SEO is sometimes cast aside by enterprise technology companies as a non-essential marketing tactic. Most believe account based marketing and a heavily equipped sales team are the key here. Invest more in a white glove service and reap the rewards, right?
Well, Gartner research reports that only 17% of B2B buyer time is spent in supplier meetings whereas 27% is spent on independent online research.
If you’re solely relying on reaching out to prospects before you start answering their questions then you’re missing out on a huge chunk of your potential market that’s already conducting independent research online.
In this article we’ll discuss the role of SEO content in enterprise technology marketing and how it can supplement your broader sales and marketing strategy and help build a pipeline for long-term growth.
What is enterprise technology marketing?
There’s a key difference here to grasp before getting started between marketing technology to enterprises and enterprise technology marketing.
When we talk about enterprise technology we’re referencing technological solutions that apply across large organisations, for example, a content management system, networking, data management, shared IT services, cloud computing etc.
Marketing technology to enterprises however could be an email marketing software that is used in silo by a few members of the company but they work within ‘an enterprise’ size business. Enterprise technology is usually purchased and used by an IT department or function.
Enterprise technology buyers
The first place to start with any marketing strategy, including SEO, is looking at who your target audience are and what their challenges are.
By understanding their challenges and needs you can get an idea of what they might be looking for online and therefore know how you can produce content to help them.
A key buyer persona for an enterprise technology company is often a senior IT leader such as a CTO, CIO or Head of IT. There are of course many variations depending on the technology you are selling but these are personas that come up again and again.
What is SEO content?
When we say “SEO Content” we’re talking about top of funnel content, this is content created with the objective of attracting people to your website who are at the earliest stages of a buyer journey.
There are two categories of SEO content, there’s content that enables problem identification – this usually comes in the form of blog content or guides. The second is content that is designed to be found during the solution exploration stage of a buyer journey, this is content around your services and solutions.
The issue faced by many B2B marketing teams in this scenario is what content to produce at the earliest stage – problem identification and what to write about? Because of this, a lot of what is written goes unread and is therefore not contributing anything and perhaps reinforcing some companies reluctance to invest in an SEO content strategy.
Choosing what to write about
Knowing what to write about can be difficult without the right research. Essentially, to produce the ‘right’ content for SEO you need to understand what your buyers’ problems are first and foremost – this is done when constructing your buyer personas.
You can then go a step further and use keyword search data, AI content briefs and tricks like Google Auto Suggest to determine specifically what your buyers are typing in. For example, if you know “organisational agility” is a problem, you can conduct keyword research using a tool such as SEMrush to discover the data around those relevant search queries and start to build a content strategy around those specific keywords. With each content piece targeting one keyword or phrase.
Writing technical marketing content
The unique task here for marketing teams is that the content produced for SEO purposes needs to be both technical and commercial in its nature. You need to be able to write content about complex technical problems and solutions whilst referring to commercial benefits at the same time.
This is something that can only be addressed by including the experts in your business in your content marketing strategy, you should interview and include your internal experts knowledge in any of these content areas to ensure your content is of a high quality and holds value with your potential customers.
Alternatively you can work with freelancers with a deep understanding of the services and solutions you offer and the industry as a whole.
SEO content for problem identification
As mentioned earlier, senior IT leaders such as CTOs and CIOs are one of the most common key personas targeted by enterprise technology companies. Although every company has a unique challenge.There are some common themes that arise for senior IT professionals that come up again and again such as:
- Organisational Agility
- Digital Transformation
- Change Management
The question then becomes what role does SEO play in helping your buyers understand how you can help them solve these problems.
At this point a CTO may know they want to implement a more agile approach to technology, but where to start, what are there key problems? They may have a specific problem relating to poor networking or connectivity issues, or services that are not hosted on the cloud etc.
Addressing the broad subject of digital transformation in your SEO content strategy is likely to fall on deaf ears. However, providing a unique perspective from how your company’s products and/or services can impact on this is really important.
The important thing to remember is relating the consumers’ problems back to how they can be solved with your solutions, you are enabling the buying process by matching problems to solutions, solutions you offer.
