8 Best Channels for New Audience Acquisition in B2B

By Julian Kramer, Search Marketing Manager

Every B2B marketer will have been faced with the question of which marketing channel to use to reach their ideal buyer audience. The trouble is that there is a multitude of channels to choose from, each with its own advantages and pitfalls. Being able to filter which channels to use for maximum audience impact is therefore an essential skill for marketers. So which criteria should be applied for channel selection?

Don’t worry, we at FBU Towers are here to help educate and enlighten you! We’ve weighted up the pros and cons for the eight most popular channels for B2B acquisition to aide your decision-making. Prepare yourself your favourite hot drink and enjoy!

1. Webinars

Webinars are an excellent way of engaging with your target audience. The basic concept of a webinar is to provide valuable advice or content in a live session which is streamed over the Internet. Webinars typically have a well-planned structure to help the viewer better understand a topic and lead them towards some form of action.

Advantages:

You are in full control of your content and therefore can go into greater detail about your product than you could on a mere landing page. You can engage your audience through interactive polls and by giving a live demo of your product.

Disadvantages:

Webinars usually require a lot of preparation. You might not have the technical or marketing nous to organise a well-planned webinar with all the automated aspects of marketing build-up and follow-up that should go with it. The good news is that specialised agencies can help you to organise and run a successful webinar from scratch.

2. Content Syndication

The concept behind content syndication is that you give valuable content to a specialised third party provider who then obtains leads using the content as a hook, usually through email marketing. Syndication therefore helps increase the exposure your content receives, even if you haven’t already developed a subscriber audience. Do make sure to check the provider’s GDPR compliance credentials before signing on the dotted line.

Advantages:

The content syndication provider will guarantee a specific number of leads for your budget. Cost per lead will be quoted based on your targeting criteria – it will be higher for C-Suite audiences, and it can also vary significantly between different countries.

You can also be very specific about the job titles that should be targeted as part of the campaign.

Disadvantages:

You do not have control over the lead generation process as such, and are therefore dependent on the provider to be able to draw the audience you desire. You don’t have the same visibility to the data as you would in your own campaigns and so might be missing opportunities for enhancement.

3. Google Ads – Search

Google search advertising is based on a set of keywords which you specify in your account which are then matched with the search terms people are typing in on Google. To get the most out of Google ads you should put sufficient time in upfront for keyword analysis to make sure you know which commonly-searched terms best relate to your content.

Advantages:

You can test different keyword variations to see which searches are giving your product or service the best traction. You have complete control over the entire lead generation process, from testing different keywords and ad variations to trying out different landing page variations.

Disadvantages:

It is hard to predict what cost per lead you are going to get until you are actually running your campaign, especially if you have never done so before. Without proper planning and budgeting, you risk exposing yourself to higher costs than you would have anticipated.

Also, if you sell a very niche product it can be hard to get enough search volume in which case you need to start thinking a bit more laterally and use more generic keywords. However, it is best to use keywords which are as closely matched to your product as possible. Otherwise, you will set wrong expectations and end up paying over the odds, as Google penalises advertises for what it deems irrelevant advertising by charging a higher cost per click.

4. Google Ads – Display

You can use text or banner ads which Google either places algorithmically on what it deems relevant websites (tread carefully with this: several high-profile brands have found their ads placed on sites displaying explicit or extremist material without their knowledge!) or else you can pick your placements individually.

Advantages:

This will be your go-to channel if you have little or no brand recognition in a market. Google display advertising offers wide reach on a variety of digital properties including websites and apps. It allows you to combine a number of targeting options including keywords, topics and in-market audiences.

You can also exclude underperforming placements and whole categories of websites, for example sites containing content that’s deemed inappropriate such as sexually suggestive, tragedy and conflict, profanity and rough language etc. This is an important aspect in protecting your brand’s reputation.

Disadvantages:

This is not the most refined approach to targeting your best audience and so you may find yourself going too broad and subsequently receiving little engagement. For example, in Google display advertising you have no way of specifically targeting senior IT decision-makers and are therefore reliant on your keywords and topics hitting the right job roles.

5. LinkedIn – Sponsored Content

LinkedIn remains the most popular professional-oriented social network. With this form of advertising you sponsor a specific post on LinkedIn so that it goes out to as many people in your targeted audience as possible.

