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Marketers reach out to buyers during various stages of the decision-making process, but which times are most effective when it comes to closing the deal? Furthermore, which tactics have the biggest payoff?

RAIN Group recently conducted the “5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked” to gain insight into which marketing tactics are most efficient. Most customers (80 percent) stated that they prefer to be contacted via email during the buying process. This was compared to just 49 percent who said they preferred cold calls, and 36 percent who said direct mail.

Note: In the above graphic, the green bar represents responses from buyers and the navy bar is responses from sellers.

In terms of timing, most buyers (71 percent) stated that they prefer to hear from sellers when they’re in the process of looking for new ideas to improve their business. Sixty-two percent said they want to hear from them when they’re actively looking for a solution to a problem.

When it comes to closing the deal, the majority of buyers (96 percent) claim that their purchase decision is “moderately/very/extremely” influenced by marketers who focus on the value they can deliver. Ninety-three percent are influenced by a willingness to collaborate, while 92 percent like to be educated on new ideas and perspectives.

B2B Marketing Toward Customer Preferences

B2B marketers, in particular, have needed to change the way they reach out to customers with content during the buying process as well.

The “2017 Content Preferences Survey Report” from Demand Gen Report discovered that 46 percent of B2B buyers have moved toward shorter forms of content in the past. One-third claim that they now have less time to devote toward research during the buying process than they did in the past.

Approximately 71 percent of buyers say they want marketing content to be easier to access. Nearly 67 percent want to see more data and research supporting marketing content.

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If you visit the About Us page on our website, you will notice text on the left-hand side that reads, “Our Mission: Deliver strategic online marketing programs tailored to maximize results.” While this sentence does indeed capture what it is we strive to accomplish across clients, there is one word that stands out and truly makes a difference: tailored.

Tailoring B2B online marketing programs to meet and exceed client expectations is at the core of what we do at KoMarketing, but accomplishing this requires internal legwork and alignment with our clients.

While there are many steps necessary to execute a truly-tailored B2B online marketing strategy on behalf of our clients, I’ve outlined a few of the most critical below.

Complete a Client Discovery Questionnaire

Before we provide strategic online marketing recommendations to our clients, we first ask them to answer a series of inquiries that are listed in our questionnaire. This document serves as the bedrock of the program, as it allows us to gather critical information pertaining to the client’s business and industry. We frequently refer back to this document as we get the online marketing program launched.

Here is some of the information we request from each of our clients at the beginning of the program:

  • Overview of Business – company history, competitive advantages, key products and services, etc.
  • Target Buyers – roles and titles, experience level, purchasing decision-making ability.
  • Existing Keyword Strategy – top 10-15 focus keyword terms that are currently being utilized.
  • List of Top Competitors – those that compete in search as well as general business (these are not always the same).
  • Lead Generation Tactics and Lead Scoring Model – key benchmarks for leads to move through the sales funnel.
  • Reporting Tools and Goals – Analytics programs currently being used and existing KPIs.
Gather Buyer Personas and Data

Delivering a tailored online marketing program is impossible without fully understanding who the audience is and which members of that audience are likely to invest in the products or services. While B2B buyers across industries share some similarities, it is critical to get to know the client’s specific buyers at a granular level to ensure content and other online marketing efforts are hitting the mark.

We recently partnered with a client that shared a wealth of buyer persona insights with us. Some of the buyer persona data shared included:

  • Existing Buying Process
  • Decision Criteria
  • Barriers to Success
  • Success Factors

Asking questions and examining this data has allowed us to pinpoint buyer needs and ensure all of our efforts are speaking to buyer needs and existing pain points.

Schedule a Product Demo

By the time we gather information from the initial discovery questionnaire and buyer persona insights, we have a wealth of data at our disposal about the business and target audience. While this is a solid foundation, we must also understand the ins and outs of our clients’ products and services beneath the surface level. Enter product demonstrations.

