How to Make Google Ads Part of Your B2B Marketing Strategy

What does your B2B marketing strategy look like? Perhaps you’ve done some SEO for your website, or maybe you tried out social media marketing to give yourself more brand visibility. There’s probably a little blogging in there too, and that’s great! These are all great avenues to take your strategy down, but what happens when you google your business? If you aren’t utilizing Google Ads properly, then you may be missing a huge inbound marketing opportunity.

A pay per click (PPC) platform such as Google Ads (formerly AdWords) can become one of the main pillars of your B2B marketing strategy, supporting lead generation and guiding prospects down the sales funnel. It has to be done correctly, though. PPC advertising charges your company every time someone clicks on your ad. This blog will help you make sure each click counts.

Should Your B2B Marketing Strategy Include Google Ads?

In this article, we will walk you through the process of properly setting up and implementing a PPC advertising campaign. Specifically, we’ll be talking about Google Ads. Why? Because while there are other platforms such as Yahoo and Bing that you are more than welcome to market your company on, using Google will by far give you the most traffic.

Google Ads also give you the ability to meet your prospects where they’re at, searching for the types of products or services you’re selling. Social discovery platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter Ads don’t have those kinds of warm leads.

Still, Google Ads won’t fit well into your B2B marketing strategy if nobody is searching for what you’re offering, or rather nobody is searching for the keywords you’re targeting.

How Does Google Ads Work, Exactly?

The Ads: Let’s just start from the beginning. Google Search Ads appear to anyone who searches for a keyword phrase that your ad is targeting. In addition to Google Search, they can also show up on Google Play, Google Shopping and Google Maps. The wider Google Search Network also includes sites outside of Google that have partnered with them.

These ads can also be referred to as “text ads.” They capture prospects at the research and purchasing stages of the sales funnel. They are not the only type of ad campaign you can create on Google Ads, though.

Google Display Ads are another popular method of advertising on the platform. These types of ads work a little differently, utilizing the Google Display Network. These “banner ads” are shown on websites you’ve targeted because you think your audience might visit them.

People are typically less likely to click on banner ads than text ads since they were not searching for anything specific when they came across your ad. However, display ads can put your business in front of someone who wouldn’t have found you on their own. Display ads also have another benefit: retargeting campaigns. They can be an excellent method of re-engaging people who have alredy visited your website in the past to encourage them to return.

The Ad Auction: The Ad Auction doesn’t work like a typical auction – say for antiques or art – where the person with the highest bid wins the item. The ad auction is a process that every ad goes through that determines which ads will appear and in what order on the SERP. When someone searches a query, Google Ads finds all the ads whose keywords relate enough to the query, as well as those with a high enough Ad Rank (a metric quantifying ad quality, a combination of the ad bid and Quality Score). It also factors in the location of the searcher.

Once the system has narrowed down the list of ads, it orders them. It uses a combination of factors including Ad Rank, the context of the person’s search and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats. The process repeats every time a query is searched, yielding different results each time.

Your takeaway from this entire explanation is this: your Ad Rank is extremely important to appearing on a search page as well as being ordered first. Even if you have a lower bid amount than your competitors, you can still win the ad auction by delivering high quality ads and landing pages.

The Bids: That being said, bids still play an important role in the process. Lower bids will affect your Ad Rank, but higher bids can hemorrhage your company money and derail your B2B marketing strategy. Setting your bids can be a complex process. It’s a lot easier to think about it in terms of what you want to achieve from your ad campaign. Depending on your goal, your bidding strategy will vary (which we will address later).

Budgeting for Your Google Ads Campaign

Your budget establishes a charging limit for each day an ad campaign is active. Depending on how you manage your bids, your costs may be lower, but your budget should be the maximum amount you’re willing to spend each day of the month.

How much are you willing to pay per click for your ad? This is your maximum CPC bid. High bids could equal more traffic but eat through your budget quickly. Lower bids can result in fewer clicks, but you can offset that with a better quality ad leading to a better conversion rate. There are lots of people on the internet who have tried to make a science out of budgeting for your ads, but every industry is different. Just start small and see what converts. $10 is a safe place to begin, but do what your B2B marketing strategy can afford without neglecting any other areas. Once you see which keywords, ad groups and campaigns are converting the best, you can adjust your budgets in the future.

Keyword Research

Keyword Planner: A good place to start the hunt for perfect keywords is the Google Ads Keyword Planner. This tool allows you to learn a lot about the keywords your industry is targeting including average monthly searches, how competitive each of the keywords is, and the low range and high range bids. As you explore, the Keyword Planner will provide you with ideas and suggestions.

Explore Keyword Ideas: The trick is to uncover those Goldilocks keywords – those that aren’t too competitive or expensive, but still have good monthly search volume. Even if a keyword is the perfect match for your company, you might still be wasting your marketing budget if the words you choose are too competitive or the bids are too high.

Keyword Intent: Keyword intent is also something to pay attention to at this stage. Targeting irrelevant keywords will drain your budget without much success to show for it. Think critically about the types of things your prospective customers would be searching for, and when you’re considering a keyword, think of who might be searching that phrase. For instance, are the people searching “personal training app” personal trainers looking for an app to run their business or are they people searching for an app to manage their own personal training regimen? The difference is wasted money and effort!

Choose Your Keywords: Compile a list of the keywords you think are within your budget, have appropriate keyword intent and good search volume. You might create several keywords lists to group your similar keywords together, depending on how many ad groups you want to feature in your ad campaign. These lists can vary in length. Some people suggest as many as 20-30 keywords per ad group, but if your keywords are well-targeted, having just five is also okay. Having too many can cost you, as well, eating up your daily ads budget and making the campaign difficult to manage.

Structuring Your Ad Campaign

Select Your Goal & Determine Campaign Type: Each time you create a new campaign, the first question you’ll be asked is what the goal for the campaign will be. Google Ads provides you with several options: sales, leads, website traffic, product or brand consideration, brand awareness and reach, or app promotion. If you are a B2B technology, you’ll want to focus on leads and conversions. Next, you’ll be able to choose your campaign type. Your chosen goal determines your campaign options.

