Increase Visibility

PrairieWeb Success Cycle

Search engine optimization (SEO) is about increasing visibility, or the process of getting your web content in front of (through marketing):

  • the right person
  • at the right time
  • who will make the right purchase from the right company (yours!)

Over 90 percent of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase. Over 70 percent of B2B sales start with online research. The online research involves comparisons of at least 10 different competitors.

Focusing on a specific keyword’s ranking doesn’t necessarily result in sales or leads. But, having supporting content for each stage of the buying process will.

How can you beat out the competition? How do you get your content in front of them in a way that leads to a sale rather than a ranking? It has to do with understanding how people searchand drafting specific content for each stage of their search process.

Search Engine Optimization

How People Search

When people are searching for product information, they search like… people. They have a question in mind. They’re not just entering a keyword or a keyword phrase. They’re often doing a voice search by speaking into their phone while they walk to their car. They’re looking for the right response to their question. Have you figured out their questions so you can get your products in front of them?

Now what about “link building”? Times have changed! Find out more.

Google is now searching like people do.  Google’s algorithms changes, released as “Hummingbird,” mean that now, more than ever, search engines are focusing on the meaning behind words—semantic search. This algorithm looks at each word in a search query in relation to the entire query. This ensures that the meaning of the whole sentence is taken into account and not just one or two keywords. Hummingbird’s goal? To match the questions to the best result.

Search Engine Optimization is a never ending process.

Be the best match with your content. Your content has to be engaging, informative, like a conversation, answering the questions that your consumers seek answers to.

Content for Specific Buying Stages

Content has to be unique and specific to each buying stage.

Search engine optimization for the initial stage of a purchaser’s search, your content should cover a broad range of information about your product or services. Consumers at the initial search stage aren’t sure what they need—they’re still doing research.

Content for this stage should provide pertinent information about what it is the customers are searching for. Figure out the questions your consumers will have, and draft conversational content to answer those questions. Determine the needs and wants of your buyer, and write to appeal to them.

Search engine optimization for the mid level of the buying stage, help them compare. You’ve answered their first few questions, so now your content must entice them further. This is the content that makes up category pages (products and services), case studies, reviews, testimonials, and white papers (for any B2B purchases). This information should supply facts, but also speak to their emotions.

Even though customers are doing comparisons, their decision will be based on how your content speaks to key motivators. Understand and speak to their motivators which fall into 3 categories: What does that buyer desire? What does that buyer fear or want to avoid? What does that buyer want to attack or get rid of?

Search engine optimization for the final stage of the purchase, include stats and comparisons toconfirm their purchase decision. Buyers want facts to close the deal and their searches will now be narrow enough to focus on this. Make it easy for them to find the comparisons, justify their decision and make the purchase.

For more information about search engine optimization, please check out some of our recent blog posts:

Contact us now to learn how Search Engine Optimization can help your business.

Content Marketing

Why Content Marketing?

Buyers have declared their independence from sales reps. Consumer and business buying habits have changed dramatically.

A buyer’s first action is now an online search. Average consumers visit 10 websites, including social media, before making a purchase decision, says a Google Survey.

B2B buyers spend 2/3 of their buying time doing research online, and only 1/3 with sales, according to Sirius Decisions.

For the past decade, search engine optimization (SEO) could drive the success of web marketing by itself. The SEO focus was on how to achieve high search-engine rankings.

That’s why writers wrote for search-engine robots, not for people. While SEO remains necessary, it’s no longer sufficient to win buyers.

Buyers are in the driver’s seat. They expect good content from supplier websites.

That’s why the overwhelming majority of marketers are using content marketing. Yet only 14% say they’re “very effective” at getting results.

Why? Most marketers lack a solid, written content marketing strategy.

Only 35% of B2B (business to business) marketers have a written content marketing strategy. And just 27% of B2C (business to consumer) marketers have written out a content marketing strategy.

That’s a formula for failure. Without a written strategy, the chances of content marketing success become even more remote.

Buyers are ready to reward capable content marketing. Some 68% of B2B buyers purchase goods online, up from 57% a year ago, says Acquity Group. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, most marketers don’t offer what buyers want. That’s because they don’t really understand buyers’ content needs.

Here’s how B2B buyers see it:

  • 94% conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product.
  • 83% prefer suppliers’ websites as a source of information.
  • Compared with a year ago, twice as many buyers (18%) spend 90% or more of their corporate procurement budgets online.