Advantages:

LinkedIn gives a number of targeting options which are specifically tailored to B2B marketing. For example, you can target by job title, company size, seniority or education level, giving you a greater level of confidence that your content and messages are reaching your prospective buyers.

Disadvantages:

LinkedIn is one of the more expensive B2B marketing channels, with cost-per-click rates (CPCs) going up year after year. This should be factored into your budgeting from the beginning, or else you may find you receive a nasty shock when it comes to campaign evaluation. Furthermore, compared to Google you may find that the LinkedIn ad set up can be a little fiddly, though LinkedIn has made strides recently to improve this.

6. LinkedIn – Sponsored InMail

In a nutshell, InMail is a customised message which is delivered straight to the LinkedIn message inbox of your target audience. You do not need to have a prior connection with this person, allowing you to reach those out of your current professional network.

Advantages:

You have decidedly more space for your message than you would have in a Google ad or a LinkedIn sponsored post (up to 200 characters in the subject line and up to 2,000 characters in the body). This means you have a greater opportunity to explain why you are contacting them and why your product, service or event is relevant to them. You have all the usual LinkedIn B2B targeting options at your disposal (job title, company size etc.) and so can ensure that your emails are carefully tailored for your desired audience.

Disadvantages:

As with LinkedIn’s sponsored content service, InMail sits on the pricier side of the B2B marketing channels. Essentially, you have to pay a premium for more granular targeting options.

7. Twitter – Website Cards

On Twitter you typically target people based on whom they are following – e.g. if you are selling products or services in data security then you could target followers of key data security influencers, security media or followers of your competitors.

Advantages:

Twitter operates with fairly low CPCs compared to the other marketing channels. Twitter is one of the biggest social networks worldwide with more than 336 million monthly active users worldwide.

Disadvantages:

Twitter does not provide the detailed targeting options that LinkedIn offers. The social networking site typically captures less contextual information about its users, and therefore is limited in terms of accuracy or targeting.

8. Banner advertising – one of the major trade journals in your vertical

Most industries tend to have one or more publications that report specifically on the sector, bringing regular visits and subscriptions from interested professionals. Advertising on these sites is a good way of raising awareness of your product or service with the right audience. You buy an advertising slot directly through the publication’s sales team and most bigger publications have readily available rate cards.

Advantages:

You can be sure to reach people in the vertical you are aiming for, therefore limiting the element of ‘waste’ in your campaigns. You will get exposure for a guaranteed cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM).

Disadvantages:

With banner advertising you have no way of targeting by seniority, meaning you cannot be sure whether the buyers and decision-makers are actually consuming your content. Some publications have minimum spend requirements which can be a put-off to some advertisers. Moreover, you can only really know what cost per lead you are going to get once you actually start to advertise, and rates can differ significantly from advertiser to advertiser. This makes accurate budgeting quite tricky.

Finding the right channels for your marketing

In summary, your choice of B2B marketing channel depends on a number of factors including your marketing budget and expertise, your cost per lead targets and your target audience.

Here is a quick reminder of the pros and cons of each of the channels:

  • Webinars: excellent for engaging your audience but require advanced MarTech skills
  • Content syndication: gives you guaranteed number of leads for your budget, however control of the full marketing funnel is out of your hands
  • Google Ads – Search: leaves you in full control of your marketing funnel but no guaranteed results
  • Google Ads – Display: gives you wide reach, but limited targeting options
  • LinkedIn – Sponsored Content: great B2B targeting options but comparatively high CPCs
  • LinkedIn – Sponsored InMail: gives you ample space for customised messaging but again not the cheapest option
  • Twitter – Website Cards: no specific B2B targeting options but low CPCs
  • Banner advertising in trade journals: will get you in front of the right vertical but not as targeted as LinkedIn; can have high minimum spend.

 

TWITTER’S 280 CHARACTERS, WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR BRANDS?

You may have noticed recently, social media network Twitter has allowed all users to write up to 280 characters in a tweet, doubling the original 140 character limit. This was an intriguing move from Twitter, given that it has built its brand on users sharing content in this bitesize form.

Users’ reaction to this move has been mixed, with a lot of people mentioning the fact the most requested feature – to be able to edit tweets – has been ignored and has instead been replaced with a feature no one has asked for. You can see in this article that people were quick to utilise the 280 characters to express their desire for an ‘edit’ button.

“All we wanted was an edit button”

Upon announcing the expanded limit, Twitter rolled out the update to a select few users for a trial period, before rolling it out to the masses. Their findings helped them justify the update and it is now here to stay. Here is what Twitter had to say when it was eventually rolled out to everyone last week:

Tweeting made easier.

