B2B Marketers: Try Improving Your ROI with These Key Web Analytic Metrics


[Guest blogger Evan LaPointe has contributed this post on web analytics.  To learn more about Evan or get your questions answered, click here.]

As I mentioned in my last post, from an analytics perspective, B2B is easier to understand when compared with B2C. This is because your visitors have budgets and defined needs, and aren’t just bored at work wondering if they really need that new red sweater. People need laser printers, insurance, air conditioning, shipping, keycard locks, and furniture; they aren’t going to abandon their search and decide to work on the floor, borrowing their kid’s MacBook. So what that means is that when you fail at selling a visitor to your site, you should be able to find out why. In the world of B2C, customers can buy from you, buy from someone else, or not buy. In B2B, however, the third option often isn’t an option at all. So it’s up to us to figure out why they’re buying somewhere else.

I think a lot of opportunities to improve your marketing and your site can be uncovered by spending some time in your web analytics tool. By focusing on a few metrics or combinations of metrics, you can start to get a good feel for where things aren’t going as well as you thought. Let’s talk about a few of these interesting metrics and reports today, and we’ll cover some more in future posts.

Bounce rate

This is one metric that is vitally important to the B2B marketer. When many people come to your site and then immediately abandon, you know their expectations were not met. Meanwhile, your precious marketing budget is going up in flames. You need to ruthlessly seek out the traffic sources and landing pages that are contributing to bounce, and figure out why it’s happening.

A particularly good metric to combine with high bounce rates is high click through rates, which tells you that people were interested in your content, but then you let them down somehow. If you are a business that has a B2C counterpart, one issue could be the B2C traffic; so be sure (both in your marketing and on your site) to explain that you are a B2B provider. While this will reduce your click-through-rates, it will meaningfully increase traffic quality, reduce bounce, and improve conversion rates. Similarly, the language you use on your site should be simple and straightforward, describing clearly what you do and where they have landed. While we assume our buyers are savvy in our particular niche, we often alienate the people in the executive suite with esoteric languages and explanations of what really could be a lot simpler. If you can’t explain your business or product in simple language, you are leaving a lot on the table (probably in a lot more places than just your web site) when the people who really do write the checks visit to research your offering.

Geography

Your web analytics tool will have reports that allow you to see, geographically, where both your visitors and your conversions come from. Compare these maps. Are some states hot converters but low traffic attracters? How about the other way around? What might these audiences need differently from each other? How are they looking for your services differently, using regional languages? What are they finding?

You should also start thinking about your offline efforts, geographically. How is your sales force represented in the areas where you’re weaker or stronger? What about your competitors?  Find out whether people are more aware of your brand vs. your competitors in different areas, and you can focus some of your sales and advertising efforts where a market share increase may have huge marginal benefits. If you need specific tools to conduct this competitor research, contact me @evanlapointe and I can suggest resources that may help you with this.

Keep Going

This is just scratching the surface of what’s possible with a good focus on analytics. Challenge yourself to think across channels and use ideas from around the organization to effect change in other areas.

And please, reach out on twitter (@evanlapointe) if you have any questions or want to work through your particular challenge. And if you’re more experienced with web analytics and want to geek out on more complex issues, check out Atlanta Analytics (discussion on analytics in business) or Occam’s Razor (where you can learn black belt hands-on analytics).


Your B2B Search Marketing & Social Media Marketing Questions Answered


This is part two of a two-part blog post – Recapping the Business.com and BtoB Webinar, ‘Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search’

As promised, we’ll address many of the additional questions asked during Thursday’s webinar that we were unable to answer during the Q&A. To view the on-demand version of the webinar, click here.

In reviewing the questions, we evidenced a common desire among marketers to understand more clearly how they can measure social media and better integrate it with their search marketing efforts, a trend supported by the responses of more than 450 marketers in our recent co-sponsored survey.

In fact, our survey revealed more than half of B2B marketers currently do not use a social media monitoring tool to measure their social media efforts, even though three-quarters of marketers are currently using social media to enhance their search marketing efforts.

It’s clear marketers understand that (1) social media is an important part of an online marketing program and (2) that social media can be used to enhance search marketing efforts. However, when it comes to truly executing on the measurement of efforts, many marketers are unclear how to proceed. Our in-webinar poll reaffirmed this assumption in showing that 41% of marketers are currently not measuring their social media efforts; only 27% are using a social media monitoring tool.

