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Save Money on Early Years Products with YPO Banner

300 Qualified Leads in 3 Months

By Jennifer Esty  |  September 28, 2018

Sharp Ahead provide digital marketing consultancy and lead generation services to YPO, the UK’s largest public sector buying organisation.

Our latest campaign for their Early Years range produced outstanding results in the first three months of its launch:

  • 300 qualified leads (and counting)
  • Cost per lead of less than £19
  • 82% opt in for further marketing communications

The campaign focused on paid media and conversion optimisation, using a combination of search, display and social.

It proved that YPO’s unique value proposition for this sector is servicing latent demand for high quality, cost effective products in UK nurseries, clubs and preschools.

For more information on this campaign, or how Sharp Ahead could provide similar results for your B2B organisation, please contact Jennifer Esty.

A phone and laptop displaying a webpage about a new coworking space

5 Lessons from over 250 landing pages

By Jennifer Esty  |  June 15, 2018

At Sharp Ahead we specialise in creating conversion optimised landing pages for B2B clients with complex products and services.

Our clients’ websites are almost universally complicated, with numerous calls to actions and menu items which need to serve multiple stakeholders and customer personas.

Landing pages are a way to ensure that paid media spend directs lead traffic to pages designed to meet a prospect’s specific need.

But just because landing pages are less complex than websites, designing them is no less of a science.

After creating hundreds of landing pages for diverse clients in diverse sectors, we have some key best practice tips to make sure your landing pages generate high quality leads and ROI on your paid media spend.

Lesson 1: the 5 second rule

In person you generally have 7 seconds to make a good first impression. Online, you have even less time. Make sure your landing pages (and indeed all of your digital communications) pass this simple test.
The 5 Second Rule: in 5 seconds or less, can a prospect clearly understand who you are and what you are offering them?

Specifically, above the fold you need:

  • A clear statement of your value proposition. Don’t be clever with this statement. Now’s not the time for puns or beautifully crafted brand statements. Think Ronseal. In as few words as possible state exactly what you offer
  • A single call to action. Make it visually strong. Ensure it’s succinct and written from the point of view of the prospect
  • Social proof. Social proof can take the form of client logos, imagery, or peer testimonials. Social proof reassures prospects that other companies like their company work with you—and therefore so should they

Remember, if in 5 seconds the prospect doesn’t feel reassured that they’ve come to the right place, the back button will quickly and easily show them an entire search engine results page of alternative options.

Lesson 2: Encourage web-to-phone

Yes, that’s right, here’s a digital marketing agency telling you to get your prospects on the phone.

Although much of a prospect’s research will take place online, for most B2B companies, particularly those with complex, very high-value propositions, the actual sales process needs to take place human-to-human.

Landing pages should not only be designed to capture lead data via forms but even more importantly they should be designed to offer prospects the opportunity to get in touch via phone.

Including a phone number signals a number of things to a prospect:

  • The company is real, not just online
  • The company is open for business
  • There are real live humans that want to talk to you
  • The company takes customer service seriously

And here are top tips on how to use phone numbers effectively on landing pages:

  • Make the phone number visible, ideally in the header of your landing page
  • Repeat the phone number, particularly at the bottom of the page so a prospect that has scrolled down doesn’t have to think about scrolling back up to find it again
  • Include your hours of operation so a prospect knows when you’re open and when filling out a form is a better idea
  • On mobile, make the phone number click to call

Lesson 3: Skimmable Content

We all know that most of the time, consumers of digital content are not properly reading, they’re skimming to find the relevant piece of information that will either reassure them they are looking at the right thing- or send them back to a search engine results page to find something else.

Our tips:

  • Make sure your content is written and structured in a way that makes skimming through it easy whilst still giving them the information they need
  • Use blocks of content that stand out. Designing with different blocks of colour, for example, gives a visual clue and helps key information stand out
  • Include social proof throughout your landing page, mix it up with short quotes, logos, and imagery
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat content. A user skimming content is likely to have missed something, so don’t be afraid to repeat key messages throughout the page
  • The same goes for your CTA. Don’t make a user ready to engage with you look for the button that will bring up a form. Repeat it throughout: always above the fold and at the bottom of the page

Lesson 4: Separate Design for Mobile

While statistics vary on how many people are using phones versus desktop for B2B research, you can safely assume that at least half of your prospects are engaging with your landing pages on a mobile device.

