Measuring Social Media ROI

Love it, hate it, you can’t ignore it. Social Media is here to stay. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, G+ are the primary channels for traffic and growth for most  online businesses today.

Startups and businesses get attracted by the large and fancy numbers that are floating around (  e.g. 1.26 billion users500 Million Tweets per day)

and start projecting their hockey stick growth based on these numbers. To add to the the pain most online marketers over commit and under deliver.

According to BusinessInsider “Many brands are moving away from metrics that purport to measure ROI on social media.

They’ve realized that social media isn’t a transactional engine or sales machine, so they’re dropping half-baked indicators that gauge secondary effects, such as financial return.???

Large brands and advertisers look at monetization over long term and tangible and intangible goals. They measure ROI of social media strategies in terms of audience-building, brand awareness, and customer relations.

I work with startups and startups are a different beast. They need to run quick experiments, decide what works for them and ROI is a simple arithmetic:

ROI = (All Returns- All Costs)/ All Costs.

I feel responsible for every $ that startups trust me with to hack growth  and hate BS-ing when it comes to program performance. I want to evaluate programs in real time and make quick decisions. I use the following spreadsheet to measure the ROI of the programs built around the simple arithmetic definition of ROI.

Download BhaskarThakur-Social-Media-ROI   (Right click and save)

Give it a spin and let me know if  it works. Big Brands you may also want to try this simple tool.

5 Elements of an Effective Pricing Page

Landing page and Pricing page are perhaps the two most important pages of a website and these two pages also have maximum dropouts. The opportunity cost of dropout from the Pricing page is higher as these are users that have shown interest in your product, spent time traversing your website and have ALMOST paid you.

What make some Pricing Pages more effective than others?  What leads to better conversion? Is it slick design or simplicity? I have been working with ecommerce sites for close to a decade and half and here are the top 5 Pricing Page elements, in my experience, that have maximum impact on conversion.

 1.    Simplicity of information organization:

Your users have navigated through the information on your website and are about to pay, do not over-complicate things. Make the page easy on the eye, so one does not have to read the content. Make the Call to Action prominent and at multiple places on the page.

Skype’s Pricing Page is easy on the eye and one does not have to ‘read’ information.

Skype Pricing Page

2.    Make Plan Comparison easy:

You can make comparison easy by using visual clues to highlight the plan features. Highlight One Plan- Not the cheapest or the highest. Highlight the Most Popular or the Profit Maximizing Plan.

Yesware has made plan comparison really simple. You know what you are getting for 5, 20 and 50 a month.

 Yesware Plan

3.    Help users choose the plan:

You can help your users choose the plan that’s best for them by

  • Using simple plan names.
  • Highlighting the Target segment for each plan.
  • Having limited options- 3-4 plans at maximum.
  • Add Currency Options: People are generally more comfortable paying in their currency. Give currency options, if possible.

Yesware’s  Plans are brain-dead simple- Plus, Team, Enterprise, Do we say more?

Yesware- Simple Plan Names

4. Build Credibility by answering the questions users may have:

  •  Is my Credit Card safe? – Add Security Seal and statements like ” Pay securely without compromising your privacy

Crowd Source or Crowd Critique – The GAP story

Last  week GAP unveiled its new logo (created by NY agency Laird & Partners) to it’s online community and the overwhelming response was negative. The online community jeered the new Logo and within no time websites were set up to ridicule the new GAP logo.

GAP heeded to the response and was quick to flip back to the 40 year old logo.

Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight??? was the update on GAP’s Facebook page.

Read the full press release here.

Is this a failure of Brand Management or success of Social Media?

Let’s look at the brighter side of the story:

  1. GAP saved Millions of Dollars it would have otherwise spent in Re-branding Deployment
  2. GAP could truly democratize change   and that will help re-enforce relationship with the patrons and community.
  3. Created the Buzz before the holiday season and I’m sure they will soon come out with a campaign/ promotion to leverage the incident.

However, there are few questions for Social Media Strategists and GAP think tank:

  1. Should GAP have considered crowd sourcing logo design rather than crowd sourcing criticism?
  2. What is the right time to involve customers in the decision making process?
  3. Are the public social communities the best platforms to discuss critical ideas and innovation? Should ideas be initially discussed within closed customer groups/ closed communities?
  4. Will this fiasco impact GAP’s branding?

