8 Cringeworthy B2B Email Nurturing Mistakes that Leave Your Leads Dead in the Water

According to Gleanster Research, 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy. 

Okay, so if they are interacting with your website, but they aren’t ready to buy, what are they doing? They are likely researching solutions to solve their problems and considering several options prior to making a purchase decision. 

The way that we as marketers help leads through the buyer’s journey, is by leveraging email nurture sequences, also known as lead nurturing. Lead Nurturing by definition is the process of building effective relationships with potential customers throughout the buying journey. 

One to one direct communication with all B2B leads isn’t scalable, but strategic email lead nurturing is, and it’s effective. The caveat? Email nurturing must be strategic. 

Here are 8 B2B email nurturing mistakes that will tank your conversion rates and leave your leads dead in the water.  

B2B email nurturing mistakes

Mistake #1: Not Having a Lead Nurturing Campaign at All

Every B2B company needs lead nurturing one way or another. Not convinced? Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have content available for download?
  2. Do you have a chatbot?
  3. Do you have a ‘Contact Us’ form on your website?
  4. Do you offer a demo or webinar?
  5. Do you a newsletter sign up?

If you answered yes to any of the above, email nurture sequences are for you. They do some of the heavy lifting by giving the potential buyer the information they need to help themselves, yet still provide them with the opportunity to easily raise their hand for sales. 

And let’s face it, if you’re not nurturing them, another company likely will and they’ll be drawn elsewhere.

Mistake #2: Forgoing Strategy and Research 

Nothing can turn your leads away faster than poorly targeted random marketing emails. Let strategy and research fuel your persona development and help you craft your marketing plan at large. Email lead nurturing should roll up nicely and be aligned across teams.

Interested in how Lake One does strategy? Here’s what we include.

Mistake #3: Not using personalization

Make sure your emails sound like they were written by a human being for another human being to read. 

If you’re using a marketing automation software like HubSpot, you’ve likely collected data that can be easily inserted into your emails to add a personal touch. It can be as simple as addressing the email with their first name or you can take it a step further. Do you know their role? Their job title? The more insights you can glean from your leads, the more tailored you can make your emails. 

Also, here’s a fun fact. 

B2B Email Nurturing Mistakes

Mistake #4: Death by sales pitch 

Not all leads are ready to buy the second they begin interacting with your brand, so hang tight on transcribing your elevator pitch.  

It’s important to meet personas where they are at in the buyer’s journey by providing relevant, helpful content. Videos, blogs, additional resources, case studies, and customer testimony are perfect tidbits that can be shared via email nurture campaigns.

Are sales pitches ever appropriate? Absolutely. There comes a point in the nurture sequence, which should be determined by user engagement, where you absolutely ‘ask for the sale’. Here are some ways to do that.

Mistake #5: CTA Overload

Every email should have at least one clear call-to-action (CTA), but too many CTAs can be a distraction. Not to mention, it makes for an ugly email. 

Pro Tip: If you’re unclear about the purpose of your email, the lead likely will be too. Take a step back and list out the email subject, primary CTA and secondary CTAs if you have them, in a doc prior to building out your sequence. 

B2B Email Nurturing Mistakes

Mistake #6: Radio Silence When Leads Engage 

This one seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised how often email replies go unanswered. If a lead replies to your nurture sequence, where does it go? Who checks the inbox? Whose responsibility is it to reply? Make sure to have a game plan in place prior to launching.

What’s worse than silence? Any of these mistakes!

Mistake #7: Thinking Lead Nurturing is One and Done

The more blogs I write, the more I feel like a broken record that’s stuck on research and optimization. But it’s so true. Lead nurture emails are perfect candidates for optimization and should be based on research.

Not sure where to start the optimization process? Let the data be your guide vs intuition. Subject lines, CTAs, and email timing are all great optimization candidates if the data points are lackluster.

Mistake #8: Keeping Sales in the Dark 

Lead conversion is a team effort and often a result of both the sales and marketing team working towards the same goals

Lead Scoring Guide

When it comes to workflows and email nurture, it’s especially critical that sales and marketing align and have a system in place to signify when a lead is actively talking to sales or vice versa. Nothing can confuse or in some cases, annoy your leads more than emails from several people at the same company. Not sure if you’re aligned? Here are some tips to check.

The good news, this can be easily avoided if you’re using HubSpot by leveraging enrollment criteria, lists, and lead status. 

6 Must-Track B2B Email Marketing KPIs

Are you using email to send content to your leads and customers? If you’re not, turns out you’re part of the minority.

B2B Email Marketing KPIs

Whether you’re a seasoned marketing pro or an email novice, check out the list of our top B2B email marketing KPIs we like to track. But before we dive into the metrics, we need to touch on one major email marketing necessity, goals. 

Email Marketing Goals 

You should know by now that random acts of marketing (executing marketing tactics that aren’t part of an overarching strategy) are a major don’t in our book and that definitely applies to emails. You might be thinking, “It’s just an email.” And in a sense, you’re right. However, all email communication whether it be a newsletter or a simple follow up email post-download needs to be part of a greater digital marketing strategy.

Learn all about Lake One’s Digital Strategy here.

