The biggest driver of leads for the B2B marketer? Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed by BtoB Magazine said email marketing was the online channel that contributed the most qualified leads to their businesses, according to a recent eMarketer article.
While social media and PPC (SEO was conspicuously missing from the survey) were also top lead sources, this type of logic rings true for many of the B2B organizations we work with as well. Website search presence undoubtedly brings lead opportunities into the sales funnel, but email invitations for more qualified content strategies such as webinars, events, and trade shows are likely to close the deal as well.
It’s difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. The eMarketer article indicates that 59 percent of those surveyed view lead generation as their greatest online marketing challenge. With that pressure in mind, it’s also difficult to move away from the strategies that continue to work well.
Instead of bucking the trend, B2B search engine marketers should work toward aligning their goals with what has worked well for their organizations. In this case, building the email marketing database.
Here are three practical steps tying SEO and PPC initiatives to the continued development of the email marketing list.
Make Email Subscription a Conversion Benchmark
There are several potential metrics B2B marketers can use to benchmark an SEO program. While B2B organizations naturally gravitate to the desire to acquire sales ready leads, search engine marketers need to lead the effort in developing a spectrum of lead opportunities from an SEO program.
While email subscription will probably not lead to an immediately qualified sales prospect, setting goals in coordination with email acquisition sets the stage for more effective conversion attribution in SEO campaign evaluation.
Measurements to consider:
- Growth in overall email information and the quality of email address details
- Conversion rate of email acquisition at the page level and by keyword strategies
Create More Visibility to Email Subscriptions in Page Templates
Landing page optimization is a critical component of any search engine marketing initiative. Consider supporting primary conversion goals with an opportunity to acquire email subscriptions as well. Places B2B search engine marketers could consider optimizing for email as a secondary conversion include:
- Below the primary form submission
- In utility navigation
- Confirmation page messaging
Places where email subscription could be considered a primary conversion opportunity include:
- Blog and blog post navigational stream
- Social media assets
- As additional correspondence in email and traditional marketing collateral
- Mobile applications
Contact AdWords About the Communication Extensions Beta
Not widely adopted and hard to find in terms of (ironic) communication, the AdWords communications extension beta could become another way to drive email registrations for the B2B organization.
Via this support thread on Google AdWords:
“Currently, the communication extentions are tested by the team on a small portion of selected accounts. However, if you’d like to participate in beta testings, you need to email/call the support team, provide details about your account and submit it. ”
There is a concern over the quality of email information users would put into such a form submission. While forum thread conversion indicated that “there has been a lot of great feedback from the advertisers who have been testing these features“, a recent interview in WebProNews from Aweber had not seen “a ton of traffic”, but they’ve learned a few things in the first month of adoption to improve usage over time.
A few basic considerations:
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; if approved set aside a subset of keywords or separate campaigns to test
- Test ad position to determine maximum effectiveness
- Evaluate competitive ads and offerings for specific keywords selected
The eMarketer article goes on to explain that even though email marketing is the top lead generation source, B2B marketers and agencies felt that social media in particular has room to grow for their organizations. Fifty-five percent of all organizations surveyed believe that social media showed great promise but was still in too early a stage in their marketing strategy to tell for certain. Only 5 percent of respondents described their social media efforts as “well-optimized,” compared with 30 percent who felt that way about their email programs.
With the influence social media will bring to search engine marketing programs over time, these findings make it much more of an imperative for B2B SEO’s in short- and long-term scenarios. Search engine marketers should seek to take the lead in social media but must also demonstrate clear tie-in to the current B2B internet marketing programs driving leads for the organization as well.
Don’t ignore online marketing channels that work and are trusted like email marketing. Build the case for SEO and PPC to support and enhance all channels of lead opportunity, existing and in development.