Buzz Quotient: Measuring The Social Media ROI

Organizations are experimenting with Social Media Platforms and plans. However, after the initial experimentation, one has to quickly evaluate Social Media’s contribution to business, performance vis-a-vis other channels and establish best practices guidelines.

Social Media is not a sales channel and that makes measuring the impact on bottom line challenging. Social Media presence helps improve the traffic, conversions and revenue on other sales channels and also supports marketing, branding and CRM initiatives. The tangible and intangible contribution of Social Media to Marketing goals has to quantified and factored ito measure the true ROI on Social Media investments.

Here is the 5 step process I suggest to measure the Impact of Social Media and ROI on the Social Media Spend.

Set Social Media Expectations and Goals

Can social media drive sales? Is there a correlation between followers on Facebook and traffic to the website? Can Twitter help sell overstocked items? These are few burning questions for the top management and the marketing teams. The first step in the process of measuring the ROI is setting the Social Media Expectations and Goals. Define your objective and expectation from the Social Media. It is also important to define program Success Matrix at this stage. Starting with a clear mandate is a good idea.

For example, if you want to build  brand awareness, use Social media as a CRM tool and boost online sales you could start with goals statement that reads ” The Social Media campaign will help build a community of customers and potential customers; help understand customer’s need and pain areas better, endorse Brand Positioning, enable crowd-source innovation and augment online online sales. In the first 6 months we will build critical membership/ readership across Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YourTube, Forums, Question and Answer websites. In 6th thru 9th month we will evaluate these platforms on the following parameters: Reach, Engagement, Revenue, Sentiments, Branding and investment

Create the Social and Business data correlation framework

social

To record measure and improve the Social Media campaign you would need to mash Social data with data from other channels. Mashing Social Web and business data requires a robust analytics and reporting system. You may need to tweak your present analytics tool to accommodate Social data.  For example, your existing analytics may not support mentions on a platform and the associate sentiments.

Data co-relation will help justify the investment on Social media. For example, if you want to measure the impact of social media on online sales you would need to

  • Track Traffic from social platforms through the buying process. Sale may not happen in the first visit. (Cookie?)
  • Import this data into your analytics and reporting tool.
  • Calculate the lifetime value of a customer
  • Compare it others channels: search, affiliate etc.

If you want to measure the impact on Brand awareness, you would need to track

  • Brand Mentions in discussions across all platforms ( social and otherwise)
  • Sentiments of the conversation (Positive, Neutral, Negative)
  • Contribution of Social traffic to total Traffic
  • Impact on Direct Traffic

It’s important to map each goal with relevant matrices.
Identify Social Media Data points and Sentiment Analysis Framework

The next step is identifying data points and data sources for the Social Media campaign. You need to measure and record social media information like # followers,  # mentions ( with links and without links), # comments, competition’s data and your share of conversation.

Manual monitoring and recording  of this data is tedious and impractical. However, a number of  tools are now available to monitor, measure and record this information. However, you could  start with the free ones like:

  • Google Alerts
  • Twitter Search
  • TweetDeck
  • Seesmic
  • Technorati

Once you have the data you need to analyze the sentiments associated with the comments and mentions. Sentiment analysis involves filtering the positive ( Good service, Helpful Representative etc.) and negative mentions ( Service Sucks, Non Responsive etc) and assigning a weightage that reflects the communication intensity.

Adding weightage helps rationalize Social Media and Business data to a common scale. Adding weightage could be a bit tricky and the process evolves over a period of time.

Account for Branding, PR and Opportunity.

Social Platforms help Brands and Business get closer to the consumers and  create recall, loyalty and community. Hence it id important to factor in the intangible impact of the social media campaign.

If you are running a print/ online campaign say on Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal or The Economic Times what is your cost per reader? And how does it compare if you reach out to their communities on Facebook  Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, The Economic times? Account for free visibility and reach.

How does the cost of running a PPC campaign on Google compare with the cost of running targeted paid ads on Facebook?

