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Are UK VARs investing too much time and money in social media, at the expense of basic best practice?

By Jennifer Esty  |  February 22, 2019

Analysis of the digital footprint of the UK’s top 100 value added resellers reveals the sector lags behind in implementing digital best practice—and may need to reconsider how marketing time and spend is allocated.

What is digital best practice?

 

In a report commissioned by channel marketing experts, coterie, 61% of VARs were missing at least one basic digital best marketing practice. The most common failures were not properly curating their Google knowledge panel or their Google search engine results pages.

Why is this important?

 

90% of B2B buyers will look online before making a purchasing decision, failure to be found—and to provide basic information—means not even getting on the consideration list for new opportunities.

What should VARs focus on?

 

From the research, 69% of companies are doing a good job generating social content, specifically on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Social content strategies are labour-intensive and require ongoing investment, whether in internal or external resource. Whilst organic social content is important, companies run the risk of investing time and money publishing content in an echo chamber of existing contacts (customers, employees, suppliers and, yes, recruitment agents).

Prospects are harder to reach with organic social and for growth-focused companies this investment might need a rethink.

Conversely, only 35% of companies are doing a good job with onsite user experience. Arguably a conversion optimised website focused on prospect journeys will have a higher return on investment. Even if it is hard work to get right, positive UX only requires one-off investment every few years and should easily pay for itself.

What next?

 

To find out how you can outperform the top 100 UK VARs, and for more best practice tips, download the full report or contact us.

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Your Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolution

By Jennifer Esty  |  December 28, 2018
Do these 7 things before January 31.

The good news about these seven B2B digital marketing best practices is that they do not involve diets, giving up wine, or loads of investment.

1. Make sure your site is https

In July 2018, Google started displaying a “not secure” warning in its Chrome browser for any site not using https. Over 70% of desktop users and over 50% of mobile users are on Chrome, so well over half of your visitors will see a “not secure” warning on every page of your site. Although a security warning isn’t the end of the world, it is distracting for web visitors and is an ongoing blot on your website’s user experience which will result in lost conversions and drip-drip damage to your brand.

2. Buy your own brand name on Google Ads

I know what you’re thinking: but I’m already P1 one for my brand name, why should I pay for it? First, are you sure? It’s worth checking that a competitor or business with a similar name hasn’t moved into P1 either through a paid or organic listing. Second, it won’t cost much. Third, it allows you to own more of the real estate on your search engine results page. Fourth, it enables you to control the messages that your prospects and customers see (I’ll bet your careers page appears as one of your site links, is that really relevant for prospective customers?).

3. Claim your Google Knowledge Panel

Google has two types of Knowledge Panels, local and branded panels. They’re really important for displaying key business information such as contact details and opening hours, plus they increase the amount of real estate you own on the search engine results page for your brand. Both types of panels can be claimed through the listing that appears on the right hand side of a desktop search results page, but if you don’t see one appear, you can open a Google My Business account and verify your business information. This will increase the chances of a local panel appearing; sadly there isn’t a way (currently) to do the same for the branded panels. Check out this excellent article from Yoast for a more detailed explanation.

4. Check that your Google Map isn’t broken

Google changed the Maps API and we’ve spotted loads of broken Maps, just have a quick look across your website and landing pages to make sure yours is still displaying correctly.

5. Put your phone number at the top of your site

Most B2B products and services are relatively complex and will ultimately require person-to-person selling. The best outcome of your digital marketing campaign is almost always inspiring a prospect enough to call you. So make phone numbers prominent on your website, ideally in the header(and as click-to-call on mobile).

6. Set up remarketing on the Google Display network

B2B products and services usually have a long consideration cycle: use remarketing as a way of staying in touch with your prospects throughout their decision-making process. A couple of pro tips: set the frequency caps at something reasonable, you want gentle reminders not exhausting in your face selling; and make sure you change the creative and messaging every few months to keep things fresh and interesting.

7. Use the LinkedIn Insight Tag

Love it or hate it, LinkedIn remains one the most important platforms available to B2B marketers (and yes, recruitment agents). The LinkedIn Insight tag enables you to collect data on your website visitors and match them with LinkedIn’s formidable database of over 500 million users. You’ll need a Campaign Manager account to generate a tag and then you’ll need to add it to all of your digital properties (website and landing pages), plus set up some Matched Audiences. For more detailed help, check out our previous blog article on these features.

And of course if you need any help, give us a call. We offer a free 30 minute consultation to qualifying businesses. But please don’t ask for diet tips or help with dry January!

Save Money on Early Years Products with YPO Banner
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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.

