The purchase cycle for B2B marketers is long and includes multiple decision-makers. In order to shorten the sales cycle and quickly engage leads throughout the funnel, B2B advertisers leverage a variety of tools available to increase leads and raise brand awareness.
The Search Agency has partnered with a variety of B2B brands to test and implement the most effective paid marketing strategies for success within the current rich and disperse digital environment. Although meaningful attention is becoming more difficult to foster, advanced targeting and data options have completely changed the way B2B businesses can effectively spend budgets on the right audiences for their brand.
Ultimately, B2B marketing relies on relationship development. This underlines the importance of tying your online lead generation efforts to offline channels such as trade shows, CRM and even direct mail.
However, by utilizing the strategies listed below, you can ensure that your marketing team generates higher quality leads while maintaining efficient spend.
1. Search Engine Audience Targeting
Audience targeting is finally exploding in search and there’re a few ways to layer it into a traditional keyword-based B2B search strategy. Until now, search marketing has offered limited value for B2B companies due to high CPCs and low query intent. With audience targeting options now able to push budget to specific user segments, keywords can be used to shape traffic rather than serve as the primary targeting lever – a monumental shift for B2B advertisers within search.
Utilizing first-party data from previous visitor engagement is the most impactful way to boost traditional search marketing performance. Specific audience data like email addresses and telephone numbers can be uploaded into the engines for both retargeting (customer match) and prospecting (similar audience) efforts. The information collected when users sign up for a service or complete a smaller event on the website – like downloading a whitepaper or watching a webinar – can be used to retarget users who took specific actions in campaigns with individual budgets, messaging, and targeting segments to squeeze the most out of these known audience lists. (These lists can also be suppressed, so budget is not wasted)
Aside from infusing owned first-party data, simply utilizing the third-party data within each platform is another way to effectively leverage the power of audience targeting in B2B search. Engine-generated data on all engine users allows basic keyword bidding to adjust to searchers if relationship, education, homeownership, age, gender, income, parental status and even interest category information is known. As performance dictates, specific campaigns can even be broken out if one type of audience targeting is extremely impactful to performance. For one partner, age was an extremely important factor for one of their varied products, so specific campaigns were broken out for different age groupings to maximize spend.
2018 AGENCY RESULTS – B2B Search Audience Optimizations:
- In Q2 2018, reducing and eliminating bids to unwanted demographic segments for a B2B financial client resulted in 35-percent CTR improvement and a 23-pecent conversion rate by reallocating funds to the most optimal audience segments.
- Analyzed on-site behavior flow to retarget or suppress advertising based on product alignment, leading to a 17-percent reduction in CPA within the first two months.
2. Intent/CDJ-Based Search and RLSA Campaigns
Still extremely relevant to account performance, segmented and thoughtful keyword structuring is the primary way for many accounts to significantly improve performance. Once a basic performance structure is set, thinking about high-click, lower “performance” keywords is essential to fueling ongoing growth and fostering longer conversations with interested audiences.
Closing new B2B service partnerships takes multiple touchpoints to pass information and trust, so smartly placing ads at key moments of a buyer’s decision journey will give your brand a seat at the table during all phases of their journey.
Breaking keywords into campaigns by intent allows budgets to be spent and the brand experience (ads/landing pages) to be tailored to impactful moments of the journey. For example, having “information” and “review” keywords in different campaigns than “pricing” and “free trial” terms allows budget, key targeting parameters and messaging to be specific for each phase of the journey for every product/service offering.
Now, with the inclusion of advanced audience targeting in search, thoughtful keyword structures become even more important as “audience-first” campaigns set the audience targeting (high-income, homeowning parents interested in digital marketing in Atlanta, Georgia) before keyword parameters are layered in.
Retargeting audiences who previously visited the website is an important layer of campaigns to add into a CDJ-based B2B strategy. Creating thoughtfully segmented RLSA campaigns allows you to understand product interest and most relevant brand experience for each visitor segment already engaged with the brand. With longer sales journeys like many B2B services have, it is important to adjust the experience according to the information known about each visitor.
2018 AGENCY RESULTS – B2B Consumer Journey Optimizations:
- For a B2B subscription-model client, intent-based keyword restructure improved conversion rate 22 percent for their flagship product, for the first three months after launch.
- Improved CTR 16 percent and conversions 20 percent YoY analyzing seasonal conversion history to identify top performing products. Built out broader product-specific keyword sets for search, prioritizing various high-converting product campaigns to serve according to impactful seasonal performance.
3. B2B Conference/Event Geo Targeting
These timely campaigns allow brands to reach core B2B decision-makers when they’re mentally focused on the business associated with an industry event. Events and conference attendees (where a large relevant audience gathers in a physical location for a short period) can now be effectively targeted, tracked and retargeted through an integrated multi-platform geo strategy.
