The Real Person Behind the Search Keyword

Reading Mike Grehan’s recent article “Understanding Your Customers Language” is a good reminder – albeit a somewhat subtle one – of the importance of occasionally putting away all the online demographics and keyword research tools we rely on to build effective B2B search marketing campaigns to spend some time focusing on the real person behind the search keyword and what they intend to accomplish.

So much of the focus in search marketing education is on tools to slice-and-dice the traces of activity people leave as they go about finding answers online. Many B2B marketers I speak with want to know the best tools for finding the highest volume search keywords, generating new keywords, identifying competitor keywords, etc.  The intent behind their question is often to build out that perfect list of keywords that will lead to certain search marketing success.

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t in the tool. Its in the person typing in the keywords that the tools help you identify and organize.

Try this – commit just 30 minutes a week to learning something about your target audience that doesn’t involve aggregated metrics or research summaries:

  • Ask a few members of  your Sales team how a new prospect typically describes your product or service (those are keywords).
  • Read a “how-to” article in an industry publication or on – such as this one about improving collections – and take note of the terms used to describe the solution (those are keywords)
  • Ask a friend or acquaintance how they would complete this sentence for your products/services “It helps you do….”. If this person isn’t already an expert in your business, they’re telling you the words they might use to search online for a similar solution (those are keywords

To be the best at B2B search marketing, its important to not only use the tools you have, but always take time to understand the real person behind the search keyword.

B2B Web Analytics Market Share – New Study

Ever wondered what the web analytics market share is for B2B web sites?

We just completed a VERY extensive study of over 27,000 B2B web sites and the third-party web analytics programs in use on those sites. This research was made possible by a wonderful Firefox plug-in, WASP (Web Analytics Solution Profiler) from immeria.

In addition to the most current, comprehensive assessment of B2B web analytics market share, the key findings are:

44% of B2B web sites studied used no web analytics or, less likely, used a custom, in-house solution – pretty difficult to optimize B2B online marketing campaigns in a recession (or anytime!) if you don’t have any data

43% of B2B web sites used a web analytics program showing only “last click” data which attributes a conversion to the last trackable link clicked before conversion. This only provides a peek at the end of the business buying funnel

Just 6% used a web analytics program that allows users to see the influence of multiple online marketing campaigns with which a business buyer interacts on conversions

The whitepaper also includes recommended solutions for optimizing B2B online marketing campaigns in a recession.

Have a look and let us know what you think! Conversion Tracking beta Launches

In response to an increasing number of requests from advertisers, today we launched the beta release of Conversion Tracking. The new tool is especially critical for recession marketing because business-to-business (B2B) marketers are forced to deal with lengthening sales cycles, reduced budgets and staff cut-backs, and the need to keep leads flowing into the business at a lower cost.

As we heard from our advertisers, and found in our recent B2B web analytics study of over 27,000 B2B web sites, 93% of web sites don’t provide the data necessary to optimize online marketing campaigns – only 7% use a web analytics program that enables them to see multiple campaigns that influenced that conversion over time. The most popular B2B web analytics programs only show the impact of the “last click” preceding a purchase or other conversion.  The “last click” method ignores the impact of online marketing campaigns and keywords that influence prospects in the early and middle stages of the buying process.

I like to use the analogy that campaign ROI data “last click” analytics programs provide is akin to saying that a new car purchase is 100% the result of the salesperson’s skill. Of course, salesperson skill matters, but its not the entire story and simply improving salesperson training won’t sell more cars. When a car buyer steps into a dealership today, they’ve already researched the purchase online, read related car review publications, talked with their friends and may even have seen an ad in the local newspaper about a sale on the car they want which leads them to visit the dealership ready to buy. Like new car sales, business buying is slowing down, and B2B marketers are not well served by assuming 100% of the credit should go only to the last action the buyer takes prior to purchase. Conversion Tracking solves this problem for advertisers using either no web analytics program or a “last click”-type program. By creating and placing a simple tracking script on their web site, advertisers are able to see a count of all prospects who clicked on their listing(s) and eventually converted into a lead or customer. Conversion Tracking allows B2B marketers to easily track as many as six common B2B conversion types: viewing an important web page; registration for content or an event; a contact request;, a quote request; or a purchase (completed transactions or specific revenue/order size).

