Do you understand how potential customers search to find the products or services you offer? Search engines have become B2B buyers’ primary source for finding information throughout the purchase cycle.
A study on B2B search behavior conducted by Enquiro and MarketingSherpa showed that 93.4% respondents use the Internet to research a business to business purchase decision. Where do they go first? Nearly 64% said – search engine.
When do they search? The largest group (nearly 30%) began one month before buying. Next were those who searched two to three months (24.7%) before making a purchase. A lesser number (22.5%) began their search within a week or two. The more expensive the purchase, the earlier the search started.
User research from the Nielson Norman Group shows that when buyers know the company name, they first type that into the search engine address field. If the buyers don’t know a name, they search by product name or model number. If they don’t know either of those, they use keywords that describe their problem or the function of a product or service.
Location may also influence buyers search strategies. They include a city name or zip code in their search. Google, the most dominate search engine used, introduced Google Places in response to this behavior. While Google Places is a free way to advertise and locate a business, the site is owned by Google, not the company.
People trust that the top organic listings are relevant and from competent companies. They figure if the company knows how to rank high on search engines they are probably doing something right with their business. The top three organic search rankings have the highest click through rate. Even the top three sponsored links get the highest click throughs. (Side ads rank higher in click throughs than those listed at the top.)
Buyers are busy. Many seize the search-result moment with quick eyes, scanning until they find what they want. They usually limit their search to two or three companies. Once they get to the website, they are looking to gain knowledge, and then use that knowledge to compare and assess.
They look for signals that a company serves businesses. Content needs to convey this quickly. On the Armstrong website (manufacturer of floor, ceilings and cabinets) the word “Commercial” is prominently displayed with photos that show commercial interiors.
A well organized website exudes competence. Making it easy for buyers to gain knowledge shows respect for them. Buyers will leave websites that are unorganized and self-serving. Remember that while on a business web page, the buyer is still searching. Make finding what they need easy.
In addition to buyers, there are others searching for information about a business. Those may include journalists or someone looking for sourcing potential partners for distribution of a new product. These searches may not result in a purchase, but they can bring something positive to a company.
Getting found requires optimizing every aspect of a business site for search engines as well as high quality writing, great visuals and a creative approach to sharing knowledge. Ensure a gratifying experience by understanding how buyers search. Then help them move from seeker to satisfied.