Landing pages need to be not just responsive but designed separately for desktop and mobile to ensure they are conversion optimised for both experiences.

There are a few key differences between the two:

  • Phone numbers on mobile pages can be click-to-call
  • The experience of filling out a form is very different; make sure you’ve designed—and tested—your forms on both desktop and mobile
  • Mobile users can scroll down quickly with a swipe of their finger so longer pages are fine but make sure key messages are still standing out
  • Load times, a landing page that is slow to load on mobile is even less likely to get viewed than on desktop. Make sure images are optimised and always test the mobile experience as thoroughly as you would the desktop version

Lesson 5: The Attention Ratio

Attention Ratio refers to the number of things a prospect is being asked to do or think about in a page.

Going back to the beginning, the reason landing pages are so important for paid traffic is that websites are just too distracting.

A website might have a dozen or even more calls to action: think about not just your conversion features but your menu items, social icons, in-page content, contextual links, etc.

For your landing pages, you want to strive for an attention ration of 1. This means have one, very clear call to action on the page whenever possible. (Two if you count the phone number).

Sometimes there are very good reasons for having more than one call to action, but in those cases make it clear what the difference is and prioritise visually the one you would prefer a prospect pay attention to.

Lead generation using paid media campaigns are a great way to grow your business, so remember to optimise your ROI by optimising your landing pages first.

Want this article in a handy, shareable pdf? Download it here.

The VARs Digital Maturity Index Banner

Half of Top UK Resellers Ignore Digital Marketing Best Practice

By Jennifer Esty  |  April 27, 2018

A new report from B2B digital marketing experts Sharp Ahead reveals that 56% of the top UK resellers have yet to implement basic digital marketing best practice.

In the increasingly competitive channel market, these organisations are not only failing to provide existing customers with a positive user experience but are also failing to support their own sales efforts—and potentially missing out on new business as a result.

The 2018 research does, however, show that resellers are improving; the 2017 report revealed that 70% of the top resellers failed to implement digital best practice.

The report’s key findings

Key findings of the 2018 report include:

  • 56% of VARs missing at least one basic best practice
  • Only 63% have secure (https) sites
  • 44% did not have good conversion features on their sites
  • 84% of VARs offering a newsletter subscription did not use double opt-in

The research analysed the top 100 UK resellers, as listed in CRN’s annual report, focussing on their “digital footprints” or online presence. The methodology reflects a prospective customer’s experience of each organisation using 14 key digital signals including search user experience, onsite user experience, and digital marketing technology adoption.

Commenting on the report, which saw third-largest UK channel firm Daisy Group ranked as one of the digital superstars, Melissa Roberts, Daisy’s Marketing Manager, said: “Daisy has embraced digital marketing as a means not only to connect with our existing customers online but also as an integral part of our sales strategy. We firmly believe that the importance of digital marketing will continue to grow in the channel and are committed to providing a best practice experience for customers and prospects.”

According to Jennifer Esty, Director of Sharp Ahead and former Digital Marketing Manager for Microsoft UK, “resellers have been slow to adopt digital marketing best practice but now risk allowing more savvy competitors to reach their customers and prospects first. There are some immediate best practice organisations can follow, as well as longer term more strategic approaches they should consider.”

Read the full VARs Digital Maturity Index report from Sharp Ahead.

Inside Wolverhampton Science Park

The University of Wolverhampton Science Park and Sharp Ahead Launch Campaign for New Science Centre Facility

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 15, 2018

The University of Wolverhampton Science Park and flexible workspace lead generation experts, Sharp Ahead, have launched a digital campaign to promote the purpose-built workspaces available at the newly opened Science Centre. The science, technology and prototyping facilities are unique in the Black Country and offer unrivalled specialist space for science and technology businesses.