Sure, product demos are classically designed for the seller’s prospects. However, to deliver tailored online marketing programs, we must act as the buyer and have an understanding of the client’s capabilities and points of differentiation. Having a client present a product demonstration allows our team to see the products or services in action and ask questions pertaining to the business that may not have come up without seeing the demo.

Obtain Brand Guidelines

As an online marketing program vendor, it is our responsibility to ensure we are adhering to the brand guidelines of our clients. Before we begin making website recommendations or writing website content, we always ask for existing brand guidelines documents. These documents typically include factors such as:

  • Logo Variations / Usage
  • Font
  • Color Schemes
  • Brand Voice
  • Points of Organizational Emphasis

Having brand guidelines for reference allows us to make recommendations or create new assets with confidence that they align with existing content or messaging living on the website or across other digital channels.

Read, Read, and Read Some More

All of the above steps are crucial to take when it comes to preparing to execute a successful online marketing program. However, as the saying goes, “knowledge is power.” Client websites are a goldmine for other key information that may not have been covered throughout the above-mentioned steps. It’s important to read through all sections of the website, and it’s probably a good idea to spend some extra time in the resources section. This is where we typically access knowledge-building assets such as:

  • Case Studies – learn more about the client’s existing relationships with customers and how they serve each of them on an individual level.
  • White papers – absorb knowledge about industry best practices and specific use cases.
  • Data Sheets – learn the ins and outs of the performance and other technical characteristics of the product or service.
Final Thoughts

As a vendor of truly-tailored online marketing programs, it is essential for us to become experts on our clients’ products or services and fully-aligned with existing marketing and business strategies. Without doing so, our efforts would be vanilla and the results would reflect just that. In today’s competitive online marketing landscape, it takes much more than “out of the box” strategies to succeed.

Feel free to drop a comment below or connect with me on Twitter to keep this conversation going!

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As C-level executives begin to see the value of data and analytics, new research suggests that they are striving for high-quality information to achieve their business initiatives.

Recently, Experian conducted “The 2018 Global Data Management Benchmark Report” to gain more insight into how executives are utilizing data to their advantage. At the time of the report, the majority of respondents (52 percent) said that they believed data and analytics would provide “a key source of opportunity in the coming years.”

Many of the respondents believed that data and analytics were already giving them strategic advantages. Most (61 percent) stated that it was enhancing their relationships with customers, and 59 percent said it was giving them better insight for decision-making. Fifty-seven percent claimed that it was making for more efficient business practices.

Moving forward, 52 percent of respondents said they would like to maintain high-quality data to increase overall efficiency. Forty percent said they believed it could improve cost savings, while 39 percent stated that it could potentially help them protect their company’s brand or reputation.

Marketers’ Use of First-Party Data

Marketers are gaining insight into more data and analytics, but how is it helping them achieve their top objectives?

Katana recently conducted a survey to determine how B2B marketers were utilizing data to enhance their overall strategies. The majority of respondents (80 percent) said they were now collecting and incorporating first-party data into their marketing efforts.

About 88 percent of marketers claimed they were utilizing first-party data, in particular, for retargeting purposes. This was followed by email (60 percent), banners (60 percent), and mobile (51 percent).

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We have discussed marketing automation on the KoMarketing blog and industry news section several times, including speaking to how important it is, how to create content around it, and why so many marketers still use it as it improves performance.

Even though marketing automation can be an effective way to reach more customers faster, there are some times where it doesn’t make sense and can actually cause a poor customer experience. This is usually because the automated response isn’t what the customer is looking for, leading them to become even more frustrated, confused, or even angry.

In the below sections, we’ll discuss when B2B marketing automation is NOT a good idea, and what you should be doing instead.

Customer Service

Customer service has transitioned to helping customers on platforms that go beyond the phone. Social media, and Facebook in particular, is becoming one of the more popular ways consumers are looking to reach out to businesses, no matter the industry.