Over a period of time you would need to develop a formula that quantifies each interaction/ mention and follower on Social Media Platforms and merge this information with business analytics.

Merging Social data with Web and Business data will give you an insight into the opportunity.

Analyze and Report

The last step in the process is collating the data and putting it in a format that gives perspective and helps make decisions. Compare Quality of visibility/ leads, volume of visibility/ leads across campaigns in a report that’s easy to put together and simple to understand.

I recommend a report that answers business critical questions like:

    1. Is there a difference between a lead from Social Platform and from other channels on parameters like:
      • Time spent on website
      • Lifetime value of customer
      • Revenue per customer
      • Brand Awareness
      • Brand Loyalty
    2. How does the cost to reach/ acquire customers compare across channels?
    3. Is there  a difference in Brand Experience between a lead from Social Platform and from other channels?
    4. Which Social Media Platform works best for your brand?
    5. Is there a seasonality/ Day part across platforms?

Social Buzz is a function of visibility (size of the community) and associated sentiments across platforms. The 5 steps mentioned in this post would help you track and continually improve  your Social Media program.

10 Commandments for Social Media Success

At the conclusion of Social Media Workshop for small enterprise and start-ups the  most common question among excited and energized participants was ‘How do I take this to my organization?’. How do I champion Social Media for my product?

Social Media campaigns are great tools for Marketing, PR, CRM, communication and community building. However, social media success is a function of intent, listening, participating and intelligence.

social

I have worked on building social media campaigns for brands of all sizes and this post I share my learning.

1. Success starts at the Top

Getting the top management involved is critical to success of Social Media Program. As the program champion you would require to pull in the best resources for the social media campaign ( from other functions) and you will need Top Management buy-in to get the resources. Top management involvement also ensures keeping the Social Media initiative in sync with company’s vision and goals.

2. Analyze and Select the Platform

It is advisable to spread you resources and time across platforms to start. Adopt a equal mix of content (i.e. a blog or micro-blog), social networking (maybe Twitter or LinkedIn) , and community building (Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or YouTube). Over a period of time you could tweak the mix based on the experience and ROI on each platform.

3. Train to Listen, Comment and Create Content

Social Media participation includes 3 activities: listening, commenting and creating content. Monitoring and reading your industry’s Blogs, FB posts, Tweets is a good launch pad. Google Alerts are efficient tools to listen to the ecosystem.  The next step is to start commenting on social networks and blogs and creating your own content. Commit equal time to these activities.

4. Set Content Approach and Frequency

On Social platforms it is important to be consistent in frequency and communication. Brainstorm and decide the pitch of your blog, Facebook/ Linked In Page and Tweets. To achieve maximum branding mileage the communication across the platforms should be integrated and synchronized.

Plan the number of blogs you will publish every week,  number of interaction on networking websites and tweets every day.

5. Content strategy

Identify the best talents for the 3 platforms ( Blogs, Social Networking and Community Building). Writing content for these platforms requires varied skills and 1 person may not bring the necessary skills to the table. Also, develop a strategy to crowd source content. Encourage your customers, followers  and other members of the audience to contribute.

6. Blogging / Micro Blogging Best Practices

Develop an identity for your Blog. Identity comes with consistency, tone, and character of content. Blog posts should engage your audience. Substantiate you assumptions with data, analysis and point of view. Encourage audience response with questions and other tools. Schedule your blog calendar and write down 1-2 blog ideas daily. Quote industry authority and experts in your blog.

Follow the trending topics for your tweets. Here’s a detailed post on Tweeting.

7. Social Networking Best Practices

Depending on your target audience you could select a platform like Facebook or LinkedIn or both to network. LinkedIn usually is recommended for B2B businesses and Facebook for B2C. It helps to have members senior members of staff active on the networking platform. Build out the company profile and encourage employees join the platform. Follow the Industry leaders and experts.

8. Community Building Best Practices

Social Platforms like FaceBook are great community building tools. You can use these platforms as formal/ informal channel to connect with your customers and audience.  Start by creating a custom branded page on Facebook and employees to join the conversation. Post regularly and be keep the audience engaged with information, polls, questions, applications and other tactics.

