3 Elements Every B2B Demand Generation Strategy Must Have
With B2B buyers nearly 60 percent through the sales cycle before contacting a supplier and engineers investing the equivalent of more than one full workday per week consuming content, leading B2B firms are increasingly realizing the value of having an effective marketing and demand generation strategy.
Yet while search engine optimization (SEO) will improve organic ranking and can increase their leads, today (and moving forward), B2B firms are discovering that SEO alone does not make a successful strategy. Focusing on SEO alone overlooks the opportunity to maximize its value.
Historically, the main goal of SEO services was to drive more traffic to a website. Today that’s only 33 percent of the puzzle, as more traffic does not necessarily mean more demand for your offerings, which is the key business objective for most B2B firms. To profitably and sustainably meet and convert customer demand, it’s up to B2B firms to be visible with the right audiences, to be educational and persuasive at the right times, and to provide an effective user experience that accelerates customers through the sales cycle, delighting them along the way. It’s a tall order.
To maximize your marketing investment and generate profitable demand, leading B2B firms are leveraging SEO, content marketing, and user experience to work together and drive demand. Only then will your marketing be a competitive differentiator. If your SEO strategy is to simply rank highly on relevant keywords, it’s greatly missing out on the real value of SEO and wasting marketing dollars.
Search Engine Optimization
Effective SEO is critical to helping your content be discovered. It is focused on aligning your online presence to the latest search engine algorithm requirements, which in turn drives traffic to your website. With 75 percent of people never looking past the first page of search engine results, this is a critical component to a B2B firm’s demand generation strategy. In fact, 57 percent of B2B marketers stated that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative. And it’s no wonder: 61 percent of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.
But if you’re simply focusing on driving visitors to your site, you might be overlooking the business objective of accelerating those visitors through the sales cycle and meaningfully converting them into customers. After all, if prospects visit your site because you rank highly in searches for “manufacturing technology providers,” and then they quickly see that you website’s content isn’t valuable and/or the site offers a poor user experience, they’ll leave. This sends a signal to search engines that your site didn’t do a great job of addressing the query, which will hurt your organic ranking for that search term.
Content marketing can be thought of as the intersection of what companies create and what customers want. If as a B2B firm you are creating content that’s of minimal value to your customers, it’s just noise. Similarly, if B2B firms are creating content to only address customer concerns without considering how this will benefit your business, it’s charity.
Leading companies focus on the sweet spot that provides customers the education and value they’re looking for while incrementally helping their company move in the right direction.
But for maximum effectiveness, content marketing must work in conjunction with effective SEO and user experience. After all, if you create the most amazing content that perfectly addresses your customers’ needs and your business needs, but it’s not found by your target audience, then it amounts to resources wasted.
Have you ever visited a website and immediately been confused, annoyed, or unsatisfied with the resulting experience? This is particularly a problem with mobile users; seventy-nine percent of people who don’t like what they find at one site—who find a site difficult to use, or the experience unpleasant—will go search for another one. Thus, as you’re establishing your demand generation strategy and implementing SEO and content marketing, it is critical that your strategy considers user experience and cross-channel marketing. In the end, if you’ve worked toward ranking highly for the right keywords and developing effective content for each phase of the buying journey, only to see your perfect customer leave your website and check out a competitor due to a poor user experience, you’ve lost.
As with most marketing initiatives, demand generation requires a clear understanding of your target audience, their buying journey, and your competitive differentiators, supported by the right analytics. Only then can your demand generation strategy ensure that the right audience is able to find the content they’re looking for, and that this content, reflecting both customer and business needs and buoyed by a pleasing user experience, will drive and accelerate winning results.
Dan Konstantinovsky is responsible for strategic marketing at RH Blake, a leading B2B marketing agency with more than 30 years of experience helping clients in the manufacturing ecosystem generate leads and grow.