According to Pew Research Center, 68 percent of all adults in the United States use Facebook. This is an overwhelming majority and makes Facebook a huge leader against all other main social networks (for perspective, only 25 percent use LinkedIn). Ever since Facebook debuted its new Messenger platform and review options for business pages, customers have been using the social network to connect to businesses with complaints, questions, or praise.

Facebook allows businesses to automate some of the messaging process with consumers by allowing Instant Replies and bots to try to solve user queries automatically. The thought behind this is that if more customer issues could be solved with AI, then businesses would need less employees to answer common questions.

While this works for many types of businesses, B2B customers typically expect a higher level of support than an automated message. So instead of setting up an automated reply on Facebook messenger or email, consider setting up the proper resources to allow your support team to answer questions quicker, but with a human touch. Online customer support platforms like Zendesk and Freshdesk present customer inquiries in a intuitive format that makes it easier for employees to respond. This can give customers the human touch they are looking for, and helps employees answer more queries in less time, thus allowing them to help more people.

Website Outreach

If you have any type of blog on your website, you’ve probably been inundated with canned emails asking for links or guest post opportunities so they can submit content. While it does require a human to actually send the emails (if they haven’t put you on a mailing list without your permission to further automate it), the text itself is very automated. Many times the person will plug in your website’s name and link to their prepared email before sending. This allows him or her to send hundreds of emails per day.

While this method of reaching out to websites and blogs for exposure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it needs to be done correctly and with special attention paid to each individual blog owner. Reaching hundreds of website owners per day is useless if none of them respond because their name is spelled wrong, your content doesn’t match their website topic, or they can obviously tell your email is the same one that’s sent to everyone on your target list.

When it comes to targeting websites and influencers for campaigns or guest blogs, it should be quality over quantity. Creating a great relationship with one website that is visited by your target audience is better than partnerships with less reputable websites that really don’t get much traffic.

Trying to use canned, unspecific messages to build relationships, whether it’s outreach or sales, is going to eventually come back to haunt you. At best, you’ll get ignored, but at worst, you’ll make people mad and they won’t want anything to do with you.

Take this actual example I received for my business website, which does digital marketing:

I ignored the email but got a follow-up email from him a few days later. It made me mad because it was a canned email, my website has nothing to do with personal finance, and he used my old business name, which I haven’t used in almost a year (and is no longer mentioned anywhere on my website except to mention that it’s now Six Stories). This resulted in a snippy reply back from me:

While the people you’re targeting might not be as direct and short as I was to “Tom,” the point is, if people aren’t responding to your emails, they aren’t interested. Instead of trying to automate the process of building relationships, try hunkering down and just getting to know people genuinely first, through an introduction or social media, before asking them for something that doesn’t benefit them or their business. Most people are unlikely to respond to a request for something if they don’t know the person or see an immediate benefit.

Ad Creation

Ad creation is another aspect of B2B marketing that necessitates a human touch. This point may be contentious to some, but when it comes to B2B, automated ad creation likely may be a waste a budget and time. Facebook, Google, and other platforms offer dynamic ad creation, which basically takes the keyword the user is searching for and inserts it into an ad that is pre-written to fit any query in a specific category. While it works perfectly for many consumer queries, like this example for “nordic walking poles” from Amazon:

When you click on the ad, it takes you to the product search page for “nordic walking poles,” which is presumably what a customer wants with that type of query.

However, for some user queries, dynamic ads just don’t work. Either the landing page doesn’t give the user the information they are looking for, or it makes them work harder just to find what they want. Take this example for “buy copier” which brings up an ad for OfficeDepot:

When you click on the link, it takes you to a page about all-in-one printers that are also copiers:

We can presume that when someone is searching for “buy copier” they want a copy machine, not an all-in-one printer. This is a good example of a potential B2B query that has completely missed the mark with dynamic ad insertion.

While dynamic ads can help save time for some websites (like e-commerce sites that have matching product search result pages), for others, they just don’t work. Depending on your industry, you may reach more customers by creating more ads manually with a broader keyword list. Even if your ads don’t match the user’s search query exactly, you likely have a higher chance for a click if it better matches what they are really looking for. This example of “virtual assistant services” ads showcases that:

All of these ads have a higher likelihood of matching a user’s query and intent than a dynamic ad may have, depending on ad copy and landing page.

