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Why SEO Matters More Than Ever for B2B Brands – Lillian Haase // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview: In B2B marketing there are best business practices and strategies, including SEO, to apply to ensure your marketing campaigns and strategies successfully execute without a hitch. Join host Ben as he speaks with Searchmetrics’ Director of European Marketing Lillian Haase about why SEO matters much more than ever before for B2B brands marketing strategies and the role it plays in a period of disruption and change.

Summary

  • Although everyone is currently facing disruption and change, marketing remains relatively unchanged as a whole. 
  • Successful B2Bs are always constantly staying in front of their consumers, because they realize they need to be ready when a customer is actually in market and ready to buy.
  • Content is an essential part of any B2B company’s marketing mix and authoritative, educational content performs best among B2B prospects.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                  The B2B SEO week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day, discussing what you need to know to optimize your SEO efforts, to reach business partners and prospects. Joining us for B2B SEO week is Lillian Haase, who is the Director of European marketing at Searchmetrics, which is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses, monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. And today, Lillian and I are going to talk about why SEO matters more than ever for B2B brands. Okay, here’s the first installment of B2B SEO week with Lillian Haase, Director of European marketing for Searchmetrics. Lillian, welcome to the Voices of Search podcast.

Lillian:            Thanks very much Ben. Nice to be here.

Ben:                  Very excited to have a member of the European Searchmetrics marketing team, from what I understand, you’re relatively new to running the marketing department. So congratulations on the promotion and excited to talk to you about a little B2B SEO this week.

Lillian:             Thanks very much. Yeah, it’s actually just counting being four and a half months now with Searchmetrics. So let’s hit the ground running considering what’s been going on in the last four months. That’s for sure.

Ben:                   I’ve worked with Searchmetrics for a little over four years now, four and a half months can feel like a lifetime. The good news is you’ve got lots of expertise in not only SEO, but also B2B. And that’s going to be our topic this week and a little bit of a provocative conversation for the two of us to have. I think we come at this from different points of view. The title of this episode is, “Why SEO matters More Than Ever for B2B Brands.” Tell me if you agree or disagree with that statement.

Lillian:             Well, good question. Actually, both. So in some ways that’s true and in some ways that’s not true. So I guess the short way to explain that is to say that actually there’s no one size fits all for B2B in marketing and business. So, depending on what industry someone’s in, it’s always going to be a different variation of a marketing message or a marketing mix. So with everything that’s going on right now in the global climate, of course, everyone’s looking at change. Everyone’s facing change and disruption. However, on the other hand or the other side, is the fact that marketing doesn’t really change. We need to be out there with the right message meeting the audience where they are and giving them confidence in the brand where they are, and that’s older than us in terms of marketing. So this is where I agree and disagree. So there’s the things that never changed. But yes, there’s also a need to adapt.

Ben:                  I hear what you’re saying in the sense of look, it’s a blanket statement of saying, “Is SEO more important for every brand?” No, some brands actually don’t have a good content marketing strategy. It is not core to their business and they’re able to market themselves successfully through other channels. I will say that when we think about B2B marketing in general, I think that there is, maybe a commonly applied playbook, a set of business practices and strategies that are different than consumer facing marketing. When we think about sort of the general understanding of CRMs and you’re reaching fewer clients, generally higher priced items, you’re reaching out to somebody in a corporate environment. Talk to me about how you think of the general marketing playbook and where does SEO land in that strategy?

Lillian:             Yeah, I agree with you. It is definitely a different game and you’re also looking at a longer buying cycle a lot of the times. So not only bigger customers or bigger deals, but a bigger commitment of time. Because for a business to change their commitment to a particular software or supplier, it’s a big decision when you’ve got a lot of people using that tool or using a supplier. So from a marketing perspective, very much something that should always be there is you’re in it for the long game.

Lillian:             So B2C can often be short wins. You can get quick results. B2B can have buying cycles that last for years. They hear about you from a friend, they read a few things in the paper. A year later, they find it again. Their contract’s up on a service or a supplier, they start looking again through use of past. So when we do marketing in B2B, we’ve got to have our eye on so many different channels and so many different kinds of content to catch people wherever they are in the buying cycle, whether they’ve gone from the very beginning to the very end, or whether they’ve looped around several times within the middle of that cycle, which is actually a very common pattern. And so it’s a very special challenge for us B2B marketers when we have this situation.