Determine How to Accomplish Your Goals: Depending on your chosen campaign type, Google Ads will present you with a number of options outlining how you will pursue your goal. The options can include website visits, phone calls, store visits or app downloads. It’s up to you and your company how you want to be found and contacted by leads, but obviously the more options they have, the more more leads you’re likely to generate.

Target Your Ad: Google Ads allows you to get pretty specific when setting the parameters of your ad audience. You can choose location, language preferences and audiences to target. Google Ads collects a lot of data on those who use the platform, allowing you to target groups based on factors such as education, marital status or homeownership. You can also browse the many categories Google Ads has listed.

I’m assuming your B2B marketing strategy includes buyer personas. If not, it should, and this is a perfect instance where it can be incredibly useful. Consider what kind of business would be interested in your product and who the individuals working at that business are. Where are they located? What language(s) can you reach them in? What industries will you find them in? Being able to answer these questions and others will help you immensely at this stage structuring your ad campaign.

Determine Your Bidding Strategy: Google Ads will help you out at this stage by recommending a bidding strategy based on the options you’ve already chosen, but you should still have some idea of what your strategy ought to look like.

  • Brand visibility? If the point of using Google Ads is only to expand your brand’s exposure, focus on impressions when setting up your bid. Impressions are counted each time your ad appears on a SERP. With Target Impression Share, Google will automatically set your bids to help achieve your impression share goal. This specific method is applicable to search ads.If you would like to use display ads, opt to pay by the number of times your ad is viewable. This is called cost-per-thousand viewable impressions (vCPM) bidding. Display ads are great if your goal is to put your name and logo in front of as many people as you can.
  • Website traffic? If your goal is to generate more traffic to your website, focus on clicks. With CPC bidding, you’ll only pay when someone clicks on your ad and goes to your website. Both search ads and display ads are suitable for generating more website traffic.There are two strategies you can choose from. Maximize Clicks is an automated bidding strategy where all you need to do is set your daily ad budget. The Google Ads system will automatically manage your bids to give you the most clicks possible within your budget, and it’s the simplest strategy, especially for beginners. Manual CPC bidding allows you to manage the maximum CPC bids yourself. With this method, you can set different bids for each ad group, individual keywords or placements. This type of strategy will work best after you’ve spent a little more time watching your ad campaign performance.
  • Lead generation & Sales? If your goal is to not just to gain website traffic but to get a conversion of some type – rather that’s a sale, a newsletter sign-up or a demo request – there’s a method for bidding with this in mind, too. Google Ads allows you to set the amount you’re willing to pay for each conversion, which they call an “acquisition,” cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding.Using this form of bidding, you’ll pay for each click just like with CPC bidding, but Google Ads will automatically set your bids for you so you get as many conversions as possible at the CPA you specified. CPA bids require you to have conversion tracking on, and it may be too advanced for beginners. As your B2B marketing strategy matures though, this is definitely a strategy you can employ to get the most out of your Google Ads budget.

Choose Your Ad Extensions: Adding ad extensions to your campaign is a great way to improve your Quality Score by increasing your click-through rate (CTR) and in turn, your overall Ad Rank. You have several options at this juncture including call buttons, location information, sitelinks to specific pages on your site and additional text. Since Google will only show the extensions that are relevant to each individual search, don’t be afraid to use as many as possible (as long as they align with your goals). Extensions can only add value to your ad, giving you more visibility and clicks. The only downside is that they do take a bit of time to set up.

Set Up Your Ad Groups: An ad group should contain one or more ads and your related targeted keywords. All the ads in this group will be triggered by the same set of keywords, so try to focus each ad group only on one product or service. Your campaign can have more than one ad group, though.

A note about keyword match types:

  • Broad match is the default type of keywords. Unless you specify otherwise, your keywords will be designated broad match. This is not a bad place to begin when you’re creating a new campaign. Google will show your ads with any search phrase Google thinks is relevant to your keyword. This means your ads will get more impressions, but your ads will likely show up with irrelevant queries, so more impressions doesn’t necessarily mean more clicks. Still, leaving this match type in place in the beginning allows you to monitor the performance of the targeted keywords.
  • Phrase match will trigger your ads anytime a phrase, or a close variation of it, mentioned in your keywords is searched in Google. Using this match type can be a good way to eliminate some irrelevant searches but narrows your visibility.
  • Exact match will only trigger your ad when the exact phrase is searched in Google. This match type gives you the most control over your ad audience, but it limits your exposure. Google gives a little wiggle room though, allowing close variations of the phrase to trigger your ad, too.
  • Negative keywords can be added to help eliminate some irrelevant searches. If your company offers marketing services, for example, but they don’t offer social media marketing, you can make sure your ad won’t be triggered when anything related to “social media marketing” is searched.

Creating Your Ad Campaign

When crafting the actual text of your ad, be sure to keep a couple of goals in mind:

      • You want to encourage clicks from qualified leads.
      • You want to discourage clicks from irrelevant leads.
      • You want to attract better leads, increasing your conversion rates.

Trying to accomplish these three things may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry. They all interconnect with each other. They can also all be easily accomplished by creating a good quality ad. Just focus on your sales pitch and what makes you a unique option for your prospect.

Your Sales Pitch: This is important to every part of a B2B marketing strategy, not just your Google Ads campaigns. Figure out what makes your business special and work on communicating that as succinctly as possible. Your current customers can be a great place to start if your drawing a blank. Why did they choose you in the first place? Why haven’t they left?

You can definitely research your competitors to learn how they’re marketing themselves on Google Ads, but don’t copy them. If you look long enough, you’re bound to find a space that no one is occupying. When you do, that’s your in. That’s how you can separate yourself from the crowd.

Make Your Offer: For prospects to click on your ad instead of a competitor’s, the offer you make has to have value. It also can’t be too good to be true; if it does seem too good, make a point to explain why that’s the case.

Give the Next Step: After you’ve effectively communicated what makes your business the best choice and what you’re prepared to offer, tell your prospects what to do next. A good call to action is short, clearly stated and easy to follow through with.

The Format:

The ad will have a headline, two description lines and a display URL. Each element presents the opportunity to provide your prospects with more information.

Headline 1: This will appear first and is the most important component. Try to use a targeted keyword if possible, to better match what was searched. Unless your company has a well-known name, don’t include it. Instead, say what you are. Are you “World Class Web Developers” or a “Account & Finance Software” provider? You have 30 characters to explain yourself.

