The B2B Marketer of Southeast Asia

I thought of putting this note together given the challenges that a B2B marketer faces when it comes to using search marketing in Southeast Asia. Bombarded with questions from their counter parts in the EU and Americas; most westward search strategies fall flat in East Asia.

In the past three months, I’ve come across many frustrated individuals who have given up their investments in using search marketing.

However, my article is not to dissuade you from using search marketing; the need of the hour is realization and understanding how it is different and where it fits in your marketing framework.

For starters, search marketing has to work both as a direct response channel as well as a channel that defends or creates your brand on the search result page. Trying to use it for only one use is likely going to skew your ROI measurement. Thus, I always recommend defining the role of search.

It is now known that 60 to 80 percent of website traffic for B2B is likely going to come from organic results, so invest in pages that rank strong.

This is a bit of a challenge again, namely for two reasons; a) the website that B2B marketers use are controlled by their global counterparts – taking that control away. It is important that you have full control over the websites for your region. B) Given (a), marketers end up creating campaign-specific websites hosted on some random or temporary server that search bots never visit.

These two things combined straight away makes you lose that 60 percent potential that you could have tapped into if you had control. The advice here is to get localized access to the web destinations you want to drive traffic to.

Talking about localization, it is important to note that markets like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and China like to read content in their native languages. Driving them to an English page makes them lose interest in what you have to offer. From campaigns that we have run both in English and local language versions, we see that local language versions have a response that is four times better than what we get on English.

Brand Keyword vs. Product Keyword

This is the big one. Let’s take the example of ABC Systems, a well-known manufacturer of “barcode” scanning equipment in various markets in the region. What gets difficult to decide is should we use the “brand keyword” or not – i.e., “ABC”; if you don’t use the keyword, you can’t show your product; if you use it then ABC Systems stands for many products/services. So which ad will get shown? There is no right solution to this corporate matrix challenge when it comes to brand product associations. But looking at the keyword trend below, it makes some hints on the direction to take.

So if ABC Systems wants to advertise, it will first want to tap into the keyword “barcode” and then the word “barcode scanner.” And the brand keywords “ABC” will have combinations of products.

When building such strategies for a B2B marketer, we use a simple framework as illustrated below.

Either you can drive the messaging that is controlled by what the marketing team feels needs to be out there; or you ride the wave of what market dynamics exhibit for the product/services that you have to offer. If you try to force fit something people are not searching for – you are quite likely to lose out.

Marketing budgets play a pivotal role in the depth of involvement of search marketing in B2B. Most of the time the budgets are strapped with multiple objectives, KPIs, and a website you want to drive traffic to; not to forget expensive push-digital media options, which can cost a lot and reduce your spends on search.

An ideal search budget for an awareness campaign can range between 15 to 25 percent of the total budget. However, if you are only focused on generating leads, keep the spend threshold at 10 to 15 percent of total spends. Anything beyond that and you are likely to burn a big hole on your KPI.

Coming to the end of the article let’s discuss the question of long tail. If you as a marker are comfortable with small or no traffic from long-tail keywords, don’t even step into that territory. However, if you are an avid e-commerce person, quite likely you will love the power of long-tail keywords. For the brand guys, long-tail keywords have seldom worked and the blame goes around the work to find the ideal blamer.

B2B search marketing has to be a smart mix of PPC and SEO along with powerful display advertising, which B2B marketers find it difficult to make.

Till the point where marketers in our region have control over websites, full clarity of what message they want to state, and a budget that works across the medium – B2B marketers are likely going to be up for a steep climb to success.

SEM image on home page via Shutterstock.

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