With lead-to-close sales cycles for B2Bs typically lasting four months or more, it’s important to reach and engage with potential clients as early as possible in the sales cycle. Specialized keyword research is used to identify keywords that prospects are using in search engines like Google while in the early stages of the sales cycle. Targeting your campaigns to the Awareness and Research phases, can help your company reach prospects before the competition does.
I’m going to discuss two proven B2B Keyword strategies for reaching prospects early in the sales cycle through search. The first strategy is to identify search queries for known pain points that prospects are experiencing. The second is to figure out other searches a prospect might be making that relate to their job function. At Walker Sands, we call this second strategy “Targeting the searcher, instead of the search.”
Pain Point Searches
Talk to your front line sales team about what your prospects say are their pain points. Use these pain points to research how prospects may be searching when trying to deal with these and related issues.
For example, if your business is sells software to help businesses manage employee shift scheduling, then a pain point might be that they are paying employees for too much overtime. Target keyword phrases to go after might include: “how to reduce overtime” or “ways to reduce overtime.” The landing page then should convey the problem and how your software addresses it. To increase the effectiveness of the campaign, the landing page should have some obvious action the prospect could take next, such as a sign-up for a free a trial, download a whitepaper, read a case study, schedule a demo or call us.
This technique works well for several reasons. The best two are: You are providing an answer to a very specific pain point that they are seeking options for. The prospect has self-qualified themselves as a match for your solution. They are primed to take the next step and begin engagement with your sales team.
Paint Point Search Strategy Implementation Plan:
- Interview sales people about pain points. Align to your solution/services
- Perform keyword research about the pain points to identify target phrases
- Develop content (Ad copy, web page content, and any supporting materials such as case studies and white papers)
- Create landing pages to support the content
- Market the landing pages through paid search, social media, search engine optimization, etc.
Targeting the Searcher, Instead of the Search
This strategy helps build brand awareness and gets you in front of the prospect to start building a relationship early on. Instead of using keywords that focus directly on your solution, identify and use keywords that prospects use when trying to operate or improve their business.
For example, an HR Director or VP may be looking for new ideas on how to improve their own job performance or the performance of their group within the company. They turn to search engines looking for information. They make searches like: “hr process improvement” or “hr best practices.”
If you target these searches, you should create landing pages about the topics they are interested in and how your solution helps improve their processes or how best practices include improvements to operations or functions that tie into your solutions. These prospects are not as primed to talk to a salesperson, so I recommend creating soft calls to action about webinars, white papers, newsletter signups and product literature downloads.
One way to enhance this strategy is to pair it with your retargeting strategy to continue to build brand awareness with the prospect and drive more conversions.
Tip: I segment my keyword research into several buckets of keywords for this strategy. Some of the buckets I use are:
- Operations (think about terms related to: efficiency, management or operations)
- Growing (think about terms related to scaling or growth)
- Cost Management
Targeting the Searcher Strategy Implementation Plan:
- Perform keyword research
- Segment keyword phrases into buckets
- Develop content for each bucket you wish to target (Ad copy, web page content, webinars and any supporting materials)
- Create landing pages, with soft calls to action to support the content
In your analytics package, setup goals for each of the calls to action. After marketing the new landing pages through paid search, social media, search engine optimization, email and on your own websites, examine how each landing page is performing and make fine tune adjustments to the content and measure the impact.
Pain Point and Targeting the Searcher keyword strategies have proven to be excellent ways to help fill the top of the sales funnel with targeted leads. If you are looking to enhance your B2B sales, I strongly recommend these two approaches.