Buyers are often disappointed by what they find on supplier websites. Most websites fail to offer the content that buyers really need.

  • On 80% of supplier websites, companies make the mistake of talking primarily about themselves, not about buyers’ needs.
  • About 20% of buyers find incomplete or unclear product information. When they decide to return to Google search, you lose up to half of your potential online revenue.
  • Only 37% of buyers who conduct research on a supplier website say it was the most helpful source.

Buyers look high and low for answers to very specific questions. They’re doing their own research, independent of sales. In fact, Acuity found:

  • Only 12% of B2B buyers want to meet in person with a sales rep when making a purchase decision.
  • Only 16% want to discuss purchasing options with a sales rep by phone.
  • 71% of buyers prefer to research and buy online, with access to sales reps via phone or online chat only as needed.
  • By the time B2B buyers reach out to sales reps, 70% of the purchase decision has been made, says Forrester Research.

To win, you need to provide the content buyers seek and make it highly visible to them.

Help buyers before you sell. Focus on who your buyers are and exactly what they need to succeed in making a purchase.

Your content marketing strategy needs to address these key questions:

  • What tasks are buyers trying to perform when they come to your website?
  • What questions are buyers asking?
  • What content do buyers actively seek out? How and where do they search for it?
  • What are your buyers’ concerns and worries? What keeps them up at night?
  • What are your key buyers’ personas? What drives their purchase decisions?
  • When a team of buyers is involved, who are the different buyer personas? How do their interests differ?
  • Do you offer relevant content for technical buyers? Economic buyers? Operational buyers? Others? What will it take for buying influencers to convince their boss?
  • What do buyers think about as they develop a long list of potential vendors, narrow it to a short list, and choose who to buy from?
  • What content do buyers need during each step in the buyers’ journey? Do you have content that maps to each step?

To engage buyers takes high-quality content. In the future, the best content will win customers and revenue, because:

  • You need to give buyers all the content they need for an informed decision. See this infographic about the buyers’ journey.
  • If you fail to offer the information buyers need, they’ll go back to Google. And you’ll lose half of your potential online sales.

Successful Content Marketing also requires Content Development and Content Promotion, geared toward specific personas. Learn more in this 2-minute content marketing video.

Contact us for help with your content marketing strategy.

Why Content Development?

To succeed at content marketing, focus on the needs of humans, not just the algorithms of search engines.

For winning content development, you’ll need to create a buying persona for each kind of prospective customer you hope to engage. Then you can create your own content, or work with content marketers to get the job done.

Start with insights into your buyer persona(s). What’s in a persona? Each persona stands for a specific type of buyer. It includes the buyer’s demographics, attitudes, behaviors and much more:

  • First, learn all you can about your buyers as individuals, including age, gender, education level and job level.
  • For B2B buyers, learn about the company, industry and competitive dynamics.
  • Then, figure out what drives each buying persona to action during the moments of truth in the buying journey.
  • Capture these key insights about each buyer persona in writing.
  • Use your insights into buyer personas to develop ideas for content marketing.

Great content development addresses the needs, passions and fears of each buyer persona. That makes it much easier for buyers to find you.

Successful content marketing is all about buyers. It’s not just about your company. Websites that focus primarily on sellers are a turn-off to buyers.

Buyers prefer vendor websites to other sources of information. But too often, they can’t find what they need on vendor websites.

Build content around your buyers’ questions. Provide buyers information that delivers high value, so they come to you first. Make it easy to buy by considering their information needs:

  • What’s in it for your prospects?
  • Why should they read your content?
  • Why should they subscribe to your blog?
  • Why should they give you permission to email them?
  • How will you help them become well-informed buyers?
  • How can you help them compare your offerings?
  • How can you help them compare your offerings with competitors?
  • How easy or hard it is to buy on your site?

To win, help before you sell. If you sell first, you may get a sale. But when you help first, you create long-term customers. They’ll always remember that you helped them when they needed it.

Your buyers’ needs vary at each step in the buyers’ journey. That’s why your content development must make the buyers’ path clear. Take one step at a time. Offer the right content in the right media at the right time.

Close the gaps between buyers’ needs and your content. Don’t create uncertainty and force buyers to turn back. Buyers who look at your site and then go to Google cost you up to half your potential online sales.

