Alphabet Soup: B2B vs B2C in SEM

by Dan Mantilla

Search Engine Marketing Alphabet Soup

Whether B2B or B2C, you better know your ABC’s—Always Be Converting. These could be micro-conversions, such as new subscribers, PDF downloads or regular conversions like lead submissions and online sales. Whatever industry you’re in, it’s important to setup some goals and systems in place to measure your success.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss the goals, solutions and results of a couple of our clients in the B2B and B2C space. The online strategies employed vary from search engine optimization and paid search to a complete website redesign.

I’ll be sharing insights, strategy implementations and campaign results from DMH Ingredients, a food and beverage distributor, and Thatcher Retractables, a local home improvement company.

Before I begin I'd like to highlight the fundamentals of any SEO or PPC campaign. For starters, when researching and planning an SEO or PPC campaign, the first phase of the strategy almost never changes. Both search engine optimization and paid search begin with keyword research, which is the cornerstone of any campaign.

Get this part wrong and the campaign is guaranteed to flop. The main difference between B2B and B2C is keyword search volume. Business to business keywords typically have less searches associated with them, more abbreviated company name, and specific product and service keywords.

You’re also dealing with multiple personas in B2B since purchasing may go through a several departments, which makes for a longer sales cycle. However, the profit margin from one client account justifies the investment. Now that we got that out of the way, lets move on.


DMH Ingredients, inquired about ways to increase ingredient sample requests from other businesses in the food service, food distribution or pharmaceutical industries. We recommended the Google Adwords search network because of the ability to reach other companies across the United States. We focused our keyword research on their top ingredient products and structured the campaign with multiple ad groups.

Because a majority of searches are from consumers, we put together a comprehensive negative keyword list to reduce budget waste. Within the first few weeks, we noticed a gradual increase in sample requests. Below are the metrics from June 2012 to to May 2014. National Google Adwords Campaign

  • 881,521 impressions (the amount of times DMH Ingredients has been seen)
  • 15, 184 clicks (ad clicks that resulted in visitors to the site)
  • 656 conversions (visitors who requested samples)
  • 60% from other food brokers and consumers (non-qualified)
  • 40% from related businesses in the food service industry (qualified)
  • B2B sample requests from companies such as Barilla America, Tyson, Quaker Foods, MillerCoors and Wrigleys

We continue to review the search query report to eliminate non-qualified keywords to maximize budget spend. As part of our overall SEM strategy, we took keywords that were converting well and implemented them within their website, also known as On-Page optimization.

This tactic alone has helped increase their visibility online and organic sample requests. DMH is now ranked in the Top 10 for 23 keywords in the major search engines for keywords such as “food ingredient supplier”, “food ingredient distributor” and other variations. B2C Similarly, we took the same approach with Thatcher Retractables, yet the difference is we completely redesigned their website which improved the quality of the customer experience in several ways;

  1. The User Experience - redesigning the site improved the customer experience by making items easier to find, shows actual product images and includes a clear call to action
  2. Company Benefit - not only does the redesign provide a professional appearance but it helps reduce unnecessary questions and phone calls with an updated FAQ page
  3. Search Engine Optimization - the site is built with clean code to ensure easy search engine crawling  and indexing

This set the stage for a geo-targeted paid search campaign. We agreed on a target radius of 40 miles from the client’s location. We focused on the company's bread and butter products and services.

We included the client's Unique Sales Proposition in the ad copy to distinguish them from their competitors. Since then our client has enjoyed dominating his local market online and is competing well against national brands. Local Google Adwords Campaign

  • 873,877 impressions
  • 12,727 clicks
  • 446 conversions
  • 1.5 average position

Both campaigns started in 2012 and have continued to run every year since. Due to seasonality though, Thatcher Retractables only runs a few months out of the year. While each client has unique goals and business objectives I wanted to emphasize the difference between B2B and B2C online.

To recap, B2B goals typically include micro-conversions such as new subscribers, PDF, White Paper or Case Study downloads which serve to get information into the hands of the decision maker much quicker compared to traditional methods.

B2C tends to be direct lead generation and online sales. All need some sort of conversion tracking in place to measure the quality and quantity of leads that convert into sales. Whether Paid Search or Search Engine Optimization the audience has to exist which you can measure through keyword research, Google Trends and other tools.

If you have any questions or comments or would like to know how we may assist your business reach it's online business objectives, drop me a line at