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Constant Contact Acquires SharpSpring

What does this mean for your company?

By Dan Winter  |  June 28, 2021

Last week it was announced that SharpSpring has been acquired by Constant Contact – an established leader in online marketing technology.

As many of our valued clients are currently using, or in the process of implementing, SharpSpring, we wanted to give you a quick update on the latest news.  

In a session for agencies late last week, SharpSpring’s CEO Rick Carlson assured us that the fundamentals of the software will not change – Constant Contact and SharpSpring share the same values and vision. The acquisition provides the opportunity for further investment in the platform – meaning more great features for you and us!

What happens next?

Well, mainly, it’s business as usual. Constant Contact and SharpSpring will spend the next couple of months completing the legal necessities, and at Sharp Ahead we’ll continue to drive growth for our clients through the SharpSpring platform. 

We’ve been informed there will be no major changes for the foreseeable future. There are, however, a range of exciting new features already in the pipeline for this year, including: 

  • An SMS marketing tool
  • New integrations
  • New navigation
  • New opportunity manager
  • An updated mobile app

Any questions?

We’ll keep you updated as and when we hear more about the acquisition and any exciting new features, but if you have any questions, or if you’re interested in becoming a SharpSpring user please do get in touch!

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Digital Spring Clean - 3 Quick Tips

Spruce up your digital marketing and stay top of mind with your customers

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 24, 2021

This past weekend marked the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, so we thought we’d give you a few quick tips for your digital spring clean.

1. Tidy up your SERP (search engine results page)

This is a key part of the experience for your prospects, customers and other important stakeholders interacting with your business and if you haven’t Googled your brand name in a while, now is as good a time as any.

Here’s how to check your SERP the right way. 

First, use an incognito window so you’re not biasing what you see based on previous search behaviour. Then check for these signals:

  • Are you in the top position (P1)?
  • Is anyone running an ad on your brand name?
  • Is your Google My Business / Knowledge Panel listing up to date with accurate contact details (phone, website, opening hours etc.)?
  • How are your reviews looking? Are there any that you could respond to? These are people in close contact with your business and they deserve your attention.

What if things are looking a bit dusty?

This is your shop window – if it looks unloved, you’ll be losing out to other businesses. Run a brand ad. It might seem wasteful to bid on your own brand names, but for most B2B companies, those searches are relatively low volume but very high value. Plus, those ads will keep the competitors out of your P1 spot, enable you to curate and quickly update your SERP and align it with your current campaigns and brand messaging.

Pro tip: for most B2B companies, applying a few negative keywords, for example around jobs and careers, can keep costs down and focus the campaigns on your key prospects.

2. Refresh your website (inside and out)

44% of B2B marketers say the main reason they abandon websites is that there’s no contact info immediately visible*. Unless you are selling something that can be purchased on your website, your prospects will need to speak to someone in your sales team at some point.

Make it easy for visitors to choose you with a quick look at the following:

  • Make your phone number clearly visible – Make it easy for visitors by clearly displaying your phone number or at least an email address in the header of your site. Or go one better and enable live chat on your site like 11 out of the 50 fastest growing B2B companies**!
  • Does your copyright notice still say 2020?? It’s March already and I’m still finding websites without an updated copyright notice footer. With the upheaval of the last year, if your website doesn’t have signs of recent activity, prospects could be forgiven for thinking you might not be around anymore. Update that copyright, refresh your COVID-19 message, and make sure you have a recent blog or news story prominently displayed. These are all important signals to your customers that you’re open for business and ready to help them.
  • Get the LinkedIn insight tag, the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) tag and Google Tag Manager (GTM) in place – These tags each have a role to play in best practice digital marketing and if you’re not using them, you’re missing out on key insights, future analytics and easy tag management. These are all ways to learn more about your customers and how to delight them on your next interaction.

3. Welcome new visitors (and then look after them)

You’ve done the hard work by getting someone who doesn’t know you to choose your website. Whether the onsite experience is perfect or not, you now have a chance to be remembered and convince your prospects that your business is the right choice for them.

One of the easiest ways to be remembered is with remarketing campaigns: even if you’re not using paid search or social for lead generation, you should run remarketing ads. 

