B2B — Do you really know the source of your websites’ visitors… and business?
Mobile devices and apps, voice commands and a plethora of social media have made digital paths complex today. But behind the extreme diversity of digital contact points is the statistical reality of uses of B2B markets which shows that :
- Only 20% of professionals check their social media news feeds when making a B2B purchase1 : the central business asset in terms of consideration and transformation remains the website.
- Searches are THE central component of the traffic mix on sites. And particularly on B2B sites, which score 33% of natural visits (i.e. traffic delivered by Google and other search engines). To this considerable volume must be added direct visits (which result from typing the brand name in a search engine or the navigation bar), which account for 46% of visits to B2B sites. The remaining traffic – approximately 20% – consists of campaigns, paid traffic and social media visits, which account for barely 4%2.
Social media have reached a peak
This data clearly shows the limits of a B2B business strategy totally based on social media, or even built in a drive to web amplification logic that takes no account of changes to the algorithms of platforms. LinkedIn and Facebook currently heavily penalise the visibility of posts including an outbound link, which appear less in news feeds. In other words, platforms intend to hang onto their own audiences and no longer want to drive traffic to third-party sites for free. This change marks the end of strategies built on natural amplification of site audiences through social media, replaced – as has been said – by paid mechanisms. Take care with your audience acquisition strategies: more than one online editorial team attached to the mainstream press have been kicking themselves over this in recent months.
Obviously, one option consists in playing the 100% social native card and accepting the law of algorithms by placing content on the networks themselves, with no web repository, in a social native dimension rather than social to web. Except that not all existing and prospective clients are present on LinkedIn (not to mention Twitter), but they all use Google. And even those who do use them don’t go there to look for a brand or a provider: 93% of digital paths in B2B begin on Google3. And 63.6% of senior managers of SMEs4 consider websites the most useful source of information from a professional standpoint, ahead of trade shows, newspapers and magazines.
The return of long tails in AEO mode
Optimising natural traffic is absolutely key from a business standpoint. More accurately, it is a targeted approach to Search Engine Optimisation, specifically aiming for the long tail, which is decisive on B2B markets.
Median and long-tail queries (more precise, involving more expressions, and corresponding to lower unit volumes of searches) take an increasingly large place, because they are in themselves segmentary… and can only emanate from users with high potential for B2N brands. Who but a highly qualified prospect will type a precise and expert application of several words on Google, such as “What will 5G change for industry?” or “How can you use blockchain for food traceability”? And what better way is there of entering into your legitimate scope than positioning the pages of your site according to these specialised, expert queries? This is, for instance the strategy of PwC France, whose pwc.fr site includes Décryptages a section totally designed to capture long tail traffic on business intelligence topics.
Indeed, we should now be talking more about Answer Engine Optimisation than Search Engine Optimisation. The self-completion offered by search engines has encouraged this trend, and greater use of voice commands will quite probably turn this into the principal mode: 20% of queries on Android devices are made vocally, most frequently in the form of natural language questions.
The challenge for content marketing therefore (once again) becomes a capacity to envisage the right questions, i.e. those that their targets are genuinely asking. It means covering the terrain of intentions, increasing the number of angles forming part of crucial topics. And not hesitate to make full use of content formats that are both SEO-friendly and profitable, in the context of a long-tail approach: insights, vertical and specialised content, etc. SEO strategies are rarely an instant success. Social snacking can create attractive short-term benefits, but it generates little engagement and doesn’t contribute to building quality long-term links. It’s the very opposite of an onsite strategy of high value-added content, the purpose of which is to enter into contact with and retain a qualified audience, to then create the conditions for a conversation on social media. From “social to web” to “web to social”.