Most SMEs are lagging behind when it comes to digitization. This is shown by current studies as well as a non-representative look at the web. The majority of small and medium-sized enterprises in particular have a suboptimal presence here: Outdated web design, lack of mobile accessibility, low user-friendliness and poor visibility in the search engine are the main problems of these websites, which often originate from the first web generation.
What those responsible do not know or ignore is that the credo “being there is everything” has long since ceased to be valid on the Internet. Because: If you rank poorly on Google, you will not reach your customers – and especially potential new customers. SMEs often fail at the basics when it comes to search engine optimization.
To change this, the topic of online marketing belongs on the agenda of every company represented on the web – or at least those who take their business seriously. This is especially true for industries such as mechanical and plant engineering, metal processing, construction, automotive and chemicals. Here, online marketing measures often achieve their goal with comparatively little effort. After all, the competition is no better off online …
Google has an egalitarian attitude. This means: Basically, the small, independent locksmith has the same chances of a good ranking in his field as the global corporation. The key to success is the wise use of one’s own marketing resources.
The following seven tips on online marketing for B2B SMEs reveal which measures (can) lead to success.
1. Define keywords. Check competition.
The first step to effective online marketing is the definition of relevant keywords. To do this, you should create a list in Excel with the ten most important search terms for your company. Also ask customers and the sales department for – from their point of view – important keywords. Also, be sure to consider local keywords if the regional market is important for the company. The combination of “(type of business) + (city)” has proven itself, e.g. “bicycle repair shop Osnabrück”.
Here’s what you should do:
Include a column for “search volume” and “competition” in your list. These two values show how many competitors you have to pass online – and whether the effort is worthwhile at all. With a four-digit search volume, optimization is promising. For lower volumes, it is recommended to include the keyword in the paid search (see tip 4).
You can determine the extent of the competition by entering the respective keyword in Google. You will then see at the top left – directly below the input line – the display of the number of results that make up your “competition”. Divide (search volume) by (competition) and multiply the result by 100 to get the search quotient. This shows whether optimization measures make sense or are futile.
The following applies: Keywords with quotients greater than 1.0 are well suited for optimization. If the quotient is smaller than 0.1, optimization is not worthwhile, whereby different rules may apply when working with extremely small or specific markets. In the latter cases, the quotient is usually close to 0, as the total monthly search volume is very low. In this case, it is advisable to select those terms that correspond to the respective sub-enterprise specialisation, irrespective of the search quotient. By way of background: a monthly search volume of 0 does not mean that the keyword is not being searched for at all, but merely that the low number of queries falls through the display grid.
The result of your research and calculations should be a list of about ten keywords, which will form the core of all further measures.
2. Generate relevant content
On the basis of this keyword list you start: Create reader-friendly texts in which you integrate the relevant keywords. But be careful, don’t overdo it! It’s not the keyword quantity that matters, but the meaningfulness of the page content and especially its orientation to the needs of the user.
Google does not only check the defined keywords. Related terms and word fields are also important in order to draw the picture of a user-oriented and thus ranking-worthy text. “Holistic content” should be the goal here. Banal example: If it is about the keyword “bicycle”, the use of terms such as “two-wheeler”, “bike” or “bike” is worthwhile. It is also important to have an appropriate amount of content, i.e. not too little: Google needs “fodder” in order to be able to (positively) assess websites. For this purpose, the search engine also evaluates updates, e.g. in the context of regularly published news, in favour of the page creator.
Also, be sure to think about the keyword-relevant naming of the pages. For example, if you write a text about bicycles, the planned keywords should appear in the headline, the text and the page URL. The images used should also not be called “123.jpg”, but should also use keywords for naming (in the example, “Fahrrad1.jpg”).
3. Show profile on MyBusiness
Google MyBusiness is available free of charge to users with their own Google account. Access to MyBusiness, the platform provided by Google for businesses, can be found after logging in to the account overview. This is where potential lies dormant, which countless SMEs still leave untapped.
A company entry on Google MyBusiness effectively supports the findability of the website. Indispensable prerequisite: The corresponding profile must be completely filled out. If possible, also use videos and pictures. Make sure that the information on telephone numbers, opening hours, etc. is always kept up to date.
The use is worthwhile because Google uses the stored data for various purposes: from feeding Google Search to Google Maps. You can also recycle the data for entries in other directories.
4. Advertise fairly with Google Ads
Google Ads – formerly Google AdWords – charges according to a pay-per-click model. You decide for yourself how much you want to or can invest in online advertising: by capping the Google Ads budget in advance.
A positive side effect for B2B companies: In the typical B2B industries, keywords are far less contested than in the B2C sector – and therefore cheaper. For example, the keyword “hydraulic unit” is estimated by Google at about 70 cents per click. There is no cheaper and more precise way to get in touch with potential new customers.
Tip: Use the volume keywords (keywords with high monthly search volume) for SEO measures and all other relevant keywords with low search volume for Google Ads. This way, no request will slip through your fingers!
5. Optimize website for mobile devices and increase visibility
The importance of mobile website versions is regularly underestimated. The fact is: According to the 2nd Industry Report 2017 “Websites of German industrial companies put to the test”, more than 50 percent of all website accesses in Germany take place via smartphone. This does not include tablets.
Potential customers are easily put off if the mobile website is poorly or incorrectly displayed. And Google also penalizes poor mobile content and usability. Making an existing website mobile, however, is relatively easy.
Even in the B2B sector, users demand intuitive navigation, quick access to central information and a mature mobile web design. These are the central markers to look out for when creating mobile websites.
6. Reach customers via social media
The question of the usefulness of social media marketing for B2B companies cannot be answered across the board. Companies are often afraid of missing out on a trend; no less serious, however, is the concern of investing tight marketing budgets in the wrong place. In general, the following applies: Before making a commitment, check whether and where the budget is really worthwhile.
Possible guiding questions are:
Who am I addressing and what do I want to communicate (target group and communication goals)?
What information offers added value to my target group?
Who is responsible for profile maintenance and user contacts?
What may be communicated – and what not?
Social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram can be helpful tools to build and intensify customer relationships. Setting themes and supporting brand images and recruiting concepts also work wonderfully here, provided they are used competently.
However, these plans can only succeed if it is clear who is responsible and who regularly publishes targeted content. A well thought-out social media strategy is indispensable here.
7. Measuring success – and building on it
Online marketing offers the advantage that success can be measured with greater reliability than is the case with traditional advertising. With the help of Google Analytics and numerous add-ons, you as a website operator learn more about your target group than was ever the case before. You gain insights that enable you to better adapt all advertising and communication measures – online and offline – to the needs of the addressees in the future.
For this purpose, Google provides a variety of tools – most of which can be used free of charge – to monitor success. Thus, monitoring can be carried out for all SEO and SEA measures as well as for the performance of the website. These provide information, for example, about access figures, bounce and click rates, but also about many other useful details and backgrounds. The need for optimization becomes just as clear as the success that can be expanded.
SMEs in particular often do without a detailed evaluation of their online marketing measures due to ignorance. If necessary, ask the agency you’ve commissioned for the corresponding reports – or learn about Google Analytics yourself. You’ll see: it’s worth it!