Many attendees asked us similar questions surrounding the measurement of social media and the integration of social with search; to better educate our attendees and B2B online marketers, check back in the coming weeks for our upcoming solution guide detailing the top social media monitoring tools available for B2B marketers.

In the interim, we’ve addressed some of the main questions asked during the webinar. If you have additional questions on this webinar, feel free to contact us directly or comment on this blog post.

Q: How did you define/determine ‘The Best’ and ‘The Rest’?

A: The two groups, ‘The Best’ and ‘The Rest’ were a result of respondent segmentation on this within the Business.com and BtoB Survey: “What has been the overall impact of social media channels on the search performance of your business website(s)?”

Respondents who answered as having a positive impact (either ‘very positive’ or ‘positive’) were grouped into the segment ‘The Best’ (n = 205). Respondents answering anything other than these two choices (neutral, negative, very negative or don’t know) were grouped into ‘The Rest’ (n = 259). Data was then rerun for each segment and statistical significance was analyzed.

Q: For the BtoB/Business.com Survey, you said that the survey consisted of 464 people. Was that a random sample? How did you find the participants?

A: Participants were recruited through multiple BtoB Online E-mails that went out from July 1 – 16. Recipients were asked to complete the survey and were provided with an incentive to be entered into a raffle to win an iPad.

Q: Also for the BtoB/Business.com survey, what types of businesses participated and what industries were represented?

A: Respondents were primarily B2B decision-makers in an executive or managerial role that were overseeing or managing directly both paid search and social media marketing.  Responses on key variables were not significantly different between B2B and B2C respondents so that data was pooled for analysis purposes.  Although there were some specialty marketers, many (33%) were general B2B marketers and had cross-channel roles and responsibilities.  Most companies had fewer than 250 employees (59%) and were from a variety of industries, including high/tech, advertising and media.

 

Q: Must you post on multiple social sites, or is it beneficial to focus on Facebook and Twitter? Is it necessary to also go to Digg and others? Or should you stick to one venue?

A: Again, it all depends on what your overall goals are for your social media efforts – let your objectives determine the appropriate social media channels. We found within the study that The Best marketers were using, on average, more social media channels than the rest, so definitely don’t be afraid to use more than one social media channel and continue to try out and test new channels that might fit with your overall goals.

Q: What is another option besides CTR that will help track views/sales?

A: Some social media monitoring tools like Radian6 or Viralheat are CRM compatible and will allow you to link social media activity to clients and prospects, better allowing you to capture the influence of your social media programs. The majority of CRMs (like Salesforce.com) will allow you to then pull reporting that can show activity impact among these contacts and revenue generation.

Q: In today’s economy, how can a company approach the resource issue of social media ($ or people) within the confines of existing resources… without more budget or staff (or agency expense)?

A: A few suggestions for increasing your social media footprint without increasing resource allocation are:

  1. Will work for free – Check out your local community college or university to recruit interns to come on board at no cost to you in exchange for class credits.
  2. Clearly define your social media goals – Companies who set up Twitter and Facebook accounts because they feel like it’s a “must” can easily waste valuable time and resources. Consider your social media efforts as an extension of your overarching online marketing goals to clearly understand which social media accounts are the most right for you.
  3. Get other marketers on board – Now that you know what you want to accomplish with social media, let other team members know how you can use social media to assist with their marketing programs.
  4. Establish KPIs for your efforts – Work with your colleagues to establish measurable KPIs for your social media programs.
  5. Set up a free social media monitoring tool – There are many free and easy-to-use social media monitoring tools that take minutes to set up like SocialMention or Google Alerts to help you measure the success of your social media efforts. They are great resources for monitoring all the major social media channels for conversations and mentions about your brand, product or a competitor’s product.
  6. You have a social media army – use it! – We hear you on the resource front – realistically, many companies are still lacking in a dedicated social media manager.

One way to lessen the load (or reallocate, in a way) is to educate all employees on your social media efforts and encourage them to participate. Train sales to share the latest press releases, news and product updates across their social networks; show them how to monitor the major social media channels for potential customers looking for your product or service. Let engineering or product departments serve as the ‘field experts’ for any feature and functionality conversations or questions raised in online communities and forums where they’re most likely already participating. You’ll quickly find you’re able to make a bigger impact with less stress on your end. It make take some up-front work to establish company ‘best practices’ for social media use and train employees, but the investment will pay off.

