B2B marketing can seem complicated. And that’s why many businesses don’t know where to start when it comes to generating interest and enquiries for their product or service.
We like to keep things simple, as at the end of the day, a B2B buyer is a human just like you or I. They have problems that they want to fix – just like you or I.
And in a lot of cases, when trying to solve a problem, their first port of call is a Google search.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for B2B businesses
This is why SEO is important. It essentially involves configuring your website so that you appear in the search results when someone searches for a solution that you offer. Unlike PPC or ‘Google Ads’ which offer you instant visibility at a high price (you pay for each click). A well implemented SEO strategy can get you the same visibility for a fraction of the price and payback long after your initial investment is complete.
How B2B businesses can measure their SEO performance
So how do you know how well your website is performing from an SEO perspective? The answer is Google Search Console. This free tool can be implemented by installing a line of code on your website, and once you have done that, you will unveil a goldmine of information that will give you the insight you need to set yourself some SEO goals that can make a massive difference to your website traffic and resulting enquiries.
Google Search Console for B2B
So let’s see what’s in GSC that is so useful:
Site health – are your pages indexing in Google or are there issues?
Search visibility – is your site appearing in the Google search results? If so how often?
Keyword visibility – if you are appearing in the search results, which keywords is it for?
Keyword ranking – where are you ranking (what position are you in) for various keywords?
Generally speaking there will be certain keywords which will tend to drive the most enquiries for your business. If you find you are ranking on page 2 for those keywords for example, it’s clear that if you move to page 1, you will increase your rankings and therefore your enquiries.
There are a number of ways to do this which we will cover in another post.
This is why I like to think about GSC as the instrument panel in your SEO cockpit. Without GSC, not only are you are flying blind, but you are overlooking a potential goldmine of information. Hence if you don’t already have GSC installed on your website, it needs to be #1 on your lead generation priority list.
Over the last 15+ years, jobs boards have established themselves as a reliable and lucrative online business model.
For many of the more established online recruitment businesses, it began in the latter days of magazine publishing where recruitment adverts were placed in the back section of industry journals.
Over time, charging for job ads became far more profitable than the magazine subscriptions themselves, and the job advertising sections were spun off as standalone brands. To this day, selling job adverts to employers is how job boards make money.
Much like property, auto listings and dating, recruitment ads remain a stable part of any classified business.
Here we take a look at some of the main considerations and principles for anyone trying to figure out how to start a job board business. These should all be included in your job board business plan.
What is your niche?
Do you have a particular niche in mind? If not, don’t forget you are going up against some very significant competition.
Indeed dominates the job board industry in the UK. Generalist competitors battle hard for market share, but it’s the niche players who have the best chances to connect with and monetise their target market.
If you are looking to promote your job board to an existing community or market, this will certainly give you a head start. In this game, narrow but deep is generally better than wide but shallow.
Jobseekers of employers first?
Chicken or egg? Some job boards tend to think of their jobseekers as the ‘product’ that employers come to buy and as such focus on attracting jobseekers.
But how do you attract jobseekers if you don’t have jobs?
One option is to ‘backfill’ jobs onto your newly launched job board so you will have jobs on there from the outset. This involves taking a feed of jobs from an ‘aggregator’ site and means that jobseekers will be redirected away from your website when they find a job they want to apply for.
The most established job board business model involves monetising your job board by selling job listings.
But you will only have a satisfied customer if people actually apply for these jobs.
As such it makes sense to focus on registering candidates before you start selling job listings.
Your job board business model – free/paid
Are you looking to make money from the outset? Or build an engaged community first?
Let’s start by looking at how job boards make money.
How do job boards make money?
Most charge employers for job listings or access to a CV database. Others charge candidates for early access to the best jobs. The job board business model you choose is up to you, but it’s worth thinking carefully about.
Whichever way you intend to monetise, you need to think about the unit economics around how you will attract jobseekers and employers.
At the end of the day you want to be sure that you are able to offer a product or service that offers superior results or value to what already exists in the marketplace.
Be sure to do your research.
How to market a job board
So where do you find your jobseekers? There are some standard standard methods you can use to market a job board to jobseekers, but it’s also worth thinking creatively about how to encourage jobseekers to register on your job board.
Google AdWords is a staple source of candidates for job boards.
Here, your niche is your friend.
