In today’s digital business environment, more professionals are turning to the internet to help them choose a new product or service provider for their company. In fact, according to Google, 90 percent of B2B researchers go online to explore business purchase options. For B2B companies, this means having an effective B2B SEO strategy and understanding the subtle difference between B2B and B2C digital marketing is more important now than ever.
From target audiences to keyword strategy, there are some major differences that should be considered when discussing Business to Consumer (B2C) versus Business to Business (B2B) search engine marketing. If your organization is looking to explore these distinctions, increase the ROI of current digital marketing efforts, and better understand your target audience, you’ve come to the right place!
When it comes to digital marketing, B2C vs B2B search engine optimization practices are two entirely different worlds. Without a well-researched B2B SEO strategy, you may find that your online marketing successes are few and far between. In order to effectively generate leads and convert them into buyers, you must consider your target audience, the keywords they regularly use, and the content they require to make a purchase decision.
The first differences to consider are the goals of B2C vs. B2B search engine marketing strategies. While the goal for both is to generate a sale, in B2C this is often done within a single visit whereas most B2B products and services are not typically bought online after a single look through of a seller’s website. Additionally, the cost of a B2C sale is, on average, much lower than that of a B2B one.
Instead of an immediate online conversion or sale, B2B search engine marketing efforts begin when your company is found at the top of search queries on targeted keywords. After this initial discovery, ongoing website optimization and SEO practices are needed to ensure that your company has the right content marketing tactics in place for further consideration during the businesses’ purchase cycle.
When it comes to search engine marketing, knowing your audience is of the utmost importance. Careful consideration of the differences between the people and the processes involved will ensure your search engine marketing efforts are effective and generate a positive ROI.
When it comes to B2C search engine marketing, efforts are typically focused on individual consumers who don’t always know what they want. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of making them aware of the product or service you offer in a way that grabs their attention; and in most cases the flashier your website and content the better. Once the consumer sees this, all they have to do is decide, “yes I want that product/service”, or “no, I don’t want that product/service”. Due to the simplicity of this purchase decision, the typical B2C sales cycle lasts just 10-20 minutes from the time a consumer conducts a search, does some pricing research, to when they buy a product or service.
Contrastingly, the B2B sales cycle may last months or even years as several layers of decision makers research and evaluate all the pros and cons of your company and the product or service you offer. This creates a longer sales cycle as your products and services have to be presented and scrutinized by multiple people before a final purchase decision can be made.
It is also important to realize that although a single person may make the final decision to purchase your organization’s product or service, these individuals are influenced by multiple parties during the research, evaluation, and conversion phases. Although this one person may have spent weeks researching, a VP or Director of Operations spending only 10 minutes on Google can raise enough questions about how the product meets operations specs, ROI, and financial matters to dramatically alter the purchase decision.
Therefore, it is important to always consider these different influencers in the B2B sales funnel and the keywords that each individual will use to research your product or service.
While some might consider the longer sales process for B2B companies to be a hurdle, it’s actually an opportunity. Since it takes so much time and effort to research a supplier or provider, once a business has made a purchase decision, they will likely continue to make the same decision over and over again for years to come. This vastly improves the lifetime customer value, which is much lower for B2C companies.
A good keyword strategy is a cornerstone of effective B2B search engine marketing tactics. B2C companies primarily rely on brand-name searches and variations in the generic terms of the items or services they sell to reach prospective customers. However, B2B enterprises generally know exactly what they are looking for and will use increasingly complex, long-tail keywords and queries to research and evaluate available products or services.
A B2B keyword strategy is complex as it must incorporate dozens of variations in specific search terms, industry-specific lingo, and generic terms that prospective clients might use to find your company’s product or service. For instance, to find this article you could have used any variation of searches such as B2B search engine marketing, B2B SEO strategy, B2B SEO and so on.
Since the B2B buying cycle is significantly longer than the B2C one, there are different keywords and topics searched during each stage of the buying cycle. During the research phase, businesses may use generic search terms for your product or service to establish a shortlist of potential providers that they will then evaluate and choose from. Once they reach the evaluation phase, potential clients are most likely to use search queries focused on efficiency, performance, and maintenance to determine how your product or service best meets their business’s’ current needs. Plus, since you are targeting multiple individuals focused on different aspects of your product (e.g. operations and efficiency vs product ROI and finances) you can see that B2B keyword strategy grows exponentially.
Overall, a B2B professional searching for possible products or services for their business is looking to generate a shortlist of possible candidates that they can later evaluate and choose from. Showing up for all potential keywords and search queries at every phase of the buying cycle is important to make the initial cut. However, it is equally important that your landing page has the right content and information that a buyer might be looking for in their search criteria. This is where an effective B2B content marketing strategy comes into play.
Before a prospective client reaches your site, it is important to create content that will help them reach a decision during the purchase process. For B2C marketing, creating enticing landing pages with catchy content that appeals to the masses is more likely to be successful in generating sales. Contrastingly, in the realm of B2B content marketing, it is important that your content is more detailed and speaks to a specific audience while also developing trust in your business.
When it comes to B2B digital marketing, your potential clients already know what they want. Therefore, your job is to make your product or service seem more cost-effective, reliable and better than a competitor’s. Along the buying cycle, a prospective client is conducting extensive research, so it’s important to focus on your unique selling point or why your product is better or easier to use. Throughout the site, it is important to emphasize these selling propositions and use a persuasive and authoritative tone that establishes trust in your company and product.
Landing pages and linking should build credibility and put you in the “consideration set” for a final choice. In the world of B2B, building credibility with potential clients through testimonials and reviews is vital. With a limited client pool comprised of other companies, having outstanding relationships that are reflected in testimonials from clients gives you an edge over the competition. Providing product data is equally important, and the more you can provide the better. Including a product or service portfolio along with white papers allows you to establish your company as an industry expert.
Most B2B searches occur on Google, with prospective clients mainly using desktop computers. It is important that you optimize your B2B product landing pages for Google by ensuring that the page title and meta description show up correctly on the search results page. It is also important to track how your page performs in Organic Searches by evaluating the Click-Through-Rate, length and depth of visits and returning visitor page views. Evaluating analytics data for these landing pages and setting up conversion tracking is crucial, especially if you decide to use paid-search advertising or social networking to further promote your product or service.
Want to learn how to leverage effective B2B or B2C digital marketing for your business? Whether you’re targeting consumers or other businesses, we offer B2C SEO consulting and B2B SEO consulting and services to help you structure and implement an effective search engine marketing plan and create a strategy that works best for your company. The experts at Get YOU Found can help you navigate the subtleties of digital marketing and develop a strategy that’s designed specifically for your company’s goals – Contact us today to get more information and get started down a path of digital marketing success!