9. Optimize and Promote your presence

You would need to Optimize your social media presence and tune it to create visibility on the social media. Optimization techniques vary by the platform and I will discuss that in seperate blog posts. Here’s a detailed post on Optimizing Tweets. However, you could start with

Including  keywords in your Blog posts, Tweets and Facebook comments.
Placing social media buttons on your website, Blog helping the audience connect with you
Use tools to synchronize social media feeds across multiple platforms (e.g., tweetdeck).
Reward your audience with simple give-aways for answering, participating, commenting, retweeting, social bookmarking, etc.
Reply to the comments and suggestions.

10. Learn and Tune your Program

Dig into social media analytics to evaluate performance of of various platforms and decipher visitor behavior. Evaluate the ROI for each platform and the program to optimize social media spend. Evaluate skills and performance of the employees and deploy their time on the platforms they are best suited for. Learn from the Social engagement models  of your competitors and other organizations.

This post is a framework for Social Media success for enterprise and will help you champion Social Media initiative in your organization.  Each of these 10 Commandments needs to be adapted and fine tuned for an organization.

Improve Conversions with SEO and Social Media Cocktail

The Clients and Brands I work with usually have a fixed annual budget for Internet Marketing and a mandate to achieve incremental positive ROI.

Internet Marketing ROI is a function of Traffic, Leads, Sales and Brand Buzz. For sometime ( in 2008-2009) I tried cross-selling and up-selling SEO and Social Media Marketing (SMM) to my clients for additional fee; however, more often than not, it did not work. Business owners and Marketing Managers had one simple answer “ here’s the budget, use it the way you want, get me 50%??? over last years.

It did not take me long to figure out the trick was in blending the SEO and Social Media Marketing to get the maximum Bang for Buck. Here’s the 5 step SEO and Social Media Strategy that I have seen delivering maximum value to my client’s outbound and inbound Internet Marketing Programs.

 

#1. Website Usability Analysis

Is your website a space occupier on your business card? A digital brochure? Or is it a Brand Ambassador and a Sales Force?

Successful online campaigns start with websites designed for the target audience with visitor touch points and action callouts. Analyze the server logs to identify visitor click patterns and make changes to the website architecture to engage your visitors. Critical parameters to analyze includes Entry Page, Exit Page, Click Stream, Page Drop Rate, Referring websites and Keywords.

– It is advisable to add short contact forms on all pages and link to contact form in the site-wide footer.

– Test the forms regularly to ensure it works fine.

#2. Optimize your website, put together a Link and Outreach Program

Identify the key phrases that are most relevant for your business and have sufficient search volume . If you are a local business include geo targeted key phrases in  your key phrase bucket. You may want to optimize for Brands and models, if you are a retailer.
Include Key phrases in the website’s content, page titles, metatags, and other elements.

Develop  a Link strategy that’s clean and viral. Add Link baits and give other websites a reason to link to you. Avoid direct link solicitation.

#3. Social 101: Thought Leadership Blogs

Thought leadership blogs and absolute must if you want to create a buzz and grow your Brand. Create Blogs in your key product domains or service areas. Motivate the experts in your company to blog in their areas of expertise. Setup an editorial team and protocols. The digital assets you create on your blog will go a long way in establishing your leadership in the industry which will encourage repeat visits and new business. Target to establish your blog as one of the top go to destinations for information on your industry.  Here are some ideas on Blog posts:
o Industry news and trend analysis

o Opinions, critique and whitepapers

o How-to guides

o Interviews, Profiles and Reports.

#4. Social- Deep Dive

 

Leverage the reach of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with your customers and Industry. Build consistent brand personality across social platforms. Use consistent branding, communication guidelines and visual layout across the social websites.

Encourage your employees and customers to join your social network. Incentivize feedback. Participate in discussions, conduct polls.

#5. Observe, Measure and Tweak

 

Setting up the website and outreach program is just the beginning. Success comes for observing the trend, measuring the impact and tweaking the program.

Set up monitoring and tracking for top key phrases you are targeting. The would include:

  1. Brands
  2. Competition
  3. Key Personnel
  4. Negative buzz like “ Brand + Sucks???

Establish response mechanism and protocol for positive and negative buzz on the Internet.

