You already know that prior to joining Forrester, I worked in the information retrieval industry and will forevermore be fascinated and frustrated by search. B2B marketers face unique search challenges, not only to select the best keywords and improve on organic rankings, but also to direct buyers to the information they need to make decisions and move closer to a purchase.In recent research, we found business marketers don’t use microsites and landing pages to guide paid clickers to the relevant information. Of the 86 unique ads we reviewed, only about a quarter took buyers to pages custom-designed for a paid search campaign and neither dedicated pages nor general ones provided keyword-related content consistently. Why do B2B marketers struggle here and can technology help?
I'm right in the middle of evaluating vendors for Forrester's Wave on search marketing agencies and I'm finding (no surprise, really) that these providers offer very similar services. There are certainly some place of differentiation (like the amount of consumer research a vendor conducts to understand your target audience). But in terms of the basics (keyword selection, bid opimization), vendors look a lot alike.
So, as I wade through the details of each vendor, I'm hoping you all will weigh in on what selection criteria is most important to you when you are looking for a search partner. Does it matter if the vendor has its own bid management technology? Are you only interested if they have experience in your industry? Is SEO or paid search more important? Would you sacrifice customer service for in-depth conversion tracking? Let me know what the most important factors are to you. I'll be using your feedback to help me weight my evaluation criteria. Thanks!
Google and MySpace announced a eye-popping $900 million deal yesterday providing definitive proof of Google's diversification strategy (was there ever really any doubt?) and sending a new tremor down the spines of Microsoft and Yahoo!. But this deal is not just about Google bolstering its lead in the online search marketing race. It means:
Last week, I met with the (small) business solutions division of a large consumer technology/services provider to talk about gearing up their B2B marketing. We talked about whether the same tactics that work for their consumer audiences might also work with small business prospects (typically less than 100 employees.) TV and radio came up in the discussion because they were getting ready to launch local market tests.
So here’s the thing:
Few (about 20%) of the over 500 B2B marketers who we surveyed recently say they use TV and radio, compared with about 90% who use tradeshows and PR – real die-hard B2B tactics. However, those who can afford TV say it’s off the charts for building brand awareness.
I recently wrote research about search marketing best practices for business marketers but didn’t cover contextual advertising in it. Having spent over 5 years covering enterprise search or working for companies (Verity, Stratify) offering search-based products, I have to admit I am a bit more than skeptical about claims – like those made by Google Adsense, Kanoodle BrightAds, Quigo AdSonar, and Yahoo’s Publisher Network – that search-based contextual ads accurately match the host content and never appear on unrelated sites. The fact is – and anyone frustrated by the low quality of search results they see on most business-oriented Web sites will agree – getting machines to read, interpret, and characterize written text precisely is difficult and labor-intensive. And for every contextual placement that looks relevant, I can show you more that are way off the mark.
Andy Castonguay, Program Manager, Yankee Group Erin Cole, Media Supervisor, Avenue A | Razorfish Brian Costello, CEO, MaMoCo Jeff Janer, COO, Third Screen Media Michael Weaver, Senior Product Planner, Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions
Roger introduced the discussion by saying that he thought we all agreed that mobile marketing was poised to really explode and that was why we were all attending the panel. But I must admit, I’m still skeptical on this point, and the issues raised during the panel only made me more so. Here are the current challenges with mobile marketing.
Last week Charlene Li and I talked with Josh Walker-- a Forrester alum and all around smart guy -- about his new company CityVoter. Here’s what CityVoter does and why it matters to media outlets, local businesses and national advertisers:
Within the last week there has been a lot of buzz about the online search businesses of the three search engine giants: Google, Yahoo! and MSN. We anticipated some of the buzz -- MSN announced its US launch of AdCenter at its Strategic Account Summit in Redmond beginning 5/2; and Yahoo! announced a new platform and set of services for its advertisers on Monday. But last week a surprise WSJ article generated quite a stir. Here’s the excerpt that got everyone talking:
One faction within Microsoft Corp. is promoting a bold strategy in the company's battle with Google Inc: Join forces with Yahoo Inc.
That would be a major departure for Microsoft, the software maker that is legendary for toiling on its own until it captures a new market. However, people familiar with the situation say that Microsoft has considered the idea of acquiring a stake in Yahoo, and that the two companies have discussed possible options over the course of the past year.
During a recent breakfast meeting with B2B marketers, someone asked “We sell many products, with each buying cycle involving multiple decision makers. Do I need to create a persona for each?” Persona is a word that has made its way into the business marketer’s vocabulary of late and we admit we’re doing our part to promote this approach as well. But are B2B marketers ready to use personas as a launch pad for establishing a more relevant dialog with prospects and customers?
Most are not. Judging from our customer interactions, the typical B2B firms’ approach to segmentation is quite rudimentary — they group customers by size, industry, and geography. These categories closely match their sales organization’s structure, but are divorced from marketing strategy. Few go further and extend buyer profiles to include role, behavior, demographics, or preferences.
I participated in ad:tech San Francisco 06 last week and was blown away by the number of attendees and exhibitors. While I was very excited by the energy at the event (great to feel marketers primed to invest in internet marketing, and vendors anxious to introduce new technologies), the cynic in me couldn’t shake the “been there, done that” feeling.
A feeling associated with what we at Forrester have dubbed “Bubble 2.0” -- the recent boom of venture-backed vendors touting very similar capabilities but with no clients (In fact, this trend is not unique to vendors. There are content companies springing up too, that provide no actual content).
Here are my observations from ad:tech about which areas are garnering the biggest vendor attention: