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Despite all the research and writing on the B2B buyer’s journey, quite a lot of B2B marketers still believe that “my buyers aren’t looking for us in search.”
Their assumption is that the customer in a position to buy a six- or seven-figure (or larger) piece of equipment or service is going to be deeply experienced and already know who the main providers are, and that’s who they're going to request bids from. The evidence suggests otherwise.
For example, if you search for 'healthcare IT consulting' the results include paid ads from Accenture, Dell, Siemens and many others:
Why would they waste their marketing efforts and budget if no one important was searching? They aren’t, because the buyers are.
According to Google, approximately 260 searches are done monthly on that term in the United States, and 320 globally.
Obviously that’s not huge numbers, but a single contract for healthcare IT services is worth a lot and the lifetime value of the customer could be several times higher, so it’s worth paying over $20 per click to Google.
If you look at some related long-tail keywords, the search numbers can be much higher. More than 720 people a month search for 'top healthcare consulting firms', over 1,600 search for 'IT consulting services', and so on.
Suggested bids on the various keywords range from those with low competition and under a dollar costs per click ('information protection policy'), to terms such as 'Enterprise security services' and 'cloud computing security' with high competition that has bid them up to over $40 per click – and in some cases much higher.
A consumer might search on a term like 'CT scan', but a hospital or healthcare provider would be more likely to be searching for 'CT scan equipment', which can cost more than $1m for one scanner.
So, again, major vendors advertise on it, and their ads and organic listings are seen by about 90 searchers globally each month, or close to 1,000 annually.
The numbers vary considerably from industry to industry, but the fact that big-ticket B2B buyers are searching is clear by both the number of searches and that certain keywords are highly competitive and have been bid up beyond a dollar or two per click.
Here are 10 other examples of big ticket B2B keywords:
|Keyword||Monthly Global Searches||Suggested Bid|
|Marketing automation software||1,900||$37.85|
|Business online storage||90||$45.40|
|Network managed services||140||$161.73|
|Cloud security companies||210||$107.67|
|Custom trade show exhibits||110||$67.11|
|Trade show displays||9,900||$26.88|
|Help desk software||8,100||$53.51|
|Master data management vendors||110||$52.79|
|Office reburishment London||590||$37.03|
|Local SEO company||1,000||$27.16|
And, again, each of these keywords has many long-tail companions that increase those monthly searches many times over.
For example, in addition to those 210 search for 'cloud security companies' there are another 210 searches for 'cloud security solutions' (with a suggested bid of more than $55/click) and about as many for the valuable 'virtualization cloud computing' ($108.91/click) with advertisers such as EMC, Intel, Microsoft, SAP and Google.
According to IDG Connect, 58% of B2B IT buyers use search during the buying process. What are those people searching for?
They typically consume seven or eight pieces of content while researching. Early in the buying process they’re often doing broad industry searches and then they focus in more on solutions and ultimately research on particular, short-list vendors.
The most advanced companies aren’t just using PPC ads but they’re also creating content that addresses the concerns of each member of the buying team during each stage of the process.
Considering that it can take dozens or, in many cases, hundreds of clicks to produce one sale, these high cost-per-click on low-volume B2B keywords show that they are worth it.
At the same time the low search volumes show that those advertisers can’t rely solely on a search or inbound strategy. No doubt they also use targeted accounts programs, ads in industry publications, exhibits at tradeshows and other means to reach their very specific markets.
That’s what omnichannel marketing is all about.