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!