SEO content for solution exploration
As well as the SEO content that addresses problem identification very early on in the buyer journey, you should also be producing content for the solution exploration stage. This is a lot easier because it is mostly covered by solutions or service pages on your website – these pages outline what you do and how you do it.
Solution keywords are frequently terms where a searcher is looking at different solutions to solve their problem. For technology companies, these searches usually include words like “solution”, “software” or “service” – to name a few. At this point the potential buyer is looking at evaluating different solutions.
Buyers engaging in solution exploration and comparison are further along their buyer journey, they have identified their key issue and the types or categories of solutions available, now they are looking to explore all their options and possibly start to build a list of possible suppliers.
At this point it would be negligent not to mention the use of paid search in getting in front of this particular audience. At this stage of the process when someone may be typing into google “Enterprise networking suppliers” there is a huge up-side to having your ad appear at the top of search results.
There is of course a trade off in cost here and the cost implications depend on the competitiveness of the keywords you are targeting, something that can be calculated using data provided by Google and other marketing tools. A solid B2B technology marketing strategy addresses being visible for both paid ads and organic search results, with the goal to find the right balance between the two.
As is widely recognised, search engine optimisation can take time to have an effect. Whereas setting up an advert on Google can be done in minutes. This is something each business needs to consider and build out a long term strategy that addresses both tactics.
SEO content and its wider influence
Going back to our buyer personas, enterprise technology solutions are bought by large organisations that typically have large teams and lots of different departments involved in the purchasing process.
Another role of SEO content in an enterprise technology marketing strategy is to serve those other internal influencers of your target company before the buying cycle has even begun.
The process of buying enterprise technology is often unique because it requires heavy involvement from the technical side of a business, not just the commercial side. There’s also a heavy reliance on the experience and knowledge of the team who will actually implement and manage the tools on the ground.
For example, a CIO or CTO is not going to be the person actually doing the work. They will be relying on the support of the supplier and their front line team and middle management to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
SEO can be a tactic used to raise awareness among these more junior team members and the wider business ecosystem through providing content relating to their buyer needs and challenges before the CTO, CIO has even heard of you.
Producing content using the same strategy of problem identification for your other buyer personas can help you get the foot in the door early when a problem arises lower down the authoritative chain – something that can be raised with their superiors using your content as supporting evidence.
SEO strategies and sales enablement
When we talk about enterprise technology marketing, the elephant in the room is the role that your sales team plays in acquisition. Most companies will rely heavily on an account based, sales focused approach to client acquisition, and they would be right.
SEO content however, can play a big part in enabling sales prospecting and the sales process. Each useful piece of content you produce that adds to your SEO strategy can also add value to a sales process. Your content becomes a tool for your sales team.
Another benefit of building out your SEO content is that if combined with a tool such as Leadfeeder that allows you to identify website visitors means your sales team can start to get indicators of possible leads at the earliest opportunity.
This isn’t to say that your sales team should be calling up these companies with blind ambition, but its useful data that can be used as part of a larger strategy and more joined up approach.
Measuring content performance
One of the challenges marketing managers face is how to measure the performance of SEO content and relating this to lead generation.
An obvious KPI from a marketing perspective is the number of organic sessions for each piece of content, along with the number of keywords the content ranks for and how highly they rank for these keywords.
A more meaningful statistic is how the content has influenced a buyer’s journey to the point of purchase – what content has been consumed by a buyer. Tools such as HubSpot can provide you with that type of information.
A summary of SEO’s role
A successful SEO strategy for enterprise technology companies relies on understanding your buyers, doing the right research and producing a content strategy that is executed with quality content based on expert knowledge.
If done well SEO content strategies can be the fuel to enable your sales team to embark on more targeted account based marketing campaigns. Rather than relying on generic intent data or a list of logos you can start to build your own list based SEO content consumption and real-time data specific to your business.
Remember, the same people working as Senior IT leaders are the same people ordering household goods from Amazon, they appreciate ease of use and convenience. Producing content that enables buyers and makes their lives easier from end to end can only be a good thing for any business.