The justification for the update are all fair – we have all at some point had to try and make some grammatical sin when we’ve hit the character limit. Also, when you are curating content, trying to stick to the 116 character limit is always a challenge. Twitter released their findings here:

Giving you more characters to express yourself

Now you are probably wondering, as a B2B marketer, how you can best utilise the 280 characters to take your Twitter game to the next level. There are a few things you can do, but you also have to be wary of how it could damage your brand, if not done right.

It is probably not the best idea to try to reach the 280 character limit in every single tweet. Not only does this create more work for yourself, but this could actually be quite damaging to your brand. With Twitter content being produced in a greater volume and regularity, there is so much content being shared on people’s feeds. Twitter recently shifted to an algorithmic feed, rather than a chronological one (unless you use Tweetdeck) meaning that users will only see content from people they are regularly interacting with. If your tweets are constantly hitting the 280 limit, users may not pay attention to the whole tweet and potentially skip past it. This will happen more regularly as more users start to use the expanded tweet limit.

Choose your use of the limit carefully. For many of the reasons above, you should try to avoid bombarding your followers with 280 character tweets, but it can also be very useful if used sparingly and with good intent. If you want to see some good and bad ways that brands have used the limit so far, this list will give you all the examples you need:

Other than being careful with your use of the new limit, I think it is a fantastic way for brands to expand the way they communicate their messages to their followers. Ensure your content is still focused and relevant, but at least now you will have more flexibility with the content you post.

If you would like to have a chat with us about how your brand can best utilise social channels, and the new 280 Twitter limit, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

LEAD YOUR PAID MEDIA PLANNING WITH COST PER LEAD

Here’s the story of the ultimate chicken and egg in the world of paid media lead generation: how do you forecast your cost per lead (CPL) when you don’t have any historical account data as a benchmark?

Let’s establish why it’s important to set firm CPL targets in the first place, even where no prior data exists. First, a concrete plan to achieve expected revenue or profit goals will focus everyone’s mind and provide a tangible target to work towards. Including a CPL target is an integral part of this plan – after all, if you don’t have this defined there is very little basis determining the level of budget you should be using to achieve your business targets.

Planning any paid media campaign without a CPL target is like driving blind (and without any sat nav to guide you).

There are numerous blog posts and other sources on the internet which will at least give you a rough idea of a typical CPL benchmark for your vertical, or tap into your LinkedIn network or peer groups to get hold of this information.

A second important aspect to note here is that CPL varies considerably by channel for instance, across AdWords, Bing Ads, LinkedIn or Twitter advertising, so don’t assume one size CPL fits all. Thirdly, consider the type of brief your paid media campaign is working to – prospecting will require a much bigger investment per lead than remarketing. And fourth and finally, do make sure your conversion tracking is set up correctly before your campaign launches.

Once you have worked out this detail it is critical to devise a good strategy for how you are actually going to achieve your CPL target – for example by continuously adjusting your bids based on campaign performance, so that you are not paying top dollar for traffic which doesn’t deliver on efficient conversion.

Fast forward a week or two: you’ve written your battle plan including a CPL target; you have launched your campaign – now you can use the data that is streaming in to resolve initial challenges, helping you to troubleshoot and fix them early on in the campaign cycle. For example, is your CPL a lot higher than you had anticipated? Is this driven by a particularly costly but under-performing keyword? Are you using engaging and relevant ad copy? Are you making it as easy as possible for your potential customers to turn into a lead?

Based on the performance data the forecasting should be adjusted on a quarterly or ideally monthly basis. There will be external factors such as advertiser competition which will affect your cost per click (CPC) and ultimately your CPL, so it is, therefore, important to tweak your targets and be as relevant and realistic with it.

It’s a simple story, in the end, to plan based on CPL. But don’t just make yours a work of fiction – bear in mind that an ambitious CPL target can spur you on, but an unrealistic is more often counterproductive for you and the business in the end.

INBOUND 17: ‘DON’T EMBRACE THE FUTURE, CHARGE INTO IT.’

After a motivational and inspirational day one at Inbound 2017, I had high hopes for day two. Particularly since it began with a keynote Q&A from Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama was everything I hoped she’d be: funny, inspirational, strong and emotive. However (and I will come back to her), from a business perspective, it was Bozoma Saint John (Uber’s Chief Brand Officer) and Larry Kim (Wordstream founder and Mobile Monkey CEO) who stole the show for me.