Evaluate and Key Phrases and Social Platform’s performance. Unique Visits, Referring website, Click Path and Conversion Rate are few important parameters to evaluate platforms on. Tweak you strategy/ tactic based on intelligence from analytics.

‘Re’- Maximizing Life Time Value of Website Visitor

For most online retail models ‘Re-’ is the key to profitability: Re-Visits, Re-Orders and minimal Rejections and Returns. If your customers consume the product you sell daily or regularly ,‘Re-’ is the key.

Food, Pharmaceuticals, Nutraceuticals, Subscriptions are some businesses that depend on Revisits and Reorders for profitability. More often than not the Cost to Acquire a new customer is more than the profit from first sale/ subscription in such businesses.

In this post I have discussed strategies to Maximize the Life Time Value of a customer. The strategy would work across industries however, would need customization and tuning.

Plan and Budget the campaign:

It all starts with the Plan and Budget. If you are targeting repeat orders from your customers plan a year round campaign and not a one time offer. For example, if you are selling Health Supplements you have to acquire new customers and get repeat orders from the existing everyday; unlike Television Retailers who run promotions and clearances around the shopping and the holiday seasons.

Welcome New Visitors and Reward  Returning Visitors:

This a critical and tricky element of the campaign and has long term impact. Typically, marketers want to ‘deep discount’ first orders to ‘kill competition’ and hope to make profits on repeat orders. However, this strategy may irritate you existing customers brand loyalists. Design a promotion plan that entices new visitors and makes your existing customers feel special.

Having separate landing page for new and returning visitors works. You may also want separate toll free numbers. If you are running a PPC campaign  you should run separate campaigns for new visitors and existing customers. Add negative keywords to segregate visitors.

On the website it helps to have separate entry and exit points designed for New visitors and existing customers. Clever navigation and content architecture helps achieve the objective.

Benchmark the Cost of Acquiring New Customers:

The key to success is acquiring new customers at cost that justifies the revenue  you expect from the customer. If your cost to acquire a new customer is high you will get revenue but profit will elude your business. If you target conservative cost of acquisition you will be profitable per sale but would find difficult to scale up. Here are the factors that helps decide the benchmark Cost of Customer Acquisition:

  1. Purchase/ Manufacturing cost of the product.
  2. Gross Profit on Sale.
  3. Average and Median orders ( no. of times/ year).
  4. Average and Median order value.
  5. Demand Elasticity
  6. Competitor’s Pricing Strategy

Design Promotions to Acquire New Customers:

The promotion strategy you use to acquire new customer is critical to retaining loyalty and building brand. The expectations of the customer that responds to “Free First Month Trial

Optimize Your Adwords Campaign for Holiday Season 2009

Holiday season is round the corner. Most online retailers do more than 50{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} of the annual turnover in the last quarter ( most of it in the last 6 weeks of the year). Do you have a strategy is place?

Strategy would vary by the industry however here’s a simple 3 step Adword Holiday Tactic that I have seen working for online retailers ( clothes, gifts, lifestyle etc.) :

1. Optimize the ad-text for ‘deals’ 2 weeks before Thanksgiving thru Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

2. Optimize the ad-text for ‘deals’ and ‘ free shipping’ Thanksgiving thru December 15th.

3. Optimize the ad-text for ‘shipping’ December 15 thru the New Year.

Here’s the search trends data from 2007 and 2008 that I base my tactic on.

Shopping Trend 2007
Shopping Trend 2007
Shopping Trend 2008
Shopping Trend 2008

I believe there is a simple explanation for this annual trend. There are 3 kinds of shoppers Obsessed, Confused and Disordered (My Retail OCDs 😉

Obsessed Shoppers: Obsessed buyers plan, hunt for deal, look out for coupons. This group shops in advance and hunts for deals. This group reads reviews before buying and posts reviews and comments after using the product. Lure them with Deals in December.

Confused Shoppers: Confused buyers are deal hunters but not committed to Shopping. These shoppers often look at the ROI of gifting (Some confused shoppers like receiving gifts before spending on gifts). Help them decide with deals and Free Shipping after Thanksgiving.

