‘BtoB’ NetMarketing panelists tackle lead generation, content issues

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Chicago—Tracking online lead generation is still a challenge for many marketers, but panelists who spoke Tuesday at BtoB’s NetMarketing Breakfast said that providing useful content and listening to users will produce better results.

Mark Freeman of Caterpillar Inc.’s eChannel Strategy & Services division said that through usability tests he found that 60% of the Web site’s content was not adding value for users and that the company’s search keywords did not match what users were searching for.

Freeman simplified the content and changed some company product labels, such as “track-type tractor” to “bulldozer,” to align with the search terms most commonly used. After the keyword changes, Caterpillar saw a 745% increase in organic searches for several of its major products from last September to April. He said his challenge now is to apply the approach to the manufacturer’s 200-plus product lines.

Cliff Langston, director of global marketing at Sigma-Aldrich, also noted the need for sophisticated search systems—the biochemical company sells more than 100,000 products—as well as the need to think differently about content in a Web 2.0 world. “[You have to] unobtrusively link content to products,” he said.

Panelists said Internet marketing isn’t just about putting content online but also testing ideas and finding out which ones users respond to.

Jason Ferrara, VP-corporate marketing at, said the site listened to ideas from jobseekers and used the information to better serve employers.

For the past six months, has been testing videos designed to show prospective employees what a company is like. Ferrara said those videos are a way to start a conversation, but added that “it’s not such a big deal” if they don’t work. He listed various failed efforts at but said each taught him more about user behavior.

One idea that did work for was A/B testing of its home page, which resulted in a 7% increase in conversion. “It’s not that expensive and not risky [to test ideas],” Ferrara said. “The idea is being agile enough to say, ‘That’s an interesting idea.'”

The fourth panelist at the breakfast event, Richard Long, manager of database and interactive marketing at USG Corp., described an integrated on- and offline lead-generation campaign.

—Chi-an Chang

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