Data Review

When it comes to data collection, it’s perfectly OK (and encouraged!) to automate the process. Sending automated reports is a great way to save time while ensuring that data continues to be sent to the right people. But where this often falls apart is the “review” part of the process.

Automated reports can save us time (QuillEngage is a great example of an automated report that explains data in layman terms), but what is important about that data is what we do with it after the fact. There are some platforms that allow you to automate decisions based on data, such as those mentioned in this AI tool roundup by DailySEOBlog. While AI can certainly help us as marketers get menial tasks done more quickly (e.g. transfer content across platforms, or email reports), some aspects of marketing just shouldn’t be left to AI.

For instance, let’s say a client is seeing a drop in time on site for their top target country. Looking at that data alone, AI would likely choose from a list of potential causes, such as site speed, content (e.g. is it optimized for country-specific keywords), or site errors. However, if the AI makes a change based on this list and nothing changes, we still have the same problem with no end in sight. An experienced marketer’s eye can look at the campaigns run, what’s happening in the country, and feedback from customers to make more educated decisions about what to change on a website.

Another example would be those automated “SEO audits” that SEO tool platforms offer. These check for a variety of issues your site may have, such as missing title attributes or an incorrect sitemap. What these won’t tell you is how your content, design, and website as a whole looks like to a potential customer. You may get 100% on an SEO audit from an AI perspective, but the website content may be boring and the navigation clunky. These types of issues are impossible to diagnose without a marketer manually reviewing what could be wrong.

Automation That Hasn’t Been Tested Before

This should go without saying, but I’m still amazed at the number of emails, bot messages, and marketing campaigns I see that are clearly automated. Before launching an automation sequence, whether it’s a bot or an email drip campaign, make sure it’s reviewed and tested by real people.

For example, a clothing website I enjoy automatically connected me with their Facebook bot since I log into their site with my Facebook account. This bot automatically tells me when I’ve placed an order, when it’s shipped, etc. While I appreciate the sentiment behind this (e.g. the customer wants to know the status of their order from purchase to delivery), it doesn’t mean I want to be receiving automated messages I didn’t manually opt into. In addition to order updates, the website bot was also sending me promotional campaigns.

While this could have been successful for the company overall (and I’m sure it varies by industry), I wonder if they did any sort of A/B testing or asked for feedback from actual customers before rolling it out to all customers.

When you are automating any part of your process, go through it like an actual customer. Place a real order or complete a lead generation form to see what the process is like for an actual customer. Looking at it from their perspective, you may notice annoyances or issues in the process that actually makes it more frustrating, not easier.

Once you think you’ve ironed out the process, ask a few real customers to try it out and get their responses. If it’s something on your website, you can use a testing service like UserTesting.com or even recruit testers on sites like Fiverr or ask local organizations if anyone is willing to try it out for a free product. You may be amazed at the feedback you receive when you simply ask.

After all, I have never told that clothing company I disliked the bot, I simply put it on mute. They can likely tell that I’m not interested in promotions because I’ve never clicked on a bot link, but otherwise, they may think I “don’t mind” the service when, in actuality, it has decreased my order frequency just because they never asked my permission in the first place.

Automation is supposed to make our work as marketers easier, but is it really worth it if it doesn’t give the customer a better experience? Before implementing any automated systems into your marketing, make sure it makes customer experience quicker, easier, and better, instead of setting it up simply because are able to.

Screenshots taken February 2018. Featured image via Pixabay.

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Marketers now turn to data and analytics to get a clearer picture of their target audience, but how are they integrating this information into their overall strategy?

Katana recently wanted to determine how marketers’ use of data was helping their efforts to achieve top objectives. Researchers conducted a survey of B2B marketers to better understand their first-party data collection methods, management, and implementation. They discovered that 80 percent of B2B marketers now collect and incorporate first-party data in their marketing efforts.

