Last chance to get the Summer Rate and save up to $400 on B2B Forum in Boston. Get your ticket by August 31.

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.

How Effective Is SEO/SEM?

As documented in many case studies, search engine marketing is quite effective at increasing site traffic and conversions. Below are two examples of B2B organic search campaigns.

OneUpWeb has reported that an international manufacturer and distributor of secure fasteners initially achieved 48 top-10 positions and 52 top-30 positions, starting off with 0 before its search engine optimization campaign. One year later, it went to 130+ top-10 positions and 250+ top-30 positions. All new sales leads come from search marketing efforts, many from outside the US, boosting international sales 50%.

Pennant has reported dramatic results with search engine marketing for a connector manufacturer. Starting with a baseline of 15 top-30 rankings, it went up to 79 in six months, then 102 in four more months. The site is in the top 9 on Google for specific phrases, and it increased the number of highly targeted visitors threefold over baseline in one year.

How Flexible Is SEO/SEM?

Want a marketing strategy where you can pick and choose? SEO pricing is café-menu style, so a business can select only the services it needs or can afford. That's why search engine optimization was referred to as "the ultimate cost-effective, online guerrilla-marketing tactic that generally has the highest ROI of any type of Internet marketing" by Marketing Sherpa.

When you select a search engine optimization provider, you should clearly define the services to be included in your SEM campaign. Here's a sampling of what you might consider:

  • Consulting, managing, coordinating the SEO plan, outsourced or with in-house IT

  • Web analytics—verification, installation of traffic reporting, comparison, ROI calculation

  • Site analysis of architecture communicating with search engines

  • Keyword research—determine relevancy and traffic predictions

  • Competitor analysis—comparison with your top contenders

  • Elevate and control brand—organic optimization, SEO copywriting for keyword list

  • Enhance inbound links—via search engine optimized press releases and RSS feed

  • Research industry-specific search engines to match your company Web site objectives

  • Review current Yahoo and DMOZ listings, update categories, titles, descriptions

There's one more thing that B2B marketers might consider: whether to optimize in-house or outsource to a search engine optimization firm. Large corporations may prefer in-house optimization, but outsourcing can be a viable option.

In a Nutshell

It's wise for B2B marketers to include search engine marketing in their marketing budget. The investment goes a long way toward increasing traffic, conversions and branding. SEO is too valuable a marketing tool to ignore.

Sign up for free to read the full article. Enter your email address to keep reading ...


Paul J. Bruemmer is founder of trademarkSEO ( Reach him at