Internet Marketing - a Practical Approach
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS THE FIRST EDITION
OF THE BOOK AND SO SOME OF THE CONTENT OF
THIS WEBSITE MAY BE OUT OF DATE

The website of the second edition of the book can be found at
Digital Marketing: a Practical Approach

CHAPTER 5 : THE B2B ONLINE PRESENCE

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5.1     INTRODUCTION

In January 2009, apparently only 44% of small businesses have a website - read more - I wonder what that percentage is now.

I find that in both e-marketing - and marketing in general - students often fail to get to grips with B2B trading. The reasons are numerous, not least that they will have never encountered it before and text books tend to focus on B2C [Nokia, Nike, BMW and Coca Cola make much sexier examples than B2B companies' products]. And perhaps the biggest problem they have is with the concept of lead generation. Although the title of this excellent article from FutureNow suggests it is all about lead generation, it actually addresses all aspects of this chapter, ie B2B online trading. Reading it is not an option if you want to understand this element of Internet marketing. See: Increasing Qualified Leads Online.

Because it echoes what I say in chapter 3.4, I could easily have put this article, Is Your B2B Site a Good Salesperson?, there. However, I have added it to the introduction of this chapter simply because it concentrates on B2B. One thing I would add is that if your market has a large decision-making unit [DMU] then you might consider appealing to each group within the exercise suggested in this article.


5.2     B2B PRACTICES

An important aspect of B2B trading that I neglected to include in the book is the 'request for a quote' - more commonly known as the RFQ. As the term suggests, this is where the potential buyer contacts the vendor and asks them to quote a selling price for a specific product or service. On the website, this can be acheived by including an online RFQ form - but note that to be effective, the form should be at the end of a conversion funnel and not simply be an 'add-on' to the content.

This - The Role of Search in B2B Buying Decisions - is a high-quality, must-read whitepaper which considers how the web is used by buyers in B2B environments. It is a couple of years old, but that makes it no less relevant ... and I would suggest that the web is used even more in procurement now than it was at the time of this research.

Social media might be the darling of the press, but Company Websites Top Source of B2B Leads suggests that the good old website still brings in the bucks and the title of Website Is Key To B2B Sales Leads suggests that this is a commonly held opinion.


5.3     THE B2B WEBSITE

Here are a another couple of articles that are in sync with the book's content on the subject - Business Searchers Are Looking For ... and 3 content strategies to target decision makers by search intent.

Don't forget there are also website development sections on my own website in tips, hints and advice and interesting articles - some of the articles are relevant to B2B sites.


5.4     LEAD GENERATION

I make the point that there might be friction between 'sales' and 'online', this article helps make my point - Creating a Successful Lead-Nurturing Strategy, and Has Your Telephone Become Your Sales Prevention System? is a good example of how effective online lead generation can be cancelled out by poor offline operations.

The content of many B2B websites is geared towards raising the interest of potential customers so that they contact the organization - here are some B2B lead generation tips.


5.5     e-MARKETPLACES

practical insight*pg 165* In this 'practical insight' I mention that B2B e-Marketplaces are also known as communities or portals - well another term that is commonly used is 'buyer hubs' [eg BuyerZone]. It is also logical that some practitioners refer to them as 'multiple-vendor lead generation' - or just plain 'lead generation' - sites [eg MacRAE’S Blue Book]. It might be worth your while spending some time on these sites so that you can differentiate them from B2B directory sites such as ThomasNet].

latest update They might not be as sexy as ebay and the like to the media - and so, the public in general - but B2B portals will always generate more in sales because of the volume involved, the new Tesco portal shows suppliers how customers buy.


5.6     ONLINE AUCTIONS AND TENDERING

The Government Procurement Service's is an Executive Agency of the Office of Government Commerce - role is to "provide procurement savings for Government and the UK public sector, including Health, Local Government, Devolved Administrations, Education and Not for Profit organisations."


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