Typically, most marketers (88 percent) use first-party data for retargeting purposes. This was followed by email (60 percent), banners (60 percent), and mobile (51 percent).

“These results show that there may be a knowledge gap and a missed opportunity to build omnichannel targeting into client campaigns,” wrote Sutheshna Mani, content marketing and social media specialist at Katana. “It’s best practice to layer first-party data into all targeting tactics and not just a siloed line item in a media plan for ‘retargeting’ efforts.”

For their overall digital marketing efforts, 28 percent of respondents claimed they leverage first-party data across all channels.

Improving Data Quality for More Marketing Success

Marketers now have an abundance of data at their fingertips, but previous research suggests that they still have a long way to go in terms of quality.

According to the “Marketing Data Quality Trends” report from Ascend2, most marketers (62 percent) agree that improving data quality is essential to developing a successful marketing data strategy.

This is followed by improving marketing data analytics (45 percent), integrating sales and marketing data (44 percent) and improving the user experience (43 percent).

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As marketers continue to see the benefits associated with digital video content, new research suggests that they are becoming more invested in branded video.

Trusted Media Brands recently conducted the “Digital Video Outlook: Is Branded Video the New Pre-Roll?” survey to gauge how much marketers are investing in this form of content. The statistics showed that over one-quarter of advertising budgets are now going toward digital video. Over the next 12 months, 35 percent of respondents intend to increase their creation and distribution spending on branded video.

“Despite the expense of producing content and the complex distribution landscape, there is more optimism around branded video spending versus pre/mid/post roll (35 percent will increase spending on creation or distribution of branded video in the next 12 months vs. 28 percent for pre/mid/post roll) — and 33 percent will increase spend on publisher produced content,” stated the authors of the report.

Marketers are also seeing benefits associated with publishing on social platforms as well. Audience targeting capabilities (49 percent), engagement (49 percent) and ease of distribution (35 percent) were named some of the top advantages.

When distributing video content on premium publisher sites, the majority of marketers (39 percent) stated that the key benefit was being able to do so in a brand safe environment. Overall, marketers agreed that premium publishers deliver in terms of performance and ROI.

Increasing Investment in Video Marketing Content

Both customers and marketers are turning to video content at higher rates, according to recent research.

Wyzowl recently conducted “The State of Video Marketing 2018” survey and discovered that the average customer now watches more than an hour-and-a-half of online video content per day. This year, interactive video adoption is expected to increase from 1-in-5 marketers to almost 1-in-3.

About 81 percent of companies claimed that they are already using video content as a marketing asset. This is an increase from the 63 percent who said they were utilizing it in 2017.

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As social media platforms continue popping up and newcomers gain even more popularity, some have suggested Facebook might be losing steam – but, according to recent statistics, it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Facebook’s current 2.07 billion active monthly user base grew 16 percent in 2017 from the year prior, according to Zephoria.

If changes in the social advertising landscape had you hesitant about testing Facebook Ads for your B2B lead generation driving efforts, it’s safe to say that your audience is there – and video ads are one of the most effective ways to give yourself a competitive edge.

When it comes to Facebook video ads, they are still a heavily underutilized creative format for B2B brands. Videos are effective in capturing the attention of potential customers and more often than not, they convert at higher rates over their static image counterparts.

If you are looking to generate B2B leads for your business, give Facebook video ads a try as a creative way to promote your webcasts, ebooks, products, tools, and services.

Welcome Leads Through Webcasts

Hosting an upcoming webcast? Drive leads through a promotional video that shines a light on the sign-up benefits. As a mutual trade-off, share enough information to give your target audience a taste and pique interest, but not enough to give away the best information that you have to offer, until they sign up with their contact information and attend.

To capture the lead, send users to a landing page with additional webcast details and a registration form. For an alternative method, test to see if you can drive higher lead volume at a lower cost per lead, by testing a lead gen specific ad unit with a video, as this format often proves to be more effective than static images.

