Decisions, decisions. The digital marketing landscape now has so many different options, it's easy to slip into the ol' paralysis by analysis and lock-up when it's time to make even a simple decision. But don't fret, our marketing friend, because Creative Cave is here to provide some guidance on the paid platform front.
By examining four different solutions -- social media (Facebook and Instagram), LinkedIn, paid search, and display advertising -- we're going to give an overview of the complex ad platform environment and, most importantly, where each is especially useful to your B2B inbound strategy. Are there more than four platforms out there in the big digital world? Yes, indeed. Therefore, take these insights more as general guidance rather than gospel since your own company or industry could always be an outlier to the norm. However, we've found these four to mesh especially well with most corresponding B2B inbound strategies.
We're going to give an overview of the complex ad platform environment and, most importantly, where each is especially useful to your B2B inbound strategy.
When we say social media, we're really talking about Facebook and Instagram more than anything since Twitter is not a large part of our B2B strategy. That said, even Facebook and Instagram have limited responsibilities in our approach. It's the relatively lower costs per click, amongst other benefits, that make the platform useful in our B2B messaging.
There's definitely a trade-off with those lower costs, however, mainly by way of inferior audience targeting. The very nature of Facebook makes its targeting tools inherently less reliable than other platforms. For instance, compare Facebook profiles with LinkedIn's, where the former often lacks accurate profile data, either intentionally or by a user simply forgetting to update it. Alternatively, LinkedIn users rely on timely and accurate profile data to better their networking.
That's not to say that these two platforms are without usefulness in a B2B strategy. Aside from CPC’s, the Facebook and Instagram platform shines in a handful of other areas as well.
- User-behavior: Facebook & Instagram's algorithms focus on associating behavior to audience segments, useful when targeting culture-based attributes and non-conversion-focused activities like branding and awareness.
- Remarketing: Remarketing tools provide companies with a more cost-efficient and effective solution than trying to build a new audience with the platform's limited targeting tools.
- Video content: Video-based content does well on social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram in particular. If video fits well into your content strategy, it can enhance engagement with your audience and establish connections otherwise difficult to form on the platform.
The differences between the Facebook and LinkedIn platforms are pretty stark. Whereas Facebook is often more associated with personal use -- making it somewhat dicey for gaining B2B traction -- LinkedIn is a business platform through-and-through. The profile data is authentic, accurate, and serves as the foundation for the entire platform. While we won't completely rehash topics we've already discussed, we still want to highlight the benefits of the LinkedIn platform for comparison's sake to give you a complete overall picture.
- Personas: The platform's accurate profile data allows you to develop personas with a precision that's extremely difficult to accomplish elsewhere. Segment your audience by numerous different fields -- job title, experience, company, company size, industry, and several others -- to turn your content into a highly-targeted, abundantly-relevant powerhouse.
- Retargeting: With the help of the Insights Tag, reveal who has been on your website, what pages they viewed, and follow-up with targeted content.
- User lists: Upload lists of targets to the platform -- email, companies, segments of your CRM, high priority sales targets, and others -- to deliver tailored messaging around a potential or current customer's place within their buying process and your sales cycle.
- Lookalike audiences: Use the attributes of people and companies you've already found some degree of success with to develop lookalike audiences. Those new audiences suddenly become entirely new segments for you that are likely to embrace your message if the content is on-point and delivers value.
Of the different platforms and techniques we're discussing, paid search is the one that fits perfectly for bottom of the funnel activities within your B2B inbound marketing campaign. As always, however, despite these specific benefits, you must always weigh them against budget and resource constraints.
- Turbocharge your content marketing: Once you have a broad inbound strategy in place, you've begun building your content library, and started your trek up the ranking mountain, paid search can accelerate your climb. Use finely-tuned keywords focusing on a relevant content offer to complement your organic search efforts.
- Holes in your SEO: As meticulous as you've been while integrating the most effective search terms into your content, you can't hit them all. See what's working throughout your industry, especially with your competitors, and use paid search to plug the holes in your own SEO strategy where you might be ranking as high as you’d like...yet (gotta be optimistic!).
Paid search is the one that fits perfectly for bottom of the funnel activities within your B2B inbound marketing campaign.
We view display advertising as more of a centralized concept rather than a particular strategy, encompassing two different approaches -- native advertising and programmatic advertising. Each can play an important role working in conjunction with an accompanying inbound campaign, and the best way to define those roles is probably through an example.
After developing your personas, let's say you find that much of your target audience likely spends a significant amount of time on a specific business news website. Native advertising is placing ads on that website, knowing that's where your target audience spends a lot of their time. You can put banner ads on the site, content, sponsored articles, or advertise in their daily emails or newsletters. The particular route you take depends on your specific goals as well as your inventory.
Native advertising is placing ads on a website, knowing that's where your target audience spends a lot of their time.
Instead of isolating that local business news website, programmatic advertising involves identifying an audience based on target attributes, whether that's job titles and industries, web history, or relationships and activities. The point is, programmatic pulls in user data from dozens, sometimes hundreds of different sources to collect as much information as possible. From there, it's more of an agnostic approach to the specific channel, where regardless of where the user goes on the internet, you want your ads to follow them as they go. As we discussed with social media, programmatic advertising is especially powerful in remarketing efforts.
So that's a high-level look at the different platforms we use along with our inbound strategies. Remember, it's never a one-or-the-other scenario between paid ads and your content marketing, but more a matter of your goals and budget. Of course, if you're more comfortable having someone else drive your paid platform bus, Creative Cave is more than happy to take those keys, give it some gas, and chauffeur you to growth city.