Optify Measures Social Media Activity in the B-to-B Market

Optify logoThis is my fourth and final post about the findings of Optify’s recently published business-to-business online marketing analysis.  The focus of this post is on what Optify found about social media usage.  (You can read my other posts on B-to-B web traffic and advertising here, here and here.)

Optify, which is a developer of digital marketing software for B-to-B marketing professionals, analyzes web behaviors and releases a report each year.  This annual “benchmark” report is particularly important in that the findings are reported from actual web activity, not from surveys.

The key takeaway findings on the social media front are these:

  • Despite all of the continuing hype, social media remains a very small fraction of traffic and leads to B-to-B websites.  In fact, social media has contributed to less than 5% of B-to-B web traffic and leads.
  • Facebook drives the more than half of the social media-generated web traffic to B-to-B websites, versus about one-third from Twitter and most of the remaining traffic from LinkedIn.
  • Visitors who arrive at B-to-B sites from LinkedIn are more likely to view more pages per visit (~2.5 page views on average) than visitors who come from Facebook (~1.9 page views) or Twitter (~1.5 page views).
  • Despite generating more traffic Facebook drives fewer actual B-to-B leads than either Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • At this time, Twitter appears to be the most lucrative social media source for leads, with a higher-than-average conversion rate of ~2.1% (defined as a visitor taking an action such as submitting a form).

Because of this last data point, Optify posits that companies should not shy away from considering social media‘s potential as a source for leads as opposed to being just an  awareness tool.

I’m sure Optify’s figures don’t lie.  But I for one remain unconvinced about social media’s lead generation potential in the B-to-B realm.

Optify takes the pulse of B-to-B paid search programs.

Optify logoI’ve been highlighting the key findings of Optify’s annual benchmark report charting the state of B-to-B online marketing. You can read my earlier posts on major findings from Optify’s most recent benchmarking here and here.

In this post, I focus on the paid search activities of business-to-business firms.

Interestingly, Optify finds that pay-per-click programs have been undertaken by fewer firms in 2012 compared to the previous year.

And the decline isn’t tiny, either:  Some 13% fewer companies ran paid search programs in 2012 compared to 2011, based on the aggregate data Optify studied from 600+ small and medium-sized B-to-B websites.

However, those companies who did elect to run pay-per-click advertising programs in 2012 achieved decent results for their efforts.

The median company included in the Optify evaluation attracted nearly 550 visits per month via paid search, with a conversion rate just shy of 2%, or ~45 leads per month.

[For purposes of the Optify analysis, a lead is defined as the visitor taking an action such as filling out a query form.]

Leads from paid search programs represented an important segment of all leads, too – between 10% and 15% each month.

The above figures represent the median statistics compiled by Optify. It also published results for the lower 25th percentile of B-to-B firms in its study. Among these, the results aren’t nearly so robust: only around ~60 visits per month from paid search that translated into 6 leads.

Since the Optify report covers only statistics generated from visitor and lead tracking activity, it doesn’t attempt to explain the reasons behind the decrease in the proportion of B-to-B firms that are engaged in paid search programs.

But I think one plausible explanation is the steadily rising cost of clicks. They broke the $2 barrier a long time ago and see no signs of letting up. For some companies, those kinds of costs are a bridge too far.

I’ll address one final topic from the Optify report in a subsequent blog post: B-to-B social media activities. Stay tuned to see if your preconceptions about engagement levels with social media are confirmed – or not!

More B-to-B Web Behavior Findings from Optify

Optify logoThis is my second post on the very interesting findings from Optify’s analysis of the behavior of visitors to business-to-business websites during 2012.

[Refer to my earlier post for a quick overview of salient “top-line” results.]