Targeting this highly relevant audience within a five-to-10 mile radius can help drive on and offline awareness and conversions before, during and after an event. Running specific CRM-targeted campaigns where bids are boosted, key audiences are segmented/targeted and ads are highlighted with extremely competitive offers can start and continue digital conversations with event attendees, boosting downstream performance. Specifically built-out keyword and attendee-targeted (job title, demographic, interest based) campaigns pushed out through search, display, and social platforms can virtually “blanket” a key geographic area, dominating the digital landscape for a set time during and after the event. When all media is tied together with custom messaging and landing pages specific to event attendees, industry awareness and engagement from highly qualified leads can show significant quarter/quarter growth.
As the cost of trade shows continues to increase, this type of targeting helps your brand accomplish the same objectives without spending the unnecessary cost on a trade show booth and travel. You can also segment this audience to create messaging based on their attendance at the show.
2018 AGENCY RESULTS – B2B Geo-Fencing Conference Targeting:
Leading B2B technology company saw 18-percent increase in sales-qualified lead volume quarter/quarter utilizing a multi-platform paid media strategy that targeted attendees before and after a week-long industry event through an integrated geo-fencing and CRM retargeting strategy.
4. Expansion of B2B Paid Social Advertising
Implementing an effective, performance-driven paid LinkedIn and Facebook/Instagram strategy is essential to grow new B2B audiences and stay top-of-mind to those who have previously engaged with the brand. Search is only one avenue key business decision-makers are using to consume content, so when paid social ads are executed effectively, LinkedIn and Facebook can be high-performing engagement platforms for paid media budgets.
Social platforms are rich with audience data that’s proven to be highly effective targeting for B2B advertisers. Audience targeting by job title, industry, seniority and company can put various ad formats in front of the exact LinkedIn audiences right for your brand.
B2B brands are finding success in the diverse ad types the variety of social platforms offer to engage the right audiences. Many B2B brands are testing ad types (carousels and native leads ads) and feed placements that drive a performance-based ad experiences without leaving the current experience. Video ad formats are having a true impact on reach as social platform algorithms are favoring vertical formats that dominate the full screen experience.
Using this type of sponsored content provides marketers the ability to establish themselves as thought leaders while providing prospects with valuable content. As prospects engage with this content, marketers can begin to engage in a number of ways.
This rich social environment, combined with powerful first and third-party targeting offerings are helping B2B brands find a true path to diversifying their advertising portfolios.
AGENCY RESULTS – B2B Social Platform Expansion:
- Utilized Facebook lead forms that allow a user to submit leads directly from the Facebook native pre-populated form directly to an integrated CRM system (ie. Salesforce) to drive lead volume growth. Drove lead growth of 18 percent at 54-percent more efficient cost per lead for an industry leading B2B partner.
- Incorporated refreshed Facebook and Instagram best practice campaign segmentation for a B2B client to create a highly-relevant brand experience that increased CTR 21 percent and lead efficiency 35 percent within the first month.
- Implemented placement strategy through Instagram Stories (while in beta) which allowed for an incremental 43-percent reach in audience and produced 71 percent more efficient cost per lead for audiences that engaged with Instagram Stories.
5. Custom audience targeting
Traffic coming from paid social traffic, especially LinkedIn, can be valuable for further targeting later on in the decision journey. For instance, B2B advertisers can target LinkedIn traffic that read a specific blog post or article and then create broad targeting in paid search, the Google Display Network or even YouTube.
The advantage to this type of targeting is that since you know exactly which job titles read a specific article, you can tweak the messaging to be more specific to users already familiar with the content you shared.
Another example of this type of targeting includes using customer lists that include high-value customers for Lookalike targeting or a segmented list of prospects to convert valuable prospects into customers.
6. Third-party audience targeting
Unlike first-party data, which is collected directly from you, third-party data is collected by a data provider such as Axiom, to provide user attributes. These providers collect data such as purchase intent, transactional data, interests or online behavior. Using third-party data can help you narrow in only on those audiences most likely to buy (also known as in-market).
You can even target down to the gender, age, income and political party. If you’re building a retargeting list, third-party data can help bring users to the top of your funnel.
This helps B2B brands create more personalized experiences that will increase the likelihood of conversion. Third-party audience targeting is popular with companies that know the exact demographics of their buyers but aren’t sure where to find them.
With third-party audience targeting, you can give prospects the exact content they need at the right time.
The average B2B lead can cost as much as $100, if not, more. However, by leveraging these strategies, advertisers can lower their cost per lead while improving the overall quality.
For more information on these and other ways The Search Agency is utilizing data and advanced attribution to win important B2B clicks through a rich, omni-channel advertising approach, please contact us today!