Optimize your Web site and newsletter on search engines
B2B companies embrace search engine marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing (SEM), also known as search engine optimization (SEO), is enjoying a tremendous growth in support from B2B online advertisers.
"Search engine marketing currently takes up more than 40% of the B2B online advertising pie and that it is expected to grow by more than 20% this year," Geoff Ramsay, CEO of eMarketer, declared in a speech at last year's American Media Business Media conference.
What's driving this trend? One of the more attractive aspects of search engine marketing is that, like permission based e-mail marketing, it is customer initiated. And customer-initiated marketing messages consistently outperform messages that are advertiser initiated.
SEM can be divided into two categories: paid search and non-paid search, also known as organic search. Today our focus will be on organic searches and how you can best position your marketing messages to appear in them.
What is an organic search? This is when a search engine pulls up content that closely matches a key word or phrase search based on its relevancy to the search query. In contrast, a paid search will generate responses that include responses based on the paid ranking of the sponsoring agency. According to Mr. Ramsay, 62% of B2B users of search engines click first on organic search results before viewing the results of paid searches.
We recently interviewed Simeon Sneor, Managing Director of Paradigm Productions, a multi-media company, www.paradigm-il.com, about how financial service marketers might optimize their Web site's content for competitive placement in search rankings. He offered these tips:
- Try to include the most important key-word phrases on your homepage, in your page titles and in your headings. The deeper important content is buried within the Web site, the longer it will take a search engine to locate it and pull it into its search results.
- Make the most important phrases actual text links to landing pages. For example, if Treasury Services is a key capability you want to promote, you ought to include the phrase in the title of your link as well as in the name of all relevant landing pages.
- Maintain the same SEM key-word phrases for at least a month. While it's good to update your content frequently, if you change your key words more frequently than every four weeks, you won't be allowing adequate time to benchmark their effectiveness.
- Test and revise. If you are not achieving the results desired from your SEM strategy, go through the process again and modify the key-word phrases and locations. For example, it might be wise to change the link name "Online Banking" to "Online Banking Services" or "Bank Online" in addition to adjusting the content in headers, titles and body copy.
Most marketers prefer to outsource to their IT professionals the ongoing process of optimizing SEM. Delegating the task can be more time- and cost-effective in the long run, as IT professionals are typically better equipped to keep up with the ever-changing search engine algorithms. They also will be more effective at the ongoing monitoring of your SEM rankings.
Optimizing your e-newsletter for SEM
Preparing your e-newsletter for organic search optimization is similar to the process of preparing your Web site for SEM. In addition to having key-word conscious page titles and headers, you also can take steps to "syndicate" your e-newsletter, using RSS or Really Simple Syndication.
RSS is a content formatting technique that optimizes your content to be picked up by what are commonly termed RSS feeds or content aggregators. Typically the content will need to be run through special software and then uploaded into one or more RSS feeds. Again, it is usually best to let an IT professional set up the necessary formatting protocol, handle execution and provide ongoing monitoring.
An RSS case study
Syndicating your e-newsletter can dramatically increase its readership. Shipul the Web Marketing Company is enjoying tremendous success in the syndication of a monthly e-newsletter, Tendenci.
Though the publication has only approximately 250 opt-in subscribers, articles in it have been read as many as 6,500 times each month by readers who found the newsletter on an RSS feed. While he can't measure the ROI for syndicated readership, given the vast readership the publication continues to enjoy, the decision to maintain an RSS feed has been "a no-brainer," CEO Ed Shipul says.
How to prevent 'unpaid consulting'
By Jeff Thull
If you are selling financial services, you have probably encountered this scenario. You're trying to convince a potential customer that your great services will solve their most pressing problem. To prove the point, you explain precisely how your solution will work. Mr. Potential Customer listens carefully, asks many questions and takes copious notes. Everything seems to be running smoothly. The customer nods and says all the right things and you leave convinced that the sale is in the bag. The problem is, when you call to close the sale, Mr. Potential Customer is nowhere to be found. Later, you hear that he has decided to buy from your top (and less expensive) competitor.
Frustrated, you find yourself asking, "Where did I go wrong? Why didn't I see it coming?" You realize that you've fallen prey to an all-too-common trap: unpaid consulting.
Unpaid consulting starts when we cross the line between diagnosing the problem and explaining the solution. In past decades, this was not a monumental issue. Historically, there was limited competition in complex financial services. If you figured out the problem and designed a unique and valuable solution for a customer, the sale was almost guaranteed and the salesperson was rewarded for his consulting effort. Today, however, there is an ever-increasing proliferation of competitors in the financial services industry, and once a solution is designed, the customer can easily shop it to the competition.
To avoid the pitfalls of unpaid consulting, you need to delay the offering of a solution until the final phase of the sales process. Consider the following suggested approaches:
- Prevent Premature Presentations. How can you present a solution before you clearly understand what the problems are? While most financial services sales professionals devote the majority of their face-to-face or phone time presenting and handling objections, the most successful salespeople focus on collaborating with customers, diagnosing their situation, designing a desired solution, and resolving to solve the problem.
- Don't Lead the Witness. The traditional salesperson draws conclusions for the customer—often prematurely—and presents them to the customer before he or she is prepared to hear them. It is important that the customer discovers and takes ownership of the problem before deciding to seek a solution.
- No Pain, No Change, No Sale. Dissatisfaction is the most basic motivator for change. People realize if they don't change and deal with a problem, they will face consequences. As a result, change will not occur until an individual or company recognizes that it would be more painful not to change. This is why it's critical to do a thorough diagnosis that uncovers the pain of the current situation, and the lack of the future outcome.
- Go for the "No." A thorough diagnosis allows financial services professionals to quickly identify the 20-30% of their prospects who have the immediate reason and resources to make a change. The traditional salesperson wastes time arm-wrestling with a prospect that has no pain and hopes to win the sale by sheer tenacity. This has its roots in the theory that the good salesperson never takes "no" for an answer and the salesperson's view that "no" equates to personal failure.
The often-ignored reality is that customers need outside expertise to help them understand the problems they face, design optimal solutions for those problems and implement the solutions. It is up to you to provide the help your customers need. See yourself as a project manager for your customer's decision. That is the secret to avoiding the unpaid consulting trap—and succeeding at the complex sale.
About the Author:
Jeff Thull, President and CEO of Prime Resource Group, is a leading authority in the area of sales and marketing strategies for companies involved in complex sales. His wealth of experience has made him a valued advisor for executive teams of major companies worldwide, including Shell Global Solutions, 3M, Siemens, Microsoft, Intel and Georgia-Pacific, as well as many fast-track companies.
Thull is also a thought-provoking and entertaining keynote speaker with a track record of over 2,500 speeches and seminars to blue chip companies around the world. Thull's work is published in hundreds of business and trade publications. He is the author of the best-selling business books, Mastering the Complex Sale: How to Compete and Win When the Stakes are High, and The Prime Solution: Close the Value Gap, Increase Margins, and Win the Complex Sale. His new book, Exceptional Selling: How the Best Compete and Win in High-Stakes Sales, will be released in September 2006. To download Chapter One of Mastering the Complex Sale, visit www.primeresource.com.
For more information, please contact: Prime Resource Group, 3655 Plymouth Blvd., Suite 110, Plymouth, MN 55446, [email protected], www.primeresource.com, 1.800.876.0378 or 763.473.7529, Fax: 763.473.0792.