Headline 2: Appearing on the first line after headline 1, it’s still very important. There is also an opportunity to use a keyword here if it makes sense. The main goal at this point is delivering your unique offer. Be as clear as possible. Is your service an “All-in-one Business Solution” or will it be helpful to “Grow Your Fitness Business”? Think carefully about the types of people you are attracting and if they will make for good leads. And remember, you have 30 characters.

Description Line 1 (and 2): Each line gives you 90 characters to further reiterate what you’ve mentioned in your headlines. Line 2 won’t always appear, though, so don’t rely on it. Give your CTA, and let your prospects know what their next action should be. With this extra room, try to include a keyword, too.

Display URL: This can also include a keyword or the name of your offer.

Landing Pages

Your website’s homepage is not a good advertising landing page – unless your goal was simply to gain more web traffic. Create a dedicated landing page that corresponds with the offer you’re making in the ad. For consistency, the landing page should utilize the same keywords that go along with the ad. This will give your prospects reassurance that they’re still heading in the right direction by clicking on your ad.

The format of the landing page should come as no surprise to you: a headline, body copy and a CTA that takes prospects onto the next step. Make a point to use a keyword in the headline or in a secondary headline. The body copy should reiterate the points made in the ad, giving more context and proving your qualifications. Your CTA should move prospects forward. This can be an opportunity to request contact information in exchange for a free download or pricing information. If you’re feeling bold, you can also try to make a sale.

The Job is Never Over

After your campaign and landing page are active, you may feel an overwhelming sense of relief – but don’t get too comfortable. Managing your Google Ads account is an ongoing process. It’s important to frequently check in and see how your campaigns are performing. This data is incredibly important to optimizing your ads and enhancing your B2B marketing strategy. You’ll be able to see which ads and keywords are being clicked on the most and giving you the best conversion rates. With this knowledge, you can adjust your budgets to be the most cost-effective.

You can also continually create and test new ads, edit text on existing ads, test out different landing pages and adjust bids. Think of it like science class with no adult supervision. Eventually, you’ll discover the right formula and ingredients and – BAM! – a conversion rate that marketers will swoon over.

Google Ads can be a complex and intimidating system to jump into, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. It takes every supposed Google Ads guru some time to determine what’s working and how to best interact with the prospects of their industry using this platform. Have patience, and before you know it, Google Ads will be the crown jewel of your B2B marketing strategy.

Managing a robust B2B marketing strategy that consistently attracts the right leads can be a full time commitment for your business – so let our business do the work for you. Brandcave is a B2B marketing agency working and playing in beautiful Georgetown, TX. Contact us with your needs today!

The Ultimate PR Tools: SEO, PPC and Social Media

In the past, public relations has been about outbound marketing techniques – and, to a large extent, it still is. But, due to the emergence of content marketing and search engine marketing, PR tools and practices have changed. Things that had once been under the purview of inbound marketers are becoming increasingly important for PR.

The goal of PR is to create narratives that advance agendas of a company. It’s a strategic communications process that increases brand awareness and strong relationships with target audiences. In the age of the internet, accomplishing these ends requires the acquisition and optimization of several PR tools.

SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, might seem odd to consider one of your PR tools. It’s so technical. It requires measuring analytics for keywords and understanding how the algorithms of search engines read websites. At first glance, the goals of SEO and PR don’t seem to overlap, but SEO can help you get your PR materials in front of the right people.

The process of SEO begins by discovering relevant keyword that can be used to optimize a piece of content. In the case of PR, that content might be press releases, blogs, whitepapers or social media posts. The appropriate keyword is a term or phrase that is relevant to your target audience, has a decent search volume and a difficulty level comparable to your website.

Now, incorporating SEO tactics into your PR strategy may be good for customers, but is it useful when targeting journalists? Yes! A study in 2008 put the percentage of journalists who use search engines such as Google in their job at 91%. In the last eight years, I’m willing to bet a large chunk of that remaining 9% has come around to the idea, too.

Utilizing SEO for PR requires adapting more PR-specific tactics. For instance, when you optimize your press releases for a keyword, think about individuals more than search engines. Use your chosen keyword about 2-4 times for every 500 words, and be sure that the term appears in the metadata, title and subheadings. Humans read press releases more than search engines do so it needs to be readable to an eye and not an algorithm.

PPC

PR is not advertising. However, pay per click, or PPC, can be a helpful tool to facilitate brand awareness and change narratives. Paying for an ad to appear at the top of the search results is a quick way to gain visibility and attention for your brand.

Like SEO, PPC can allow you to target specific groups of people. SEO is for organic searching, though. PPC involves paid ads. While it’s a bit different, it still requires a specific keyword targeting your ideal audience. Brand names, company names and the names of executives can be bid on to create instant visibility. For this reason, PR can use PPC as a platform for media pitching, adapting a pitch to an ad format. Interested parties can click it and be taken to a landing page that shows the pitch in full.

PPC can also help PR counter negative attention. SEO is a long term strategy for improving search results, but if your situation calls for more immediate action, you can turn to PPC. Let’s say that a business has a bad reputation and searching for the company dredges up negative search results. Implementing a PPC campaign can introduce a counterargument to any unflattering press that may show up in the search results.

To manage a crisis that a company finds themselves in, they can use PPC, targeting words relevant to the situation such as “scandal” or “review.” Then, they can direct those who click on the ad to a landing page where the company can explain the circumstances and how they are resolving the issue.

Social Media

When utilized to its full potential, social media can be one of your most valuable PR tools. 51% of journalists use social media to gather new studies (but the source has to be trusted). Do them a favor and meet them halfway. Being active on social media can build links and establish your company as a leader online, thus making you one of those trusted sources journalists and others researching your industry rely upon.

PR is about communication, and one of the things social media allows you to do is reach out directly to your audience. For this reason, executives need to be active on platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. They can directly share the company’s content and be their company’s own spokesperson online.

Press releases can also be helped by social media. By adding an option to share the press release, you extend its life and virality. Because of this, it’s important to make the story you’re telling more visual and easier to share on social media. You only get 144 characters on Twitter, but an image is worth 1,000 words.