If you’re looking for something more engaging, test some videos that showcase the webcast host inviting users to join the webcast or, if you hosted a similar webcast in the past, use a former attendee that can share a snippet of what they learned by attending before and the valuable information you can learn by signing up for the upcoming webcast.

If the webcast is free to attend, be sure to mention this in the ad copy or the video itself as an additional incentive to sign up and lock in that lead.

Let’s take a look at a great example of a static image ad and discuss ways we could further enhance its visibility and effectiveness using movement.

Below, Foxley does a great job on this particular ad by using a friendly face, bright colors, and captivating copy; however, with how quickly people tend to scroll through their feed, something with motion would increase their chances of stopping and viewing.

Take static images a step further by creating a video or slideshow ad to capture impressions and then use the other ad assets to entice them to sign up. If you are unable to create a full video, test micromovements on an otherwise static image. Alternate the color or size of something on the image in a looping .gif file or create a Cinemagraph.

Flixel is one company that designs stunning cinemagraphs that are worth looking into. Take advantage of the free trial they offer and test out a cinemagraph for an upcoming campaign, regardless of it being for a webcast, eBook, product, tool, or service that you offer.

Entice With eBooks

When was the last time you saw an eBook video ad in your News Feed? Spotting Sasquatch in the wild may be a more frequent occurrence. Use this to your advantage and test out a video ad to promote your eBook in exchange for leads.

Let’s take this next excellent static image example from LinkedIn and rethink how we can bring it to life with motion.

This ad would be a terrific candidate for a stop motion video, where the video starts and stops seamlessly and creates the impression of movement. To create a stop motion video, one of our favorite video apps is Stop Motion Studio, available in both iTunes and Google Play.

B2C brands aren’t the only ones that can have fun with video. There are many ways B2B brands can creatively and professionally showcase their business using video ads to others in effort to drive leads and sales.

Showcase Your Services, Tools, and Products In Use

How can your product help save time and money for a potential customer? How can it generate more money for their business? Demonstrate your tool in action with a video ad by showing real people using it, describing the benefits, and include screenshots of what they can expect to see or experience. Hubspot does an outstanding job answering these questions and showing features of their CRM in the ad below. View the full ad on AdEspresso.

To drive leads with a video ad that may be similar to this, send users to lead form landing page on your website or use a lead generation ad format on Facebook. If you want to test this in a remarketing campaign and your business allows for discounts or free trials, mention that in the ad as well to increase your chances of acquiring the lead.

Facebook Video Ad Specs

Facebook’s design recommendations for video ads are as follows:

Video Recommendations:

  • Recommended Length: Up to 15 seconds
  • Recommended Aspect Ratio: Vertical (4:5)
  • Sound: Enabled with captions included

Video Specifications:

  • Recommended format: .mp4, .mov or .gif
  • Required Lengths By Placement:
  • Facebook: 240 minutes max
  • Instagram Feed: Up to 60 seconds
  • Resolution: 600px minimum width
  • File size: Up to 4 GB max

Slideshow Specifications:

  • Use high resolution images or a video file to create a slideshow
  • Facebook and Instagram: 50 seconds max
  • Slideshows will loop

If you run video ads that have sound, adding captions is highly recommended. Many users scroll through their feed on mute and we also don’t want to disregard anyone who may be hearing impaired.

Your video should tell the full story of what you are trying to portray contextually, visually, and audibly, enticing them to click through and convert into a lead or even further down the funnel, as a sale.

Adding captions is a quick and simple process with Facebook’s caption feature that is available at the ad level. By selecting the option, Facebook will scan your video, provide a script, which you can review and if there is anything that needs adjusting, it’s easy to edit.

Regardless of your business model, industry, or goals as a B2B product of service provider, your customers are on Facebook and video ads can help draw in leads. Stand out among the stillness of the News Feed with Facebook video ads and reach your lead acquisition goals.