Q: How can I train for myself for social media without paying big bucks?

A: Start by using social media to find what you’re looking for! Webinars are great (and usually free) educational tools. I’d also recommend doing a quick search in YouTube to see if anyone has set up an instructional video you can watch.

 Some channels and monitoring tools also offer free demonstrations and information on their Web sites for getting started, so make sure to look there; finally, consider asking around in community forums like Business.com Answers or other online communities to see if anyone has additional advice for the best ways to get started, given what you’re looking for.

Q: I have heard that Facebook may not be as key a component of social media for B2B organizations with a niche market. Is that true, or should we have a Facebook page and post updates even if we only have 5 “friends”?

A: You need to start somewhere, right? Every company out there probably had just a few Facebook “friends” at the beginning stages of their Facebook efforts. As to whether or not Facebook is the place for you to focus your social media efforts, it depends on where your audience is and how they are using that channel. If your product has a viral element and your brand has a personality that matches that of habits and behaviors on Facebook, then it makes sense to continue there. However, if your business is more conservative and thought leadership is a key element of your marketing strategy, you may want to consider starting off with a blog or Twitter account.

Take some time to really think about the end goal for reaching your market with social media, and that will help dictate your use of social media channel. You may find you’re better served engaging in a tight-knit online forum or community where your audience has established itself.

Q: How do you build a Twitter following without a “personality” to drive the content?

A: Share really, really relevant and quality content. Twitter users follow other users who are sharing information they’re interested in. Share links to the latest articles, blog posts and videos you find or create that you think your target audience would find valuable.

You should also engage with industry thought leaders and other key influencers on Twitter who are sharing content your audience values. Follow them and publicly thank them and retweet their articles and content you find valuable. Just make sure to keep a healthy mix of what you’re sending out and what you’re retweeting of others.

Q: For B2B videos and webinars- is it better to cover products & services, or simply share expertise?

A: Both can be effective, as long as you know when and which to use. Webinars are powerful thought leadership vehicles and are a great way to share your expertise with a large group of potential customers and current clients.  And, since the majority of webinars can be archived and accessed on-demand, this thought leadership content can easily be incorporated into your Web site.

Product and service videos are a great addition to your Web site or YouTube. They allow clients and potential customers to gather information about your product and maximize the use of your services. If you have an upcoming product release or enhancement to share, you could consider a webinar to showcase the new release and give a quick tutorial of what clients and future clients can expect. Just make sure to be clear about the webinar content up front – don’t lead attendees in under false pretenses of thought leadership only to be presented with a product pitch or demo.

Q: How much do the social media theories apply to non-retail businesses? e.g. Selling technical software to financial institutions or specialized equipment to manufacturers.

A: Consumers aren’t the only ones turning online for purchasing information. According to an Enquiro Study, 83% of business purchasers first locate a vendor online. Furthermore, a recent Coremetrics whitepaper indicated 67% of Twitter users who become followers of a brand are more likely to buy that brand products, and 60% of Facebook users who become a fan of a brand a more likely to recommend that brand to friends.

In the end, a business purchaser is still a single person looking to gather information and make an informed decision. With the majority of people turning online to conduct that research and locate vendors, missing out on the social media conversation can mean missing out in general. By knowing your target audience and how they search for and interact with your product, you’ll best be equipped to determine the social media channels that are right for you.

Q: Is there a tool for tracking mentions/text for such “social” networks like Flickr?

A: Yes, there are many. Some of the free tools mentioned above are SocialMention and Google Alerts. There are also paid tools like Alterian’s SM2, Sysomos’ Heartbeat and Viralheat. Check out Chris Rawlinson’s blog post for 21 Free Social Media Tracking tools for more information, and stay tuned for the upcoming Business.com whitepaper detailing the top social media monitoring tools.

Q: Is there any point of setting up a Twitter or Facebook account if it is not frequently updated? And how often should these accounts be updated?

A: Would you be inclined to follow or engage with a stagnant account? If you’re going to invest the time into setting up these accounts, you should make sure you’re maximizing the use of Twitter and Facebook to achieve your goals. These accounts should be updated as often as you have something new or valuable to share with your audience. News? Discounts? Interesting research? It’s all worth sharing.


