SES Update: B2B Tactics

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The session started with Patricia Hursh from SmartSearch Marketing outlined 8 tips for successful PPC advertising:

1) Reach prospects early in the buying cycle

2) Focus and align copy (through the cycle)

3) Pre-qualifying clickers/visitors

4) Create landing pages and microsites

5) Test pages continuously

6) Offer multiple action options

7) Simplify registration forms

8) Implement a lead nurturing process

Reaching prospects earlier on is a huge opportunity to leverage traffic by purchasing generic early-stage terms. The next step is to associate ad copy to the keyword buy, from generic to specific in terms of information all the way to price-based offers for late-cycle buyers. Pre-qualifying visitors with descriptive ad copy will filter out unwanted and costly traffic. Developing custom microsites provides focused content and conversion elements and can end-around internal IT departments typically in charge of Web sites. As we’ve heard in other presentations, A/B testing is highly recommended. In one case, Hursh found one landing page generated a higher conversion rate with the inquiry form on a separate page. She also recommends testing layout, images, benefit statements, action triggers, downloadable asset names (trial download, white paper, etc.), registration form placement and required fields. In one case, a client saw a 5.8 percent conversion rate increase to 12.2 percent in 3 months through testing. In another example, Hursh recommended 2 additional options (download, Webinar and product tour) generated an increased inquiry volume. In another test, the conversion rate increased from 5.5 percent to 15.5 percent when reducing required fields from 15 to 2. Next up, Barbara Coll with WebMama.com Inc. discussed search and the enterprise sales force. Coll outlines the most common pipeline lead sources: trial and demo. She reminds us that search needs to drive potential customers through high priority, high trust lead generation channels by optimizing for more than hope page and product category pages as well as pointing PPC program to focused landing pages and microsites. Coll also suggests that the sales force should make search an A lead, so long as the data supports it. Although all traffic may not be of the same value, educating the reps and monitoring the process is critical to incorporating quality search leads into the process. The next step is to review sales success measures: close rate, time to close, average sales price and quarterly quotas. Next up, Adam Goldberg with ClearSaleing outlined B2B sales tactics and measurement. Although fraught with technical issues, Goldberg’s presentation outlined the importance of profitability on a keyword to product basis. Bottom line: so long as the leads are profitable, the cost-per-lead it doesn’t matter as much. He showed an example of 4 tiered analysis by keyword, ad or campaign, including CTR, orders, revenue and most importantly, profit. In the example the lowest performing ad (CTR, orders and revenue) generated the highest profit. Goldberg then compared SEM to basketball in an analogy where points and shooting percentage is typically what a coach looks at, but may be missing the assists as a components. He then outlined a 3 tiered approach to PPC: introducers (broad match and general terms), influencers (manufacturer name, shopping engines, etc.) and closers (exact match, model numbers and branded terms). Lastly, Karen Breen Vogel at ClearGauge discussed the differences between B2B and B2C and the key challenges and solutions. Specifically, Vogel touched on the lower sample sizes in B2B, challenges in avoiding waste (due to noise) and valuing a visit or conversion. According to Vogel, the heart of B2B marketing is the considered purchase, involving multiple decisions makers, compelling ROI statements, case studies and other specific content. She highly recommends vertical search engines, which help pre-qualify the audience. According to Vogel, 64 percent of search engine users are searching for business information. Organic search has distinct advantages over other channels, including higher CTR, awareness and credibility and amortized up-front investment is more affordable than PPC over time. On the downside, there is the obvious lack of control over placement and visibility, competition and lack of immediacy of results. Vogel recommends using only 2 to 4 variables for multivariate testing, yet A/B testing is particularly valuable for B2B due to smaller sample sizes. Perhaps the most important recommendation was to measure the entire buying cycle. Specifically, Vogel’s company assigns a step of the buying cycle to each lead as well as associating the value of that lead within the overall pipeline. The resulting weighted business value can help identify lead value across referral source. By plugging the resulting data back into the process, you can value each lead and determine break-even CPA. In a GE dashboard example, Vogel shares 2 dials (PPC activity against other sources) and 3 KPIs trended over time. For seasoned B2B SEM professionals, this session was excellent validation, but was likely very insightful for neophytes.

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