Ben:                 This is one of the reasons why I think SEO actually is increasingly important and probably as important as it’s ever been for the B2B buyer. And I think that there’s two reasons I want to get your reaction to. Number one is you need to constantly stay in front of the consumer because you don’t know when they are actually in market and ready to buy.

Lillian:            I agree.

Ben:                 So you’re building long relationships. And if you’re doing that through paid channels, it’s very expensive. And two, we have the coronavirus. And most brands have been cutting back their performance marketing budget because there’s some uncertainty about what the macroeconomic picture is going to look like. Talk to me about how things have changed recently. How do you stay in front of brands? Should you be using content? Should you be paying for it and has the coronavirus impacted that?

Lillian:            Well, yeah, and you bring up a really good point about the impact of corona and then in terms of SEO. So those companies that have been doing the work for years and have the foundations in place for good SEO strategy or good content strategy should be doing okay in terms of visibility. I mean, that’s a very broad sweeping statement. I’m aware of that. But yeah, from a general strategic perspective, SEO generally is not a quick win medium. So if to think, “Oh, we need to do more SEO because we need more leads or because we need more traffic this month,” is not really the right way to approach it. So for the B2B organization, SEO needs to be very much about these topics, these content topics. Like how do we own or become the authority on specific topics in our niche and then we build a whole strategy around that. We build up the SEO, we do best practice to make sure that our content gets found by those people when they are in the market.

Ben:                  The thing that sticks out in my head as we think about the importance of B2B and where it sits against the marketing channel, is that you need to start building assets to stay in front of your customers and regular time. And yes, that can be done through performance marketing and some brands, B2B brands notoriously invest in billboards. I live in the suburbs of San Francisco. You drive down Highway 101, you go past Oracle and you see every one of Oracle’s competitors with a billboard because they want to stay fresh in people’s mind. How do you think about content in terms of being important from a lead generation standpoint, from an awareness standpoint? Is it something that actually drives conversion? What’s the real purpose of SEO and content for B2B brands?

Lillian:            That’s a huge answer to that question. So I think content is certainly the core for B2B. We depend on content to bring people in the door. So a lot of the time we need to invest in educating prospects into not only the product, but how it solves their problems and why they should think about it in the first place. So of course the other side, which is always trust and authority. And if you can teach something, if you show authority, this helps the brand and helps the consumer journey. But yeah, so when it comes to content in the marketing mix, it is one of the core pieces of any marketing mix, for B2B, definitely.

Ben:                  Then that’s one of the things that I think makes SEO so important for marketers. And maybe I should talk more broadly, it’s SEO and content marketing.

Lillian:            Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.

Ben:                  I do think that content marketing is more important than ever for B2B brands. And as you said, it’s the center. Talk to me about how content is a marketing channel on itself at how does it support some of the other marketing channels that B2B marketers rely on.

Lillian:            Right. And it’s not only SEO and organic search and getting traffic. It’s definitely that asset that’s used across many channels. And also including by the sales teams when they’re doing their outreach or when they have a prospect and they need some collateral or something to show authority or while they’re in discussion or while the prospect is in the decision making process still. I would also add that it’s great collateral for customer engagement, customer marketing, and to keep people in the brand as well after they’ve already become a customer. Very fundamental.

Ben:                And I think that’s an important part to think about that content in itself is something that is relied on for B2B brands. Not just for SEO, it’s for sales enablement, it’s for use for syndication in your performance marketing channels, right? It is a way that you can do your nurturing campaigns. It’s useful for your email campaigns as well. Everything that you could do from getting someone into your marketing funnel, keeping them engaged, keeping them warm until they are ready to actually buy your services. And then it gives your sales team the necessary bullets to fire when it’s time to make a sale. So we’re going to talk a little bit more about building a B2B content strategy in our next episode.

Ben:               That wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Lillian Haase, who is the Director of European marketing at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue this conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Lillian, you can find a link to her LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact her on Twitter. Her handle is Lilonline, Or you can visit her company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com.

Ben:              Just one more link on our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions, your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is voicesofsearch on Twitter and my personal handle is BenJShap. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back into your feed tomorrow morning. All right. That’s it for today. But until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.