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Sharp Ahead welcome new WordPress developer and digital designer, Gary Lees

By Emma Grimshaw  |  May 22, 2020
As the team of B2B experts at Sharp Ahead continues to grow, we are delighted to welcome WordPress developer and digital designer, Gary Lees.

With over 18 years’ industry experience, Gary has designed, developed and illustrated many varied and high-profile projects, including innovative technology solutions, large scale web development for global brands, commercial illustration for glossy magazines, and conceptual design for food packaging. 

His impressive portfolio includes projects for Stella Artois, Budweiser, Scalectrix, Hornby Hobbies, Thwaites Brewery, Car Magazine, Golf World and Today’s Golfer magazines. This combined experience has given Gary a deep understanding of the digital design best practice for corporate clients and B2B companies.

If you would to talk to us about how Gary and the Sharp Ahead team can help you with your next B2B web project please get in touch!

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Are LinkedIn text ads the best kept secret in B2B brand advertising?

By Emma Grimshaw  |  May 20, 2020

The LinkedIn advertising platform has evolved quickly in recent years. What started out as a clunky interface with limited audience options and just a single advert format (the humble Text Ad), has matured into a more refined user experience with sophisticated targeting options that are a treasure-trove for B2B marketers. 

Their newer Sponsored Content ad format is – on paper – better than it’s predecessor in almost every way. Benefiting from a large image or graphic, a generous character limit, a clear call-to-action button, and prominent news feed placement, you can expect a well-performing ad to generate a click-through-rate of 0.35-0.45%, according to LinkedIn.

Side-by-side the original Text Ad format looks somewhat meagre, tucked away to the right of the screen with just 50×50 pixel thumbnail image, 25-character headline, and 75-character description. And with a CTR of 0.12% being considered by LinkedIn as a ‘good’, it might leave you wondering: why even bother with Text Ads at all?

1 – LinkedIn Text Ads are excellent value

On the face of it a Text Ad with 10,000 impressions and 1 click might not feel like value added. But if your campaign is set to bid for clicks rather than impressions, then this should be considered a success. Where else would you be able to get your brand in front of a well targeted audience of B2B decision-makers 10,000 times for less than the price of a cup of coffee?

2 – LinkedIn Text Ads are highly targeted

If you have already created a sleek Sponsored Content campaign, then you’re only a few clicks away from setting up some complementary Text Ads. Your audience has already been defined and refined, so why not utilise this and reinforce your sales-focused messages with brand-building creative? 

3 – LinkedIn Text ads are perfect for brand building

With specialist B2B products and services, there is a good chance that your audience isn’t big enough to run remarketing ads on LinkedIn. Text Ads are a great alternative, enabling you to keep your brand front-of-mind with the same prospects that have likely seen your Sponsored Content ads.

So whilst they might not boast impressive enough CTRs to hinge an entire lead generation campaign on, their power to generate brand awareness for pennies is the reason we think LinkedIn Text Ads are one of the best kept secrets in B2B brand advertising.

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Using Google Optimize to implement a COVID-19 notice in a sticky header

By John Woods  |  May 7, 2020

There is no “business as usual” at the moment. Even if your business is operating normally, you can’t assume that your clients, prospects and other stakeholders will realise that. So it’s important to proactively communicate how your business is responding to COVID-19. A simple, but effective way to do this on your website is with a site-wide sticky header – like the one we are using on the Sharp Ahead website.

We like this approach because it is conspicuous and clear while being minimally disruptive of the user experience. It has essentially no impact on the rest of the page, just taking up a few vertical pixels and pushing the normal content a little further down.

If you are lucky, your website’s content management system may already have support for a sticky header. But if it doesn’t, Google have provided a simple way to implement a COVID-19 notice using Google Optimize. This can be done with the free version of Google Optimize, so there’s no technology cost, and the steps are simple enough that you should be able to implement this in an hour or so.

Here’s a walkthrough of the steps needed to implement a COVID-19 sticky header, using Google Optimize:

1) If you already have Google Optimize set up and working on your website, you can skip ahead to step 5. Otherwise, start by signing up for a Google Optimize account at https://marketingplatform.google.com/intl/en_uk/about/optimize/.


2) Follow the prompts in Google Optimize to create a new account, and a new container within that account. You will end up with a container ID that will look something like OPT-ABCDEFG.

3) Advance warning, this is the only tricky part – proceed with coffee. You will need to install the Google Optimize snippet in your website, and it needs to be added to every page. Ideally it should be included in the HTML <HEAD> section of the page, but that isn’t essential for this particular usage. You may need help from your web developers to do this. If you have Google Tag Manager, you can use that to install Google Optimize much more easily. (If you don’t have Google Tag Manager – why not? It’s a key productivity tool for digital marketing teams!)

4) For the next bit, it is much easier to work within the Chrome browser. So switch your browser if need be, and then install the Chrome extension for Google Optimize (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-optimize/bhdplaindhdkiflmbfbciehdccfhegci).

5) In your Google Optimize container, select “Create an experience”. Give your experience a name, provide the URL of your homepage and choose Google’s built-in “COVID-19 banner” experience type:

 

6) If everything is set up correctly, you’ll see a preview of your homepage with Google’s default banner in place, like this:

7) That default banner is a good start but most likely you will want to change the content and appearance somewhat. Use the on-screen editor controls to change the banner’s text and colours to get it the way you want it. The Optimize editor is powerful but takes a bit of getting used to. The live preview at least means you can see the impact of your changes right away.  You might need a bit of trial and error – if you get lost, you can always shut down the editor screen without saving and start again! Here’s an example of how to change the background colour of the bar to “COVID-19 Red”:

8) Once you have the banner reading and looking exactly how you want it, hit the Save button in the top right of the editor screen and then click Done:

9) If all is well, you’ll see the Optimize details screen with your banner experience showing as “Draft. Some setup steps must still be completed.”:

10) You can leave most of these settings unchanged. In the “Measurement” section, click on the “Link to Analytics” button and follow the prompts to set up that connection.

11) You should now see the status change to “Draft. Ready to start.”:

12) Hit the “Start” button to put your banner live!

Google Optimize does a pretty good job of laying out and sizing the banner for various devices, but it’s a good idea to test the end result on both a computer and a phone to make sure you are happy with it.

When things change

Google Optimize doesn’t allow an Experience to be edited after it has been put live. So if you need to change your banner, log back into Google Optimize and make a copy of the Experience. Make your edits to the copy, then stop the original banner and start the new copy.

Speak to an expert

If you are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on your paid media strategies, or on any other aspect of your B2B digital marketing, speak to an expert at Sharp Ahead today. We offer a free 30-minute remote consultation.