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Using Keyword Strategy To Reach Influencers, Decision Makers & Buyers

By Jim Grinney, Partner, 90octaneTo target the right prospects, it’s critical for manufacturers to be visible through each stage of the buying cycle, beginning with search engines where your brand needs a strong presence and message.

Present an attractive enough offer, and you can persuade just about anyone into entering his or her contact information in your online registration form. Everybody wants that impressive new iPhone in their back pocket, after all. But once your sales team follows up on the leads, you quickly learn a valuable lesson: not all leads are created equal.

To target the right prospects, it’s critical for manufacturers to be visible through each stage of the buying cycle. These prospects begin their research with the search engines -- where your brand needs a strong presence and message.

Meet the players

The first step in developing a strategic search engine marketing program, with the most relevant keywords and key phrases as its foundation, is to consider the audiences you want to reach.

In many organizations there is more than one person to consider, including users/ influencers, decision makers and buyers. At their various stages in the buying cycle, each one is searching with a different agenda.

Typically, the user/influencer is focused on remedying a “pain” they feel in the organization, but isn’t the final decision maker. Don’t count them out. They are a key player because they not only identify the problem but also research possible solutions and present the decision maker with product recommendations.

Decision makers may only run a few quick searches based on the user/influencer’s proposal, to check credibility and provide the organization’s purchasing department with potential solutions.

And it’s typically the goal of the buyer in the purchasing department to negotiate the best price and place the order.

Focus on research first

During the research phase, it’s important that your search engine visibility is focused on research key phrases and that what you say in your search listing is education-focused.

For example, a maintenance engineer in a brewery finds that he is having quality assurance issues with product packaging. Once bottles are prepared, filled and capped, an intricate mechanism picks up a label, heats the adhesive backing and affixes it to a stream of whirling bottles. With the labels being applied at over 400 per minute, misalignment causing crooked labels can quickly become a significant cost.

Tasked with reducing down time and maintaining product quality, he or she turns to the Web to learn his options for catching misalignment immediately. Assuming the maintenance engineer searches on Google for “positioning sensors,” sensor manufacturers have an opportunity to educate and convert this individual to a customer.

At this point, messaging is critical. The maintenance engineer has identified a pain point and not only wants to remedy the problem but also wants to find the solution that fits his or her specific needs. Sensor manufacturers not only need to be visible for searches specific to product category (e.g. “positioning sensors”) but also queries related to the problem (e.g. “container control”).

Within each stage of the buying cycle, consider who is conducting the search, what they will be searching for (remember pain points) and how your messaging can present a beneficial option.

The decision maker moves in

Prospective customers’ searches become more targeted when they have determined how to fix the problem, and they begin to evaluate multiple providers.

In the example above, the maintenance engineer has decided that the best way to remedy the situation is to monitor label placement and identify misalignment immediately, so the decision maker may begin searching for manufacturers that produce the appropriate product.

For example, they may type “photoelectric sensors” into one of the top search engines. Again, it’s important for manufacturers to appear in top results and for messaging to include product offering by name and language attesting to the benefits.

The decision maker is already convinced of his or her decision and feels the pressure to find the best product. Messaging that emphasizes key differentiators like cost savings, low or no maintenance, quick installation, ability to handle high speeds and downtime elimination motivate the decision maker to visit your site and learn more.

Off to the buyer

So, the decision has been made to add positioning sensors to the line. The decision maker has researched manufacturers that produce the product he or she is interested in and has identified a product that is easy to install, can handle high speeds and will properly assess misalignment.

As the decision maker submits this recommendation to the purchasing department, he or she may include brand name, product information and/or a specific part number. It’s critical for manufacturers to be found for all three of these search types, since the majority of conversions occur at this level.

Keep in mind that even at this stage, the sale is not a lock. As the buyer is researching price, delivery options and other logistics, there is opportunity for competitors to land the sale.

Competitors that have search visibility for the chosen brand, product or product number (typically via a pay-per-click advertising program) can motivate buyers to consider alternatives.

As always, swift follow-up by the sales team is required to secure the lead and convert him into a customer.

90octane is an interactive marketing agency that leverages online marketing strategies, search engine marketing (SEM) services and sales lead generation capabilities. For more information, visit