Search or Social Traffic? Which Is Better for Your B2B Website?

Written by Brick Marketing

Most B2B marketers and site owners realize that one new social connection or one new organic visitor does not automatically equal one new sale. Converting search and social traffic, especially in the B2B world, can be a long and arduous process.  The more complicated or costly your product is the longer the sales cycle tends to be—obliviously investing in a $10k software product requires a little more planning/budgeting than ordering lunch for the office. More people need to get involved in the process, more education is needed, and more groundwork needs to be done. Getting a new follower on Twitter or pulling a new, non-branded visitor to your site is only the first step in the conversion process. But where should a B2B site owner or marketer put a majority of their focus? Ultimately, do social visitors or search visitors convert better?

The only way you can know for sure which source of traffic converts better for your brand is to track, measure, and evaluate over an extended period of time. But it’s important to realize that it doesn’t have to be about social OR search traffic—it really needs to be about both. Social and SEO go hand-in-hand, and give your B2B website the opportunity to connect with a broader audience at various stages of the buying cycle.

According to Michelle Stinson Ross:

Organic search traffic generally converts better as it catches people at the end or near to the end of their purchase cycle (investigation and make a purchase). Social, on the other hand, allows brands to connect with people even before they know they need or want the brands product. A response to a social question (i.e. Do you know of a high quality reasonably price home painter?) with a link generally garners a similar if not higher conversion rate than organic search. It’s wise to maximize both search and social traffic with realistic expectations of the traffic.

Both SEO and social media marketing can be used to introduce your B2B brand to new, potential customers. But the intent behind your search and social traffic can be very different. When someone searches for something, such as “business intelligence software,” they are looking for a very specific thing and have some end goal in mind. It may not be to buy right then and there but they are at least in the information gathering stage. Social visitors, on the other hand, might find your website/brand by accident because someone they know/follow shared a piece of your content. For instance, the BI software company might write a blog post about how business intelligence software can help uncover new B2B sales opportunities. A sales manager who follows this company on Twitter might read/see that post and share it to their network, which then connect the company with a new audience who wasn’t actively looking for that information. It doesn’t make that blog post any less valuable to the reader, but a social visitor may not have jumped on Twitter that day specifically to find that content.

That same blog post can also rank in the search engines and actually pull visitors that are searching for ways to find new sales opportunities, even if they aren’t looking for BI software specifically. This gives their content even more power organically, because now they are attracting search visitors that were looking for a solution to their problem, even if they didn’t know BI software was the answer they needed.

With all the changes Google has made the world of SEO in the last year, social is only going to become an even more important piece of the puzzle for B2B brands. While your B2B site may not be a social media darling in the way that food, fashion, and design companies are that doesn’t mean you should ignore social traffic in favor of search either! Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and look to widen your net as much as you can.

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