Recapping the Business.com and BtoB Webinar, ‘Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search’


This is Part One of a two-part post.

Thank you to everyone who attended yesterday’s Business.com-sponsored webinar, ‘Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search.’ We’re grateful to have had such a successful turnout and appreciative to Kate Maddox of BtoB Online and Ryan DeShazer of Gyro:HSR for such great content.

If you missed the webinar, check out the on-demand version.

What You Missed

Thursday’s webinar, ‘Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search’ showcased findings from Business.com and BtoB Online’s recent study of more than 450 B2B marketers, detailing how  marketers are using social media to enhance search marketing and what success metrics they’re using.

Kate Maddox, BtoB’s executive editor, began by detailing the current use of social media among B2B marketers, as found in the study. While it’s clear the use of social media is an understood ‘must’ for B2B marketers, its evident many marketers struggle to capture the impact of their social media programs in general, and the resulting potential for positive impact on online marketing efforts like search marketing.

Business.com’s Patricia Neuray, VP Sales and Marketing, focused on the key highlighted differences among B2B marketers who are currently seeing a positive impact on their search marketing efforts as a result of their social media efforts versus those who are not seeing a positive impact or are unsure of their impact. Neuray respectively labeled these groups ‘The Best’ and ‘The Rest.’

Neuray explored the reported ways The Best use social media to enhance paid search and search-engine-optimization (SEO) efforts. She capitalized on The Best’s best practices by sharing a few top tips for integrating social and search efforts, including keeping measurement simple and making sure measurement reflects set goals. Neuray also urged the audience to take the best of both social and search marketing.

For example, use keywords, phrases and terms discovered through monitoring social media conversations to enhance your SEO and paid search, and use paid search as a springboard to drive traffic to your social media efforts by including links to social media accounts and profiles in your paid search ads.

Yes, marketers love a good list of best practices, but they love the execution of best practices even more. Therefore, it’s not surprising Gyro:HSR’s Ryan DeShazer, Vice President, Global Practice Leader – Search, captivated the audience for the remainder of the webinar with real-life examples of how Gyro:HSR is currently leveraging social media to enhance search marketing for clients.

DeShazer shared four methods for effective search and social integration and illuminated each method with a client case study. According to DeShazer, marketers can best integrate social media and search by discerning the value of social media, uncovering the lingo, influencing the conversion and the new link graph.

To check out DeShazer’s case studies and learn more about his four methods for integration, download the on-demand version of the webinar.

Business.com encourages you to share your highlights, thoughts and feedback with us by commenting on this post.

We were overwhelmed by the great questions asked during the question-and-answer (Q&A) portion of the webinar. To see our answers to additional questions, make sure to check back on Monday for our Part-Two post.


Find Out How B2B's Are Achieving Marketing Success Through Social Media & Search Marketing Integration


Years ago, search marketing was introduced to businesses as the newest online marketing channel to increase their bottom line. Since then, search has grown faster than traditional advertising and has become a staple marketing tactic for B2B marketers.

Now social media marketing is on the rise and shows similar promise – with marketers again wondering how they can leverage social media and even integrate search and social media strategies successfully.

Business.com and BtoB Online set out to provide clarity on the subject in our recent study of over 450 B2B marketers. The study, “The Impact of Social Media on Search” addressed specific methods companies are using to successfully integrate social media and search marketing and uncovered the types of measurable impact each channel is having on the other.

 Join our September 16th webinar, Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media & Search  as we share key findings of this study including:

  • Specific ways B2B marketers are using social media to enhance search marketing
  • The impact marketers are seeing on search marketing through social media use
  • How the ‘Best’ B2B marketers are using social media to enhance search marketing vs. the ‘Rest’ and the resulting impact

“Social media continues to make huge gains among the myriad of online marketing tools available for integrated campaigns,” said Patricia Neuray, VP-sales and marketing at Business.com. “As 44% of the respondents have seen an increase in traffic from search engines since launching their social media efforts, marketers are allocating more budget to social media tactics and setting specific goals to measure the impact of their social media efforts.”

Register for this webinar and find out how marketers are successfully integrating social media with search marketing here.


SEO Tips from PR Experts: How to Optimize Your Next Press Release and Drive More Traffic to Your Site


[ Ed: We are excited to feature Verse Communications, a Los Angeles based public relations firm, as our newest guest blogger. To learn more about Verse Communications, click here.]

