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Why B2B Businesses Should Embrace Search Marketing

The reason is because it works, and the smartest businesses – B2B and B2C – have embraced it. But before I explain why, I’ll explain why some B2Bs are slow to embrace “search.”

The No. 1 reason is that they don’t know what it is – it’s new marketing territory. Online marketing in general – we all know that works. And most businesses have adopted it simply by having a website. They’re past the fear and curiosity stage and trust that it works.

But now there’s a newer component, search marketing. You’ve probably been doing it without realizing, simply by caring about your content and using terminology that’s common in your industry.

But today, it’s not enough to use the terminology that represents how your industry talks. You also have to know how people search. We’re learning that how we say something in conversation or in marketing materials is not how we search for the same topic. And we also know that it’s easy to think that “our” way of phrasing something is how the rest of the industry phrases it. This isn’t true: buzzwords change all the time, and there are built-in differences across geographical boundaries. Americans say “trunk” for the storage space in their car. The British say “boot.” If you sell “trunk liners,” you’re also selling “boot liners.”

And while we’re at it, someone searching “boot liners” in Google might be looking for something to keep their work boots smelling fresh, right? Now you see why you need to embrace search marketing.

And it’s not just how your customers search, it’s what they’re searching for. With B2B, it’s always surprising to see how many people are actually looking for documentation and thought leadership. If they are searching for “hazardous electrical documentation,” you will want to provide documentation and you’ll want to call it “hazardous electrical documentation” on your site.

Now you might be asking, “How do we know they’re searching for this, and in this way?” Good question, because you can’t be putting resources against spec sheets, white papers and other goodies if you only suspect there’s a demand for them. Well, we know what web users are demanding because now there are robust and intuitive tools tell us, starting with Google’s Keyword Planner. It can tell us what customers in your category are searching for online, where they live, all the terms they use to search for something, and how often.

Before tools like this – and Google’s Keyword Planner is free, by the way, though it requires expertise to use it powerfully – we would troll forums and competitors’ sites to see what topics and words are popular. That still has its uses: smart companies do monitor forums and competitor websites to see which words and topics are trending. But for scientific precision, they then double-check their hunches with tools like the Keyword Planner – and then they modify their site to reflect current topic and word trends. This is crucial to ensure that your site ranks high in searches by your potential customers.

Now that you know what search marketing is, here’s the No. 2 reason companies don’t always embrace it. Today, search data is actionable right away – in the past it took weeks or months to collect or present: no longer. But today’s speed is intimidating to some companies because it means you need an agile sign-off hierarchy – and you need to trust the advice of your digital agency or in-house experts.

Before I worked at Symmetri, I worked in-house at a large national drugstore chain. The manager of search marketing was on a first-name basis with the CEO, and this direct communication made powerful, responsive search marketing possible. It also should prove to you how important search marketing is to any company that markets online at all.

Long ago, web marketing moved past the principle of “if you build it, they will come.” In fact, one of the huge lessons of the web in general is that consumers now call many of the shots: they can tailor their web experience to their needs, not yours. So your website has to meet their needs. It has to reflect the kinds of information they really are searching for and the way they’re searching for it. And it has to reflect their ever-changing terminology and their hot buttons.

In a way, your website isn’t just a reflection of your product and services inventory. It’s an inventory itself. So make sure it contains what people want. And embrace search marketing!

Want to talk more about this? Email me at [email protected].