There’s been a common theme throughout the conference. Modern marketing must be emotive and original. Today was no different.

Here’s my Inbound 2017 day two highlights:

Brands are people. They have personalities, perspectives, feelings and a future’ – Bozoma Saint John, Uber

“I want to make sure that my existence here changes the course for the future of diversity and inclusion.” A strong start from the Chief Brand Officer of Uber! She’s at the top of the game. Her CV (including Apple and PepsiCo) speaks for itself. And her latest task is turning Uber into a brand that people love as much as Apple.

She says that she has begun that by starting with human emotion. ‘It’s what drives us to be our best selves’, she said. It’s what drives our decision-making. Brands that excel make us feel something, like empowerment or inspiration. She wants Uber to become the most dependable way to take customers home.

Her message is powerful but simple: ‘As a brand marketer, my goal is to feel a commonality with an audience.

‘98% of marketing efforts go nowhere’ – Larry Kim, Mobile Monkey

My second highlight was the session with Larry Kim, founder of Wordstream and current CEO of Mobile Monkey. His session was about getting great results across every marketing channel, or as he called it, ‘unicorn marketing’.

He began with a story about a test he did last year. He wrote 300 blog posts and then measured them. Only eight performed well (he called these ‘unicorns’), the others were ‘donkeys’. These eight stories generated over 60% of his overall traffic.

Larry Kim’s story had a purpose. He wanted to showcase that when you find a ‘unicorn’, you have to jump on board and row as fast as you can! Why? Because top performing content boosts engagement rates. Higher engagement rates mean lower cost per engagement on social channels (and improved visibility as social algorithms reward engaging content), more click-throughs and openings on email (which, in turn, positively effects spam filters), and better conversion rates. The message is clear – promote quality content.

So, what does he suggest? Find the top 3 campaigns and then rework them. If a piece of content did well on one medium, it would likely do well on another. Turn it into another piece of content on another channel (byline article, social post, video, infographic, etc.). Alternatively, do a follow-up story, which explores the topic in greater detail. Or, a webinar on the subject and, if the webinar goes well, rinse and repeat. His theory on ‘unicorn marketing’ is simple: less work, but better results.

As he said, ‘85% of the value of your marketing campaigns comes from 5% of the campaigns’.

‘A repeat of a winning campaign will always outperform a new campaign.’

People are exposed to adverts every 2.7 seconds they are awake’ – Jeff Rosenblum

Interruptive adverts no longer work the way they used to. People are exposed to ads every 2.7 seconds they are awake, and receive 5000 brand messages per day. It’s overload. Jeff Rosenblum spoke about the changing face of customer engagement. Spoiler alert – it’s been a common theme throughout this conference.

He discussed a neuroscience experiment called ‘repetition suppression’, which highlights how today’s audiences simply ‘turn off’ when repeatedly faced with a brand message. As the above stat shows, this is happening way too much.

What, then, is the solution? ‘Fighting friction is a better way’. This is when businesses focus on helping people fulfil their hopes, dreams and aspirations. ‘It’s about improving lives one small step at a time’. What he means is businesses shifting from transactional relationships to emotional ones.

He describes the benefits of this pretty nicely:

Emotional relationships are irrational in the most positive of ways. An emotional audience interacts with the brand like it’s their best friend, and this relationship produces the most irrational results.

This session hammered home, once more, the point about creating immersive stories. It isn’t about injecting products into the story. If you weren’t convinced and still think you should focus on ‘product, product and more product’:

‘Brands who focus on empowering people outperform the competition by 8x.

Here are a couple more quotes I related to:

People are numb to something that doesn’t break the rules’ – Brit Marling, actresses, writer and producer

‘Regular content marketing doesn’t always work. You need to learn how to stand out. Share what’s unique to your business’ – Garrett Moon, CoSchedule

‘Businesses who have lost their way communicate like zombies. What’s the most common zombie trait? Being indistinguishable from competitors and losing identity’ – Julie Lellis, Elon University

I’ll end my day two recap where I started: The incredible Michelle Obama.

I was so engrossed during her Q&A that I barely noticed the time. However, a few things stuck and I think us marketers can all learn some valuable lessons from her:

‘If you’re going to lead, lead with grace and compassion.’