SEO.  Google these three letters and you will find approximately 136 million results.  What does it mean, and more importantly, how does it translate to your business?  Simply put, search engine optimization means learn some basic algorithmic tips and you will generate more awareness for your business, increase search results and hopefully see an uptick in web traffic and lead generation.  When it comes to the public relations side of SEO, and related tactical initiatives such as issuing a press release, SEO can play a critical role.  There is a lot on the Web that delves into verbose detail regarding SEO and how it should be applied to your PR efforts, specifically press releases.  Unfortunately, too much information can sometimes be overwhelming, specifically to a small business owner who barely has enough time to execute their daily operations, let alone focus on the PR side of their business. 

Fear not, we have some basic search engine optimization tips to help make your company’s press release ‘pop’ a bit more, and it will only take you a few extra minutes.  Once you determine what the news is you are writing about (and make sure your press release is just that, newsworthy), here are key search engine optimization tips to embrace when fine tuning for that maximum impact.

Headers

For starters, your press release headline is the single most important piece when it comes to SEO.  Your Company name and the press release headline is the page title that search engines use to identify your release as an actual Web page, and in effect, rank you in search results. Make sure that header speaks directly to your news in a compelling, clear and concise manner (that is also what people will view when search results come up).  Use no more than 80 characters, with key words leading the way.

If you need another line to add more detail, write a sub-headline that also incorporates just a few key words (again, the most relevant words relating to the core of the release).  Also use keywords in the first sentence of the initial paragraph and throughout the body content of the release.  Note, do not repeat key words more than two or three times.  Otherwise, those slinky search engines will mark your release as dreaded spam.

Anchor texts

Provide readers with an easy way to get more information by using anchor text(aka hyperlinking a word to a specific URL). This achieves two critical objectives: 1) allows you to link out to more detailed information without making your release too verbose; and 2) has enormous potential to increase overall SEO for the site you are promoting (namely your own).Some additional things to keep in mind when playing that algorithmic game of SEO: Keep your overall press release compelling and focused.  Only write about the core news you want to convey, and do so in a clear and concise manner.  This is not a document to write narrative.  Review each and every word on the page and make sure it meaningfully adds something to your news.  If you are not sure how to accomplish this, consult a PR expert.

  • Your overall press release should not exceed 500 words.  Search engines spider the first 300 – 500 words on a page.
  • Write out full URL’s to important sites  
  • Build important back links by linking relevant keywords that support your message to deep, specific pages of Web sites

Now that you know how to write a press release that can increase its visibility and improve the position of your site’s overall search engine ranking, it’s time to distribute it.  Remember, news writing should be short and to the point.


Business.com is turning 10 and we want to celebrate with you!


Business.com is turning 10 and to celebrate, we are giving away 10 iPads over 10 weeks. Enter to win an iPad here. And that’s not all. We’d like to offer you special deals and discounts to save money for your business from partners like Dell, Intuit, Branders.com, NorthAmerican Bancard, Vistaprint, Bidz.com, TelecomRush, Biztree and more. Access these offers today and begin saving money for your business. 

Over the past 10 years, the B2B online marketing space has greatly evolved. Business.com has not only survived 10 years within this volatile industry, but has emerged as the premier B2B resource on the web. While many other Internet companies rose and fell with the Internet boom and bust, Business.com remained true to its core mission of helping businesses find solutions to solve their most pressing challenges. Business.com continues to evolve by providing new and innovative user and advertiser offerings, including social media tools, the largest repository of B2B content on the web and an enhanced search experience to enable users to more easily find solutions for their businesses. We now help B2B marketers connect with 40 million monthly unique visitors.

The past 10 years hasn’t been easy. Over the past year we have been working to launch social features for business users and advertisers, expanded the What Works for Business blog and launched Business.com Answers, a B2B question-and-answer community.

“At Business.com we recognize that starting and running a business are no easy tasks, and we strive to make that process simpler and seamless,” said Patricia Neuray, vice president, sales and marketing, Business.com.  “Business.com has evolved a great deal over the last 10 years and will remain focused on providing small businesses with critical tools and connecting b-to-b advertisers with active business buyers searching for products and services across all stages of the buying process.”

We would like to extend a special thank you to all of you who have stayed with us over the past 10 years and those of you who are just now discovering what Business.com can do for your business.