If you are able to convince candidates that you have jobs specific to their search term and location, you have a strong chance of efficiently attracting candidates via PPC.
PPC is great way to boost candidates but it can also be expensive. An SEO strategy is key to ensuring you can lock in organic growth over the long term.
Because people want to work close to where they live, a combination of job type and geographic location offers great opportunities for for highly specific SEO search term visibility.
Be sure that you are taking SEO advice to make sure you don’t miss out on this big opportunity.
There aren’t many business models I can think of where email is so important. In general a candidate job search cycle last 3 months. In that time, a single candidate will apply for countless jobs.
If you do an effective job at not only attracting candidates but registering them and bringing them back to apply for subsequent jobs via the likes of email, you are vastly improving the efficiency of your business model.
Effective job alerts are crucial to ensure you alert all relevant candidates when a matching job is posted on your job board.
Aggregators can play a useful role in the development of a job board business, but should also be treated with caution as it can be easy for a job board to become overly dependent on aggregators.
Their main use is in attracting additional applications to your jobs. Usually on a cost per click (CPC) basis, you can offer your chosen aggregator(s) a feed of your jobs. They will repost the jobs on their website, and redirect any applications back to you.
In addition, if you are attracting candidates but don’t have relevant jobs for them, some aggregators will offer you a ‘backfill’ feed whereby they publish jobs on your website and you earn a small commission for each application you send back to them.
So you have your jobseekers acquisition plan in place, how to you attract employers to post their jobs on your job board?
Hopefully you have done your research and identified your ideal customer type. Now you need to start getting on the phone and pitching your solution to them. This is the best way to get into the mind of your customer, and quickly understand whether you are on the right track with your business.
Your biggest ally here will be tools like LinkedIn as well as seeing which businesses are currently advertising vacancies that fall into your niche.
There are a number of tools and techniques you can use to develop a target lead list for your sales outreach.
If you know what kinds of employers you are targeting, then it should be relatively straightforward to figure out where online they hang out and start targeting them with digital ads.
Digital advertising is a great way to build brand awareness and make sales outreach conversations easier.
People are much more likely to chat with you on the phone if they have already heard of your brand.
The fact that you have launched a new job board in itself is newsworthy. Write a press release telling your story and share it far and wide to job board press like Onrec, as well as any magazines or online publications that operate on your niche.
What are your KPIs?
Establishing some Key Performance Indicators is crucial in ensuring that you are hitting your goals.
Here are some useful measures:
Applications per job
Is a customer that doesn’t get any applications going to be a happy one?
For that reason Applications per job may be the single most important KPI for a job board. You may have various application per job targets based on location and job type, but in essence there is likely to be a minimum number of applications that you want to hit to ensure you don’t churn customers.
At the same time, don’t forget that not all applications are equal and quality is better than quantity.
Cost per application (CPA)
How much does it cost you to generate each application? Some channels will cost more than others but you should have an idea on the average.
Average order value
Let’s say your main revenue stream is going to be a 30 day job listing. The cost of this is likely to be your average order value or (AOV).
These are your top level KPI metrics.
Understanding will give you a good idea of the unit economics that will drive your business.
Let’s say your AOV is £200 and you want to ensure you drive at least 10 applications per job to give your customer the best chance of hiring.
If your CPA is £5 you know that it will cost you around £50 to deliver desired number of applications (10x£5). That’s £50 of your £200 to deliver the desired number of applications, leaving £150 profit.
Which job board software?
You can of course build your own job board software from scratch, but there are a number of white label job board platforms out there that will enable you to get up and running quickly.
Probably a good idea if you are just starting out.
Other things to remember
In general one of the biggest points of dissatisfaction for jobseekers is not receiving a response to their job application. Finding a way to make sure employers respond to all applicants will increase your jobseeker satisfaction ratings.
Jobseekers prefer to speak directly to employers than via recruitment consultants. Be careful with recruitment consultants. Allowing recruitment consultants means you are likely to have duplicate jobs on your website which will inflate your job numbers and frustrate jobseekers.
Average jobseeking phase is 3 months every 3 years. Make sure you squeeze the 3 month window for the opportunity it represents.
Location is the #1 most important factor for jobseekers when applying for a job.
So you’ve launched your new website and you are nowhere to be found in Google. Perhaps even a search for your brand name doesn’t yield any first page results. So what do you do?