With social media, you don’t have to wait for the press release. Having an active presence means you can respond to news happening in your industry in real time, offering your expert commentary on relevant matters. By the time you get a press release out, it may be too late and you missed your window, but live tweeting ensures that you are part of the conversation. Being part of the conversation is how you get media attention and recognition.

Which PR tools are the best?

PR and marketing firms have a variety of tactics at their disposal, and no single one is more valuable than the rest. The key is coordinating PR tools such as SEO, PPC, and social media to create a cohesive campaign. This doesn’t mean that PR should move away from outbound techniques, but it does mean that PR professionals will have more tools in their toolkit to facilitate communication and engender fruitful relationships with their publics, whoever that may be.

Looking for help building your brand? Brandcave has all of these tools in their toolkit plus many more. Give us a call.

Can Inbound Marketing Services Be a Tool for Evangelism?

Last week during lunch, an interesting idea was proposed: can inbound marketing services be used for churches? The methodology has been helping businesses find success for a while, now, but could a church grow from implementing the same tools and strategies? The answer is a resounding yes.

In 2012 more than 17 million non-churchgoers visited the websites of a local places of worship, according to a study by Grey Matter Research. They visited the church websites for a variety of reasons such as checking the times of services (43%), streaming video (26%), streaming audio (26%), finding out the church’s beliefs (22%) and sending a message to church leaders (12%).

In the past, churches have mostly relied on outbound marketing techniques for growth. Ads, billboards, events, referrals and door-to-door evangelism have been some of the most used techniques. But, there is clearly an opportunity for the church to benefit from the methodologies that can be gleaned from inbound marketing services. People are already searching for churches online, so it’s up to the church to harness the power of search, social and web to meet them. To accomplish this, church leaders must understand the inbound methodology:

Attract

The first thing your church needs to do is determine the personas you are going to target. These personas are characterized by the demographics that are best suited for your church. Perhaps, one of these personas might be millennials. Maybe they are already religious or maybe they are new to faith. The personas a church targets will affect the type of content it publishes, so it is important to be clear on the target audiences before doing anything. A challenge for churches will be balancing their strategy to help both non-churchgoer personas and personas who are already members. A website should be useful for every persona.

Of the inbound marketing services, SEO and social media are the most important to attract visitors. Having your church web pages optimized for identified search terms will help you become found in the search results. When your personas reach your site, it is important to have relevant content waiting for them. Of course, you can also promote your church’s content on social media platforms. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can let members share and spread information and content to others in the local community. Google+ and Google Business is also important for SEO and showing up on maps in search results.

Speaking of content, your church should consider a variety of content strategies. Blogging has been a successful tactic for attracting visitors to businesses, and your church blog can be an opportunity to share relevant and helpful information for members and nonmembers alike. Other things for a church might consider sharing include video or sermon audio. This content gives the visitors a taste of what they will get by attending on Sundays.

Convert

Once visitors have been attracted to your church via your website, they will need to be converted into first-time visitors. The “convert” stage of an inbound marketing strategy is crucial — without it, the web traffic you generate will never become foot traffic. The entire web experience should be about them and their spiritual journey. The church website should not only let web visitors know when services are and provide directions to the church, but introduce them to the culture of the congregation.

A powerful tool for converting your web traffic into foot traffic is the strategic uses of calls to action, or CTAs. A CTA for a church can be very similar to one for a business. It can give them the chance to subscribe to your email list and learn about an upcoming event. It could even present opportunities to serve or give financially.

The wording on CTAs are important. A subscription form might contain the value proposition, “Subscribe and Receive Our Newest eBook Free” or “The First One Hundred People to Sign Up for VBS Will Get 50% Off”. It’s a simple formula; just make sure there’s an incentive for converting. Use action words such as start, stop, build, get, learn, join, discover or save.

Every CTA your church creates should take users to a landing page with a conversion form. On landing pages, you should never ask for more information than necessary. An email address and a name is the most important — and is likely the only content you’ll be able to receive from web visitors that are only slightly interested in visiting the church. But, with this information, you can begin converting invisible web traffic into leads that can be nurtured and converted into a church members.

Close

How does an online visitor become a church member? It is no small feat. With a steady stream of web leads in hand, however, it becomes much easier to create new opportunities to close the gap between web visitor and church visitor.

Of the many inbound marketing services offered, email automation will help the most in this stage. In a basic inbound marketing strategy, email automation presents a wonderful opportunity to keep your organization top of mind by sending new resources to potential church goers. Email automation begins by creating a succession of email campaigns that are triggered after a visitor completes a landing form. Perhaps the first email campaign offers a free eBook from your church. Maybe the second campaign invites them to join your church’s “first time visitor” meeting. It might even include a letter from the pastor with a direct line to ask questions about the church.

Delight

Inbound marketing services only work for businesses when they are focused on the user’s experience, and the same is true for churches. I think any pastor or church leader would agree that it’s not enough to get people to come to church, they need to have a desire to continue going. “Delight” is the final step of any inbound marketing strategy, and when you delight churchgoers, you are focused on retaining their attention throughout the week.

Delighting members is about integrating your Sunday morning services into your web and social presence Monday through Saturday. This integrated approach to church retension pairs the Sunday morning experience with substantive, poignant content that provides mileage to the message. It is about giving everyone a reason to continue communicating on social media or using the website and remain active within the church. When you delight your members, they will be more loyal and faithful to your organization.

Inbound marketing services can be tailored for practically any business model, from the fortune 500 to the car dealership and worship hall. Brandcave can help you with any and all aspects of developing a strategy. Give us a call.

3 Great Examples of Content Marketing

Content marketing is a hard thing to get right. It’s among several tactics you can use to attract potential buyers and grow your business. However, it’s not as simple as putting a billboard up on the side of the highway. In fact, showing may be better than telling in this case. Having some real examples of content marketing can help make the concept less nebulous. Before I get to those examples though, it will be helpful to have some foreknowledge on what content marketing is supposed to do and how to do it.

What it is:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach aimed at making and delivering valuable and relevant content to your target audience. In fact, according to a LinkedIn poll of more than 600 marketers that ranked what makes content effective, audience relevance and engaging storytelling ranked the highest at 58% and 57% respectively. Triggering an action or response came in behind them at 54%. It should be clear then that the goal of any piece of content is to inform potential buyers and not sell to them.

