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Search Marketing Works for B2B, Too

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Most people assume search marketing works only to reach consumers, but it's actually quite effective for businesses wishing to connect with other businesses, as well.

How are business-to-business companies tapping into the B2B audience via search? For those who stayed to see the last session on the last day of the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, there were plenty of lessons to be learned and examples to examine in the B2B Case Studies session moderated by Anne Kennedy, Managing Partner at Beyond Ink.

A special report from the Search Engine Strategies conference, August 7-10, 2006, San Jose, CA.

David Szetela, CEO of Clix Marketing, Jon Lisbin, Chief Strategist of Point It! Inc. and Rick Brown, President of NetTrack presented their B2B case studies and demonstrated ways to more effectively utilize PPC advertising, landing page SEO, web analytics and paid inclusion on vertical aggregator sites to increase the effectiveness of online marketing for firms in the B2B space.

David Szetela, CEO of Clix Marketing spoke first, using a fictional company—"Acme Widgets"—to demonstrate some of the typical mistakes firms make when beginning a PPC marketing campaign and some of the strategies his company uses to increase the value generated by investments in PPC advertising. Szetela highlighted a number of categories of potentially valuable keyword bids that went beyond just the name of the product or service being offered.

He suggested including wholesale terms, brand terms, bad plurals, misspellings, full domains as well as the brand names and domains of key competitors in PPC campaigns because such terms cost little to the advertiser and can often bring in relevant traffic. Szetela also urged the audience to remember the importance of basic marketing strategies like including keywords in the headline of the ad, coupling ad groups with relevant landing pages, highlighting product benefits rather than features and constant testing of ad variations.

Jon Lisbin, Chief Strategist of Point It! Inc. spoke next. Lisbin's presentation examined a PPC and SEM campaign for Onvia, a software company that specializes in assisting companies win government contracts.

Lisbin explained how Point It! had worked with Onvia to develop a SEM campaign that continually tested more than 80 ad themes with optimized landing pages centered on various offer types in order to achieve specific sales force goals. Lisbin went on to explain how potential sales leads were targeted by what phase of the purchasing process they were in.

Point It! used educational sites and blogs to target those just beginning to consider trying to win a government contract and more highly targeted ad copy utilizing "ultra-qualified tail terms" for companies ready to commit to purchasing Onvia's services. Lisbin concluded by sharing the results of the campaign which demonstrated a gradual reduction in the advertising cost Onvia paid per qualified sales lead.

Rick Brown, President of NetTrack closed out the session with a discussion of the effectiveness of paid inclusion in vertical aggregator sites like ThomasNet, GlobalSpec and Industrial Quick Search. Brown articulated his endorsement of such aggregators cautiously, saying that they can bring in relevant traffic as well as provide valuable links to a company's homepage but that many of the metrics such websites use to promote their services (such as "reach," "page views," and "brand activity") don't have much impact on a client's bottom line.

He also noted that the value of the links from content aggregators is highest when the landing page can be controlled and there is a one to one relationship between the product category being searched and the landing page on a firm's website. Brown suggested than firms who invest in paid inclusion on a vertical aggregator site have their own analytics like ClickTracks to determine the value of the traffic coming in from sites like Industrial Quick Search.

Greg Jarboe is President of SEO-PR and a partner in Newsforce. He was a speaker at the "News Search SEO" session and conducted the "Press Release SEO Workshop" at SES San Jose '06.

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