Okay, so how do you go from the big picture down to your email campaigns? You break it down email by email.

HubSpot recommends doing a quick gut check before you send your next email by asking yourself these questions. What is the goal of my email marketing? Is it to grow my subscriber database? Generate more leads? To convert more existing leads into customers?

B2B Email Marketing KPIs

Once you have your goal(s) determined, you’re ready to figure out which metrics you need to track. Read on for our top 6 fav B2B Email Marketing KPIs.

Need help goal setting? Download our SMART Goals template. 

#1. Bounce Rate

What is bounce rate? Bounce rate is the percentage of emails that could not be successfully delivered to the email recipient’s inbox. 

Why we track bounce rate: Emails can bounce for several reasons and fall into two categories, “hard” and “soft”. Soft bounces are temporary problems with delivery like issues with an email client’s server. Hard bounces are permanent problems such as a nonexistent email address and will never be delivered. 

Okay, so an email can’t be delivered, how does that affect you? Our friends at HubSpot say contact list cleanup is a must and we agree. All hard bounces should be removed from your list immediately because internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates as one of the key factors to determine an email sender’s reputation. Too many bounces = Spammer when it comes to ISPs. 

#2. Open Rate

What is open rate? Open rate is the percentage of recipients that open a given email.

Why we track open rate: Recipients can’t convert if they aren’t opening your emails, so the open rate can be a great place to start for optimization. We have to disclose though, not everyone is a fan of tracking open rate because it can be an unreliable metric. An email only counts as opened if the recipient also receives all embedded images within that email. Image blocking is an option via email clients- it’s definitely a possibility your number is off. 

So all of the above aside, we still like to keep open rate on our radar, especially when optimizing subject lines and using it comparatively. 

B2B Email Marketing KPIs

#3. Click-Through-Rate 

What is Click-through-rate? CTR is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on one or more links in an email. We often refer to the links as the Call-to-Action (CTA) of the email.

Why we track CTR: CTR is a great indicator of how your email is performing and if your content is resonating with your personas. Are recipients actually clicking on the links that you want them to click on? According to Campaign Monitor, the average click-through rate for most campaigns is slightly over 4%. Here are some tips on how to optimize your followup email CTAs for a higher CTR.

#4. Conversion Rate

What is conversion rate? Conversion rate is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on an email CTA and completed the desired action. Think completing a form, signing up for a free trial, making a purchase, etc.

Why we track conversion rate: Conversion rate is the money maker! Both figuratively and quite literally in some instances. The first step in email marketing is getting the user to click on your link in the email and the second is getting them to convert. This is a major metric in determining if you are meeting your goals.

Lead to MQL/Customer Conversion Rate

Depending on your email campaign goals you can really drill down when it comes to conversion rate. It can also spin off into other metrics such as Lead to Marketing Qualified conversion rate and Lead to Customer conversion rates. 

#5. ROI

What is B2B Email Marketing ROI? ROI is the overall return on investment for your B2B email marketing campaign. 

Why we track ROI: ROI is a KPI staple. Just like any other initiative within your company, you need to track ROI. Are you making money? Are your marketing efforts helping the bottom line? ROI analysis can point out areas of opportunity and areas that are burning cash. 

While we’re talking about KPIs, are you tracking your sales and marketing team alignment? Here’s some more info.

#6. Unsubscribe Rate

What is Unsubscribe Rate? Unsubscribe rate is the rate at which email recipients are unsubscribing from receiving email communication from your company. 

Why we track unsubscribe rate: Unsubscribes alone shouldn’t be the only indicator you review for email performance; however, if your unsubscribes are high, check it out! Perhaps your email is too aggressive, your customers have outgrown you, or your persona messaging is off.

Whatever the reason, high unsubscribe rates are like a big flashing light saying, “Change needed here.” 

Smart Goals Worksheet Template

Words to the Wise

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers and become hyper-focused on the KPIs, but here are few things to keep in mind.

  1. Keep it in perspective. Don’t rest solely on percentages. Make sure to look at how many recipients are contributing to the data before you go optimization crazy.
  2. Optimize. And then Optimize again. Perhaps it goes without saying, but if you see a number you don’t like, optimize! Emails are perfect candidates for testing. 
  3. Give it time. You want to give your email campaign time to do its thing. Rapid-fire changes aren’t helpful because it muddies the waters of what’s actually contributing to the change. 

B2B Sales Enablement: What it is and the Role Marketing Plays in Making it Happen

We often discuss the age-old battle that can go down between sales and marketing. The tale of two disparate teams. Well in case you didn’t know, now it’s all about alignment. And… enablement.

Sales enablement according to HubSpot, is the technology, processes, and content that empowers sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity. And brace yourself for this one: marketing plays, or should play, a key role in the sales enablement process for B2B companies.

Whether the above sentence has you ready to fall out of your chair or stand up and clap, read on. We’ll cover why sales enablement should matter to marketers and their role in B2B sales enablement execution.

B2B Sales Enablement

Why Sales Enablement Should Matter to Marketers

Today’s modern buyers are different from buyers of old. The sales process is heavily led by the buyers and dictated by the market. Who specializes in the buyer’s journey and converting leads to customers alongside sales? Marketing.