“Content” can really be anything from videos, infographics, newsletters, case studies or social media. The most popular format is blogging though. 65% of those aforementioned marketers are include blogging routinely in their content marketing strategy.

No matter how your content is packaged, you need to be able to market it to your target audience via a variety of channels in order to draw buyers to your business. We have a blog that explains which social media channels will be best for your business here.

How it’s done:

You might think you can just jump ahead to the examples of content marketing, but you need to map out a strategy first. 80% of B2B marketers have one, documented or not, so not having one puts you at a disadvantage with your competitors. When you are forming your strategy, here are some things to keep in mind.

Know your audience: You have to make your content with an idea of who’s going to be consuming it. With this in mind, buyer personas are extremely important. How old are they? Will they get your Star Wars references? What social media platforms do they tend to be on?

Know your competitors: If you want to be the best, you have to know who the best is first. Learn from their successes and their mistakes. Being the best doesn’t necessarily mean your content is the most novel and innovative. It can be as simple as having the cleanest UI or posting consistently on social media.

Focus on the entire sales funnel: Buyers can happen upon you at any point during the conversion process. Have content ready for every occasion.

Consistency: This may not seem too important, but your audience needs to know what they will be getting from keeping up with you. If you say you are going to post a blog every Thursday and then don’t, they’ll find more reliable sources of information. It doesn’t matter what your schedule is – whether it’s twice a week or once a month – just don’t be flaky.

Experiment: In order to figure out what your audience wants from you, you need to test and collect data. What types of your content get shared the most? What channels are the most fruitful? Once you’ve analyzed the feedback and learned what works, deliver more of the same.

Quality over quantity: Remember what I said earlier about sticking to a schedule? Make sure that schedule is manageable. Potential buyers will take one well-constructed, engaging article over three articles you grind out at the eleventh hour. Give yourself the time to put in the effort needed to make great content.

Have an editorial calendar: This might be the most important out of everything. Plan your content creation for the next month. Plan your content promotion on social media. Plan, plan, plan. Document everything. Focus on optimizing your strategy for the best ROI instead of what to make the blog post for tomorrow about. I planned to write this blog a month ago, for instance.

Examples of Content Marketing:

Community-Driven Content Marketing: Convert and Grow proves the benefits of knowing your target audience and community engagement. It’s one thing to drive traffic to your site with great content, but if they aren’t potential buyers, then it’s wasted effort.

The target audience you select affects everything from what you make your content about to where you distribute it online. Finding your audience online requires genuine research, but once you locate them, they will be crucial to disseminating your content – both in core and secondary channels.

Central to the success of their marketing strategy is community engagement. You should offer your own expertise and be a contributive member of the group before you start posting your own content there. When they used this strategy, they accumulated 32,977 users in about five months.

Email-Driven Content Marketing: MarketDoc lays out a strategy complete with data, analytics and prices. Content marketing isn’t free, after all. They begin by researching other highly shared content for a good topic. Then they recommend hiring a guest blogger or someone to upgrade content. This costs money, of course, so you may or may not want to do that.

Email outreach is the crux of the strategy. You can generate email addresses using whichever online tool you prefer, and begin cold emailing. This can be a cost effective way to grow your email list and establish yourself in the community of your target audience.

Using this thorough breakdown of steps for content creation and content promotion, MarketDoc generated 167 email subscribers and 1,300 shares from just one blog post.

Game of Thrones: By far the coolest of the examples of content marketing, SEO Travel used content marketing to promote an awesome piece of content for any GOT fan – a map of all the filming locations used throughout the series. Their strategy shows the value of being in the right place at the right time, and that can only happen with research and planning. They do a good job of breaking down the preparation, production and promotion stages. None of these stages is more important than the others.

Relevance cannot be overstated in a successful content marketing campaign. The season finale of GOT was coming up when they published their map. At other times in the year, this would probably still be something fans would love to see, but at this time particularly, GOT was on the mind, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

SEO Travel’s uncomplicated strategy of prep, produce, promote and follow-up resulted in a 245% increase in referral traffic over the previous year and 111 linking domains acquired.

How can these examples of content marketing help you?

At the center of all of these examples of content marketing is a good idea. While it’s true that just having good content is not enough, having a good marketing strategy without the content to back it up is also not enough. Invest the time and brainpower needed to create something awesome.

A successful content marketing strategy requires a formula that’s right for you. Brandcave can help you find your business’s formula. Give us a call.

Is Social Media Necessary for B2B Lead Generation?

When you think of B2B lead generation, your mind probably doesn’t go straight to social media. Yes, it’s a great tool to increase website traffic and communicate with potential customers, but because of its neutrality, it can also be a great tool for generating leads. Social media can be a neutral environment for one company to learn about another without feeling like they’re being handled. Being discovered in a neutral place also gives your brand legitimacy and credibility. It gives you the opportunity to insert yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

Then there’s the low cost of implementing a social media strategy. Using the platform itself is free and every platform has its own advertising service that you can use to target your ideal personas. In fact, revenue increased for 24% of businesses who used social media for lead generation.

Have I sold you on the idea yet? Good. That leaves one important question: which channel is right for your company?

B2B Lead Generation on Twitter

Twitter as a platform is optimized for succinct communication. With only 144 characters, you don’t have room to be long winded about your business or product. That’s probably for the best. Twitter allows you to stay up to date with the conversations happening in your industry and provides an outlet to inject your own two cents.

Because of this emphasis on communication, Twitter actually has the lowest success rate for B2B lead generation at 30%. It does, however, let you connect with influential business leaders in your targeted demographic. If the content you share is good enough, you may even become one of those leaders.

There are mixed reviews on the success of lead generation via Twitter. A case study from Twitter for Business claimed a 996% acceleration in lead acquisition using Promoted Tweets with Lead Generation Cards. Others, such as Jeremy Smith from The Daily Egg swear to its ineffectiveness. At the very least, Twitter presents an opportunity to be a voice in a community and perhaps generate some organic leads. 70% B2B employees will also use your Twitter presence to determine your business’s credibility. Therefore, while it might not be the best platform for generating leads directly, Twitter can still be a meaningful part of your social media strategy.

B2B Lead Generation on Facebook

Facebook is not just for B2C marketing. Users get on Twitter for communication and information and users get on LinkedIn for their careers and businesses, but users get on Facebook because it’s a distraction. Liking and sharing things makes them feel good in an otherwise stressful day. Capitalize on their moment of bliss.

