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Should you be using LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms Thumbnail?

Lead Gen Forms: A B2B marketer's guide on when to use them

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 17, 2022

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms have been around for years now. They are great way to capture leads from within the LinkedIn platform. They negate the need for a landing page, and they de-risk user drop off when switching from LinkedIn to another tab.

But we get asked all the time, when should you use a Lead Gen Form vs Sponsored Content (or another ad format)?

To help with that decision, we’ve developed a handy decision tree. It’s deceptively simple and, although a little tongue-in-cheek, the principles are genuine.

Sharp Ahead LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms Decision Tree

Ready to start your campaign?

A couple of more things to keep in mind:

Lead Gen Forms are prepopulated with the users details (yay!)

But many LinkedIn users have their personal email addresses as their primary email address and don’t always have up to date information (boo!).

And if you don’t spend time on creating properly targeted audiences and useful content, there isn’t a decision tree in the world that will make those campaigns successful.

Need help from an expert? Get in touch for a free 30-minute consultation.

Smartphone with Sharp Ahead's Website on it

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

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 (

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:


Screen grab implementing COVID-19 banner in sticky header via Google Optimize

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

Screen grab changing header text via Google Optimize

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”:

Screen grab setting header properties

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:

Screen Grab of Google Optimize Covid-19 Banner

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.”:

Screen grab implementing COVID-19 banner in sticky header via Google Optimize

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.”:

Google Optimize Screen Grab

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.

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.

Silhouette of man holding up numbers 2019

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!

Hands typing on a phone

Prepare for Summer

By Jennifer Esty  |  June 22, 2018

The special offers on Pimms and invites to school sports days can only mean one thing: summer holidays are around the corner.

Whether you’re going abroad or spending the summer watching the World Cup, make sure your digital lead generation campaigns keep working even when you’re not.

AdWords Campaigns

If you have Google AdWords campaigns running, download the Google AdWords app (not AdWords Express). This handy app gives you top-line campaign information including:

  • Stats
  • Bids and budgets
  • Real-time alerts and notifications

Also, to ensure you don’t overspend on your media budgets, use AdWords’ handy budgeting tools. You can set daily and monthly budgets and if your business is seasonal, have a look at last year’s summer stats to make sure set appropriate levels of budget so your competition doesn’t get the edge while you’re away.


Remarketing is a great way to stay in touch with your already engaged prospects (and stakeholders) while you’re away. Google, Facebook and LinkedIn all provide opportunities for staying in touch with B2B prospects using display remarketing.

Take the opportunity to refresh your ad copy and creative before you leave; think about directing them to some evergreen content or a post-summer event. Also, consider the frequency of your remarketing ads (no one wants to be stalked by your ads all summer).

And finally, remember that brand search ads in conjunction with remarketing make for a positive experience for prospects ready to reengage with you.

Schedule Your Content

Not all of your potential customers will be on holiday, so don’t let your content go stale while you are away. You can schedule content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. There are loads of tools you can use, including HootSuite, Sprout Social and TweetDeck.

Also, make sure you’re promoting an appropriate CTA—don’t encourage people to call you if the phone lines won’t be properly staffed or offer a free trial if your presales team are all wearing their cagoules on a beach in Cornwall.

Using Facebook

With Facebook Pages Manager you can view and respond to comments and private messages from your phone (as well as see Page Insights), and Facebook Adverts Manager allows you to edit your ads and budgets, get notifications of when ads are finishing and keep an eye on your spending.

(LinkedIn if you’re listening, we’re still waiting for an app version of the Campaign Manager!)

Still Send Emails

Now that you’ve cleaned your email lists following the Great GDPR Scare of 2018, don’t forget to keep your customers and prospects engaged over the summer.

Most email platforms will allow you to send emails scheduled for a specific time. Marketing automation platforms also allow you set up automatic email sends based on user behaviour.

Take the time to put a content plan in place that aligned with your social posts and remarketing campaigns and with a little luck no one will ever know you were away!

Think About Your Website

As with email, most content management systems (CMS) have an option to schedule content. Nothing screams ‘I’ve gone on holiday and don’t care about you right now’ like outdated seasonal content on your site.

If your website CMS doesn’t have a schedule function, consider putting your best performing content on the homepage whilst you’re away, or at least don’t leave up information about an out-of-date event during your break.


Google has a Google Analytics app which is reasonably good for basic monitoring and will allow you to at least get a high-level view of your activity, especially useful for answering ‘quick’ questions from your MD whilst you’re away.

Again, keep in mind seasonality and remember many sensible people like you will also be on holiday so volume (though hopefully not performance) may dip.

Finally… Check with Your Sales Team

Make sure there is a plan in place to deal with inbound leads. If you have a small sales team who are also on holiday, make sure someone will be monitoring the group email address and the phone won’t go unanswered.

If unfortunate scheduling means there will be days when no one can manage calls from prospects, or customers for that matter, consider enlisting the help of a call handling agency to get you through the holiday season.

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