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In part one of this article, we talked about the uniqueness of B2B marketing and the dominant role of search engines in the B2B buying process (over 90% of B2B buyers use search engines during the buying process). So it goes without saying that good search engine visibility is an excellent way to boost profitability.

Now it's time to explore the return on investment (ROI), as well as the effectiveness and flexibility of search engine marketing, focusing on organic site optimization.

How Good Is the ROI?

We all know that ROI can be difficult to measure. During a survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Forrester Research, 78% of respondents said "measuring the sales impact of marketing was difficult." In fact, most respondents could not agree on the definition of ROI. Here's the ROI definition preferred by 66% of respondents: "Incremental sales revenue generated by marketing activities." The ROI for B2B Web sites using an organic search engine optimization program can go through the roof, shaming just about every other component of your marketing plan. Why? It's simple.

We all know that B2B Internet users prefer organic search results for reliable information. That's been reported by dependable sources such as SearchEngineWatch, MarketingSherpa and eMarketer.

We all know that properly optimized sites get good rankings on Google and other search engines. There is ample industry research and case studies showing that those high rankings on page 1, 2, or 3 result in extraordinary increases in unique visitors and sales conversions for B2B clients.

We also know the fantastic value and loyalty created when B2Bs provide information during that long sales cycle. Engineers just love those white papers and webcasts offered as a grab-and-go freebie on B2B Web sites. The technicians and specialists doing research really do appreciate your downloads, and 70-80% of them return and convert from visitor to user.

However, it's important to have your marketing performance measurement tools in place. MarketingSherpa reports that 90% of CMOs consider these measurement tools a "high or moderate priority." With the many Web analytics tools available for search engine marketing, it is easy to get a benchmark before your campaign starts, then track ROI as your rankings improve.

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Paul J. Bruemmer is founder of trademarkSEO (www.trademarkseo.com). Reach him at paul@trademarkseo.com.