A Seismic article quoted Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, as saying the following on an episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast, “If you’re in B2B marketing today and you’re not thinking every day about sales, what the pipeline looks like, or how close the organization is to hitting the number, then you’re not nearly as integrated in strategy – let alone tactics or activities – as you should be.” Yaaaasss. 💯

We created a guide to make sales and marketing alignment easier. Click here to get it.

This quote really says it all. If the company isn’t making money, more than just the sales team will be in hot water. The above just drives home the fact that strategy, goals, alignment, and yes sales, should be driving teams company-wide.

Successful sales are everybody’s business, but marketing has the skill set to enable sales to be successful and propel growth.

Marketing’s Role in Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is really less about sales and more about serving the buyer through the buyer’s journey. It results in an empowered sales team that sells at a higher velocity which ultimately equals happier customers.

B2B Sales Enablement

With that being said, there are several ways marketing can move the needle and enable sales.

Lead Qualification

Reporting needs vary from company to company, but one constant is the need to qualify leads. Every B2B company has to have some type of lead qualification process. Marketing’s role falls under the Sales and Marketing SLA, but more specifically, the Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) process. [Read more about SLAs here.]

At a high level, MQLs are leads that are ready to be qualified by the sales team. Once the criteria are set and agreed upon, marketing can help with the implementation and qualification process. When marketing does some of the qualification and heavy lifting up front (digitally of course) it ensures sales are talking to leads that are ready to be talked to. It’s a win for everybody including the buyer.

Lead Scoring is a way to put your qualification process into action. Download our guide to learn more.

Content

A major component of sales enablement is arming the sales team with information they can use when selling. Don’t let your brain pigeonhole you into a sales deck. Information can range from internal best practices to customer-facing sales sheets. According to the TOPO blog, regardless of the form the information takes, it needs to be easy to consume and reusable across the sales organization.

Content Audit

Speaking of easy to use, have we mentioned content audits? Content audits at Lake One are a living breathing workbook that houses all of the client’s content (both internal and external facing). The workbook also notes what part of the buyer’s journey that piece of content serves, the location of the document, the persona, if it is a fit for a workflow, etc.

The best part of the document, though, is the collaboration tab where sales can add content ideas. Think repeat buyer questions, a need for a case study, and more. Marketing can pull directly from the tab to help fill the content calendar.

Email Templates & Automated Sequences

Marketing teams should be pros at nurture sequences (if they’re not, contact us) and pros at moving buyers through the buyer’s journey from a lead to an MQL.

That precise expertise applies to the email template and automated sequences of sales enablement.

How do those differ from marketing based workflows? The email templates and automated sequences can be used pre-marketing qualified lead state or even as a way to qualify MQLs to a sales qualified lead.

Despite the differences, the same basics of sending personalized tailored emails to the buyer still apply. Marketing can leverage their knowledge of lead engagement and automation to enable the sales team.

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Key Takeaways

  • A successful sales team should be everyone’s business
  • Sales enablement is really less about sales and more about serving the buyer through the buyer’s journey which leads to an empowered sales team selling at a higher velocity.
  • Marketing contributes to sales enablement in the following ways:
    • The definition and implementation of marketing qualified leads.
    • The creation of content that supports sales and in turn, the buyers.
    • The creation and implementation of email templates and sequences.

B2B Marketing: What it Takes to Be Successful

In many ways, B2B marketing is harder than B2C. Personas can be harder to pin down and more difficult to reach, the final decision maker is usually somebody different than the person doing research, and the sales process is slower. So, how do you succeed at B2B marketing? Here are a few of the traits companies who execute B2B marketing well exhibit; things we’ve come to know through our own experience and through watching our B2B clients succeed. 

Successful B2B Marketing

1) B2B Marketing Takes Patience and Grit

Getting results from digital marketing takes time. You can read more about why B2B SEO specifically is a long-game here, but patience is required for more than search rankings. It can take 6-12 months to start gaining digital marketing momentum. When things do start rolling, we like to say that one month of results is an anomaly, two months is a spike, three months starts a trend.

Successful B2B marketers understand this and keep on keepin’ on. They have the grit to trudge forward when the needle is barely moving because they trust the program. The alternative is, of course, giving up, and obviously, that will not contribute to any sort of positive outcome.

successful b2b marketing

2) B2B Marketing Takes a Big Picture Mindset with a Detailed Strategy

The most successful B2B marketing programs are created with the big inbound marketing picture in mind. These companies know that successful B2B marketing starts with knowing the personas: who is researching them, who the decision makers are, and how to support both. They use that information to build out a strategy focused on content tying back to research-based keywords and phrases. They focus on the details within keyword variations and how to target them as well the intricacies that make their persona uniquely fit. Successful B2B marketing connects these dots to create a cohesive plan.

A digital agency can help accelerate your marketing success. Here’s how to pick a good one.

3) B2B Marketing Requires SMART Goals

At Lake One, we usually start our inbound client relationships with SMART goal setting and creation of an SLA- Service Level Agreement. (Read more about our SLA here.) These two items direct the focus and attention of our work. The Fieldguide, or marketing plan, we create is the map to reaching those goals.

