cs of LPO": Credibility, Clarity, Call-to-Action. Focus your testing and optimization efforts around the "3 Cs" in order to effectively communicate to and convert your website visitors.
Loveday also emphasized that conversion optimization isn't a destination, and shared a case study where total conversion improvement has increased by six times through ongoing refinement and refusing to be satisfied.
PR -- The Oft-Forgotten Piece of B2B Online Strategy
Greg Jarboe, SEO-PR, presented an intriguing case study of a client whose small budget prevented it from advertising against the traditional industry keyword searches, where competition was fierce.
The solution? Create a new category of keyword phrases through online public relations and then "own" that new category.
His case involved online news release optimization and distribution, coupled with engaging web videos that were placed across YouTube. By effectively using free or cheap online promotional tools, he successfully created awareness and interest in a new set of keyword phrases, in which his client dominated the search results. It netted his client more than $1 million in sales before the product was even available.
When you can't compete for queries, create your own.
Why Blogs and Social Media Should be Part of Every B2B Marketers Toolkit
Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing, closed out the conference with an interesting take on B2B social media best practices. He advocated that B2B organizations consider positioning the corporate blog as the hub of their "social SEO" strategies. Then, through what he called the "Cycle of Social & SEO," organizations would capture more social exposure, fans, friends and followers, as well as search links and referrals.
The entire concept is predicated on the belief that creating content to appease Google is the wrong strategy. Rather, create content that your customers would appreciate and that aligns to business objectives.
Practical lessons from a collection of industry veterans, and the first in hopefully a long string of B2B focused search events.
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