Disordered Shoppers: Disordered shoppers are lazy or busy shoppers. This group usually shops for gifts few days before Christmas and are worried concerned if they would make it in time. Offer them Express shipping.

Here’s wishing you a Busy Holiday Season!

P.S. Needless to say.. Optimize the landing page for the offers!!

Dominate Organic Results with Google Maps and Social

For a new website it is not easy to get to the TOP of Organic Listings in Google using standard white hat SEO techniques and Ranks from Black Hat techniques do not last.  It is important for new, small website to look at alternate strategies to gain traction the web.

Local Search Optimization and Social Media Monitoring and Participation is one such alternate technique for Geography specific Brick and Mortar businesses ( e.g. Doctors, Lawyers, Restaurants, Bakeries).At the buying decision/ Purchase stage the Search Queries  for such businesses tend to have Local  Search Qualifiers or Social Search Qualifiers. For example “Sushi in Manhattan???, “budget hotel NY 11001???, “Review of The Sushi Place??? etc.

Blended Local and Social Media Strategy can contribute significant Traffic, Customers and Revenue to such Local businesses.

Did I say Blend Local and Social?? Here’s what I mean..

Local Search targets the prospects while they are exploring options. If you own a Sushi Restaurant in Manhattan, you want to be visible in the search result for all “Sushi + Manhattan??? searches. Local searches tend to have better conversion rate than other Key Phrases. These are the top sites that impact Local Search Visibility :

Maps.google.com
Yelp.com
Insiderpages.com
Local.Yahoo.com
Citysearch.com
Local.com
Google Maps
is the primary entry point into the Local Search space.

Social Media and Opinions influences the buyer’s decision to buy your product or service over competition . Positive Recommendation and User Testimonials go a long way in influencing the buying decision.
Websites and Business can dominate the Organic Results on Search Engines by Blending Google Maps and Social Media strategy with the Optimization Program.

Here are 3 simple steps to Blend Google Maps and Social Media strategy with the Optimization Program.

Step #1. Optimize your website for Local Search

Step #1.1. Add Local Information to the website
Create a page for each location of your business. Embed Google map on each page. Add driving directions, area map and local point of interest on the page. Write the meta data to include Geographic modifiers.

Step #1.2.  Submit to Google
Create Geo-Sitemap with KML reference and submit it to Google Local from an authenticated Google Webmaster Tools account.

Step #2. Optimize your Google Map Listing

Step #2.1. Evaluate and Revive your existing Google Map listings
Or, Create Your  Listing

Google Maps picks up data address and other location specific data for directories and other sources, if businesses do not volunteer data. Search for your Company Name’s name on Google Maps to get the information in Google’s database.
Rectify the information if the information is incorrect or dated. To rectify the entry one has to submit the correct data in the Google Local Business Centre and verify it over Phone or mail.
If you do not find information about your business on Google Maps create a new entry in the Google Local Business Center and verify it over Phone or mail.

Step #2.2. Spruce up the Google Map Description
Edit the listing to add description about your business or company and also key search phrases. Include city name and Neighborhood information. Include hours of operation, pricing information and other details. Add high quality and relevant images of the business.

Step #3. Monitor and Participate in the Social Media

Step #3.1.  Monitor the web for Google Maps Description
Google Maps pulls data and reviews from multiple sources ( like Yelp.com, TripAdvisor.com) for the Google Maps listing. These sources vary by the industry. Identify these sources by examining your listing and other listings in the category. Monitor the discussion and try to resolve any issues with the reviewer. Encourage reviews from happy customers.

Step #3.2. Get active in Social Space.
Monitor the Social Media and Review platforms for positive and Negative comments about your business. Participate in the discussions and defend your brand. Never fake comments. Learn from the customer feedback.