Use content development to guide buyers step by step. The right content helps buyers discover you in the first place.

Then, you need to lead them smoothly through each step of the buying journey. Keep buyers on track with the:

  • Right topics: Synch up content marketing topics with the needs of buyers at each step.
  • Right media: Provide content in the form that media buyers prefer at each step.
  • Right path: Make it easy for buyers to take the next step.

Deliver content on the right topics. Topics are driven by buyers’ needs, which vary at each stage of a purchase. Here’s how buyers behave during a complex, high-dollar B2B sale:

  1. During pre-sales, buyers ask: Is there a need? Do we have a problem? How serious is it? Do we need to change they way we do things?Collect and understand customers’ questions. Create content to help buyers discover, analyze and understand problems. Tell buyers something they didn’t know about a problem or opportunity they already have. Gain their permission to send regular emails.
  2. During initial sales, buyers discover options, evaluate each and ask questions: How well does each vendor perform? Who can do the job cheaper? Who provides the best service?Create content that differentiates your offering from others.
  3. During mid-sales, buyers need to reduce risks and resolve concerns. They’ll seek validation from customers through testimonials, site visits, social and news media.Offer case histories, videos and news stories about similar customers.
  4. During final negotiations, buyers select a vendor, negotiate terms and conditions, and finalize the purchase.Reinforce buyers’ decisions by reminding them of your solution’s benefits and your differentiation.
  5. After the sale, buyers seek verification that they’ve made the right choice.Thank each customer for the sale. Provide users the in-depth information, service and support they need to succeed with their purchase from you.

Celebrate customers’ successes through case histories, videos, news and testimonials. When happy customers are using your solution, it’s time to cross-sell and up-sell.

Creating content is only half the battle. Make sure buyers see your content by promoting it. That’s the path to sparking inquiries, qualifying leads, generating sales and building your revenue.

Contact us for help with Content Development.

Make sure buyers see your content. Learn more about Content Promotion.

Why Content Promotion?

Because your website isn’t the center of buyers’ online universe.

Where do your buyers hang out online? That’s something every content marketer strives to know. It’s crucial to making your hard-earned content easy for buyers to find.

Start by figuring out where your prospects go when they’re online.

Then focus on:

  • How do buyers seek relevant information that factors into the buying journey?
  • Which search engines do they use?
  • Do they search from mobile devices or a desktop?
  • What terms are they searching for?
  • What questions are they asking?
  • What customer reviews are they reading?
  • Which industry communities are they part of?

By hanging out in the right places online, you can start a useful conversation with your buyers.

Offer helpful, relevant content for each buyer persona to sustain the conversation. That’s how you can turn lookers into customers.

To connect with your buyers:

  • Answer buyers’ questions.
  • Raise questions that buyers will need to address during the buying journey.
  • Start customer-centric discussions.
  • Help buyers compare different approaches to solve problems.
  • Address industry-wide issues and trends that affect buyers.
  • Challenge buyers. Tell them something they didn’t know — about a problem or opportunity they didn’t know they had.

These kinds of Content Promotion techniques multiply your success in content marketing:

  • Share relevant content (your own and others’) on Social Media such as Google+, Twitter and Facebook.
  • Post white papers, questions and answers in an Industry-Related LinkedIn Group.
  • Publish content via blogs on your website, guest blogs, trade media and industry community sites.
  • Take advantage of email marketing.
  • Employ content sharing sites such as Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon.
  • Consider pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
  • Explore what’s possible with native advertising.

Contact us today. Learn more about how Content Promotion works together with Content Marketing and Content Development to help your business grow.

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PrairieWeb was the first company that took an interest in our business to understand the workings and mechanics of our products and services, which has been vital to our success on the web through them. Not only did they…
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We came to PrairieWeb after a conversation I had with a friend (and existing customer of PrairieWeb) who had said his business had increased dramatically since PrairieWeb had optimized his site. It gave us the inspiration…
“PrairieWeb was the first company that took an interest in our business to understand the workings and mechanics of our products and services, which has been vital to our success on the web through them. Not only did they take the time to understand our business and the markets and industries we serve, but they were the only company we met with that showed pride in designing our website. We met with PrairieWeb first, and their first impressions lasted and still remain with us today as we approach our ten year mark of service with the company.
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