For every search on Google, there is a predefined set of results that Google returns to the user. Google decides what to include based on a number of factors including these 2:
Keyword relevance consists of ensuring that your website appears relevant to Google in the context of the search the user is doing. For example if you are trying to rank for HR software, you will need to mention “HR software” on your web pages and in the meta tags that you use on those pages.
But what if a number of other sites are also competing for keyword relevance?
Google’s first page only has 10 results on it and people barely look past the first 3. So how do you rank above the others?
This is where domain authority comes in, and there are some basics you should have in place before building out your keyword relevance efforts.
Domain authority (DA)
So all other things being equal, how does Google decide the order of rankings? Every website has a domain authority score of between 1 and 100. Website like BBC and Google itself have an extremely high domain authority. A new site will have authority close to zero. You can check your domain authority here.
Authority is achieved by having other websites linking to yours. You can think of these as ‘votes of authority’. A website with a high domain linking to you will pass over some of that authority, signalling to Google that you must have some importance and therefore a higher level of authority.
Some websites try to manipulate the algorithm by paying for links. This is a risky strategy as Google looks for this behaviour and severely penalises websites caught buying links.
How to increase domain authority
So how do you get these links? Here are a couple of key must have building blocks for a new website:
Directory Submissions This is probably the place to start as it’s a relatively straightforward but time consuming process. Submitting your website to good quality directories will signal to Google that your website has some serious intent and will assist you with overall visibility. If you are a member of any governing bodies or trade associations, links from them will greatly assist.
Social profiles If you intend to have some social presence (recommended, but you will need to plan resources to run it), you should create profiles for your business on key social platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Yes this still holds true if you are a B2B business.
Guest posts Once you have completed the above 2, guest blogs are a very powerful way to win valuable links from high DA websites. If you operate in a certain niche, you should find high DA publishers in your space and offer to write an article for them.
Follow the above steps and you are building some solid SEO foundations. Make sure you have Google Search Console (free) installed on your website. It provides a crucial SEO dashboard so you can track progress (for example your ranking changes for a particular key phrase over time), and spot opportunities. It also has a function which enables you to submit your site to Google and check that it’s been indexed.
Don’t forget that Google’s algorithm works slowly and it could take weeks or even months to see ranking changes and they often go down before they go up!
If you want to start trying to deliver quality leads or enquiries for a particular niche area, get in contact with a specialist (like us) to setup a B2B lead generation strategy for you.
So you have a product or a service that you want to launch online and your not sure where to start?
Taking your business online means you can reach a far larger audience of customers than you could via any other means. After all, how else could you make yourself accessible to a national or global audience than via a website?
It gives potential customers the opportunity to discover what you do, be persuaded that you are the right business to solve their problem, and to place an enquiry or order…from anywhere in the world.
Getting a functioning e-commerce website is just the first important step. You’ll also need a plan for getting visitors to your website.
Here are the first steps you need to take with your website:
1. Buy a domain
What is a domain name?
A domain is essentially a website address. It’s where people to go to find your website. Ideally your domain name will be reflective of your brand name. For example Amazon is Amazon.com, BBC is bbb.co.uk etc. All domains will start with www which stands for world wide web. Some companies will use an abbreviation, for example British airways is ba.com.
Where do I buy a domain?
Buying a domain name is actually very simple. The problem you are most likely to face is that whatever you choose is likely to already be registered by someone, especially if it’s a ‘dot com’
To buy a domain you can simply go to a company like www.1and1.com or www.hover.com where you will be able to check availability and prices. Domains can cost as little as £1 per year to register.
Do I need a .com domain?
.com domains are generally the best option as they are what people tend to associate with a website. As a result, you may find that your first pick of a .com is already registered by someone else.
Due to this, there is also a huge popularity amongst other second tier domains. For example .co.uk popular with UK companies, and there are a growing number of alternative options such as .info, .online, .london etc.
Perhaps the best advice here is to choose a domain closely aligned with your company name (brand) and easy to remember.
2. Decide if you need hosting
What is web hosting?
In the same way that your domain acts as a kind of postal address to tell people where your ‘house’ is. Your hosting is the foundations onto which you will build your house. It’s essentially online ‘space’ where your website is stored, including all of the text and images that go with it. The specification of your hosting package will depend on how big your website is and how fast you want it to be.
Do I need hosting?