10 Commandments for B2B Search Engine Optimization

How different is B2B Search Engine Optimization compared to B2C Search Engine Optimization?  What are the Best Practices for B2B Search Marketers?
The basics of SEO like Keyword Research, Targeted Content and Meta Data is no different for B2B SEO. The major difference is in Target Audience and Intent of Search Queries. B2B Marketers address an audience that is mature, not impulsive and follow a purchase process. B2B search queries clearly reflect the searchers status in the purchase cycle (Exploring, Considering, Ready to Purchase)

B2B Decision Cycle
B2B Decision Cycle

The ultimate goal of most B2B Search Marketing programs is Generating Inquiries.  This article lists the 10 Commandments for B2B Search Engine Optimization; The Best Practice for B2B Search Engine Optimization.

Commandment 1: Know Your Customer / Target Audience.
Clearly define your Target Audience. You should know who you are targeting. Audience Definitions like “CXOs of Automobile Corporations in United States??? or “Middle Management in Advertising Agencies in Europe??? is a must for a successful B2B SEO campaign.
Difference from B2C
: B2C Target audience is far wider and generally segmented on Socio-Economic and Demographic parameters.

Commandment 2: Design the website for your Target Audience.
Most B2B site address multiple target audience; Prospects, Existing Customers, Investors, Job Seekers. It is very important to focus the SEO for Prospects and Existing Customers. Investors, Job seekers may not be targeted in the B2B SEO program. Design a website that the prospects and customers can relate with. Include Industry Solution, Technology Solutions, Product Application in the main navigation or otherwise prominently on the website.
Test website’s usability frequently and keep the design and content fresh. It is advisable to make minor updates every quarter and major design change once a year. A professional Site Audit helps improve usability and conversion.
Difference from B2C: B2C websites are broader in their appeal and target multiple groups for every product/ service.

Commandment 3: Keyword Research: Forget your Terminology, Forget Google’s Traffic Prediction, and Optimize for Industry Lingo.
Optimize for the search terms the target audience uses and this may vary by industry. Let your organizations internal definitions and Search Engines Traffic Predictions take the backseat.
Difference from B2C: In most B2C scenarios Search Engine’s Search Volume and Predict data gives accurate information about the search terms target audience uses to find a product/ service.

Commandment 4: Keyword Targeting: 1 Keyword per page.
Do not target too many Keywords in a page. Remember you are targeting matured audience that is not impulsive. Limit to 1-2 Keywords per page. The keywords targeted should be related and relevant to one industry, product or solution.
Difference from B2C: Recommend Targeting 2-3 keywords per page on B2C websites.

Commandment 5: Link Strategy: Go for the Hubs; do not bother about the Spokes.
Target links form Industry Hubs and Authority pages. Few links will do the job (get your website visibility and traffic). Get Links from customer and vendor websites. Use variation of your product/ service as link text.
Difference from B2C: Spread out the links over more number of Link text.

B2B Search Engine Optimization
B2B Search Engine Optimization

Commandment 6: Leverage Paid Search Data.
Analyze the paid search data to identify converting keywords, include broader variations / Generic Variations of these keywords in your SEO Program.

Commandment 7: Industry Strategy: Sub-domain/ Multiple Domains.
At times the target audience across industries is very different and it may be a good idea to have sub-domain or multiple domains. You may not be able to address concerns of multiple industries on one website. If your ERP solution is targeted for Manufacturing and retail industries, you must consider and analyze sub-domain/ multiple domain strategy.
Difference from B2C: B2C websites are generally designed to up-sell, cross-sell. Consolidating products on one domain is the preferred strategy.

Commandment 8: Competition: Track Your Competition.
Identify and track your competition. Monitor the changes in the Keywords competition is targeting to track the industry trends and Optimization Strategy.
Difference from B2C: B2C websites are generally track competition for tactics

Commandment 9: Reputation: Monitor and Defend your Brand.
Your Brand is your biggest asset on the web. Defend your brand with all your might. Optimize your website for misspellings and phonetic variations. Set up alerts to monitor copyright violations.

Commandment 10: Get Social: Blog /Network: Be Thought Leader and Follow Thought Leaders.
Blogs allow informal, interactive communication with your audience. Create thought leadership blogs and run opinion polls and reviews to understand your customer better. Also, follow Thought leaders to understand the pulse and the trends of the industry. Recruiting a CBO (Chief Blogging Officer) may be a good idea.