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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.

google
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Google yourself and your company – It’s Friday afternoon!

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 4, 2016

Google Logo

It’s Friday afternoon, so make yourself a cup of tea and Google yourself- and your company.

Why?

Narcissism aside, it’s a good idea to find out how you and your company look to potential customers Googling you for the first time.

First, make sure you use an incognito window so you won’t see personalised results- a better simulation of what potential customers will see if they haven’t previously visited your website. (In most browsers, just click the top right hand menu and choose ‘New incognito window.)

What are you looking for?

Let’s start with you. Depending on how unique your name is, it might be more likely that a lead will Google your name plus your company. Try that- does your LinkedIn profile come up? If it doesn’t, update your profile immediately (this definitely counts as work in case anyone spots you) and make sure your most recent experience reflects the company you work for and the relevant responsibilities that a potential customer would be interested in.

Keeping in mind this can can sometimes signal to an employer that you’re looking for a new job (not to mention attracting unwanted attention from recruitment agents), consider warning your manager first and/or selecting No for ‘Notify your network’ on the right hand side of your profile page.

Now to Google your company.

Here’s a quick checklist:

1. How does your site rank for your branded search (i.e. searching your company name)?
2. Are any of your competitors running paid ads against the search?
3. Are sitelinks displayed? (Sitelinks are navigation links into specific parts of your site, i.e. your products or services.)
4. Can you see phone and address information?
5. Can you see your social media links?
6. Look at your My Google Business listing, has someone from your organisation claimed it? If yes, does it accurately reflect your business information, does it include photos of your business? Opening hours? Reviews?

What next?

If all looks in order, then congratulate yourself (or your marketing team) on a job well done and consider taking yourself off to the pub early.

If not, make it your priority on Monday morning to sort out the above. And as always, if you need help or expert advice, feel free to get in touch on 01189 485 766 or join us for one of our Digital Transformation events.

b2b remarketing
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How Remarketing Works in B2B

By John Woods  |  January 13, 2016

Now that you’ve visited the Sharp Ahead website, you will probably begin to see quite a few remarketing adverts for Sharp Ahead. These ads are thoughtful, yet don’t contain a call to action as they exist to build the Sharp Ahead brand.

Deciding upon a B2B digital marketing agency takes time in order to conduct research. During this period, you will become more familiar with the Sharp Ahead brand, and when you begin to make a short list of the agencies that you are considering working with, this familiarity with our brand will help to ensure that Sharp Ahead are on that list.

Remarketing is just one part of a wider marketing strategy that should be adopted for digitally mature or maturing companies. It is the most cost effective way of building your brand and reaching millions of potential clients:

“Google Display Network reaches 90% of Internet users worldwide, 65% of whom they reach every single day. More than a trillion impressions are served to over 1 billion users every month (source: Google). Meanwhile, Facebook has more than 1.4 billion users, over a billion of whom logged in yesterday (source:Facebook).”

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5 Ways to Improve Your Customer’s Search Experience

By John Woods  |  December 2, 2015

Google is now your home page and just like your website your Google search engine results page it needs investment, specifically to ensure that when people are searching for your brand term they get an experience as well managed as walking into your companies head office reception. Here are 5 things you can do within a week to improve your customers search experience:

1) AdWords – Start using AdWords

A well managed AdWords campaign for your branded search terms is akin to having good receptionist who will guide visitors to what they are looking for.

2) Complete Google My Business

If you do a brand search and a box appears on the right with a question under it “Are you the business owner?” click it! And claim your Google My Business, this will help customers find your business online and in the real world as well as ensuring your business has influence over another part of the SERP for your brand.

3) Get a SlideShare account on LinkedIn

Upload presentations to it to your Slideshare account. Make sure the content is good so people download and share. Google tends to rank SlideShare links highly for branded search terms.

4) Manage your Google Sitelinks

1: The main search result

2: Sitelinks

Google uses an algorithm to automatically select site links it thinks will be helpful to your customers, but it sometimes gets it wrong and when it does you can demote Sitelinks so Google won’t show them.

5) Get a Twitter account

Google typically ranks well managed Twitter accounts highly for branded search terms.

(Bonus) 6) Get a Wikipedia page

This isn’t possible for some companies because Wikipedia has a policy of only including articles that are ‘notable’. But if your company does qualify you may seen an uplift in your branded SEO because of a backlink on your brand search term from Wikipedia.