Consideration cycles for high end B2B products and services usually take months, or longer, and remarketing is the most efficient way to keep in touch with those decision makers during that time. Remind them of your brand, tell them something they might not know about your business and show them why you’re the right choice. 

Pro tip: Don’t wait a year to refresh the creative and mix it up with different ad formats.

What next? - The BIG clean!

If you're looking to go a bit deeper, here are three things that are vital to digital marketing success in the coming year.

Say goodbye to Broad Match Modifier

We discussed this in a blog article back in February but if you haven’t had time to sort out your match types, you could be wasting valuable media spend. In short, Google is combining two existing match types, phrase match and broad match modifier. This means that with nuanced search terms that are standard fare for B2B search marketers, it would be very easy to bring in a lot of irrelevant clicks and quickly reduce the ROI on your campaigns. Read our top tips for sorting this out as soon as possible!

Core Web Vitals

This was another new development from Google that we flagged back in 2020 but the deadline is approaching faster than most digital marketers would like. If your site doesn’t meet Google’s criteria, or you don’t have a plan in place to make sure it will, you’ll need to think now about making a reasonable investment in speeding up your site—or risk losing valuable search rankings to better prepared competitors. If this is the first you’ve heard of CWV, read our previous blog article and then get yourself over to Google Tools for measure them!

Mystery Shopping

And last on our list of big cleans, a plea to B2B marketers everywhere. Check that your customer and prospect contact channels work. Does someone answer your phone during business hours? How quickly do you respond to lead enquiries? Is your online chat staffed consistently? I know what you’re thinking, this is ridiculous of course the answer is yes. But when was the last time you checked? Do some mystery shopping and find out for yourself. In the high end B2B market, one missed phone call or a few days’ delay on replying to a form fill, could be the difference between a successful or failed campaign.

We work with intelligent marketing managers to make budgets go further and cut your cost per lead. 

If you have any questions on your own digital spring clean, get in touch for a free 30-minute B2B consult. 

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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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HTTPS encryption – time to act or face damage to your brand

By John Woods  |  February 23, 2018

Does your website use HTTPS yet?

HTTPS is not just about security: it is also essential for many modern browser features.

For several years, Google has been gently encouraging websites to move to secure HTTPS. Google has offered a gentle nudge with the carrot of somewhat-improved search rankings.

But the carrot hasn’t worked very well. In our most recent research, a whopping 87% of our sample of B2B companies were still using non-secure HTTP for their websites.

So Google has reached for the stick. If your website is not using HTTPS by July 2018, visitors using Google’s Chrome browser will see a “not secure” warning:

Treatment of HTTP Pages

Blogspot

Google Chrome is by far the most popular web browser at the moment, with about 65% market share on desktop and about 50% on mobile (see http://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/). So if you don’t move your website to HTTPS by July 2018, more than half of your visitors will see a “not secure” warning on every page.

A security warning isn’t the end of the world, but at best it is distracting for web visitors. It’s an ongoing blot on your website’s user experience which will result in lost conversions and drip-drip damage to your brand.

So it’s time to act: get a plan in place to switch your website to HTTPS before July 2018.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

For advice about switching a website to https – or  replacing your outdated B2B website with a new one with https built in! – contact Sharp Ahead today.

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Sharp Ahead sponsors Leeds Business Week

By Jennifer Esty  |  August 31, 2016

In less than 7 weeks over 3,000 delegates will attend Leeds Business Week to listen to over 100 Yorkshire businesses presenting their ideas, sharing content and inspiring organisations to adopt new tactics in order to thrive during the difficult economic climate.

Sharp Ahead will be presenting on the 18th October to share our B2B digital transformation expertise. Hear firsthand from our directors Dr. John Woods and Jennifer Esty about how our survey on 250 B2B SMEs in Yorkshire revealed that 62% of digital marketing is hurting sales.

Join Sharp Ahead to:

  • Discover how your business can be more successful online.
  • Learn what is means to be digitally “broken” – and how you can fix it.
  • Uncover how your business can be found before your competitors.
  • Explore the significance of having a digital footprint and online presence.

Register today while there are still spaces!

Can’t make the 18th October? No problem. Sharp Ahead will be available during Leeds Business Week to meet for a coffee, discuss our findings and answer questions.

Please contact us on 01924 851500 or email [email protected] to organise a meeting.

We look forward to meeting you at Leeds Business Week!