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What I Learned Marketing A B2B Website

2011 was the year when I first started marketing B2B websites. Until then, I had grown used to marketing consumer web as well as consumer facing local businesses. Having worked on SEO and SEM for quite a while by then, I was sure B2B was not a very different beast. But how wrong was I? 

One thing to note is that most blogs and articles advising B2B businesses are done keeping the technology industry in mind. For example, you have a service like Kissmetrics that is a B2B site too - but then the audience is totally tech savvy and the martketing tactics you would use for that is not very different from how it is done for consumer websites. One of the first assignments I took up was for a website called Toronto Crane Rentals. This was a website owned by an entrepreneur who was quite an expert in his industry but when it comes to the internet, he was not very savvy. I later realized that his audience is not too savvy either. 

Retrospectively, it all makes sense - cranes and other equipment rental companies operate in an extremely low-tech (from a computer and web perspective) business like construction or industrial operations. People in these industries are not exactly tech savvy. You would be lucky if this audience checks their email every two weeks or so. Given these constraints, I realized marketing such a website is not exactly the same as other businesses.

First, unlike other businesses, it is not exactly easy to mail a few potential partners and get a link to your site. Also, the volume of searches is so low that you do not see great returns unless you are in the top 3 search results. Finally, the audience is really looking for the solution offline. That is, they are asking their industry contacts, they are searching on YellowPages, and they are probably meeting potential businesses face-to-face instead of searching Google.

My time at TCR wasn’t exactly fruitful. But I had a few extremely vital learnings.

1 - Realize the nature of business before taking up an assignment : If your business is something that happens predominantly offline, then you really cannot expect people to change their behavior just because you have taken it online.

2 - Lead based contracts only work on projects where you expect several hundred leads every month : The problem with my whole project was that I charged my client based on the lead. Because of my constraints, I could not do marketing as well as I thought I could. Which means, because of the lower number of leads, I really did not make as much money as I should have made for the effort put in.

3 - For B2B, marketing over the internet is not completely online - I realized that unlike traditional marketing, I needed to call people, meet them to get them to link to me. I had propose marketing partnerships, help them with their marketing so I could be called a partner. These things are definitely not easy and take more effort than regular effort.

I am sure my views may not find too much resonance here considering that we have a lot of veteran marketers. There is definitely a lot for me to learn (and I indeed have since then). So if you suggest I should have done anything different, tell me what you think in the comments.