As someone who lives for connecting people, making the connection between consumers and brands is what Akvile DeFazio, President and Digital Advertising Specialist at AKvertise, Inc., a social media advertising agency, does best. Her areas of expertise are ecommerce, event marketing, mobile apps, and lead generation, by way of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn Ads. Connect with her on Twitter at @AkvileDeFazio or at AKvertise.com.

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As B2B marketers look ahead to the remainder of 2018, new research suggests that they are shifting their focus to demand generation.

Recently, DemandGen Report conducted its “2018 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey Report” to gauge how B2B marketers intend to utilize their budget over the coming months. Approximately 70 percent of respondents said that they expect their demand gen budgets to grow this year. Thirty-six percent claimed that they predict that it will increase by up to 10 percent. On the higher end of the spectrum, 12 percent see it increasing by more than 30 percent.

B2B marketers also have priorities in terms of their demand generation initiatives. For instance, 73 percent are focused on lead quality over quantity. Seventy-two percent would like to improve their conversion rates, while 62 percent want to generate increased lead volume.

In terms of achieving their goals, certain channels and tactics have been more effective than others. For instance, email was essential for driving early-stage engagement (59 percent) and conversions later in the funnel (81 percent). Website (51 percent), search (56 percent) and social (44 percent) were also essential for early-stage engagement.

Content Marketing as a 2018 Priority

While demand generation remains a top priority for B2B marketers, recent research suggests that it’s content marketing that most marketers are focused on in general heading into the rest of the year.

SmallBizTrends conducted a survey to determine the top objectives among marketers, and it found that content marketing (20 percent) was most popular among respondents. This was followed by big data (14 percent) and artificial intelligence (14 percent).

“Content is King and it’s no surprise to see content marketing at the top of the pile,” says Tom Demers, co-founder and managing partner with Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content. “Content marketing is the fuel that powers all digital communications from search to social to email marketing to creating website experiences which convert.”

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Finding the right audience is essential to any B2B paid advertising campaign. To reach that audience, it comes as no surprise that companies are expanding their paid efforts beyond simply search advertising. LinkedIn is especially appealing because it offers advertisers something unique: direct access to over 500 million business-focused individuals.

In 2017, while the overall LinkedIn spend on ads grew about 10 percent, a recent survey found that 43 percent of companies still have not utilized the platform. As we start 2018, we expect more companies to take advantage of the LinkedIn ad platform.

As they do, this post will help highlight five of the best practices in order to find B2B success with LinkedIn Ads.

1. Set Up Goals

Before an advertiser rushes into advertising on LinkedIn, it is important to understand the goals they want to achieve. Ultimately, the choice of running ads on LinkedIn really depends on what needs be achieved with the program. Types of goals that are perfect for LinkedIn include:

  • Building a Contact List – By offering a white paper or informational reports, companies can build out their contact list in order to further advertise to them in the future.
  • Getting New Leads – Advertisers can also simply go right after the sale by offering a promotion or free demo of their product or service.
  • Brand Awareness – If leads are not the goal, advertisers can simply gain exposure though LinkedIn ads. Promoting specific events or a company blog are ways to help generate awareness.
2. Monitor Bids

At 500 million users, LinkedIn’s ad space inventory has officially maxed out. What this means for companies is that high bids become necessary in order to remain competitive. Last year, LinkedIn advertisers saw an average CPC of $6.50 (compared to $2.32 for AdWords search).

This high cost per click will make it difficult for advertisers to see the same success they do on other platforms. With an average CPC that’s 180 percent higher than AdWords, conversion rate goals will also need to be increased that much in order to see the same cost per conversion.

That said, there are many successful strategies that an advertiser is able to implement in order to get their conversion rate as high as possible, which will be discussed in the next steps.

3. Target Audience

Like mentioned before, LinkedIn’s bread and butter is its ability to bring the business world together. That means if an advertiser’s audience is more consumer-focused, LinkedIn would not be a good fit.