Sharp Ahead will focus on helping The University reach full capacity in the Science Centre the Science Park reach full occupancy in the Science Centre, as well as building a pipeline of occupants in the aerospace, automotive, construction, and life sciences sectors to ensure the ongoing success of the Park’s long term strategy.

The Science Park’s Commercial Director, Nigel Babb said, “we chose Sharp Ahead because of their proven track record in working with science and innovation parks. We are excited about the launch of this campaign as the Science Park focusses on its strategy of attracting specialist businesses into the region. The Science Centre is an integral part of the University of Wolverhampton’s economic development strategy, and we are confident the new facilities will provide occupants with the right mix of flexible spaces, innovative services, and the opportunity for growth.”

About The University of Wolverhampton Science Park

The University of Wolverhampton Science Park has been supporting businesses from science, technology, knowledge-based and creative sectors through every stage of their development for over two decades and has become known as one of the region’s most vibrant technology communities. The newly opened Science Centre will provide the region with much-needed high quality office space, laboratories and workshop space to help attract inward investment to the area. Find out more.

About Sharp Ahead

Sharp Ahead are a specialist B2B digital marketing agency with specific expertise in lead generation for flexible commercial property spaces, particularly science and innovation parks. Find out more.

People Watching Firework Display

Sharp Ahead Highlights of 2017

By John Woods  |  January 2, 2018

I’m writing this in that quiet time between Christmas and New Year. It’s a great time for reflection. It has been a busy year for us at Sharp Ahead with some significant achievements of which I’m really proud.

Here are some of my personal highlights for this year.

Digital marketing driving expansion at the Fareham Innovation Centre

The launch of the Fareham Innovation Centre was one of our first lead generation projects in the commercial property sector. Using a mix of paid media and conversion-optimised landing pages we helped the new centre build its community of local entrepreneurs and growing businesses in specialist sectors such as advanced engineering, marine technology and aerospace. As a result the building was fully subscribed within a year of opening – two years ahead of schedule.

In 2017 we learned that the spectacular success of the launch has led to a second phase of investment. Construction is now well under way to double the size of the centre, and the new space will be opening in Spring 2018.

The results of B2B marketing are often intangible, so it’s really satisfying to see the real-world impact of our work in the form of a brand-new building!

Ultra-modern lead generation for a long-established business

CLEAN Linen Services can trace its history to a single family-run laundry established in 1886. Today it is a market leader in textile and workwear laundry services, serving over 5,500 customers across the UK. CLEAN has invested in modern technology to deliver its services, including RFID tagging for inventory control and highly efficient new laundry facilities to reduce environmental impacts.

So perhaps it is not surprising that this highly innovative “traditional” business has also been willing to invest in the latest digital marketing techniques. Our work with CLEAN has seen its online lead generation accelerate by 50%.

It’s great to be part of a project that proves how even businesses in “traditional” industries can benefit enormously from modern digital marketing techniques if – like CLEAN – they have the confidence and vision to embrace new approaches.

New market segments for YPO

Another Sharp Ahead client with a somewhat “traditional” history is YPO, a procurement specialist providing over 30,000 products to schools, local authorities and other customers – mostly in the public sector.

Our work with YPO has focussed on cost-effective strategies for new client acquisition. The results have been excellent in their traditional market segments, with in excess of £1M incremental profit attributable to the campaigns. A particular highlight for me is that our work has allowed YPO to identify new market segments (such as childrens’ centres and prisons) that offer opportunities for strategic growth outside their traditional core sectors.

Other highlights in brief

Many of our projects are confidential, so some of our most exciting projects have to stay under wraps. Amongst the highlights I can’t describe in detail: this year we’ve helped a major global manufacturer enter the UK market with a new B2B ecommerce product; we’ve worked on a massively successful long-term lead generation for one of the UK’s fastest-growing professional services companies; and we’ve developed a super-efficient tactical lead generation campaign for a niche B2B consultancy company that uses some of the most precise targeting for digital marketing that I’ve ever seen.

It has been a great year where our clients’ successes have really shown the value of the work we do as an agency.

Are you thinking about how to drive increased B2B business success in 2018? If so, get in touch to explore how Sharp Ahead could help you.

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