As part of its analysis, Optify uncovered some interesting factors pertaining to “organic” web searches, which represent ~41% of all visits to B-to-B websites.  Here’s what stands out in particular:

  • Forget all of the talk about Bing/Yahoo taking a bite out of Google on the search front. Optify found that Google is responsible for nearly 90% of all organic search activity in the B-to-B realm, making it the #1 referring source of traffic – and it isn’t even close.  (Bing’s coming in at a whopping ~6% of the search traffic.)
  • Organic search visits from Bing do show slightly better engagement rates in the form of more page views per visit, as well as better conversion rates (e.g., filling out a form). But with such low referring traffic to begin with, it’s fair to say that Google was — and remains — the cat’s meow when it comes to organic search.
  • “Branded” searches – ones that include the name of the company – account for nearly one-third of all visits from organic search. Plus, they show the highest engagement levels as well: ~3.7 page views per visit on average.

Optify notes a few clouds on the horizon when it comes to evaluating the success of a company’s organic search program. Ever since Google introduced its “blocked search data” securred socket layer (SSL) option (https://google.com), the incidence of blocked referring keyword data has increased rapidly:

  • Block referring keyword data now represents over 40% of all search queries.
  • Non-branded keywords that are known (and thus available for analysis) have dropped to just 35% of all organic searches.

Here’s the bad news:  As blocked keyword searches continue to grow in popularity – and who wouldn’t choose this option when it’s so easy and readily available – it’s creating a veritable “data oblivion” confronting marketers in their attempts to analyze and improve their SEO performance.

In a subsequent blog post, I’ll summarize key findings from Optify pertaining to paid search (SEM) and social media in the B-to-B realm.

Optify Measures the Current State of B-to-B Online Marketing

Optify logoEach year Optify, a developer of digital marketing software for business-to-business marketing professionals, analyzes web behaviors to develop a “benchmark” report on B-to-B marketing.

The annual Optify benchmark report is interesting in that the findings are developed not from surveys, but from actual web activity. 

Optify’s most recent report, released in early 2013, was produced using data gleaned from more than 62 million web visits, ~215 million page views and ~350,000 leads from more than 600 small and medium-sized websites of B-to-B firms.

Optify used its proprietary visitor and lead tracking technology to collect and aggregate the data.  U.S.-based B-to-B sites that garnered between 100 to 100,000 monthly visits were included in the research.

There are many interesting findings – enough to chew on so that I will cover them in several blog posts.  In all likelihood, some of the findings will confirm your perceptions … while others may be a tad surprising.

Web Traffic

As in business-to-consumer web marketing, there is cyclicality in web traffic in the B-to-B world.  But according to Optify, it’s almost the polar opposite:

  • Higher traffic:  January through March + September and October
  • Lower traffic:  Summer months + end of year

Source of Web Traffic

Optify found that the overwhelming amount of B-to-B web traffic comes from two main sources — organic search and direct traffic.  Other sources – particularly social media – are a good deal more peripheral:

  • Organic search:  ~41% of web traffic
  • Direct traffic:  ~40%
  • Referral links:  ~12%
  • Paid search:  ~5%
  • Social media:  ~2%

Lead Conversion Rate

Optify defines the “conversion rate” as the percent of web visitors who submitted a query or filled out some other type of form during a single visit.  Using this definition, Optify found that the average conversion rate was around 1.6%. 

But the best sources for lead conversions differ from the most prevalent sources of web traffic:

  • E-mail source:  ~2.9% conversion rate
  • Other referral links:  ~2.0%
  • Paid search:  ~2.0%
  • Direct traffic:  ~1.7%
  • Organic search:  ~1.5%
  • Social media:  ~1.2%

Page Views per Web Visit

Optify found that the average visitor viewed three pages on the website during their visit.

… But Big Variations

Optify found a good deal of variability in web activity.  To illustrate this, it has published findings broken out by medians and for percentile groups as follows:

  • Median visits per month per website:  1,784
  • 75th percentile of websites:  4,477
  • 25th percentile of websites:  339
  • Median page views per website visit (monthly average):  3.03
  • 75th percentile median page views:  4.04
  • 25th percentile media page views:  1.80
  • Median lead conversion rate (monthly average):  1.6%
  • 75th percentile median conversion rate:  3.3%
  • 25th percentile median conversion rate:  0.5%

There’s much more in the Optify report that’s worth reviewing … which I’ll share ina follow-up blog post.