If your strategy includes Facebook for B2B lead generation, it will probably mean you will be using their paid Facebook Ads service. Fortunately, Facebook Ads are inexpensive. They have the lowest cost per click over Google Adwords and even LinkedIn Ads. They also reward you for testing more ads and different targets. Remember that even B2B marketers use Facebook for leisure so it pays more to value entertainment over serious sales content.

At its core, Facebook is still a place where people go to stalk the lives of their friends and family. At least, that’s how I use it. And, it’s not the most ideal place for businesses to interact with other businesses. Nonetheless, B2B marketers have found success generating leads on this very forward-facing platform. Marketo had success using Sponsored Stories and promoted posts, and other marketers have reported success using a social media strategy that included Facebook. However, there aren’t a lot of studies out there that include solid statistics. Take that to mean whatever you want.

B2B Lead Generation on LinkedIn

As far as social media platforms go, LinkedIn is the most business-friendly. Most users who visit the site do so for business-related reasons. Because of it’s high population of c-level executives, it’s an excellent platform for B2B lead generation.

According to Hubspot, LinkedIn has the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate of any social media channel at 2.74% for both B2B and B2C. That’s higher than both Twitter and Facebook.

To begin, you need a presence on LinkedIn so you can begin generating leads. It pays to make your company page look jazzy: optimize it for industry keywords, add tabs for your products/services and include informative media. Be sure to post often to establish a presence on the site and gain followers. The content you post will depend on the audience. Test your posts to decide what works and what doesn’t and don’t pass up an opportunity for a call to action.

Once you have a following, you can begin using Sponsored Updates. This feature allows you to put paid promotions behind status updates. The coolest thing about this is that you can target users based on criteria such as location, job title, LinkedIn Group associations or company name.

LinkedIn Ads are another option. They are similar to Sponsored Updates but LinkedIn Ads give you the ability to customize your ad. You can choose to add an image or video and not just include text. According to LinkedIn, adding an image can increase clicks by 20%. And 20% goes a long way.

Similar to Facebook Ad impressions, LinkedIn doesn’t necessarily charge you the full amount of your campaign budget per day, either. You are only charged for the actual amount of activity your campaign receives.

Not All Platforms Are Right For You

No matter which social media platforms you elect to use in your marketing strategy, make sure not to stretch yourself too thin.

You don’t need to be on every platform. Pick what’s right for your budget and your buyer personas. Twitter is good for sharing information and joining the conversation. Facebook is good for fun, entertaining and easily sharable content. LinkedIn is a good environment for showcasing your company and making business connections. Consider what you will be doing on each platform and what content you have at your disposal.

A good social media strategy requires juggling a number of things: SEO, content marketing, testing and analysis. Luckily, Brandcave knows about all of them. Give us a call. We’re excellent jugglers.

SMarketing: The Marriage of Sales and Marketing

A couple years ago, HubSpot coined a new word: smarketing. It’s a combination of the words sales and marketing and it is endlessly fun to inject into any conversation — yet very difficult to take seriously. Sorry, Hubspot, but it just sounds obnoxious. For employees working in sales and marketing, however, understanding the concept behind this ridiculous phrase can provide valuable insight into improving cohesion and increasing revenue — as much as 20%!

Why SMarketing?

Sales and marketing have had a notoriously rocky relationship.

“You send us the worst leads!” Sales professionals will say to their marketing teams.

“It’s not our fault you can’t close any deals. Your jobs aren’t that hard.” The marketing team retorts.

“Maybe if you didn’t spend so much time on social media and more time giving us good leads, we could do our jobs.”

“Maybe if you fully understood what you’re even trying to sell, you wouldn’t suck so much.” In marriages, this kind of negative back and forth is called the crazy cycle and it certainly applies here. If sales and marketing are going to make this relationship work, they are going to have to start doing things differently. Any good relationship has reciprocation and cooperation, and that’s what these guys need too. But, how?

How to SMark

What do sales and marketing want from each other? If the answers that come from sales and marketing are different, then they are not aligned for success.

The marriage of sales and marketing, like any marriage, will require several important milestones. Eloping may seem like the simplest and fastest way to achieve your goals, but don’t do it. Spur of the moment decisions never pan out, and no couple ever solved their problems by jumping into a situation they weren’t prepared for. Instead, follow these steps to build a strong relationship that can pass the stress test.

Engagement

Like engagement, the first step of Smarketing is agreeing on the foundation of the relationship. Common definitions of terms and practices should be shared by both parties. Buyer personas, messaging and lead qualifications should be agreed on prior to anything else.

Sales teams often complain that marketers do not provide the good leads they need to do their job successfully. Clarifying the definition of a good lead can eliminate this particular issue. Like communication in marriage, there can never be too much clarification.

Each company will have their own unique obstacles to achieving Smarketing alignment, but the more specific both sides are in defining their needs, the better partners they will be to one another.

Vows

After sales and marketing have built a strong foundation, they need to make a commitment to one another. Creating a joint strategy together can protect the relationship from potential breakups in the future. This commitment should come in the form of service level agreements (SLAs).

Again, these vows are particular to the company and the roles marketing and sales have agreed upon but, generally speaking, these vows should concern the care of something both sides value, such as leads. For instance, marketing vows to give sales X number of quality leads per month, sales vows to contact those leads in X amount of time and follow up with marketing and both have one revenue target. An important feature of SLAs is that when marketing and sales have a joint strategy in place, it reduces the need of the two to compete against another.

Making a commitment like the one stated above, on the other hand, encourages collaboration and accountability.

After the Honeymoon

That feeling of satisfaction and delight doesn’t last long after the SLA has been put into place, and soon, reality sets in. It isn’t just an idea anymore; the guidelines of the SLA have to be implemented, now, and this may be the hardest part.

During this time, it’s important that both sides be honest and transparent with each other. If marketing feels its contributions are being under-appreciated and if sales feels the leads they were given were not good enough, this needs to be addressed, preferably on a daily basis.

