Inbound marketing B2B and the role of long tail search

Inbound marketing for B2B requires the same skills as for B2C, plus a few. In B2B, the inbound marketing lead is often not a lead at all, but a nurture opportunity. So we need inbound marketing tactics for both early-stage and late-stage buyers. I’ve just found a great new b2b marketing tool I’d like to share with you.

Think about your own use of search.

Sometimes, you are looking for a ‘thing’, a solution. You have already worked out that something needs to change, and you have an idea about what the solution might involve, and so you search for the generic name content ‘link building’ or ‘SEO Melbourne [insert your favourite city there]’, or perhaps a specific name like the name of a branded solution like ‘Stewart Media’ (a Melbourne guru we refer our bigger customers to) or ‘SEO MOZ’ (a trusted SEO reporting and analytics platform).

Other times, you are just beginning your journey. You believe that a solution type, or category, might offer some help, and you want to do some research. A term like inbound marketing b2b is not the term you’d use if you were looking for an SEO, but might be the term you’d use if you were looking for papers, videos, even just pages, which can help you get your head around your own needs, and perhaps flush out a solution or two.

Marketers know that SEO (search engine optimisation) delivers better long term payback than SEM (search engine marketing or paid search), but may not know that paid search can often reveal insights to inform SEO. Using paid search allows you quickly to test your market’s reaction to alternative phrases.

In the main, I’d advise B2B marketers to use SEO whenever possible because it’s the gift that keeps giving (enjoying traffic years after you wrote the article), and SEM (paid search) only for late-stage buyers.

There is so much content available on how to choose which phrases to optimise for that I’ll not replay it here, but there’s a shed load of great insights and links at Funnel Wiki, so why not check that out, and if you find anything needing an update, dive right in and update it yourself.

Today I want to talk about long tail phrases, and a great new tool for selecting them. These are long phrases (like ‘inbound marketing b2b’) and are powerful for a number of reasons:

  • Because the phrase is so precise, you can more-easily tailor your content to precisely meet the needs of the searcher;
  • It is less competitive than higher-level phrases (like ‘b2b marketing’ or ‘inbound marketing’)

Finding these gems though, is more art than science. But I’ve just stumbled on a gem of a solution: HitTail. HitTail analyses your current search terms via Google Webmaster tools, and assesses your web site, the traffic, and the search competition for all possible phrases derived from both. The recommendations HitTail makes are therefore:

  • Relevant to your current website copy
  • Balanced between traffic and degree of difficulty

Plans start at $10 a month, and are month-to-month. We went for the $20 plan as it gives us the ability to export to excel, and alerts. I now have a long list of phrases to blog for, all drawn from our existing search traffic, for which we are not presently ranking but HitTail has calulated that we can.

For B2B businesses, who must optimise for both late-stage (product-related) and early-stage (concept-related) phrases, HitTail is a fantastic tool.

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