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What You'll Learn on "Planet Google": Part 2

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Hello,

Last week I gave you some interesting background around Google's "Reaction B2B Executive Summit" and why educating their customers is such an important strategy for them.

This week I'll present some of the ways they are doing it and explain why they invited me.

Michael J. Webb
August 12, 2008

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What You'll Learn on "Planet Google": Part 2

Google is Educating Businesses About Their Customers
Avinash Kaushik (author of "Web Analytics: An Hour a Day") humorously demonstrated the naive assumptions most B2B companies make about visitors to their websites. He compared the eye-catching image of a shirtless Abercrombie & Fitch model to a boring looking website offering network components. "Most B2B companies seem to think their websites are visited by robots," he pointed out. "In reality, the visitors to your website are human. You need to provide motivation and reasons why they should be there."

Avinash's unique ability to interpret human interests through site statistics is legendary in Google circles. Pointing to a 70% bounce rate (typical of many B2B websites), he said, "A high bounce rate means that your website is so bad that people leave immediately. As soon as they see your home page they leave so fast, they won't even give you a click for it." Most companies have not learned to improve metrics like bounce rate. They are unaware of the problem they will have when a competitor figures it out.

Likewise, we listened to a fascinating discussion around online B2B communities. Global Spec, IT Toolbox, and Oracle all have communities where tens of thousands of people actively ask and answer questions. Imagine how valuable the loyalty and application content would be if you could reliably create such a community around your business! A few companies tried and failed to create similar "user communities." Being successful at it clearly requires a kind of customer savvy most businesses don't yet have.

So They Can Shift Gears and Use AdWords
Google's AdWords service (which has only been around for 6 years) is the primary engine of its revenue growth. Yet most businesses do not know how to use it very well. To understand why, consider where most marketers are coming from.

Traditional marketers assume media visibility creates revenue. As a result, most advertising media businesses (yellow pages, radio and television commercials, magazine ads, etc.) expect clients to pay more for greater visibility. As long as this worked, B2B companies could dismiss direct response marketing practices (requiring careful measurement and analysis of response rates to make a profit) as needlessly labor intensive.

However, the pendulum has swung to the other side. U.S. companies now compete with the Japanese (and just about everybody else as well) to sell products. Now, there is a general shortage of customers (rather than products), so companies need to learn to be better at selling, not just manufacturing.

Selling more effectively requires more insight into customers, something AdWords is tailor made to provide. The market intelligence provided by click-through rates in AdWords (and other traffic measuring vehicles, such as Analytics and other products) provides a kind of feedback on why people do-and don't-buy. They enable business to use the direct response principle to experiment with different approaches and learn what works and what doesn't.

Google Shifts Gears to Offer Even More
Originally, if you wanted help from Google, you could you could call, e-mail, or post a question on a Google bulletin board, but you couldn't get much direct support.

Beginning about 2 years ago, Google shifted its strategy and started creating professional account management teams who began proactively seeking out larger customers to offer direct and effective support. Heck, even their smaller customers (I'm a tiny example) have received e-mails from them asking if they can be of assistance.

Now, I'm told, Google's sales and support organization has grown to thousands of people.

Yet Google's challenge is deeper than just getting people to use its platform: To truly profit from the Internet (and maximize their spending with Google), businesses need to improve on an even deeper level. 

They need to take a more scientific approach to their entire sales process.

Why Google Handed Out 100 Copies of "Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way"
On the second day, Google held an "unconference" ... a sort of free time for attendees to decide what they were interested in discussing and do so "PowerPoint free." That's when they handed out copies of my book.

Whether your company wants to:

  • determine "which 50% of the marketing 'budget' is paying off,"
  • understand what your website statistics mean,
  • improve your lead generation,
  • gain the cooperation and support of your sales force ...

You probably need to get better at measuring, analyzing, and improving how you find, win, and keep customers.

Google wants to help you do it. They obviously see a pay-off.

The good news is that the way forward is paved. Chances are, there is a company like yours out there doing it already.

So, what are you waiting for? 

Michael J. Webb
August 12, 2008

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