Marketers need to know what delivers the best leads and sales needs to know how leads get to them in the first place so they can offer better insights. It’s also not as easy to measure the success of a good marketing strategy like it is to measure the success of a good sales strategy. Sales might start thinking that marketing is just there to support them, but they are independent parties working together for a common goal. Regular, transparent communication will help them come to this conclusion. Like the saying goes: a couple that shares data stays together. Am I right?

Vow Renewal

Every relationship is a journey and one as complex and important as sales and marketing will always require hard work and patience. Coming back every month or so to reaffirm their commitment to each other and remember what they’re fighting for — company revenue growth — is important to the success of any smarketing strategy. This reaffirmation ceremony also provides an opportunity for everybody to celebrate what their teamwork has accomplished.

Does sales understand the job of marketers better now? Does marketing receive feedback on what generates the best leads now? Do they appreciate each other’s contributions now? If the answer’s yes to questions like these, then smarketing, no matter how infuriating the word may be, has been a success.

Looking for someone to officiate this marriage? Brandcave is ordained in inbound marketing and would love to help you align your marketing and sales strategies. Give us a call.

An Open Letter to School PR

I recently met with members of the Texas School Public Relation Association to discuss their tactics on improving their education PR, social media campaigns and video production strategy.

From the beginning, it was clear just how unfamiliar I was the struggles of education PR. They live in a different world than I do. Brandcave works in a variety of scenarios, but none of them include superintendents, board meetings, budget committees or demanding parents. Our work helps generate leads and sales; their work is more consistent with politics and pleasing constituents. And, to be honest, I think most of them have a raw deal. My heart truly goes out to them.

They’ve been asked to write, plan and produce compelling video, and they haven’t reached the engagement they hoped for with their social media campaigns. All the while, their real job as a public relations practitioner has become increasingly difficult, not to mention more regulated, so engaging with their target audience is more complicated than they imagined.

After analyzing their issues, I suggested two encouragements:

Begin Videos With Solid Strategies

They asked great questions. Is it important to capture quality footage? How do I know if a video should be produced inhouse or outsourced? What’s worthy of a video? How do I measure the effectiveness of video?

Those questions are resolved by the answers to these questions: 1) What communication goal are you trying to achieve? 2) Who are you trying to reach?

When those questions are answered, details fall in place. That’s because your KPI (key performance indicator) determines the scope of work. It determines the message, quality, length, channel and measurement strategies. Without an intended end result, a video strategy is akin to throwing spaghetti on the wall. If there isn’t a call to action, do we really expect anything to happen?

Video is a great medium for many messages, but the quality of the video should be determined by the priority of the message. Is the focal point promoting a new bond or increasing awareness about a program? Those are two very different kinds of videos. They have different levels of severity. One is better suited for an email campaign; the other probably belongs on Facebook. One could be filmed by students with an iPad in a run-and-gun scenario. The other might require a professional production team using commercial equipment in a staged environment.

I might have oversimplified; I know their situation is much more complicated. The horror stories I heard blew me away.

One person told me their superintendent asked them to only produce viral videos. That’s incredible! Not only is it unattainable, it’s not even desirable. And, while I appreciate the sentiment to make videos that people enjoy, views are not a primary indicator of success. Moreover, virality for the sake of virality is not a solid strategy. It’s the same strategy a 14 year old girl has when she posts cover songs on Youtube.

I encouraged them to look into a video platform called Wistia (http://wistia.com). Like Youtube or Vimeo, Wistia is a video hosting and curation platform. Unlike Youtube or Vimeo, Wistia is easier to manage for videos requiring in-depth marketing campaigns. It also allows you to add a custom call to action at the end of your videos (such as linking to another web page or capturing email). It is also easier to control comments.

Focus on Your Target Audience’s Social Networks

I mentioned the importance of understanding communication goals and target audiences earlier, and the same applies to social media campaigns. Their questions applied to improving social networks through public schools, but the management solutions are all the same.

Should schools join Snapchat? If a communication goal is to engage students, absolutely. How do schools engage parents? They might join them on Facebook. Using different platforms allows you to target individual audiences. It’s completely unnecessary, however, to join every social network.

Lastly, I encouraged them to look into a social media management tool called Buffer (http://buffer.com). At Brandcave, we use Buffer to manage all of our client’s social media accounts. Besides the ability to schedule posts for all of the major social networks, Buffer allows users to work in teams. Multiple contributors can add and schedule content, and managers have the ability to approve them before they’re sent. In terms of enforcing policies, that’s a godsend. The analytics are phenomenal too.

This is just one example of Brandcave’s ability to improve an association’s social media and video strategy. We would love to do the same for you. Give us a call.

Online Advertising Manager, Here’s How to Maximize Your PPC Budget

At the center of the internet, several companies vie for your attention. Among them, it’s no surprise that Google reigns supreme. From NFL season tickets to news on the latest political scandal, we’ve grown to rely on the Google curation algorithms for anything and everything.

For this reason, companies want a good relationship with Google. Top keyword positions are some of the most highly coveted plots of digital real estate available. And, when companies cannot rank for those keywords organically, they buy Google ads. Lots of them.

When companies cannot rank for those keywords organically, they buy Google ads. Lots of them.

The ability to purchase ads on Google comes via their Adwords platform. It’s called PPC, or pay-per-click advertising. If you serve as your company’s online advertising manager, you already know this. What you might not know, however, is how to maximize the effectiveness of your ad spend. Want the number one tip on maximizing your PPC budget? Here it is:

Only Invest in Keywords With Commercial Intent

When your target audience loads up Google, what keyword phrases are they going to search before they purchase a product or service like yours? That’s a trick question. Chances are, you don’t know them as well as you think you do.

The problem is, you’re probably too smart. You have considerable domain knowledge about your industry. You use jargon that your audience might not normally use. This is especially true in B2B technology. And, while the terms you use to describe your company might be valid, they might also have little-to-no commercial intent.

Commercial intent is the key to maximizing your PPC advertising budget. When it comes to choosing keywords, commercial intent is more important than search volume. It’s the difference between higher web traffic and higher-converting web traffic.

Commercial intent is more important than search volume.

How do you determine which keywords have commercial intent? Look for the keyword’s competition and the suggested ad bid.

Look for the Suggested Bid and Competition Rating

As you’re already aware, Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to analyze relevant search data. It provides keyword information on average monthly searches, competition and, most importantly, the Adwords suggested bid.