In our B2B web analytics study, we also found that:

·         Overall, 44% of the B2B web sites surveyed do not track web site activity or use a custom, in-house solution.

·         The remaining 49% use a third-party web analytics program which either only provides basic web site traffic data or utilizes the “last click” method.

The Conversion Tracking beta is currently open to a limited number of current advertisers. Interested direct advertisers or agencies should contact their Account Manager for more information or visit: Launches Local Business Search & New Site Design has been a B2B online leader for nearly 10 years now, and in that time we’ve learned a lot about our business users and what they want and need in a site like ours.

While we remain focused on helping business people find solutions to their business challenges, throughout the coming year you’re going to see some huge changes in how the site looks, functions and provides value to both users and advertisers.

Today, we’re announcing the following improvements to the site. These are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s to come:

Local business listings on the site

The directory has always been largely focused on vendors delivering B2B products and services nationally or internationally. Today we’ve made it possible for users to search local business listings as well through integration of local B2B search results from our sister site, As the first stage in our local search initiative, visitors to a category page are now able to specify a city and state to add local B2B company listings and a local map to their search results.

New home page combines both the top online B2B directory with over 8 million unique visitor per month and the largest collection (over 30,000!) of proprietary business how-to guides on the web. The new home page design starts us down the path of better integrating these two types of content to provide our users with a more seamless experience as they identify solutions to their business challenges and the vendors which can help deliver those solutions.

Industry-based verticals

The new home page includes a featured block at the top of the page aggregating some of the most relevant categories for people in particular industries. This is very early-stage treatment, but its a direction we’re actively pursuing and there will be more to come.

While these are significant, positive changes to the site and user experience, this is just a start and there’s much more coming throughout the coming year.

Should You List Your Company in a B2B Online Directory?

As the leading B2B online directory, we hear this question a lot at

To help you understand how to evaluate an online directory, the number of listings in different directories you should manage and how to prioritize submissions, we’ve put together this handy directory submission checklist.

Have a look if you’re curious about the role directory submissions play in your overall B2B online marketing program.

Visit at SES New York 2009

Attending Search Engine Strategies New York next week?

If so, stop by the booth (#300) on Tuesday or Wednesday, March 24-25, to enter our “Elite Business Traveler” raffle. You could be the lucky winner of a prize package valued at more than $1,000!

We also have two big announcements that we’ll be making on Tuesday. Its all hush-hush now, but we’ll be happy to let you in on the scoop if you stop by the booth.

See you in New York!

Twitter Works for B2B? Prove it!

I’m one of those dyed-in-the-wool B2B marketers who’s response to new marketing trends is “Ok, sounds interesting, but show me it works in B2B and then I’ll consider it.”

When I first heard about Twitter a couple years ago, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would be interested in things like whether or not I liked the sandwich I had for lunch. When our social media manager at suggested we really needed to try Twitter, I pulled out the old “show me it works in B2B” speech and thought the issue would go away.

Well, it didn’t. Now we’re tweeting away through accounts focused on helping users find actionable solutions to their business challenges – whatworks – and providing the latest B2B online marketing insights, stats and facts – B2BOnlineMktg. We’ve seen B2B companies doing some interesting things with Twitter, and now we’re going to prove where it works, and where it doesn’t, for our own business.

If you’re planning to try Twitter for your own business, I strongly suggest that you read Jim Sterne’s “How to Measure Engagement on Twitter – and Savor the Tweet Smell of Success”. Not only is Jim a great speaker and writer on all things web analytics, but he never lets you lose sight of the basics. The article is a quick read and covers the following:

  • Define your goals
  • Find your target audience on Twitter and engage in the conversation
  • Keep an eye on key influence metrics – Twitalizer can help
  • Act on new @replies and direct messages
  • Make sure what you’re saying is valuable to others

Make those tweets count!