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6 simple things B2B digital marketing gets wrong

By Jennifer Esty  |  May 18, 2018

At Sharp Ahead we often get asked to do audits of our clients’ (and prospects’) digital footprints, which is a great way to start to understand how to make immediate improvements to your digital marketing.

Here are six things that come up time and time again.

1. Phone numbers: most B2B products and services are relatively complex and will ultimately require person-to-person selling. The best outcome of your digital marketing campaign is almost always inspiring a prospect enough to call you. So make phone numbers prominent on your website, ideally in the header of your landing pages and website.

A few other phone number rules:
– don’t make your prospects choose from multiple phone numbers, more often than not they’ll just choose to phone someone else. And when they do call, don’t give them 6 different options to choose from.
– don’t charge your B2B prospects for phoning you
– and most importantly, during business hours, make sure the phone is answered by a trained member of staff. Every. Single. Time.

2. Don’t hide your best content. Content marketing is not a treasure hunt. If you hide your best content, no one is going to come looking for it. Social proof like case studies, testimonials, and client logos needs to be featured prominently on key entrance and landing pages.

3. The Ronseal Principle: tell visitors to your site exactly what you do in plain language. Taglines, mission statements, and post-branding workshop catch phrases are all well and good, but don’t assume your prospects know you already or that you naturally have enough credibility to be on their short list.

4. Most prospects don’t even want to visit your website. Google has taught us to expect its search engine results pages (SERPs) to answer our questions without visiting actual websites. Make sure the SERPs for key terms, like your brand and contact information, are as carefully curated as your homepage. Google gives you lots of good tools for doing this, including free ones like Google My Business.

5. Prices: do not be afraid of talking about price. At some point, the cost of your products or services is going to be very, very relevant to your prospects. You can save a lot of everyone’s time by giving at least an indication of price during the lead generation process. The hard work of establishing your price points and your place in the market should have been done already; be confident in your decision making and honest with your prospects.

6. Landing pages. Use landing pages for your lead generation campaigns. Make sure they are optimised for conversion, which includes paying attention to every detail from page load speeds to the wording and colour of your CTA to which fields you put on the form. Do not send your hard won and paid for traffic to a page on your website.

And last but not least, if you have any questions or need help with any of the above, please get in touch.

B2B Marketers' Networking Event Thames Valley Banner
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B2B Marketer’s Networking Event – Thames Valley

By Jennifer Esty  |  May 16, 2018

A free networking event for B2B marketers in the Thames Valley. Meet up with your peers, make new connections and share best practice. Plus guest speakers and refreshments!

Where and When

When: Tuesday 12th June, 18:00
Venue: Work.Life, 33 Kings Road, Reading RG1 3AR

Why

A marketer’s life can be a lonely one in a B2B organisation. So we are creating an opportunity for B2B marketers to meet their peers, share best practices and make new networking connections.

This free event features a talk from channel swimmer and expert marketer Conor Gunn. Conor has held senior marketing roles in both B2B and B2C organisations including Microsoft and BT. He’ll be sharing how his channel swimming experiences have inspired him to be a better marketer.

Places are limited so sign up today to ensure your slot! Please note: this event is intended for practicing B2B marketers. To ensure a constructive networking environment we reserve the right to limit ticket allocations.

Our Speakers

Guest Speaker: Conor Gunn

Conor Gunn is a Chief Digital Officer and Customer Experience Director who partners with large companies, executives and agencies to drive business and digital transformation. He has delivering award winning digital solutions across multiple channels, devices and geographies.

In recent years he has been a Director at British Gas and Barclays. Previously he held senior roles at TK Maxx, BT and X-Box and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

After spending over 20 years working in this space he knows what truly drives successful businesses and customer engagement, and it’s not mastering the marketing flavour of the week or the latest digital buzzwords.

It’s about truly understanding your customers and finding the profitable solutions that make their lives easier.

Conor is also the fastest Irish person to swim the English Channel. He will be talking to us about how that experiences have helped informed his success, how he approaches Delivering World Class Marketing that grows your business and telling us the Ten Things he has learnt from swimming the channel.

Dr John Woods MBA

John is an experienced technology CEO, CTO, data scientist and serial technology entrepreneur with 20 years’ experience consulting for and supplying to B2B companies. His entrepreneurial projects have spanned market research, web analytics and energy storage, as well as providing consultancy services to a range of B2B businesses. John holds a Doctorate in Astrophysics from Oxford University.

Agenda

18:00 Arrival & Networking
18:30 Introductions
18:35 Conor Gunn “How swimming the Channel made me a better marketer”
19:00 Dr John Woods MBA  “Making better B2B landing pages:  what we’ve learned from 250+ campaigns”
19:15 Panel Discussion
19:30 Drinks, Nibbles & Networking
20:00 Close