So how does that translate into your B2B marketing? Well, even when companies have grit and a solid strategy, it’s easy to lose focus. New products launch, opportunities in the market arise, pressures from the board tighten on other elements, etc. Set SMART goals allow you to stay focused on them. After all, how will you know if your marketing is successful if you don’t have specific indicators of success?

4) B2B Marketing Takes a Focus on Strengths

Keeping your marketing in-house can be a great choice if you have the bandwidth available and/or budget to hire for specific skills. When making that choice, consider the strengths of your team and where you’d like their focus to remain. If you have a killer marketing manager who is excellent at running internal events and social media but knows nothing about SEO, it’s probably unwise to expect that person to create a keyword strategy. In that case, it might be in your best interest to hire a new member of your team or outsource the work to a digital marketing agency. 

In order to be successful with B2B marketing, know your team and company’s strengths. Focus on them and outsource or hire where you’re weak. Here are a few tips to help you identify those marketing shortcomings.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Key Takeaways

  • Successful B2B Marketing takes time. Be patient. Have grit.
  • A successful marketing plan is detailed and specific yet encompasses the wider inbound vision.
  • SMART goals are needed to measure B2B marketing success.
  • Use your team and the company’s strengths. Find and fill the marketing weaknesses.

Crush B2B Lead Gen Goals with LinkedIn Sponsored Content

It’s a common story. Inbound marketers do their diligence developing buyer personas; cultivating content plans informed by keyword research throughout the buyer’s journey designed to attract and convert B2B leads. We launch our campaign to the world. Check for form notifications. Hours go by. Days. *DING* WE GOT ONE! – oh, wait… it’s a guest blogging service in Croatia.

Well, shoot. Here’s the deal: it’s not that the inbound research is necessarily wrong. But the content and conversion paths are a long game. Driving B2B leads with content can’t always rely on the grit of our organic and earned efforts. Especially in the short term. Take this data from Hubspot for example:

LinkedIn B2B Lead Gen

It usually takes 3 – 6 months before we start seeing the blogs we’re posting today really start picking up steam in attracting the contact volume that can start to scale our business. It takes 12 months to really go crazy.

So what’s a marketer to do? Help crush your B2B lead gen goals with some help from the social network built for B2B. LinkedIn. If you sell B2B, you should already consider LinkedIn marketing. What we’re going to look at today, is sponsored content.

LinkedIn B2B Lead Gen

Get to Know LinkedIn Sponsored Content

LinkedIn Sponsored content is the promotion of a post from a page that appears natively in the LinkedIn feed [psst, here are some post ideas.] You can include a link to your site or landing page or build a lead generation form within LinkedIn that lets LinkedIn users request content, information, or other contact from your organization with the click of a button. The form will automatically populate with information from their LinkedIn profile.

Because it behaves like a native post you get the benefit of the engagement functionality resulting in brand awareness via the social nature of the network. This reach is extended beyond that of your company page with the assistance of an ad budget.

LinkedIn B2B Lead Gen

Setting up Sponsored Content

Getting your sponsored content campaign up and running requires a LinkedIn advertising account. For a complete guide to doing that, check out the Getting Started with LinkedIn Advertising chapter in our LinkedIn Marketing Guide.

Some things to consider as you plan your advertising strategy.

  • Budget
    • LinkedIn, like most online ad platforms enable total and daily budget parameters. Bids can be set per click or impression if sending InMail. Because of the niche element of LinkedIn (focus on work) costs are generally higher than you’ll see on other networks.
  • Audience
    • There’s a multitude of options for targeting ads from audience development around LinkedIn profile parameters like job title, professional interest, industry. etc.. But another powerful tool is combining LinkedIn with your own data whether using matched audiences like those who visit your website or for account-based targeting. All of this is covered in depth in our LinkedIn Marketing Guide.

Aligning Sponsored Content with Inbound

The LinkedIn B2B lead generation goal crushing comes in when LinkedIn sponsored content aligns with a well crafted inbound marketing program. If your marketing plan and website is built to be a lead gen machine, give the machine some extra horsepower by plugging in another channel.

First, look to your personas when you build out your audience targeting in LinkedIn advertising. Structure campaigns around them, their stage in the journey, and use the LinkedIn Insights tag to create audience groups for people who engage with content as they move through the funnel, adjusting the content you show them during their journey.

Second, make sure that the audiences are aligned with the timing delivered in your email nurture sequences. The goal is to create a multi-channel soft touch to attract and nurture your prospects along their journey.

Finally, once a prospect has achieved the desired behavior, make sure to exclude them from LinkedIn sponsored content both to conserve ad budget but to also deliver a positive marketing experience.

For more information, here are some additional ways you use LinkedIn for Lead Gen.

B2B SEO Do’s and Don’ts

B2B SEO is important if you want your site to be found through organic search. We can all agree on that. The “how” of it can be kind of fuzzy, though. Thousands of experts all say different things. While we let the big dogs in the marketing space duke it out over whose theory is the best, our experience and success have led to these B2B SEO do’s and don’ts.

