In April, I attended the HERO Conference, which focused specifically on paid digital advertising. Since Ascedia works with so many B2B clients, I was excited to attend the “B2B Super Session,” where speakers focused on how digital marketing for B2B differs from B2C and shared their tips on optimizing LinkedIn advertising for that audience. Julie Friedman Bacchini, President of Neptune Moon LLC, spoke about reaching the ideal B2B prospect and A.J. Wilcox, Founder of B2Linked, shared his LinkedIn advertising expertise with the group. Here are some takeaways from that session.
With any B2B client, including larger manufacturing or industrial companies, digital marketers are challenged to hold audience attention through a longer sales cycle, and B2B transactions often come through offline conversions. In addition, rather than the one-to-one interaction that we focus on for B2C promotions, we find ourselves in a one-to-many relationship with B2B promotions since the conversion process generally includes input from multiple people within a company.
IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET
How do you focus your advertising dollars on those with Budget, Authority, Need and Timing (B.A.N.T.)? While it would be ideal to find the one person at each company that meets these criteria, in reality this really means splitting your approach across many targets.
To get started, create personas for your B2B target audiences. Start by identifying elements such as industry, job title/position, role in purchasing process, age or seniority, level of technical comfort, where they do their research, any professional groups they might belong to and the major roadblocks that they may encounter in the purchasing process.
Once you have your personas, consider how they fit within the three major B2B audiences: C-Suite, Managers and End Users. The level of influence on a final purchase or conversion may vary by industry. Generally the C-Suite group is the ultimate decision maker, but they aren’t typically the ones bringing recommendations to the table. Managers are often focused on saving time or money for the company, but may be too busy to do their own research. End users are often overlooked, but their frustration in getting the day-to-day work done drives them to actively search for new solutions, and they will often push their superiors toward a solution that will make their jobs easier.
OPTIMIZE FOR EACH AUDIENCE
When creating your digital marketing plan, there are many channels to consider for B2B, but optimizing each of those for your audience is key. Display advertising in the Google Display Network can be effective and provide lots of impressions to increase overall awareness. Do some research to identify which industry sites your target audience visits most often. Don’t forget to consider review sites for the products and services that you offer, and take advantage of Google’s “managed placements” targeting within the Display Network to focus specifically on those sites you’ve identified.
Due to the longer B2B sales cycle, remarketing is a very effective tool to stay in front of prospects. Remarketing campaigns can send a tailored message to your targets based on their previous actions on your site, including visiting certain pages or converting in some way (for example, by downloading a brochure or filling out a contact form). Remarketing can be done within Google Display, Google Search and on several social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (and will be coming soon to LinkedIn).
LinkedIn is often the first platform that comes to mind when thinking of B2B social advertising. Use your target personas to carefully select your audience and craft different content marketing campaigns based on their needs and perceived purchase roadblocks. Consider how your content offerings fit into the purchase funnel. For example, a blog post or infographic may be at the top of the funnel (while they are in the early stages of information gathering), a whitepaper in the middle and the bottom may be an offer of a trial, demo or consultation (when they’re nearly ready to buy). Sponsored posts have a higher clickthrough rate (0.4% average) than traditional ads in the right rail (0.03% average), but make sure your offering is appealing to your target audience to ensure the success of a sponsored post.
REACH THEM WHERE THEY SEARCH
If you find that your target audience is using sites like reddit or Quora to conduct research and ask questions, this may be a perfect place to advertise. Quora’s ad offers are newer, but they do have a simple ads manager platform that will make getting started a quick process. Reddit has an established program in place that is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Both of these platforms allow you to get very targeted within topics.
When approaching traditional search ads via Google and Bing, consider what role search plays within your industry. It may help to ask existing clients how they approach search. Plan your campaigns around the needs of your personas and take advantage of the remarketing feature here if it makes sense within your sales funnel.
Remember: With any digital advertising campaign, a well-designed landing page is essential to success. Design the page to address the main questions or concerns of your target audience and provide them something valuable in return for their lead information. Everyone is pressed for time, so keep your landing pages focused on one concept and offer a clean and user-friendly design.
BREAK IT DOWN BY AUDIENCE
So, how should you get started? Julie Friedman Bacchini shared an excellent breakdown of the best digital advertising approach for each audience:
- Tier 1 = Display (managed placements only) and LinkedIn Ads
- Tier 2 = Remarketing
- Tier 3 = Traditional Search Ads or Social Network Ads
- Tier 1 = Display (managed placements only), LinkedIn Ads and Remarketing
- Tier 2 = Display Other (Reddit or Quora) and Social Network Ads
- Tier 3 = Traditional Search Ads
- Tier 1 = Traditional Search Ads
- Tier 2 = Remarketing, Display (Managed placements only) and Display Other (Reddit or Quora)
- Tier 3 = LinkedIn and Social Network Ads
If your budget is limited, focus on Tier 1 opportunities for each group. Since every industry is different, it’s important to test different approaches and platforms to identify your top performers. If you need a helping hand to guide you through this process, Ascedia is here for you. Contact our digital strategy and research experts to start planning your B2B campaigns today!
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