Santa using a computer
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Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Quick Tips

By Jennifer Esty  |  December 2, 2016

Christmas is nearly here, and you’re probably  looking forward to a week of food, family and presents, but who is looking after your digital marketing while you’re away?

If you have an agency helping you out, you might not be too worried. However if you’re looking after it on your own or with a small team, some of whom are also on holiday, there are a few things you can do to make sure all the hard work of the past few months isn’t compromised by a week away.

1. Google My Business

There’s every chance prospects will see your business on the Google SERP (search engine results page) before they even get to your website.

Update your opening hours to let prospects and customers know when and if you’ll be open over the holidays.

2. Using AdWords?

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
  • Call a Google expert
  • Act on suggestions to improve your campaigns

3. Schedule 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. Check out this article by Capterra, complete with a handy comparison chart for more information.

4. 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 the 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.

5. Still send emails

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. So you don’t need to stop your lead nurturing over the holidays or let potential leads go cold while you figure out what to do with all that leftover turkey (incidentally, the BBC do a nice list of recipes).

6. Think about your website

As with email most content management systems have an option to schedule content, so you don’t have to leave your Merry Christmas message on your website until the 3rd of January.

Nothing screams ‘I’ve gone on holiday and don’t care about you right now’ like outdated seasonal content. If your website CMS doesn’t have a schedule function, consider putting your best performing evergreen content on the homepage while you’re away, or at least don’t leave up information about an out of date event (or a picture of Rudolph) during your break.

7. Check with your Sales team

Finally, just before you leave, make sure there is a plan in place to deal with inbound leads.

Although volumes are likely to be low, anyone who does call is probably very motivated and therefore it will be worth ensuring they have a positive experience.

If you have a small sales team who are also on holiday, make sure someone will be monitoring the group email address, or has turned on an up to date autoresponder that sets expectations about when they will receive a response.

If you rely heavily on inbound sales calls, make sure calls are being forwarded or put an answer service in place so the phone doesn’t go unanswered.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Making the Business Case for B2B Digital Transformation
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Making the business case for digital transformation

By Jennifer Esty  |  May 11, 2016

Are you a B2B marketer trying to make the business case for digital transformation or investment?

My colleague Rob Stevens, has some great- and by great I mean practical and effective- advice on how to get buy-in from key budget holders.

His short white paper focuses on a few key areas of digital marketing that can offer solid return on investment for B2B companies. It offers some practical tips and useful statistics for getting the budget you need to execute them.

The paper also covers strategies for marketers in B2B companies who have previously engaged in similar activities and found they did not yield results that justified their costs.

Download the paper here or get in touch with us directly.

A Guide to Improving Your B2B Digital Marketing in Your Lunch Hour
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Improve Your B2B Digital Marketing in Your Lunch Hour

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 14, 2016

Make this Monday’s lunch hour count.

Download our guide and take some simple, practical steps towards improving your digital marketing in your lunch hour.

Includes tips on Google My Business, paid search, competitor research, LinkedIn and mobile that anyone can implement.

Got your sandwich? Start reading.

Digital Transformation Event Talk
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Digital Transformation Events for B2B Companies

By Jennifer Esty  |  February 14, 2016

We still have places available for our free digital transformation event in Reading on June 9.

Join us for an evening with industry experts from Google, Act-On, and Sharp Ahead to:

  • Understand the digital transformation opportunities available for your business
  • See how paid search can quickly enhance your digital presence
  • Explore the impact marketing automation software has on efficiency
  • Hear first-hand how Oxford Innovation digitally transformed their organisation

(Not to mention networking, nibbles and drinks.)

Designed for marketing and sales decision makers, this digital transformation event will take place in Reading on June 9.

The event will begin at 6pm.

More about the digital transformation events speakers:

Google Logo

Hear directly from the experts at Google how digital marketing can quickly and effectively drive awareness, influence purchase consideration and increase sales.

Act-On Logo

Marketing Automation experts Act-On will take you through the new buyer’s journey, focusing on the stages of modern marketing and how to turn your customers into advocates for your products and brand. He will provide top tips for content marketing, email marketing, lead nurturing, marketing automation and more.

Oxford Innovation Logo

Find out how Oxford Innovation achieved a 90% reduction in client acquisition costs, a 400% increase in qualified sales leads and are 110% ahead of target for sales.

We surveyed the digital presence of over 500 UK B2B companies. Based on this we think most B2B digital marketing in the UK is broken – that is, poorly done and hurting sales. Dr John Woods will present the survey findings along with quick fixes that B2B digital marketers need to know.

Contact us to book your place or read the 2016 Broken Report.

Graphical Demonstration of Searching
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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.