‘Don’t embrace the future, charge into it.’

‘A dark time is probably the most important period of growth you’ll ever have.’

‘Understand that each failure and crushing blow only makes you stronger.’

‘Have exceptional empathy.’

‘Stop, breathe, think, and reflect.’

‘Be authentic and stay true to yourself.’

Stay tuned for day three tomorrow and check out our video recap for more highlights.

 

 

IS BING DIGITAL ADVERTISING GAINING GROUND ON GOOGLE?

The digital advertising space has become very competitive over the last few years. As more and more advertisers weigh in and Cost per Click’s (CPCs) are rising, marketers are looking for viable alternatives to the behemoth that is Google.

Bing Ads has emerged as an attractive contender for many who are looking for a high return on ad spend and comparatively low CPCs.

Here is a quick recap of how Bing Ads evolved(1): Microsoft was the last of the “big three” search engines (the two others being Google and Yahoo!) to develop its system for delivering PPC ads. Until the beginning of 2006, all of the ads displayed on Microsoft’s MSN Search engine were supplied by Overture (and later Yahoo!).

As search marketing grew, Microsoft began developing its system, MSN adCenter, for selling PPC advertisements directly to advertisers. As the system was phased in, MSN Search (now Bing) showed Yahoo! and adCenter advertising in its search results. In June 2006, the contract between Yahoo! and Microsoft expired and Microsoft was displaying only ads from adCenter until 2010.

In January 2010, Microsoft announced a deal in which it would take over the functional operation of Yahoo! Search, and set up a joint venture to sell advertising on both Yahoo! Search and Bing, known as the Microsoft Search Alliance. A complete transition of all Yahoo! sponsored ad clients to Microsoft adCenter occurred in October 2010.

On 10 September 2012, adCenter was renamed Bing Ads, and the Search Alliance renamed the Yahoo! Bing Network.

In April 2015, the Yahoo! partnership was modified; Yahoo! Search now only has to feature Bing results on the “majority” of desktop traffic. Additionally, Microsoft took over as the exclusive seller of ads delivered through Bing; Yahoo! now sells its ads through its in-house Gemini platform.

In September 2016 Comscore reported that Bing had surpassed 20 per cent market share in the UK, outpacing Google for growth, making it a force to be reckoned with for UK digital marketers (2).

Setting up campaigns on Bing used to be cumbersome and laborious, but that is a thing of the past now with the capability to easily and quickly import campaigns from Google AdWords. A word of warning though: not all campaign types offered on AdWords are also supported on Bing Ads, for example, Dynamic Search Ads or Smart Display campaigns. Remarketing lists can also not simply be shared between the two platforms. I have also found that daily budgets are not always imported correctly. Apart from these caveats, this functionality is a great time-saver.

When it comes to editing the campaigns once they have been imported, the latest version of Bing Ad Editor is also fast and intuitive to use. So even for the most task-rich, time-poor digital marketer, there are quick wins here, and a few hours spent copying your most profitable campaigns over to Bing could be a very shrewd investment.

 

Sources

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bing_Ads#cite_note-tc-changes-14, accessed on 5 September 2017
(2) http://www.netimperative.com/2016/09/bing-gains-google-20-uk-market-share/, accessed on 5 September 2017

3 IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR FIRST PPC CAMPAIGN

While Paid Per Click (PPC) might be sounding more fantastic by the minute — not so fast! If you think you’re ready to dive into the world of PPC, here are a few considerations to explore before you start:

1 – You need to know your product
To sell a product successfully you should know it well. Your landing page needs to reflect that knowledge. Your goal is to build trust with potential customers. If you don’t know your product well then how can you sell that product to others?

2 – Harvest local keywords
Keyword research should reflect the local culture of your target market. It is important to understand which words have the most positive association and are the most “clickable” in the given context and location. The best way is to capture actual search queries and turn those into effective keywords.

3 – Focus on the right metrics.
Lack of tracking or focusing on the wrong metrics can be detrimental to any campaign. Regardless of industry and business type, tracking, analysis and testing should always form a big part of the equation. Without these components, a PPC campaign can easily fail.

So, are you beginning to see how PPC is a viable marketing channel for your brand? Even if you’ve never done it before, throw caution to the wind and test it out in 2017.

If you are thinking about implementing a PPC campaign and aren’t sure of the best way to do so, drop us a line at hello@hitfirstbase.com and we’ll be happy to have a chat with you.