“The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis”
I’ve heard the same argument raised a number of times before from sceptical companies – that, as a “business to business” company, they’re not all that interested in search marketing because they’re not client-facing; their sales are driven by outbound promotion such as telesales or face-to-face agents; the website is just a business card and there’s no shopping engagement onsite, etc.
The reality is, however, that all marketing (as a means to generate sales), whether it be inbound or outbound is, in a very strong sense, grounded in brand development and authority. A company cannot succeed unless it appreciates its values and its brand (and represents them accordingly to the outside world). This development of brand authority is simply integral to the success of a B2B offering and, irrespective of whether there is direct sales reward, the indirect benefits of a strong brand are manifold.
But what has that got to do with search marketing, you may ask?
The reality is that marketing does not exist in isolation from digital marketing anymore. As such, all companies, irrespective of their business model, need to embrace the positive impact that search marketing can bring them.
If a website is your business card, shouldn’t it be an impressive business card?
If your competitors’ sites are responsive and mobile friendly, are professionally and attractively designed, load quickly and provide intuitive navigation and relevant technical advice and support for the benefit of users, the least you should be doing is ensuring your site is equally attuned to your brand development – for the image that you display to prospective clients.
And if your competitors’ sites are not alive to these opportunities, then you can steal a march on them by standing out from the crowd and aligning your brand (through your site) with a modern, credible and authoritative image.
Furthermore, if a site is impressive to human visitors, it will almost certainly be regarded more favourably by Google when it caches the site. Any positive responses from users (such as time spent on site or number of pages visited) will be noted as will technical improvements such as page load speed. And the impact of this will be improved rankings which are, in themselves, an indicator of excellence – a sales tool to demonstrate authority and elicit trust in potential clients.
Another key driver in demonstrating the expertise of a brand is through the consistent generation of specialist advice and knowledge. This, again, is not reserved simply for the search engines to cache and reward through ranking; more to the point, it establishes a site as a source of quality information and client engagement – central factors in the reinforcement of brand strength.
It’s worth remembering at this juncture that, even in a B2B environment, decisions are almost always made at a human level. Striving to connect on a personal level is not wasted endeavour – on the contrary, it comprises the building blocks of all judgements made about your brand.
All B2B operations need to acknowledge that their market is evolving in line with the evolution of society’s digital relationships. Traditionally, your clients may have waited for a call or a visit from one of your Sales staff – perhaps, they still do. However, these days, they’re also more likely to check out your website for your brand values and for evidence of quality, expertise and customer service. Moreover, they’re more likely to look at your social media to see if you have an active engagement with your clients and your industry as a whole.
The message is that, just because your authority came traditionally from existing sources, that doesn’t mean you should not be using digital sources to develop it further. Your competitors certainly will.