Ten years ago, sellers had more control over product information than did the buyer. So, when a business was going to buy from another business, the buyer had to contact the seller early in the process to research the purchase. Consequently, the seller could exert a lot of influence over the buyer and the ultimate sale.
In that scenario, businesses marketed themselves with traditional tactics like trade shows, cold calling, direct mail, spam email, advertising and other interruptive methods.
Today, however, buyers start their shopping by looking on the Internet. More specifically, they use search engines, particularly Google.
And rather than contacting a salesperson at the outset of a purchase, research shows that business-to-business (B2B) buyers can be two-thirds of the way through their purchase before making their first contact with the seller.
That’s why many businesses have reallocated marketing dollars toward search engines to reach prospective customers effectively and inexpensively.
According to Marketing Sherpa, 98 percent of B2B buyers use Google when first researching a solution to a business problem.
So how does a business get found via a search engine? There are essentially two options: paid and organic results.
So which one is better? It is much more valuable to be listed in the organic results than in the paid results.
Organic search results are more valuable because people trust the objectivity of organic results more than paid. This is confirmed by extensive research indicating that 80 to 90 percent of search engine results that are clicked on are the organic results, not the paid results.
There are other benefits of ranking high in the organic results, including:
Getting found via search engines is just one aspect of the new world of marketing.
The “new” or inbound marketing tactics that attract prospects rather than interrupt them also include search engine optimization, blogging, eBooks, whitepapers, website landing pages, conversion tools and sophisticated analytics.
All of these aspects of new, inbound marketing help businesses to drive more quality traffic to their sites, capture visitors as leads, convert the leads to customers and continuously analyze site activity to optimize the marketing efforts.
(This article originally appeared in Inside Business - The Hampton Roads Business Journal, on February 4, 2013.)
photo credit: Gibson Claire McGuire Regester via photopin cc