The terms B2C (Business to Consumer) and B2B (Business to Business) are well known, and there is even a B2E (Business to Employee). But my definition of B2E is Business to Engineer. High technology products for computing, communications, instrumentation and industrial equipment, etc., are designed by engineers. There is no shopping cart on a website for products or services that cost $10,000+. To borrow a term from Jeff Thull, author of The Prime Solution, selling software, design services, intellectual property, sub-systems, etc., is a complex sale. The goal is to establish value for your products and services. In high tech, that cycle starts with getting an engineer to take interest.
The Website Conversion Funnel
Historically this happens by demonstrating your products or services at trade shows or through direct sales contacts. While effective the “cost per lead” can be several hundred dollars. Leads generated through a website can be an order of magnitude less – if you know how.
The process can be viewed a funnel.
- Awareness – Can engineers find your website?
- Interest – Do they explore or bounce?
- Desire – Do you “educate” them adequately to take the next step?
- Action – Do you convert them into a lead for the sales team?
The AIDA acronym is ~100 years old but still relevant
If you are not tracking and analyzing visitor traffic your website is as effective as a yellow page ad. What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for your business: Cost of Sales, Cost of Goods, Gross Profit Margin? Define an analogous set of KPI for your website. Unique visitors, page views, length of visit, conversion via lead forms, and Cost per lead. Consider all of your acquisition costs in detail – how much do you spend on press releases, events, affiliate marketing, advertising, etc. Measure the CPL and aggregate CPL against the sales opportunities acquired from your website.
CPL isn’t important if the lead quality is poor.
The right links, the right keywords
Engineers find potential solutions through search and links on authoritative web sites (online journals and domain-specific news sites). A keyword isn’t a “word”, it’s the word and/or phrase that people use to find solutions. What does your target customer-engineer search for? You can utilize Google Webmaster tools to determine which keywords were used by the visitors to your site and the inbound links. You will need other tools to understand how the keywords that describe your products and services rank against competitors. And your search competitors include companies that may not compete with your products, but use similar words for their products. The key to securing greater investment for the purpose of SEO is in knowing the value of every visitor that arrives from an organic search. [website magazine].
Search Engine Rank Pages or “Serp” tells you where your keyword ranks on various search engines. Google (with ~80% of the search market) is the obvious one to start with. If the keywords for your solution don’t occur on page one (the top 10) you won’t get found. By the way, you can’t determine this by simply searching on Google. Google (and others) filter the results, i.e. what you searched for yesterday affects the results you get today. Your cookies and your IP address provide Google with a trail of information to bias your search results. Google Adwords provides keyword analysis and a number of SEO services can help you determine your best keywords and their ranking.
If your keywords don’t rank high, you can buy your way to the top with Google Adwords. There are several reasons why this is a good tactic.
- Paid search Ads typically appear on the right side of the search page. But if there is little competition and your ads have a good quality score, Google will place them in the center (main) area with the organic (free) results.
- I assert that a paid search Ad at the top and an organic search link in the middle is better than either by itself.
- Most small-cap high technology companies (under $100M in revenue) don’t advertise with Google. There are several reasons why. Someone at the company tried it and basically poured money down the drain. Adwords does have a learning curve. If your B2E site isn’t focused on KPI you have no way of measuring the value of Adwords. I recommend spending 1% to 5% of your marketing budget on Adwords campaigns to complement organic search. If you don’t have the in-house skill, outsource or crowdsource it.
- Does Google search favor Google customers? Recent research says Yes
Landing Page Optimization
Research has shown that people make a decision to stay or leave (bounce) a website in 50mS. A couple of eye blinks. If your site is confusing, and a customer-engineer flips his “I don’t need this” bit, you’ve lost a potential customer.
- Simplify Design and Reduce Text – every pixel is either signal or noise
- Have a Clear Call to Action – Register to access restricted information, download whitepapers, etc.
- Use Images Judiciously – If you have customer testimonials, use a portrait image
- Video can be very compelling but keep them short (under two minutes). The simplest hosting solution is to create a business page on YouTube.
- ABT – Always be Testing
What you think people see on your website may not be what they see. A visitor’s background, knowledge or expectations will influence how they perceive your page. The solution is to test changes. The best approach is A/B testing, whereby some percentage of visitors see landing page “A” and some percentage see “B”. Your analytics determine which page wins. Repeat constantly.
Content is king and SEO marketers are a dime a dozen. Talk to someone who understands technology, online media channels and the steps to establishing business intelligence for your B2E company.
Written by Sam Beal