B-to-B Search: Panel Divulges Unique Search Challenges for B-to-B Catalogers
During a session at last week’s ACCM conference in Boston, Anne Vargo, e-commerce supervisor for B-to-B computer products cataloger CDW, and I both concluded that many of the best practices for B-to-B search are the same as consumer. These include comprehensive term lists, smart bidding, focused copy and landing pages, strong tracking and ongoing testing. But we described several unique challenges specific to large scale paid search.
We discussed the $6.8 billion CDW’s search program of more than 100,000 active search ads and the “long tail” of search terms, noting that the 100,000 active ads are the “survivors” after testing more than 500,000. Vargo noted that given CDW’s rapidly changing product catalog — 30 percent of the company’s SKUs change on each quarterly merchandise cycle — term creation and testing is an ongoing process.
I suggested that as a rule of thumb marketers test five to 10 phrases per SKU, with one or two of those expected to survive the quality and traffic “shakeout” resulting in an active keyword portfolio approximately the same size as the SKU count. I also pointed out that “quality trumps quantity” when it comes to term list size, and I warned against tricks for inflating term list size without marketing benefit.
Vargo described the emphasis CDW places on acquiring new B-to-B customers. She outlined post-sale feedback data loops where CDW sends order-level feeds back to my firm following an internal CDW merge and data append. This feedback gives my agency’s staff the bid management technology and the data needed to steer CDW’s campaigns toward acquiring business buyers.
CDW’s customers differ from consumer computer buyers in their purchase frequency. Many CDW buyers are professional purchasers who spend each workday buying technology products. Once they purchase from CDW, the number of orders that follow can be very large, which I consider a “good problem to have.” Assigning all orders within a 15- or 30-day window to the paid seach ad would grossly over-credit the importance of that click, so my firm’s technology stops giving a paid search ad credit for orders after 24 hours beyond the initial order — or after 30 days, whichever is sooner.
We credited the aggressive growth of CDW’s paid search program over the past two quarters to improved bidding and significantly expanded term lists.
ACCM attendees may obtain slides for the entire conference on the ACCM site at http://accmshow.com/. Slides from the CDW B2B session are available at http://www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog/2007/05/23/b2b-search/.
Alan Rimm-Kaufman heads the online markeing agency Rimm-Kaufman Group. You can reach him at www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog . To obtain slides of this session, go to http://www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog/2007/05/23/b2b-search .