Improving B2B Search Marketing ROI

In this “do more with less” era, everyone wants to know the secret sauce for improving B2B paid search marketing ROI. While there are a million and one answers to this question, the single most important thing for B2B marketers to focus on is this – improve the “list”.

Whether its search marketing, direct marketing, print advertising, trade shows or other marketing tactic, you’re going to see the greatest ROI improvements from better targeting your intended prospect audience. There are three key steps to improving paid search ROI:

1) Understand your target audience and how they use the Internet during the business buying process

We tend to forget that business buying often involves multiple search sessions over time, and that different types of sites are used more heavily during different stages of the business buying process.

Audience research tools like quantcast, Google AdPlanner, comScore or Nielsen//NetRatings are very useful, but you’re never going to truly understand how to target your prospects online unless you see the world from their perspective.

Offer to pay them for an hour of their time, visit them at their office, and ask them to walk through finding product or service like yours that they intend to buy, both showing you the steps they go through on the computer and describing what they’re looking for. Anyone who’s done this will agree – its an amazingly useful experience to really understand both where your company needs to be online and the type of information you need to provide at each step.

2) Take advantage of the advanced targeting options in your campaigns on general search engines

I spoke about audience targeting to improve paid search ROI at the 2009 Online Marketing Summit in San Diego, and asked the 70+ people in room two questions:

  • How many of you are currently managing paid search campaigns? (virtually everyone)
  • How many of you are using exact match in your Google campaigns? (two people raise their hands)

Nothing against the session attendees – they were obviously there to learn – but this is scary. General search engines help virtually anyone find virtually anything. When you’re selling a B2B product to a very specific audience, its critical to take advantage of the advanced targeting options that general search engines provide for their PPC advertisers. These include:

  • Match logic – do you allow matches on only your exact keywords, or do you allow broad matches?
  • Keyword targeting – average search query length is increasing, so are you using longer keyword phrases?
  • Ad copy – people will click on almost anything, but use ad copy to deflect the wrong audience
  • Geographic targeting – if you sell regionally, allow your ads to show in only that region
  • Day parting – show your ads when your true buyers most active online at certain parts of the day?
  • Placement targeting – choose the types of sites on which your ads will be shown
  • IP exclusions – while limited, you can prevent certain IP addresses/ranges from seeing your listings
  • Demographic targeting – options are very high level today (age, gender, income, etc.) but look for improvements

3) Create campaigns on sites with more targeted traffic

 Search marketers tend to do something very bizarre from a marketing perspective – they start with extremely broad campaigns on general search engines and then work like crazy to cut DOWN the campaign to focus on a more targeted audience, rather than starting with most targeted search sites and then expanding to general search engines. Its like running your first print ad campaign in USA Today rather than a niche publication targeting Fortune 500 CFOs if that’s who you want to reach.

Remember – business buying is a process, and paid search options exist across virtually every conceivable B2B niche. Beyond the obvious leaders such as, GlobalSpec for engineering, ThomasNet for manufacturing, Capterra for business software and others, recall your target customer research in #1 above and ask yourself the following to find additional relevant sites:

  • What sites do they visit AFTER starting at a general search engine?
  • What are the top influencers – publications, blogs, associations, etc.?
  • What sites play a key role in different stages of the buying process – vertical search/directories, niche shopping engines, product reviews, etc.?

Bottom line: if you want to improve your B2B paid search marketing ROI, you need to focus first on better targeting your intended audience.

Welcome to's B2B online marketing blog!

Welcome to’s blog covering solutions to all things B2B online marketing.

I know you’re busy…very, very busy. So am I. In this blizzard of data about B2B online marketing – search marketing, email marketing, social media, lead gen, banner advertising, web analytics and more – it can be very challenging to turn that data into useful information. But I’m going to try, and that’s what’s B2B online marketing blog is all about.

I’ve spent the last 12 years connecting business buyers and sellers online in one form or another, am a long-time research geek (yes, a Ph.D. can come in handy…) and am viscerally compelled to help people cut through the clutter and find actionable solutions.

So on to the actionable solutions….   Enjoy!