Savvy B2B marketers are keenly aware that without quality Search Engine Optimization (SEO), their websites are about as effective for generating leads as an unlit billboard is on a dark stormy night. If you aren't generating high page rankings on the right keywords (words that real prospects use, not words guessed at by your internal staff), then you are alone in the wilderness, preaching to the cacti, which rarely have a budget and are notoriously bad at buying things.
So, OK, yeah you for being up on the curve. For doing the research, for finding the right words, identifying the long tail of real prospects versus the wild wild universe of surfers, and for mapping those key words and phrases to good content on your site, hence securing your place on the first few pages of SEO results for your prospects. That's great - you got your potential prospects to your website - now what?
NOTE: If you're not quite there yet - or if you haven't even started, resolve to make 2010 the year that you do! Because if you don't, you'll be watching your competition pull away by attracting your potential clients. Studies show that in 2009, over 70 percent of B2B purchasers began their buying process by searching the web. But your potential clients don't find you when they do their research - they find your arch rivals. So get started, get SEO'd, and then after a brief pat on the back, ask yourself "Now What?"
After getting SEO-ready, it's time to get SCO-ready. SCO = Sales Cycle Optimization.
SCO is the active process of providing content on your site (and beyond) that speaks to each of the key phases your prospects go through as they progress from curious informational researcher to active evaluator, and ultimately, hopefully, to buyer. SCO also addresses the reality that your buyer is often more than one person.
Every sales cycle is unique to its product, though factors like technical complexity, breadth of organizational impact and the financial value of the deal all correlate directly to the length of time and number of people involved in the decision. The process of Sales Cycle Optimization is more complicated and time consuming for bigger, more complex sales - duh, but marketing even modest value and complexity products benefits from SCO.
To get SCO-ready, here are 5 essential steps:
- Map your sales process. If you have multiple products or services, start with the top priority ones for your company in 2010. Even if your cycle is pretty quick, it's useful to put it in writing (better yet, in a diagram).
- Involve your sales department. They already know what the key milestones are and the typical time frames to move through the cycle. The sales force also knows the decision influencers and their informational needs/biases. Working with Sales will not only result in a better map, it'll reinforce your common objectives while demonstrating Marketing's goal to generate quality leads that the sales force can actively pursue.
- Review the content of your website. Assess how much of your content is targeted to each phase of your sales cycle. Assess how much of your content actively speaks to the informational needs of each decision maker/influencer. This will quickly point out where to focus new content development.
- Review your lead conversion offers (i.e.Free White Paper, Webinar, etc.) to see if your offers cover all the steps in the sales cycle, and where you are getting the most conversions. Are all your offers front end loaded (Free Research Report)? Or, god-forbid, back end loaded (20% off if you sign up NOW!)?
- Finally, look beyond your website...how does your overall marketing plan and extended web presence drive support your lead generation campaigns? Evaluate how well you're getting seen and heard at the industry level. From industry articles to blogs; social media sites to webinars and conference speaking engagements. All roads should lead to your website and ultimately, your sales force.
With these data points, you are armed to get Sales Cycle Optimized. You're now ready to create new content. Content for your website and content for other venues to shine the light on your thought leadership and superior solutions. Content and offers that will create conversions at each stage of the sales cycle, so that when the visits move from curiosity to interest, you can send to Sales actionable leads while you nurture those still moving toward that goal.
Looking to kick-start a web redesign to create a more optimized site? Use this methodology to take a data-driven approach to redesign.