B2B SEO Do’s and Don’ts

 

On the Topic of Your Audience…

DO: Write for your Persona

Your persona is the fictional representation of your target audience. In B2B, it’s important to write for and support the persona who you know is likely to do the research. While the CEO might execute a buying decision, the human resources manager might be the one researching your company. If that’s true, gear your content and SEO strategy to their needs. Find the keywords the HR person is likely to use to find you.

Once your SEO starts bringing in leads, are you ready to handle them? Make sure your sales and marketing teams are aligned. Download the guide.

DO NOT: Write Only for Google

If you’re just writing for Google, you’re not writing for your persona. Google is a means to end; it is how your customer will find you- not your persona and not your buyer. So, how is your persona trying to find you? Leverage Google in that way. Use it to understand your personas and what problems they are actively seeking solutions to solve. By structuring your SEO around answering those questions, you’re naturally appeasing both your audience and the search powers that be.

On the Topic of Strategy…

DO: Have a Strategy

As with most things, having a strategy will typically lead to better outcomes than not. A B2B SEO strategy will help you formulate the structure of your content, allow you to be precise and measured, and direct you toward a specific end goal. How do you create a strategy? We’re glad you asked.

DO: Your Research

There are so many (free) SEO research tools out there that you’d be pretty remiss not to do research to create a strategy. By digging into the search volume for certain terms/phrases, you can find niche areas for quick wins. These wins are usually lower volume but have less competition. For example, while something like “Marketing tips” has thousands of searches every month, unless your HubSpot or Forbes, you’re probably not going to start ranking for that search volume. By researching, you can probably find a niche to fit into your strategy. Something like, “Marketing tips for the construction industry” might turn up as low volume, low competition and is, therefore, a much more attainable goal to try and rank for on page one.

Let research guide your strategy and build your SEO content plan around it. Here are some tips on how to find your B2B SEO keywords.

DO NOT: Toss Around Keywords For the Sake of Having Them

If you have a strategy, fully vetted by research, use it wisely. Those keywords are precious. Sprinkling them over every piece of content like a three-year-old with a shaker bottle of glitter can actually hurt your case. Google is onto that game these days. And they don’t like it. Google will actually lower your rating for the unethical treatment of keywords. Let your keywords build the content that your personas want, and write for humans. Nobody wants to read a blog when obvious keywords are literally in every sentence.

B2B SEO Do's and Don'ts

On the Topic of Relevancy…

DO: Build Links

Link-building is one of the best ways to build relevancy to your site. Having links in and out of your website (known as backlinks) tells Google that you’re legitimate. In general, the larger and more credible your backlink source is, the more beneficial it is to you. For instance, a backlink from Neil Patel is going to help your site’s ranking a great deal more than BillyBobsMarketingBarginShop.com who gets 10 site visits a month (mostly from his mom). This is simply because Neil’s site has more authority- Google ‘knows’ the site. Google does not know Billy Bob yet.

So how do you generate backlinks? Reach out to sites to do guest blogs, list your site in related indexes and registries, ask your partners/vendors to include a link to your site somewhere on theirs, etc. Feel free to get creative and put your brand out there. Here are some additional ideas for building a backlink strategy.

DO: Make Sure Your Content is a Match

Another thing that gives your website authority is how relevant users (and Google) find it. Google wants to know that your content is what it says it is. They favor sites that answer the question the user was looking for initially. They look at bounce rates, entrances, time on page, etc. to determine this. This holds true for landing pages, ads, and backlinks, so make sure that if you’re trying to rank for “B2B SEO Do’s and Don’ts” that your content is actually going to answer the question of things to do and not to do when it comes to B2B SEO. If your content doesn’t match or answer the question the user was searching for, they are likely going to bounce off your site immediately. That behavior will ultimately hurt your ranking.  

DO NOT: Generalize Everything

Continuing off those last two points, don’t keep your SEO at a generalized, high level if you can help it. It takes time and effort to write the content that carries out your SEO strategy, so high-level, most important keywords/phrases are the best place to start. But once that has legs, get into the nitty-gritty and what your persona wants. Enter: the pillar page. Pillar pages are long-form pieces of content that dive into the details of specific content verticals. These pages answer several frequently searched questions on related topics in one keyword-packed, helpful place. These pages are an opportunity to not only be an authority on a subject to your persona but to also culminate your strategy.

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Key Takeaways for B2B SEO Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Write for your persona: the person likely doing research to find you
  • Have a strategy and let research dictate it
  • Your strategy should include answering the questions your persona is searching 
  • Build relevancy and authority on your site through backlinks and related content

3 B2B SEO Myths

It’s easy to find advice on SEO. Not surprisingly, the companies that are best at it are able to get their pages to rank highly. When you do a search for B2B SEO, you’ll get a ton of results to sift through. You may notice rather quickly that you will see different guidance from one page to the next. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Here are three B2B SEO myths we’ve debunked to set the record straight.

B2B SEO Myths

Myth: B2B SEO Needs to Target Top-Level Executives Only

Truth: Executives often appoint other people to perform research for potential purchases and then present detailed options.

