Search marketing for the B2B sector comes with its own particular challenges. For anyone looking to get on with their first search campaign or want to improve their current process, here are five questions you should be able to answer to get off to a good start.

Passionate or just want to keep their job?

In contrast to consumers who might have their pulse racing by the latest gadgetry and ultimately part with their money in the chase of being the cool kid for a week, most business buyers are pragmatists that are mostly concerned about keeping their job.

Work with experienced B2B marketers that understand your service and audience and how to tailor copy, call to action and keywords that reach the right audience with the right message.

Brand or demand?

Whereas search campaigns for consumer ecommerce sites often have very clear objective of sales and revenue, many B2B search campaigns too often initially come in all shades of grey. A basic question to answer is; are we talking brand or demand?  Depending on the answer, first then can you establish suitable objectives and KPI’s.

What’s the sales process?

Complex business sales take time, and often the deal is made offline over the phone or in person perhaps many months away from the initial touch-point through search. This obviously creates difficulties when it comes to tracking and understanding the value of individual clicks. Key to success is to have a clear process and solid technology in place, which can optimally track end to end of the campaign.

Are you searching in the right places?

Traditional keyword research tools are great for when you already understand the audience and product at hand. With the vast complexity of many niche business solutions, and different people involved in the buying process, B2B search marketers need to take a step back before starting to play around with their spreadsheets.

Sit down with product managers, read white papers, and get feedback from people on the sales floor and call centres to get a solid understanding of the product and the business issues it solves.

Whose keyword is it?

For larger B2B companies running several PPC campaigns across different products and divisions, there will at some point be raised a question about keyword overlap. Who should bid on the term XYZ and why?

Look to establish a clear matrix of strategic primary keyword ownership early on in the process. This should not be considered resolved for all time, but instead you should constantly analyse how this can tactically be altered with current objectives, performance and budgets to maximise the overall search opportunity for the organisation. 


Published 1 September, 2010 by Magnus Strømnes Bøe

Magnus Nilsson is Managing Director at RED Performance, a Norwegian based performance agency. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

Philippa Gamse

Philippa Gamse, Adjunct Professor at Hult International Business School

To your last point about keyword overlap:

I have long argued that one of the critical places in which many businesses fall down is in this cross-departmental area, where "the left hand doesn't know (or perhaps care) what the right hand is doing".  This can lead to many missed opportunities, lost revenue and wasted expenditures.

My solution to this is to appoint a "Web Ambassador" - an executive level position with a strategic view across the whole company, and the authority to direct decisions and priorities from the top.  Most businesses still manage their Web presence from silos - with all the ensuing problems.

I have an article on this topic at

almost 8 years ago


Magnus Strømnes Bøe, Managing Director at RED PerformanceSmall Business

> Philippa That's an excellent solution, and one that we're lucky to have established with some of our clients. It definitely makes a big difference in avoiding potential problems, and instead create opportunities.

almost 8 years ago

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