What can B2B vendors, especially software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors, learn from the way people buy bed sheets online?
People in the market for bed sheets can go online and get thousands of search results for bed sheets from the major names in e-commerce. Large online retailers get strong search results in part because they replicate their product pages thousands of times, if not more, so they look familiar to search engines.
Conversely, there are thousands of SaaS vendors in the market, but they each create their own product pages and sell their applications differently. This can work against their search engine optimization (SEO) because the crawlers haven’t seen these pages thousands of times.
In this episode of B2B Nation, we talk to Geoff Atkinson, the founder and CEO of Huckabuy, which develops software to help vendors make their sites easier for search engines to read. Geoff got his start in B2C marketing at Overstock.com. And what he’s seen four years into his B2B experience is that many of the tactics and strategies from B2C are helping him grow his B2B SaaS company.
Think about it: when software buyers start their buying process with a search engine query, complete most — if not all — of the buying journey online, and do their best to avoid phone calls, they’re acting quite a bit like a B2C shopper who is buying bed sheets.
In this episode we discuss:
- The convergence of B2B and B2C marketing
- Why too many B2B SaaS marketing teams start their SEO initiatives too late
- SEO funnels
- Google’s Page Experience Update and more.
Geoff Atkinson: In the B2B world, in the SaaS world, for some reason, people get to SEO a little later in the game than they do in the B2C world. So you think, if you have an e-commerce company and you’re not doing SEO right away, good luck. It’s such a competitive space, you’re going to have a hard time generating traffic and revenue.
In the B2B world, a lot of companies are very sales-heavy focused, paid-marketing focused.You can get farther down the playing field without doing SEO. You see a lot of SaaS companies sort of getting to it later in their stages. But it’s such a fundamental channel, in my opinion, that you really do have to start working on it early, because it takes time. It takes years to really build up strategic, strong SEO. You see most companies that are really successful, they have a massive SEO channel, and they’ve gotten big because of that SEO channel. So it’s a huge aspect of long-term success that often gets ignored early on, in the early stages.
Mike Pastore: You’ve been on both sides. Do you see a convergence [of B2B and B2C marketing]? Do you think we’ll see more convergence of the tactics and the strategies as we go forward?
Geoff Atkinson: I absolutely do. I think the main driver of that is people are feeling more comfortable to buy enterprise software or software like they buy [bed] sheets. I know for Huckabuy, for example, our customer does not like to take sales calls. They like to do 95% of the transaction digitally. We have people buying at a high price point that we don’t talk to. I think it’s definitely converging.
We might be a unique example, but I’m kicking myself now, like four years into this, for not leaning on more of my B2C background, in terms of conversion rate optimization, site conversion rate optimization, just what you do from lead to close. How easy you make that process. I thought, “Well, this is a whole different thing. I’m going to have to lean a lot on sales. My background is not going to be as useful.”
That has proven to be a bad move on my part. And the more that I lean on my B2C roots, and my knowledge there, the more successful Huckabuy has been from a sales perspective. And I think that overlap… don’t assume that your customer wants to take sales calls. Your customer doesn’t want to take sales calls. You have to do a lot of B2C-like tactics these days because the way that people buy software these days is changing.
Geoff Atkinson: We’re going to be talking a ton about page speed in May. So there’s a big algorithm update coming in May. It’s called Google Page Experience update. They’ve never talked about an algorithm update more than a year in advance. They actually delayed it because of COVID because they were worried it was going to severely impact the economy.
Basically, it’s Google saying that they are done with slow websites. Most websites out there are extremely slow. [Google has] a tool they use to sort of grade them on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being really fast. Most end up being around a 35, which is five to seven seconds a page, which is crazy, but it’s true. And they’re just done with that. There’s too much complicated sites that are causing a long time to load, which leads to a really bad user experience for them, especially on mobile devices. And so [Google] is just saying “Done with that.” If your site’s not fast, you’re no longer going to rank come May.