Executives are busy people. They probably don’t have time to spend hours sifting through features, calling for pricing, and comparing products. So, they tend to assign someone else to do that work and bring back information for the best options.

Looking for agency help with your B2B strategy? Here’s how to pick a good one.

The decision-making process within B2B companies typically involves a few players. There are decision-makers (usually the executives) and then there are influencers (no, not like the ones on Instagram). An influencer within a decision-making process is a person that is involved in the research phase, like an admin assistant or lower level manager, and although they may not make the final decision on their own, they have a lot of power to influence by providing specific recommendations and suggestions.

Really, your B2B SEO efforts should target the influencers that would be doing the actual searching for your product or solution rather than just the executives that are most likely involved later in the decision making process.

Myth: Mobile Isn’t as Important for B2B as it is for B2C

Truth: 50% of B2B search queries are made on mobile, and this percentage will grow to 70% by 2020.

B2B SEO Myths

Being mobile friendly is important in all industries—it’s the largest source of traffic in nearly all of them.

Unfortunately, many B2B websites are behind the times in design and SEO, even for the desktop, but especially for mobile. A large percentage of B2B sites either have clunky mobile sites or don’t have a mobile version at all.

Most executives and many mid-level managers have company-issued smartphones or tablets and they regularly use them to conduct business, especially if they are on the move a lot. Not just for calls, but also for online research and sometimes even to make purchases for the company.

If your B2B company doesn’t offer a user-friendly mobile site, you may be missing out on business from modern workers that prefer to use their mobile devices and tablets while on the go. [Click here to read more about why B2B SEO is important in the first place.]

Myth: I Just Need a Ton of Content, As Quickly As Possible

Truth: Content for B2B SEO strategy should focus on quality, not quantity.

Content is an extremely important piece of the SEO puzzle, and there are many rumors and untruths around what works and doesn’t. Some believe loading up a ton of mediocre content packed with keywords is all it takes to win. This tactic may have worked one point in time, but random keyword explosions all over your website isn’t a winning strategy anymore. [Read tips on selecting your targeted keywords here.]

B2C relies on making quick, personal connections and triggering emotional responses to get people to purchase on the spot. The goal of an SEO content strategy is usually to rank highly and get in front of as many eyes as possible to raise the likelihood of people making a purchase.

B2B is less personal because the product will typically be utilized by a company instead of a specific individual. SEO is less about getting in front of as many eyes as possible and more about really trying to find the specific sets of eyes that need your product or service the most. Keep in mind that B2B isn’t an overnight win, for B2C or B2B.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company
With the extended length and complexity of many B2B sales cycles, the focus for content should be to provide a ton of value and educate your searchers on how your product or service will solve problems for their company. The primary goal of your B2B SEO content strategy should be to build trust in order to generate and nurture leads to eventually speak to your sales team.

Tips for Identifying B2B SEO Keywords

If ‘Content is king’, SEO is most definitely queen.

The SEO landscape is ever changing; however, the need for traffic and for your company to rank on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is not.

According to MOZ, SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. And do you know what goes hand-in-hand with SEO? Keywords. Keywords are at the very core of SEO. They are defined as words and phrases that people type into search engines in order to find the answers to their questions.

Keywords are a critical component for SEO strategy because they play a significant role in helping your website rank on SERPs. Higher rankings equal more traffic to your website and ultimately, more conversions. Here are tips for identifying B2B SEO keywords.

Identifying B2B SEO Keywords

The Long and Short of It

There are several variations of keywords combinations, and not all keywords are created equal. The type of keyword you select depends solely on your goals, the buyer you want to attract, and the results you want to achieve.

[Wondering why B2B SEO is important in the first place? Click here.]

There are two main types of keywords:

Short/Header Keywords: Short keywords are just that, short words that typically describe a category. For example, SEO. Short keywords can be flashy and shiny from a volume perspective, but they tend to be lofty goals and often requires deep pockets to make any headway against the competition.

Long Tail Keywords: Long tail keywords are longer searches and can often contain more intent. Long tail keywords typically have lower volume than some of the short keywords, but they can pack a powerful punch when it comes to competition. Space is less crowded.

Short Keyword: SEO

Long Tail Keyword: How do I identify keywords for B2B SEO?

Think About Your Buyer Personas

Before we get too in the weeds on types of keywords, volume, and difficulty, we need to take a step back and think, “Who are my buyers and how are they searching?. Buyer personas are at the heart of inbound and should be a driving force in your B2B SEO strategy. Buyer personas, according to HubSpot, are a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

[For a refresher on Inbound marketing, here are the basics]

Part of defining your buyer personas are thinking about their pain points, how they are searching, what they are searching for, and when. The buyer’s journey, is the process buyers go through to become aware of their problem or pain, consider and evaluate solutions, and decide to purchase a new product or service.

Meeting your buyers where they are at in the buyer’s journey with keywords that align to how they search is the ultimate goal. In order to do that, break it down by stage.

Awareness

In the awareness stage, the buyer knows they have a problem, but they may not be able to put a name to their pain yet so search terms in the awareness stage are often questions.

Keyword Example: How do I get my company to rank on Google? How do I get more visitors to my website?

