In the first part of this B2B marketer fails series, I talked about how B2B marketers fail to realize they are selling to people, not businesses. They sell to the professionals who work at a business. And though these professionals have their work hats on, they need to be convinced based on their own personal needs, ambitions, and motivations.

The crux of the fail is marketers ignoring how they act themselves. Whether as a consumer or a professional, the people in the marketing department somehow ignore their own experience. For example, B2B marketers buy martech products for any number of human reasons – convenience, status, bragging rights, FOMO. But then they somehow forget all that when marketing their products to professionals, reverting to dusty jargon like ROI, time to value, or best-in-class this or that.

Another example of this unexplained B2B marketer hypocrisy has to do with how business professionals find and buy products – what we dress up as routes to market in B2B-speak. Most, if not all, consumer purchases today start with a search engine, primarily Google, but maybe also Amazon or YouTube. I believe most business buyers also begin their purchase research on Google. But the amount of time and energy B2B marketers spend on optimizing for their products to be discovered this way is proportionally out of whack. That’s what we’ll cover in this post.

Search is King

I don’t think I even need to convince anyone that search has taken over how we buy as consumers. Everyone reading this has typed their own version of “khaki shorts size 34” or “Kaanapali hotel deals November” into the Chrome, Safari, or Firefox search box. Amazon Prime members might type “khaki shorts size 34 amazon” to get the free shipping and convenience of not having to register or enter their payment details.

Consumer brands spend a lot of money to make sure their products show up on top so they can maximize conversion. Some of this is done via advertising. But a lot has to do with the practice of search engine optimization (SEO). Whether images, page links, or map links, businesses fight to be ranked as high as possible because the top links convert at a much higher rate.

Probably 100 percent of B2B marketers pay Google for their ads to show up for certain keywords important to their business. But my guess – based on conversations with hundreds of B2B marketers over the years – is that less than 25 percent dedicate the time, energy, and money needed to do SEO right. This is a huge miss. According to a survey from Smart Insights, 60 percent of people find organic search results more relevant, and 46 percent found them more trustworthy. B2B marketers are not where their prospective customers are looking for relevant, trustworthy results. Oh, and by the way, while SEO is not free, it is a lot cheaper than search engine marketing (SEM).

Build Your Brand by Helping People

Many times, people are looking for answers, not products. So, if you only optimize for search around a product purchase, you are missing an opportunity to both educate your prospect and catch them earlier in their purchase process, aka up the funnel.

What you want to do is map your product to a problem it solves – something you probably already know – and then write educational content to fit. The more authoritative and helpful, the more powerful for your brand. You will, of course, have the opportunity to remarket to those who visit your blog or website and offer them even more valuable content in exchange for their details.

Imagine an accounting manager on a finance team wondering about the new financial regulation ASC 606. As it will probably affect their job, they may want to know when it will take effect and what changes will it cause to how they calculate results. On a more personal level, they may just want to be conversant so they don’t sound stupid in a meeting. So, they type “what is ASC 606” into the search box. If you are a consulting firm or software vendor that works with accounting teams, you can offer an explainer that helps answer their basic questions. Then you follow up with more detailed posts and perhaps recommendations about how they should change their accounting process. This is your opening to market your product or service.

Creating an SEO strategy, with a supporting content plan, is too involved to explain in detail here. But the short version is that you should think about the top 3-5 problems your product or service solves, then look for the terms within those problems that have the highest search volume and lowest competition for ranking, and start there. It’s a long game, but well worth it.

One mistake I have seen made over and over again is to think SEO is a one-time project. SEO is a competitive game. It takes constant care and feeding to work.

The YouTube School of Learning

I mentioned above that YouTube is the second largest search engine. But until recently, I was guilty of ignoring its potential. I think many B2B marketers have fallen into the same trap.

As I recently wrote, I thought YouTube was good for entertainment. Cat videos. Sports highlights. Cooking or makeup tips. What I hadn’t realized is how many people (millions) turn to YouTube to learn a skill. Which means you can use a similar SEO strategy for video content.

Searches that start with “what is” or “how to” are very popular on YouTube. Typing “What is ASC 606” into YouTube gives me a list of tutorial videos with well over 100,000 views as of the writing of this post. The key is not to ignore the potential of YouTube video for B2B marketing. Some people simply prefer to watch a video than to read a blog post. For others, it’s just become a habit.

Also, optimizing for YouTube can have a beneficial effect on your overall SEO program. I should first say that the Google and YouTube SEO algorithms are different but symbiotic. You need to do the work on both platforms, but there is some crossover benefit. For example, Google now shows thumbnails of videos – known as the “carousel” – for many search terms, especially on mobile. Ranking for a search term YouTube can be significantly easier than on Google, and therefore you may get to the first Google SERP faster via a YouTube video in the carousel. Also, Google likes blog posts with videos embedded. So, your YouTube videos can give a boost to your existing Google SEO-oriented content.

We’ve covered your prospects, how to talk to them, and where to find them in their buying process. In the next post, we’ll cover the overlooked area of website conversion. Once you get them to come to you, you need to make the most of it. Many B2B marketers don’t.