That suggested bid (or cost per click), is the easiest way to understand how valuable traffic from a keyword actually is. If a keyword’s suggested bid is high, there is a better chance advertisers have found value in it. If it’s low, that’s because advertisers probably have not found it to convert well. In other words, the more people bid on a keyword, the more lucrative you can expect it to be.

Additionally, the keyword competition column in Keyword Planner is a nice complement to the Adwords Suggested Bid. The competition rating is based on how many advertisers bid on that particular keyword in Adwords. It simplifies the keyword’s commercial intent into three categories: low, medium and high.

Determining Commercial Intent for New Markets

If your product or service is in an existing market, it’s not difficult to determine which keywords have commercial intent. Your audience is already familiar with the industry terms. But, if your company is in a new market, you may have to get creative — there may not be many search terms with commercial intent that directly fit your company.

Here’s an example of what I mean: Brandcave recently helped a new fintech startup launch their website. When discussing key messaging for their product, the startup founder described it as an automated point-of-sale digital loan processing engine. Now, can you guess how many financial institutions are searching for a solution like an automated point-of-sale digital loan processing engine? They would definitely be interested in one, but they probably don’t know that such a product exists.

At least, they’re not using those search terms to find it.

In new markets, your customers often do not realize they need a product like yours until they see it. In other words, new market products need to position themselves next to similar, existing market products to be found.

In other words, new market products need to position themselves next to similar, existing market products to be found.

In the case of this fintech startup, their product wasn’t a loan origination system, but it did aid in loan origination. In fact, it purported to extend the power of existing loan origination systems. So, Brandcave helped position this new market product next to an age-old market, loan origination software. And, their audience, who was originally looking for loan origination software, became introduced to a new kind of loan origination product.

Maximize Your Budget by Spending on the Right Terms

Knowing your audience is the first step toward targeting the right kind of search traffic. When you know the language they’re using to find you, you can tune your strategy and advertise accordingly.

When you only target keywords with commercial intent, you save money. Instead of simply boosting your web traffic from ads, your ads boost higher-converting web traffic.

TL;DR: Only target keywords with commercial intent. When you limit your PPC advertising to “bottom of the funnel” search terms, you decrease the amount of money spent on ad spend in lower converting search terms.

4 Simple Steps to Convert Your Targeted Traffic to Customers

In the year 2016 we have self-driving cars, one-man helicopters, and “hoverboards” that don’t actually hover. With constant innovation in every facet of life, it is to nobody’s surprise that the way we market to consumers has also changed dramatically. The days of throwing your face and phone number on a commercial ad are filtering out because fast-paced marketing is shifting from tv screens to computer screens. Consumers are bogged down with media through our smartphones and tablets, but how do you stand out from the other junk that gets lost in the mix of a Twitter feed?

Inbound marketing is a strategic method that puts the marketer in charge of funneling targeted traffic into customers. It grabs the attention of consumers and guides them to your site. This mode of marketing is about marketing to a certain demographic, leading them to your product, and turning them into a customer. Here are 4 steps to help convert traffic to customers.

Draw The Right Traffic

When looking to improve your brand’s digital presence through inbound marketing, it is important to bring the right traffic to your site, not just any traffic. Consumers have problems you can fix and you want to make it simple for them to find you. Understanding your prime demographic will make it easier to hit these targets. For example, if you’re selling a product to young, stay-at-home mothers, Pinterest is the go-to platform for women who want DIY-inspired projects to do around the house. Also, advertise your product in such a way that makes them want to know more about it. Believing your product is great is only half the battle, making your customer believe it is what turns traffic into leads. Again, Pinterest is a superb platform, but you can get lost in the mix if your post is generic. Every minute of a day, Pinterest users “pin” a total 3,472 images (Data Never Sleeps 2.0). Getting lost in those pins is not a difficult task, but zoning in on your target market makes your post jump off the screen. For instance, If you’re creating a blog to detail your product, fit it to the target audience’s desires: “Around the house projects that show off your comfy home.”

Calls to Action

Converting leads into actual customers requires diligent calls to action. A call to action is a physical act someone on your site can perform to gain more information about a product, subscribe to a blog, get on an email list, etc. Construct pop ups that ask for the customer’s email, so they can receive newsletters, blogs, or even coupons to certain products.The longer a potential customer is walking through your site, the more likely they are to take action on acquiring your product or service, so creating links within your blog that sends them to a specific product on your website gives them easy access to information that does not demand extensive research or wandering throughout your site. According to Tony Haile of Time Magazine, more than half of all internet users spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. By creating quick calls to action, your targeted traffic is less likely to bounce from your site. In our fast-paced world, simplicity is a breath of fresh air to everybody, so your site needs to lay out for customers’ needs just as much as you desire for it to attract them.

Simplify the Buying Process

If all goes well, your customer is ready to buy your product. Keep simplicity the theme of your inbound marketing strategy by making the buying process straightforward. Buttons are efficient tools to seal the deal on purchases. A button is a small signal on your site that sends the customer to a purchasing page. The principal of a button is not a flashy, obnoxious circle that screams “I need your attention!” but a subtle, eye catching flag that demands a once over. The purchasing page on your site cannot overwhelm, and the layout needs to be direct because filling out personal information can be a hassle. Also, by simplifying this process it makes it less likely for a customer to bounce away from the purchasing page.

The Follow-Up

For any business, especially a startup, a single customer is a success, but satisfaction does not rest on one customer. Let your previous customers market for you. Help them flock to their friends on social media, make them a part of your business as a loyal customer, and show them what else you have to offer. After your customer has purchased their product, give them an opportunity to share it on their Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for an incentive to continue buying. Ask them to fill out a survey, give them an option to subscribe to your blog, or send them links to similar products that might gain their interest. Word of mouth on the internet is faster than wildfire, so guide the conversation with your product. Integrating customer testimonials in your marketing strategy shows potential customers the credibility of your product and brand. Social media platforms are exponentially spread, so one single Tweet could reach thousands of followers depending on the strength of your Twitter profile (Simply Measured).

The ideal inbound marketing strategy is finding your niche, and driving the customers your way. They want your product, you just have to let them know it exists. Brandcave does a phenomenal job of bringing all of this together for you. If you’re curious to see how we do it, check out the inbound marketing page on the Brandcave website!