B2B SEO 2012 Strategy Planning: 4 Recommendations

In early November, Webmarketing123 released their first state of digital marketing report. The report surveyed more than 500 B2B and B2C marketing professionals, with roughly a 66-34 percent split, respectively. The report takes an in-depth look at digital marketing focus, impact of SEO, PPC, and social media programs, and where marketing managers are focusing budget in 2012.

Some of the key findings from this report:

  • 57 percent of B2Bs say SEO makes the biggest impact on their lead generation activities. 
  • 55 percent of companies have closed deals from social media leads. 
  • Social media is expected to see the biggest increase in investment moving into 2012.

As the rest of the B2B marketing field evaluates their 2011 initiatives, the data in this report will be helpful. B2B marketers can use this survey data for benchmarking the digital marketing landscape, supporting (or refuting) current initiatives, and establishing criteria for new SEO, PPC, and social media priorities moving forward.

Here are four key takeaways B2B SEOs should consider, as they plan for 2012 and work harder to ensure SEO remains a part of the overall Internet marketing strategy.

Focus Strategy on Bottom-Line Implications

most-important-objective-of-digital-marketing-program

Strategies and tactics need to tie back into overall business improvements, seeking to hit measurable goals and outcomes. The answer to question one of the survey seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget this focus when the SEO professional is deep in the trenches of everyday initiatives and campaigns.

This feedback can be found from other sources as well. In a recent questionnaire of SEO professionals conducted by Onward Search, one of the more prevalent themes in the type of advice given was align SEO strategies to overarching business goals. This was especially true with in-house SEOs, but certainly on the consulting side as well.

Matt Evans, of Monster.com said it best: “just focusing on SEO tactics without conveying the business value won't get you very far.” Indeed it is important that communication on SEO performance, and justification for new or continued SEO initiatives, must be tied back to achieving goals of the organization.

Impact all Facets of Internet Marketing Strategy

how-do-you-measure-success-digital-programs

Clearly, while lead generation and revenue/sales are top priority, measuring the success of B2B SEO initiatives cover a range of key performance indicators (KPI’s). B2B marketers need to consider a combination of metrics that incorporate keyword visibility, organic search traffic, lead generation, and overall campaign productivity.

Some of the recommended benchmarks to consider:

  • Conversions and conversion rate from organic search engine traffic. 
  • Breakdown of search traffic performance between branded, non-branded, and now "not provided" keyword search referrals (as a result of the launch of Google Encrypted Search). 
  • Percentage of search traffic and traffic performance from core keyword strategies. 
  • SEO trend analysis, including month to month and year over year measurements that demonstrate growth and improvements.

Leverage All Budgets for SEO Impact

where-allocate-majority-digital-marketing-budget

SEO can impact all facets of the digital marketing strategy and vice versa. Unearthing these opportunities from all facets of marketing initiatives is critical for B2B SEO professionals.

  • Social media helps develop relationships with site owners, publishers, and bloggers, which in turn brings new link opportunities for SEO. 
  • PPC initiatives help uncover new keyword opportunities and establish priorities across existing keyword strategies by way of conversion rates and traffic volumes.

Make sure you work with all groups and applicable external vendors to ensure SEO initiatives are being considered in their processes as well.

Digital Marketing Brings All Types of Lead Opportunities

ever-closed-deals-social-media-leads

Dismissing social media is easy when it pertains to B2B Internet marketing, particularly in delivering sales-ready leads. However, B2B SEOs need to educate their team and management on the various levels of lead opportunities their Internet marketing initiatives provide.

The B2B buying cycle is broken into six key phases:

  • Problem identification 
  • Criteria creation 
  • Search 
  • Evaluation 
  • Test and selection 
  • Procurement

SEO and social media can bring in leads from all phases of the buying process, and lead management initiatives are essential in identifying and guiding prospects appropriately.

Final Thoughts

How is your organization planning for 2012′s Internet marketing initiatives? I would love to read your thoughts and perspective via comments below.