When you buy your domain, it’s likely that the company will also offer you hosting and possibly a website builder. It’s important that before you commit to this, you think carefully about what you want your website to do and what the most appropriate option may be. You should read on to the next section for more information about this as there are a number of options that include hosting as part of a larger package.
3. Setup your website
What kind of website do I need?
There are a plethora of options here to suit all budgets. You need to think about exactly what it is that you want. Do you just want somewhere to explain a bit about your company? Are you looking for a more complex multi-page website with images? Or are you looking for a fully fledged e-commerce solution that will enable you to take payments and process orders online?
A simple landing page
If you are looking for a simple 1 page website then you may try an option like www.strikingly.com which comes with hosting and an easy to use editing tool. It’s perfect if you just need a page where you can explain a bit about your company and what you do.
A multi page website
There are a few options here. If you are wanting to keep costs down and are happy to do some of the work yourself, there are a few options out there:
Both of these options come with low cost plans and give you some simple tools to help build your website including forms that you can use to capture payments.
Full e-commerce functionality
If you are planning on making sales online, you could consider an option like shopify.com which is simple to use and can get you off the ground quickly. Other options include wordpress with an appropriate e-commerce plugin but you may need some help from a wordpress expert.
WordPress – the flexible alternative
WordPress is a hugely popular option which is capable all of the above but will need some customisations if you want e-commerce functionality.
WordPress is especially powerful in helping your pages rank naturally (organically via SEO). There are lots of free guides on how to build with and use wordpress, and you can use a theme like Divi from elegantthemes.com or elementor.com which offers powerful ‘what you see is what you get’ (WYSIWYG) functionality to build beautiful pages. They also have excellent online support.
There are also a lot of wordpress experts you can call on for help using a website like www.peopleperhour.com
4. How do I design a professional looking website?
Most entrepreneurs are not web designers. ‘Build it yourself’ tools can go some way in getting your website up and running, but what if your after something more professional? There are a few options here:
Hire a web designer or agency
Web designers live and breath websites so they can be a good option if you want to get things going quickly and have some budget.
For a good web designer to work on a relatively basic website, you will likely need a budget of at least £1,500. If you don’t have a logo and need you brand created from scratch, it will cost more.
Hire a designer on 99designs
This is a great option if you are looking for a completely new brand/logo as well as new site design. You can write a brief and view proposed designs from a number of designers selecting the one you like the most and awarding them a budget. This can cost as little as £695.
You can then find someone on 99designs to help you build the website, or use the designs to build the website yourself using some of the tools mentioned above.
5. What else do I need?
There are a few other things you should do to get your website ready for launch.
Google Analytics is a free tool that will help you track visits to your website. It will give you essential information such as:
How many people are visiting your site
Which pages are they visiting
How are they getting your website
Which countries are they coming from
How much time are they spending on the site
This is just a small taster of the info you will get from Google Analytics. It’s a free tool and probably the most powerful on the market.
It’s also very easy to setup so please make sure you have it in your website from the moment you launch…no excuses!
Google Search Console
Google search console is another free tool from Google. It will monitor your website for any issues and alert you when something is wrong. It also gathers extremely valuable information about the kinds of keywords people are using to get to your website. This information is crucial if you plan to get free traffic from search engines like Google.
Again do not let your site go live without it!
With these in place, you need to figure out how to get customers to your website.
It used to be the case that launching a business online needed significant investment and probably a visit to the bank manager.
With the help of technology, times have changed.
For example not so long ago, the average cost of a basic website build for a small business would have been in excess of £5,000.
Now even technophobes can build and launch a professional looking website in just a few hours for a fraction of this.
Granted, you don’t get the expertise of a professional web designer, but you also don’t get a £5,000+ price tag.
Popular options include Wix and Squarespace with Shopify proving popular amongst those looking to sell products directly via their website. Plans start from around £10 per month (including hosting) with no contract.
If you’re yet to create a logo for your business there are some more great tools out there. For example with tailorbrands logo maker, you can whip up a logo to include an icon of your choosing in just a few minutes. A caveat here is you need to pay a subscription starting at $3.99 per month to use the logo. A better option may be logojoy who offer full ownership of your logo for $65.
If you are looking to make more of a serious investment in your brand, you may want to consider a design crowdsourcing option like 99designs. Unlike the traditional approach whereby you would select a designer and work with them to deliver on your vision, crowdsourcing allows you to describe your vision to a wide group of designers in the form of a project brief, who then ‘pitch in’ their designs in the hope of winning your ‘contest’.
