Understanding B2B Search Marketing ROI

Patricia Hursh April 23, 2012

By Patricia Hursh, President and Founder, SmartSearch Marketing

Find Out the True Value of Your Search Marketing ROI

In search marketing it’s essential to track conversions, such as contact forms, white paper downloads, and webinar registrations. But if that’s your sole focus, you’re likely miscalculating and underestimating your ROI on search marketing.

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To be successful today, it’s essential you measure the collective value of a variety of key online actions. Rather than just using conversions to measure your search marketing success, you should look beyond the initial conversion to the executive-level big picture.

Determining Your Search Marketing ROI – How to Start

To evaluate your search marketing efforts, start with these four considerations:

  1. List all desirable actions that your website visitors can take
  2. Determine which of these actions indicate some interest in your company, products and/or services
  3. Find out how these actions reveal where each visitor is in the buying cycle
  4. Determine the marketing value for each of these actions

Looking at the value of all visitor actions is particularly important for B2B companies with long sales cycles, or selling complex products or services with an in-depth decision-making process. B2B marketers need to look beyond registrations forms and measure the value in engagement and relationship building.

List All Desirable Visitor Actions

In addition to obvious conversions, evaluate all other actions website visitors can take. For example, there is usually monetary value in getting a prospect to:

  • View a product page
  • Watch a demo
  • Take a product tour
  • Read an analyst review related to your company
  • Access a client case study
  • Use an app such as dealer finder, product selection tool, or calculator

These actions generally aren’t considered conversions. Therefore, many companies fail to track them or calculate their value when measuring ROI. However, all of these actions indicate interest and engagement, could lead to a sale, and thus are valuable.

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Visitor Behavior Reveals the Buying Cycle

To determine the value of each site visitor and action, it’s best to determine where they are in the buying cycle. Happily, search marketing usually provides excellent intelligence on where each visitor is in the sales process and buying cycle.

In B2B and complex sales, there are three main categories for leads. Each visitor to your site will likely reveal where they are in the buying cycle. The further visitors are in the cycle, the more valuable they are. The three cycles are:

    • Early-cycle prospects: These visitors are in education mode and are seeking basic industry knowledge and general market information. Assets that provide a good market overview – or discuss broad industry trends – reveal early cycle prospects, and are great tools for engaging them.
    • Mid-cycle prospects: They’re familiar with the industry and typically are evaluating options and vendors. Mid-cycle prospects usually appreciate – and download – assets such as comparison papers or analyst evaluations.
    • Late-stage prospects: They’re ready to select a vendor/partner and purchase. Late-stage prospects are looking for specific information on packages and pricing, terms and conditions, and service contracts. Visitors seeking this type of information are your most valuable web visitor.

It’s essential your website offers information that is meaningful and helpful to prospects in all phases of the buying cycle. For example, many B2B marketers fail to provide information to the early buying cycle demographic. However, it’s essential to get your brand in front of potential customers early and often as they research and compare, then select and purchase products and services.

Visitors to your website can take many different actions, perhaps dozens. So how do you determine the value of each? You’ll find out when you check out check out Part 2 of this article in my next post. You’ll discover how to estimate the value of not only conversions, but just about any website behavior.

Gain insight into your web visitor behavior and boost sales when you request a complimentary Web Analytics Review

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Patricia Hursh is the president and founder of SmartSearch Marketing. Today she leads the Client Services division of the agency. She specializes developing digital strategies and full-funnel marketing solutions for B2B companies. Patricia leads multi-functional teams to ensure bottom-line business results for SmartSearch Marketing’s clients.