For B2B Internet Marketers in the Industrial Sector: Bigger Opportunities But Greater Challenges Await

August 29, 2013: B2B industrial companies are increasing their online marketing budgets in 2013 and into next year, with an emphasis on search engine optimization and content creation. These findings represent a small sample of information for B2B marketers found in GlobalSpec’s 2013 Industrial Marketing Trends report, released earlier this summer.

B2B Industrial Marketing Budgets

Nearly 83% of those surveyed are spending as much (51%) or more (32%) on marketing in 2013. Half of industrial marketers will spend 36% or more of their 2013 marketing budgets for online marketing with SEO, content, and video of emphasis, as noted previously.

B2B Internet Marketing Channels of Investment

Despite these encouraging points, the report doesn’t necessarily paint the rosiest of pictures for B2B online marketers. Only 35% of respondents indicated that they are satisfied (or very satisfied) with their online marketing efforts, including just 20% who are satisfied with social media efforts in particular.

B2B Industrial Marketing Satisfaction

This lack in positive sentiment supports a shift in the prioritization of challenges faced by marketers in the industrial sector. GlobalSpec findings reveal that the measurement of marketing ROI is now the biggest challenge for marketers, replacing lead generation. Attributing sales wins to marketing campaigns is the most important factor in defining marketing success.

B2B Industrial Marketing Challenges

So while opportunities arise for B2B online marketers in the industrial sector, so do challenges in defining ROI and aligning online marketing efforts to sales, while still focusing on lead generation volume and quality.

As such, B2B search marketing professionals need to continually evaluate how SEO tactics help solve industrial marketing challenges in performance and execution moving forward. Like other verticals, SEO measurement goes far beyond traffic and keyword visibility and into broader business performance metrics.

Three New(ish) SEO Tactics For Online Marketing in the Industrial Sector

Search engine optimization ranked second in popularity amongst marketing channels used or planned to be used in 2013 by industrial marketers. But it would be interesting to note what types of SEO tactics were part of the typical B2B industrial marketer’s strategy plan.

While this MarketingSherpa chart on commonly used B2B SEO tactics is a bit dated (in internet marketing years at least), it provides perspective as to where B2B marketers have been focused with SEO. And while these are all solid tactics, we’re seeing a shift in opportunity for SEO in B2B industrial markets as well. More importantly, this shift more easily falls inline with additional priorities marketers face in the industrial sector.

Three tactics that need consideration in SEO implementation for B2B industrial marketers, with specific focus on alignment with other priority initiatives.

  • Schema Markup – Proper and comprehensive tagging of information is becoming critical as the ability of the user to share and exchange information online becomes more dynamic and immediate. Schema markup is being widely accepted by major online platforms as a method for properly identifying information online and B2B marketers need to consider how they can integrate Schema tagging into content marketing assets being developed.

    Of immediate review for B2B industrial marketers:

    Both Google and Bing offer structured data markup testing tools, which can help webmasters better understand if their implementations of markup are correct and how these search engines “see” marked up digital information.

  • AuthorshipGoogle Authorship aligns perfectly with content marketing efforts. A successful authorship implementation supports thought leadership in search engine results through name (and face) recognition and could potentially help branded content rank more prominently in search engine results, based on the success of authored posts and social media shares associated with them.

    Search Engine Land has a comprehensive article with instructions on how to implement Google Authorship Markup, but I would also recommend following articles in the SEL Google Authorship category, since updates and changes to Google+ can be rather frequent (and often difficult to follow).

  • SERP Analysis – As I wrote in a recent column for Search Engine Watch, B2B marketers need to be much more aware of how the search engine results landscape has changed for strategic keyword targets. Peter Meyers of Moz put together a tremendous set of slides detailing this shift that I highly recommend reviewing.

    Bottom line, the fixed position in SERPs (i.e., 10 standard links) search marketers been used to evaluating is becoming less viable as a performance metric. With more aggressive blended search results (news, video, images, etc), there are many more opportunities for B2B marketers to leverage media and broader content marketing assets.

Closing The Loop Between Tactic and Performance

One of the more encouraging findings towards the end of the report was that over a third of those surveyed had begun using marketing automation tools in coordination with marketing efforts. The report also suggests that this percentage will increase as more “affordable, cloud-based solutions” become available.

In order to better align marketing and sales efforts, connections need to be made for providing attribution between content, communications, and closed wins. Even if marketing automation is not in the immediate future, here are some suggestions for better performance tracking in the short-term.

  • Event Tracking – Leverage event tracking in Google Analytics so that links, videos, images and other media assets pointing back to onsite conversion actions can be properly tracked and evaluated. This could become especially important for providing greater tie-in between content marketing efforts in social media and sales influence.
  • Content Performance Reports – Make sure to routinely evaluate the performance of content marketing assets beyond page view information and traditional metrics like bounce rate, or time on site, etc. Google Analytics funnel reports and channel contribution information also play an important part in understanding how content impacts goal performance.
  • Social Media Analytics – Lastly, don’t ignore the metrics social media platforms are beginning to provide. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all making positive strides in providing marketers information on activity performance (interactions, clicks, impressions, etc). One of my more recent blog posts highlights some of these developments in social media platforms as well.

Final Thoughts

The responsibilities of B2B marketers are not getting easier but GlobalSpec’s latest findings provide insight important for industrial marketers and those in other verticals as well. I recommend taking a look at the report to see how your efforts stack up against competitors and colleagues in the B2B marketing space overall.

Related Links and References

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