Ready to find out more? Please call on 01189 001920.

paid search
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Five reasons your B2B paid search campaigns failed

By John Woods  |  May 4, 2015

Paid search – which usually means Google Adwords, sometimes in combination with other search channels like Bing Ads or Baidu – is a key part of most of the B2B marketing projects we work on at Sharp Ahead. We love it because it delivers great results for our clients – both incremental new business leads and increased conversions from leads sourced from other channels. And don’t let the “paid” part put you off. Used well, paid search is amazingly cost effective. Once you account for the time and effort costs of so-called “free” traffic (from SEO, social media and other forms of content marketing), paid search is likely to give the best ROI of all B2B digital marketing channels.

But there’s a paradox. With many of our new clients we find ourselves having a conversation like this:

Sharp Ahead: “We’re going to be using paid search as a key part of our lead generation strategy.”

Client: “Really? We tried paid search a while back and it didn’t work for us. We wasted a lot of money and gave up on it.”

We hear this story of “we tried paid search and it didn’t work so we gave up” again and again, but the contrast with our own work couldn’t be more stark. Done well, paid search delivers excellent results for almost every B2B digital marketing challenge. So why this difference in experience?

Paid search is complex and there are a lot of ways to get it wrong without even knowing it. Here are some of the key reasons why your previous paid search campaigns might have failed:

1. Not niche = not nice

It’s easy to set up a paid search campaign based on too broad a set of keywords. You’ll get lots of impressions and lots of clicks – and inevitably spend lots of money. But your B2B marketing proposition is specialist, so you should be focusing on long-tail keywords and highly specific search terms. If your keywords are too broad, most of the people who see your search ads won’t be good buyers. You’ll spend a lot of money on worthless clicks and your campaign will give poor value. A campaign that converts needs to target niche keywords.

2. Geographic gotchas

It’s likely that there will be some important geographic factors around your B2B proposition. Perhaps you only sell in particular regions, or you have a different story to tell depending on where the prospective customer is based. One of the most powerful things about paid search is the very fine and subtle control it gives you over geography. You can run ads only within very specific geographic regions, or exclude geographies that are not of interest, and show different ads to people in different geographic regions.  If you run a campaign without using these geographic controls, most of your ads will show to the wrong people and the consequences are the same as if you chose keywords that are too broad – wasted spend and poor results.

3. Poor persuaders

Ad copy really matters in paid search, and it’s a tricky art. It might seem easy – after all, there are just a few characters to play with – but crafting good search ad copy is a real skill. If your ad isn’t well written, it won’t get clicks from quality prospects and your campaign won’t deliver a return. This isn’t just about mass appeal: you need to craft an ad that attracts the attention of the niche market segments that are the potential buyers of your B2B proposition. And, of course, you need your ad copy to align with your brand positioning.  Remember, your ad needs to compete for attention with both your competitors’ ads and the natural search listings on the results page, so it has to get its message across effectively in order to get results.

4. Landing is lacking

So you choose good keywords, pick the right geographic options and write great ad copy. You get some great clicks. And you send them to your HOME PAGE? D’oh.  A great paid search campaigns needs great landing pages, with information that both clearly defines your business proposition and that is relevant to your advert copy – all within the first click. You won’t sell to anyone unless your landing pages give your potential customers the information, the persuasion and the opportunity for them to take action.

5. Measurement muddles

The last reason for campaign failure sounds crazy, but it’s a real issue: your campaign DID work and you just didn’t know it! How could that happen? Several ways, but one of the most common in B2B lead generation is that people see your paid search ad and it drives them to pick up the phone. (Seriously-engaged B2B buyers like the phone; it’s a time-efficient way to communicate and it lets them judge your company via a real human interaction.) It’s likely that you get inbound phone enquiries all the time from all sorts of sources, so unless you’ve taken special steps to keep track of paid search enquiries (like showing a unique phone number with paid search ads), you won’t be able to attribute results to your campaigns. In a recent campaign we found 80% of paid search enquiries came via inbound phone calls, with only 20% filling in the contact form on the landing page. Without sophisticated tracking and analysis tools in place, it would have been easy to misjudge the results and mistake a winning campaign for a failure.

Did you make any of those mistakes in a previous failed paid search campaign? If so, perhaps you should give paid search another try.

Ready to find out more? Please call on 0118 322 4395.