B2B SEO Keywords

Consideration

In the consideration stage, the buyer is aware they have a problem and has begun to consider solutions to the problem.

Keyword Example: SEO Solutions, Options for improving SEO, How to build a B2B SEO strategy

Decision

In the decision stage, the buyer is looking for a solution and likely ready to buy. Here they are comparing solutions, reading reviews, and making the decision of who to buy from.

Keyword Example: B2B SEO agencies near me, Best B2B SEO agency

Put yourself in your buyers’ shoes, familiarize yourself with your persona stories. From there, let the research begin. For more information on aligning keywords with your buyer’s journey, check out this article.

[SEO results won’t happen overnight. Here’s why.]

Keyword Tools

Third-party keyword research tools are essential when it comes to selecting keywords. The tools can help us learn about keyword volume, keyword difficulty, and help us to discover new keyword opportunities.

There are several keyword research tools in the marketplace, but here are a few favorites.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a tool widely known for backlinks and SEO analysis. Their Keywords Explorer provides relevant keyword ideas and traffic estimations and in particular. The tool also provides estimates on how many backlinks you need to obtain in order to rank for a given term.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is one of Ryan’s favorites. It’s a free browser add-on that shows search volume, cost-per-click, and competition data when you visit a SERP. Plus, unlike Ahrefs, it’s free! Can’t beat that.

Moz

It’s hard to talk about SEO and not mention MOZ. MOZ is a widely popular SEO tool that allows you to do in-depth keyword research and SERP analysis through researching volume, quality, and competitive analysis. In addition to the tool, they offer training and great tips for leveraging local search.

[Check out some more of our favorite tools!]

Keyword Inspiration

Okay, so you’re in tune with your buyers, you are thinking about tools, but what’s next? You need to generate a B2B SEO keyword list before you can start honing in on your targets. Here are a few of our recommendations for keyword inspiration outside of running searches in the tools mentioned above.

Current Rankings

Especially if you are embarking on a new B2B SEO effort, do a temperature check and see where you are at with your current rankings. What terms are you ranking for? Are they relevant? Are there terms that you would like to rank higher for? If so, add them to your list and do a deep dive on the stats to understand what it will take to move the needle.

Competitors

Check out what the competition is doing. What are they writing about? What phrases are they using? As we mentioned above, keyword research can help you do some digging to see what’s happening behind the scenes but don’t discount paying your competitors site a visit and seeing what you can gleam yourself. There’s something to be said for a little digital sleuthing.

B2B SEO Keywords

Google Searches

One of the most obvious, but most likely to be missed suggestion with all of the tools and data at our disposal, is literally a Google search. Try googling a keyword you are interested in and review the suggested search terms at the bottom of the SERP page for ideas.

Also, see who comes up in the SERPs. What topics are they writing about? It can give you an idea of what content is already ranking towards the top in answer to your buyers’ queries.

Keyword Selection

Keyword selection is both an art and a science and involves choosing quality keywords. Keyword quality is often talked about by describing both the search volume and the difficulty of the keyword.

Keyword Search Volume: Search volume is the number of people searching for the keyword for a given set of time. Most platforms aggregate the volume number monthly.

Keyword Difficulty: Keyword difficulty is a numerical score which indicates how hard it would be to rank in the top position on the SERPS for the keyword term or phrase.

As a rule of thumb, you should select higher volume, lower difficulty keywords that still align with your buyer personas and content strategy.

Looking for help with your B2B SEO Strategy? Request a consult.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Bring it back to the personas – as with all things inbound, they should be at the heart of your strategy.
  • Do your research and leverage third-party tools to help you aggregate data around volume, difficulty, and opportunity.
  • Look outside the keyword research tools for keyword inspiration from your current rankings, competitors and real-time Google searches.

Why B2B SEO is Important

According to Google, “71% of B2B decision makers start the decision-making process with a general web search.” That stat in and of itself should be enough for you to want to amp up your B2B SEO strategy. In case it’s not though, here are a few reasons why B2B SEO is important for your organization.

B2B SEO is Important

Your Customers are Human

It can be easy to dehumanize your B2B customers and think of them as a business entity. However, the truth is, the connection you need to make is a human one. Connect with the people that are influencing and making decisions within your target companies. Whether it be SEO, content marketing, or closing a sale, the aim should always be to reach and make an impact on individuals, not companies.

B2B SEO isn’t set it and forget it, nor is it a quick fix. Read why.

And we humans really like to search for things online. 81% of B2B purchase cycles start with a web search. As more and more tech-raised millennials and Gen Z-ers move into those roles, that number will continue to climb.

Your Industry Is Ready for B2B SEO

If you’re lucky, you may be in an industry that’s still pretty sleepy with their digital presence. Examples of this are industries related to blue-collar work or manufacturing. In general, they are just now beginning to embark on their digital journeys, dusting off websites from the early 2000s and revamping social pages. Because of this though, there’s a tremendous opportunity to start ranking now. Quickly.

If you’re one of only a handful of companies in your space pursuing an SEO strategy, you’re basically being given the gift of a home-field advantage when the competition didn’t show up.