This approach has a huge advantage in that you are likely to have a significant head start in reaching your vision as soon as the first designs come in. You simply select the winner from 15+ design concepts and progress with this designer.
You can get your logo, website, book, app, pretty much anything you like designed in this way and prices start from around £120 for a business card, with a 1 page website design for around £500.
These capabilities have only emerged in the last few years meaning small businesses now have access to technology that previously was only available to large enterprises or via a marketing agency.
Google itself is capitalising on this trend by signing up small business customers directly to it’s ‘Google Ads‘ platform without the need for a marketing agency or consultant to assist. And Australian Canva a simple graphic design tool now has over 10 million users in 190 countries.
Small businesses should embrace this trend. These tools mean there has never been a better time to launch and grow a small business.
Value proposition. Another fancy schmancy marketing word that bears little relevance to the reality of running a growing business?
Put it this way. If you can’t clearly articulate what it is that you sell and why people should buy it (versus another similar product), you will struggle.
By taking a little bit of time to think about how to best convey your value proposition, you will make life much easier for yourself when it comes to deciding what to put on your website, and any other marketing materials.
Getting customers to quickly understand how you can help them will give you a crucial advantage in this noisy world.
How to write a value proposition
Step #1 – Identify the useful features of your product or service
Simply jot down a list of the things that your customer will consider to be useful features.
Step #2 – Identify the value that will come from the features that you have listed
Look at your features list and for every feature, describe the benefit that this will bring. For example if you are a plumber, the feature may be 24 hour callout.
The benefit is that the customer can book an appointment at a time that suits them, even if it’s the middle of the night. Sounds obvious but benefits carry a higher level of resonance, and are more persuasive than features.
Step #3 – Identify your points of differentiation
Chances are you will have competition. How are you different to them? You should pick something that makes you stand out. Perhaps it’s a satisfaction guarantee, a speed promise or price match (although it’s generally not a good idea to use price as a differentiator).
Look at your competition and think about how you will differentiate from them in a way that will be important or interesting to the customer.
Once you have completed this exercise, you should have enough to start writing some words for your website or marketing materials.
Focus on benefits not features
This really just serves to reinforce the points made above about translating features to benefits. If you are selling a product and are trying to give people a reason to buy it, it’s easy to arrive at a long list of features.
Let’s take an example.
If I’m selling a bicycle, the features may be that it folds up, has 16 gears and in build lights front and rear.
It may be an accurate description, but is it enough to persuade people to buy your product?
By translating the features into benefits, you can more effectively convey value to customers.
“It folds up….so you can carry it around with ease and get on to even the busiest commuter train.”
“It has 16 gears…..so you can tackle both uphill and downhill with relative ease”
“It has in built lights….so you can ride safely and confidently in the dark.”
Unlike ‘features’ which simply describes the product, ‘benefits’ convey the reason why someone should buy. They more effectively position your product as a solution to the problem your customers face.
Problem – solution
In crafting a value proposition, you should think hard about the problem you are trying to solve for the customer, and how your product fits it.
By thinking about the customers problem, it forces you to think from the customers perspective and really get into their shoes.
For example, leading with price may be off putting if the majority of your customers are more concerned with speed or quality.
A great trick here is to think about the emotions that people face when confronted by the problem that your product or service solves.
For example if you are a yoga teacher, you can illustrate stiffness, joint pain and perhaps the social element of a regular group meetup ……and counter this with the solution of a yoga class which can increase flexibility, reduce joint pain in a fun & sociable environment.
You may not have heard of “The Rule of 7”, but it’s one of the oldest concepts in marketing and still stands true in todays world.
Basically a prospective buyer needs to see your message on average 7 times before they will buy from you.
The above 5 points will help you in pursuit of the “The Rule of 7”.
In general, it’s better to say a few things over and over than have a broad variety of messages and offerings.
Clarity, consistency, relevance, repetition and reinforcement will help make you more memorable. It will mean that those people who see your marketing messaging but don’t need your product or service at that moment in time, will think of you (and not your competitors) when their moment of need arises.
Check out our article about The Marketing Rule of 7 over on B2B Marketing.
Get in touch with us for a free 20 minute consultation and we can advise you on how to craft a winning value proposition for your company.