Why is Search Engine Marketing important for B2B companies? Let’s start with the raw numbers. In 2010, there were 100 million searches for healthcare related equipment. Of those searches, the vast majority was seeking specific answers to specific questions. Search has become a combination reference guide, phone book, and stream-of-consciousness learning tool. How does this relate to B2B Internet marketing? A recent study by research firm Mediative found that over 70% of B2B buyers begin their purchasing decisions with searches through search engines. Similarly, a study by DemandGen found that 75% of all B2B buyers enter the purchasing mindset through searches.
With over half of all your prospects starting their buying process through search, the process of capturing potential leads can become largely automated. Search drives a tremendous pool of potential prospects to build up within the sales funnel, but just as importantly, the nature of search creates a potentially valuable segment of self-identifying prospects directed to your website. In other words, because these B2B buyers enter your website through search, they have already declared their intention to seek information on products and services similar to the ones you offer. In many cases, web analytics data suggests that these visitors convert to leads and sales at a greater rate than average website traffic. Put even more simply, leads that enter your funnel through search marketing are at least a warm, if not an outright hot, lead that actively wants to know more about your product.
Search has allowed B2B buyers to reach out directly to companies without the traditional process and costs of outbound marketing. This shift to inbound search marketing is helping B2B companies switch their focus from targeting leads to nurturing prospects. This is where the advantages of search marketing begin to shine through. By automating marketing processes and adding Search Marketing to fill the top of your sales funnel, your marketing team is ensuring that every prospect that they encounter is already primed to receive their marketing message. Every one of those 70% of buyers who initiate their internal buying cycle with a search of potential vendors comes to your page with the mindset that they are at least considering a purchase, if not outright ready to make a commitment.
What Role Does Search Play in my Sales Cycle?
While the majority of B2B sales are still closed offline, it’s important to note that according to the DemandGen survey, 80% of B2B buyers stated that theyinitiated their last major purchase. Less than 10% of those surveyed reported that the buying cycle was initiated by a cold call or similar outbound technique. B2B buyers are quickly realizing that they now have the tools and resources available at their fingertips to quickly and efficiently make large purchasing decisions, or at least research their options, without having to go through the process of consulting with various competing sales teams.
Playing the large numbers game:
100+ million annual searches for healthcare equipment is no small sum. Numbers that large demand attention. A significant amount of data shows that these searches are being performed by prospects ready to make a purchase decision, and the DemandGen study found that as many as 50% of B2B buyers made a decision and budgeted resources towards a purchase AFTER a need was discovered. In many cases, they reported that they found a solution or product first, often in a situation where they did not know a need existed, and THEN made a case for the immediate adoption or purchase. This may seem like putting the cart before the horse when viewed through the lens of traditional outbound marketing, but it makes perfect sense when considering the huge number of searches performed daily and the vast amounts of information available for those searchers.
Making sure B2B buyers are aware of all possible needs and all possible solutions is a difficult, if not impossible, task. However, the process of searching for tangentially or coincidentally related information can very easily pull a previously uninterested buyer’s attention towards a novel solution to either an old problem, or could alert them to a need that they previously had not considered. In fact, it was reported that 25% of large purchases were made after the buyer’s attention was drawn to a competitor who had adopted a product or solution that noticeably increased their ROI. Automating your business marketing to take advantage of these coincidental and long-tail leads allows you to significantly increase the number of prospects that you are feeding into the top of your sales funnel, while freeing up your marketing and sales teams to focus on building a connection and closing offline sales.
Search marketing can dramatically increase the number of leads your online marketing generates. More importantly it can significantly reduce your cost per lead, and thus increase the ROI of your marketing efforts, by providing only interested and primed leads for your sales and marketing teams to pursue. Gaining efficiency in your sales cycle and simultaneously increasing the number of prospects coming in can be a potent combination. Contact us to find out how Endai’s online and email marketing Playbook can harness the power of search volume to make a sharp and noticeable difference to your bottom line.