Blogging from SES San Jose, 2009
At a conference like SES, you’ll find search agencies, representatives from the search engines, consultants, bloggers, … and marketers. The marketers will fall into dozens of categories, by industry, company size, etc., and B2C and/or B2B. I’ve spent a great deal of time with B2B marketers over the last couple of years at trade shows like this one, as well as in sales calls, webinars and client meetings. These are some of the questions you will hear them asking in San Jose. They will come up in sessions, in the coffee line-ups, and yes, maybe even occasionally at the #SearchBash.
It often starts with the standard challenges tied to Search, like increased visibility, traffic, lead quality, and brand management. But a lot of it goes beyond search:
1. Am I getting everything I can out of our analytics software? The answer I hear most of the time is a convincing: NO.
2. Is Search working in tandem with other online channels? If I outsource SEO and PPC, will they work with our web developers, ad agency, PR, etc.? Also, can a search agency understand my vertical industry well enough?
3. Is my paid Search cannibalizing traffic that would otherwise be coming from SEO?
4. Do we have an accurate model of our customer’s buying process? This question is often followed by, “it depends”, or even silence. How does the buying funnel model apply?
5. How much of our marketing/sales cycle can be handled online? Is it siloed off from our face-to-face meetings with prospects?
6. Marketing automation software – how much can it do? How does it tie in to our sales CRM? Lead nurturing: how much can be automated? What are we supposed to nurture leads with?
7. How do I measure engagement over a long sales cycle and multiple buyers at the same time?
8. Reporting: how do I attribute a sales opportunity to the proper marketing campaign(s)? Who gets credit for the sales lead?
9. Social media: is it relevant to my buyers, really? Can’t we just start our own social network? Who in the company should be managing the Twitter account? The Facebook profile? Should our YouTube videos be professionally done? How do buyer demographics affect the way they buy from us? Do digital natives operate differently than digital immigrants?
10. What about tools like PPC bid management software? At what point can we afford to make the investment, and will it be more effective?
11. If only our whole marketing team really got search… How can we get everybody on the same page?
12. Is a thought leadership strategy effective? How can we get started? I think this is especially relevant for service-based B2B companies seeking to establish their brand. There are several examples of companies that have built a fabulous reputation and wide visibility this way without spending a ton of money on advertising.
These questions don’t have quick answers, and each one is worthy of an in-depth panel discussion in itself. But if you’re at SES today, you might want to check out one of the following four sessions on the B2B and verticals track, including Gord Hotchkiss’ panel called The BuyerSphere Project, Understanding B2B Buying Behavior.