For users who are targeting business professionals, as most B2B businesses are, LinkedIn offers a wide variety of targeting options in order to hit the right target audience. These options include:

  • Company & Job – Advertisers can drill down to a user’s job and company information, including job title, company name, industry and company size.
  • Demographics – Options such as location, age, and interest can be specified to make an audience list.
  • Remarketing Lists – With remarketing, advertisers can show ads to users who have already interacted with their site.
  • Email List – Companies can advertise to LinkedIn users that match up with their specific company email list.
4. Choose the Right Ad Type

LinkedIn offers a variety of ways for advertisers to reach specific goals through the use of different ad types. Advertisers have the choice of three types of ads when they go to create a campaign. These include:

  • Sponsored Content – These are ads that resemble a piece of content that can be found on LinkedIn’s feed. They include multiple lines of text and an image. LinkedIn even offers the ability to put a form right in the ad, making this an ideal choice for advertisers looking to build a contact list.
  • Text Ads – With text ads, advertisers are able to craft a small message with a company logo next to it. These ads are best for companies that are looking for more brand awareness on LinkedIn.
  • Sponsored InMails – InMail ads allows advertisers to send personalized message to their target audience using LinkedIn’s internal messaging system. For advertisers who want to be a little more direct and detailed with their audience, this is the best way to achieve that.
5. Continually Test Ads

Just like all paid advertising, it is important to continually experiment with new ad copy in order to discover the images and text that resonates with the target audience. It can also help make sure ad copy remains fresh so users don’t see an ad more than a few times.

It is important to pay attention to how long an ad is running for. If a company is advertising to a small group of people, it is likely that a single user is seeing the ad multiple times. It’s best practice to have a consistent schedule for rotating ads. The specific time frame for this rotation depends on how big your audience is. If the group is small, look into rotating every week. If the group is big, every other week or once a month would be fine.

While the goal can remain the same, elements such as images and ad copy should be changed in order to keep the content fresh. In the end, this will help avoid ad fatigue and ultimately, improve an ad’s click through rate.

Final Thoughts

As B2B companies look to find new ways to reach their target audience, LinkedIn immediately comes to mind thanks to their unique and active business-focused audience. It should be recognized that the platform is different from other social media platforms, such as Facebook, and should be treated as such in order to drive results.

By following these best practices, advertising success in the B2B world of LinkedIn can be found.

For more guidance and information on LinkedIn Ads, check these other helpful KoMarketing posts:

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Facebook continues to be a popular platform among marketers, but how big is its return on investment? Furthermore, how does video content perform across the website?

To better understand its overall impact on marketing strategies, Buffer and Social Media Week recently conducted the “State of Social 2018.” The majority of respondents (96 percent) claimed that their business is actively using Facebook. However, 31 percent said they strongly agreed with the statement, “My Facebook organic reach has declined over the past 12 months.”

In an attempt to make headway on Facebook, about 70 percent of respondents said they post video content on the social network, yet most (69 percent) are not taking advantage of live video capabilities on social media, i.e. Facebook Live. Challenges to creating video content include lack of time (64 percent) and no budget (41 percent).

In terms of overall impact, survey respondents were positive on their social media marketing efforts – 29 percent claimed their efforts were “very effective” and an additional 45 percent indicated they were “somewhat effective.” Half of the respondents said that they do not have a documented social media strategy.

About 1,800 marketers – from both SMBs and enterprises – took part in the survey.

Facebook and Paid Social Marketing

Previous research has highlighted marketers’ dedication to Facebook, but it has also shown some of the setbacks associated with it in terms of paid social and marketing.

Merkle recently conducted the its quarterly “Digital Marketing Report” to assess how marketers invested in social media sites, such as Facebook. The data showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 20 percent year-over-year in Q4, this was a significant decrease from the 40 percent growth recorded during the first three quarters of the year.

“This decline aligns with Facebook’s stated expectation that increases in ad load would decline in the back half of 2017 as the social media giant seeks to optimize user experience,” concluded the authors of the report.

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