Web marketing

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Make no mistake: Online, your success in converting interest into acquisition depends on your ability to connect with prospects precisely where they are in the buying process. B2B and B2C buyers go through similar stages in that process as they consider their purchasing decision: needs assessment, requirements analysis, evaluation, purchasing.
Using this model, there are four distinct methodsyou can use to successfully transition prospects from first click to conversion.
1. Optimization offers industry dominance
Recently, 93.4% of those surveyed by MarketingSherpa and Enquiro said they would use the Internet to research a major business decision. Research shows that your next customer likely started his/her needs analysis using generic search terms, and then refined it withincreasingly narrower searches. This spiral search process underscores why creating dominance across a broad range of keywords is critical: You need to make sure that your next customer finds you on the first pass.
In fact, referring to the results of a 2006 GlobalSpec survey, ClickZ trend reporter Enid Burns writes that "traditional means of sourcing new suppliers, trade shows, sales calls and catalogsare being replaced by Web searches." When it comes to industrial equipment buyers, 73% look for new sources on search engines and online directories. Search engines are the first place to query for new vendors, and online industrial directories account for 21% of first searches. Burns goes on to write, "Online sources exceed initial searches through traditional channels like recommendations fromcolleagues, manufacturer sales calls, trade magazines, and direct mail."

Also of interest, the size of the purchase influences the length of time spent searching (and thus, the number of searches), according to a study from Enquiro. For purchases valued at $1,000 or less, 79% took place within just one month of the initial search. For purchases valued at over $50,000, 73% were made from two monthsup to a year after the initial search.
One of the indicators of how critical search marketing is the growing amount of money spent on online ad targeting. In a May 2006 report, eMarketer estimates that businesses will spend about $1.2 billion on behavioral targeted online advertising in 2006. By 2008, online ad spending will surpass the $2 billion mark.
In short, the more dominant your searchengine presence, the more potential qualified clients you attract during the needs assessment phase of their purchasing decision—and, in fact, search engines are clearly the dominant means by which B2B customers find their vendors.
Converting Customers Through the Entire Buying Process
Place in Buying Cycle | Buyer's Concern | How to Address It |
Needs identification | What do I need? | Searchengine strategy |
Requirements specification | Which companies can provide what I need? Who can I trust? | Design |
Research and evaluation | Of the companies I can trust, which has the best value? | Superior content, targeted copy |
Selection | How do I make it happen? | Clear path to purchasing—an easy shopping cart, a contact form, or other tools to support buying |
2. Empathic designbuilds trust
Search engine dominance gets qualified traffic to your site. But once that's happened, your design and brand identity help your buyer through the requirements and evaluation stages of the buying decision.
Jeff Rosenblum, cofounder and research and strategy director of Questus, is quoted in a January 2006 ClickZ article as saying, "We find that Web sites have three seconds to make animpression.... The actual usability is more important than aesthetics, but at the same time aesthetics are critical."
Three seconds would be generous, according to a study by Carleton University's Human-Oriented Technology Lab in Ottawa, Canada. Allowing visitors only flashes of Web sites, the study published in Behaviour & Information Technology concluded that people only need 1/20th of a...