On the flipside of that, your industry might be on top of their B2B SEO game already. In that case, a B2B SEO strategy and strong digital presence are critical to either staying relevant to be found or be left in the dust. This is one time when saying “everybody else is doing it!” really means you should be, too.

Mobile B2B Searches are Increasing

The vast majority of us are running around with miniature computers in our pockets, and we turn to them when we need information. Google has reported that 50% of B2B search queries today are made on smartphones. That figure is expected to grow to 70% by 2020. [HubSpot agrees. Download the 2018 State of Inbound report to learn more.]

B2B SEO Importance

Because of this, Google serves mobile search results differently than they do desktop results. To start, they put a larger emphasis on location and Google Places results than anything else. Furthermore, people tend to use mobile search differently than on a desktop, so Google adapts their algorithm to match. A mobile search is typically abbreviated phrases and/or uses fewer words than a desktop search. For example, a desktop search may be, “How to reduce employee absenteeism in the corporate setting”. A similar mobile search could be pared down to just, “reducing corp absenteeism”.

There are many tools that will show you what people are actually using to find your site on each device. Knowing this information can help you tailor your strategy appropriately and optimize for each vertical successfully. The bottom line is that if you aren’t showing up when people turn to their phones to find you, your competition will be winning those sales.

SEO-Aligned Content Will Convert Leads

Within the inbound scope, content marketing serves two main purposes: 1) To inform, educate, and move users through the buyer’s journey ultimately converting them to a qualified lead, and 2) to drive traffic through keywords and phrases.

You might have the best, most informative, converting content ever created. But it won’t convert a single lead unless your audience is able to find it. B2B SEO allows users to discover your content. Furthermore, “SEO-aligned content marketers drive 54% more revenue growth year-over-year.” This is because a B2B SEO aligned content strategy will inherently create relevant content. You’ll naturally be speaking to and answering the keywords and phrases your users are searching if you’re aligned. Let the content work in each phase of the conversion funnel, and be ready for your leads when they’re ready to convert. 

Why B2B SEO is a Long Game

There are a lot of opinions and misinformation around B2B Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are people who will swear they’ve figured out the latest and greatest trick and can get any page to rank #1 in a couple of days. Then there are countless articles that lay out the best ways to bypass the rules and get ahead quickly. The problem with this kind of information is that it simply isn’t true. In order to really win, in a consistent and sustainable way, you have to be willing to commit to B2B SEO for the long haul. Here’s why.

how long does B2B SEO take

B2B SEO Cheating Doesn’t Work (for Long)

Google hires geniuses from all over the world. If you think you can outsmart Google geniuses and algorithms, you are probably wrong. There was a time when companies could pay for links or stuff a bunch of white keywords in white space on a page, and for a second, tricks like that might have given them a boost.

A solid B2B SEO plan is part of the modern marketing philosophy. Learn more in our post.

However, Google stays ahead of the cheats these days. They keep their algorithms top secret and change them almost constantly. It is, of course, possible to understand some of the basic caveats of how to rank on Google, but ultimately, it’s a game where the rules constantly change. 

The best way to rank on Google is to become an authority in your particular niche. Create amazingly valuable content on fast, easy-to-navigate pages. Get the attention of others and build real connections to other highly ranked pages through links.

High Quality, Valuable Content Takes Time to Create

Content is valuable and helpful on its own, but pairing it with B2B SEO efforts can allow it to get out in front of a wider audience and to be discovered by more than just your biggest fans. Because of this, a lot of companies have jumped on the “content is king” bandwagon and decided to cannonball into the content marketing pool. However, many businesses look for a quick fix. They have untrained people whip up (or even plagiarize) a bunch of short articles for cheap and wonder why it doesn’t move the needle.

These tools can help you up your SEO and content game. Check ’em out.

Writing for SEO takes training, talent, and focus plus a little science and math. And while you might have excellent writers ready to churn out blog after blog, they may not have the appropriate skills when it comes to writing for SEO.

Content is one of those areas where you’ll get out what you’re willing to put in. If you want to pay $10 per article, chances are you aren’t going to get great writing, much less content that will be truly valuable.

If you’re willing to invest time and capital in a writer who can learn your business and properly convey your value prop with well-researched, informative content, you might be able to get somewhere.

How Long does B2B SEO Take

The writer is just one example. The same goes for video content, design, podcasts, etc. Don’t expect expert output from novice talent.

B2B SEO Optimization Doesn’t Happen Overnight

B2B SEO optimization in and of itself can take a bit of time. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll have a lot of learning to do. Even if you bring in a professional, there will need to be a full sweep of your site and content. Some things may need to be completely re-written, some will just need to be optimized, new items will need to be created. There are a lot of little details that go into SEO that simply take time to get through.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Time to “win” really depends.

The one thing that many different authorities on the topic tend to agree on is that it typically takes between 4-6 months to see results fromB2B SEO. The reality is no site is exactly the same (or they shouldn’t be anyways because that is against the rules) so it’s nearly impossible to predict exactly how long it might take to reach your particular SEO goals. The best hope to hold onto is that once you do start to see results, they tend to continue to grow moving forward as long as you keep making fresh content and continuing to optimize.