Paid search engine marketing (PPC) has played a key role in the success of online B2B marketers for an incredibly long time. According to the CMI, it’s the type of paid media used most often by B2B marketers and is considered one of the most effective.
But times are changing and along with them new digital marketing tools and strategies are emerging. So, while paid search has served many a B2B marketer well in the past, what other tactics should now be on the radar?
Both native advertising and paid social media remain the subject of much discussion. What can be achieved using native advertising? Does social media have the potential as a serious revenue driver?
In a nut shell, the question being - can these new channels generate leads and a healthy ROI?
To find the answer, we’ve scoured the web to see what B2B marketers across the world think about the two tactics and whether they could be worth their weight in gold.
What is it?
Native advertising is the process by which you can bid to promote your content across a chosen network. The primary aim will be to boost the reach of your content and drive more traffic to the content’s source (which may for example be your website, a landing page, or your blog). For a more detailed description, check out our blog ‘Why native advertising needs to be on your radar’.
Quick, easy set up
Eager to dip your B2B toes in the native waters? Native advertising platforms like Outbrain and Taboola have made it super easy to get up and running – simply enter the URL of your content, set your bid, choose a date and off you go. Take a look at Velocity’s full run down on the Outbrain platform here.
Comes in a huge variety of forms
Not ready for a full-blown advertising platform just yet? Native advertising comes in the form of promoted social media posts too, such as promoted tweets and Facebook posts, and LinkedIn sponsored updates. For B2B marketers, social media platforms provide an opportunity for highly-niche targeting and controlled budget allocation, meaning you can have a strict control over your costs and ensure you’re optimising your cost-per-enquiry.
Through the roof content reach
The results can be huge. Businesses like Radius have used promoted content posts on social media to drive reach 21x greater than their average audience post reach. So, if you’re goal is to drive traffic to your content and boost its reach, then native advertising could be a cost-effective way to go.
A fine line to success
Native advertising is designed to blend in with the look, style and feel of the host site. That means there’s naturally a very fine line between promoting content and blatant selling. If a reader can tell the difference, then you won’t get the results you’re looking for and you risk bad press from the likes of comedian John Oliver – watch his take on the topic here.
While the lead generation jury may still be out on this one, native ads are shown to generate an 18% higher intent to purchase, as well as a significant increase in targeted brand exposure. For a B2B, particularly in a highly-niche industry, it could be a quick win, if you’re looking to drive brand reach and generate traffic to your content.
Paid Social Media
What is it?
Paid social media advertising helps businesses find new prospects by using user’s own-shared information. When social media advertising first launched a few years back, no one could have expected the estimated revenue to reach $8.4 billion in such a short period of time (yikes!). To learn more about it and how to get started, check out our blog: ‘PPC for beginners: How to drive web traffic’.
Turbo-charged targeting options
Whether you want to target people based on their interests, behaviour, or even using ‘lookalike’ filters, the options you are presented with on social platforms are endless. Even though you’re serving ads to individuals, not businesses, the high-level targeting means you can increase the relevance of the ad’s so they will serve a B2B audience and reach the right buyers.
As with any other lead generation channel, using conversion rate optimisation on your online campaigns is essential, if you want to grow your conversions, generate more leads and boost your ROI. A whole host of metrics are available within each platform’s dashboard, so you can monitor and forecast conversions at every stage of the sales funnel, to ensure you generate the best possible return.
Be prepared for lower conversion rates
Even with the turbo-charged targeting options, paid social media advertising will typically drive lower conversion rates (2.49% according to Marketing Land) in comparison to other channels. But don’t let that put you off!
Social media can be a huge lead generation contributor for B2B marketers – if it’s done right. Marketers that allocate ad spend to social channels generally see a 25% lift in the number of sales generated by advertising.
Success is down to a delicate balance of accurate targeting, relevant messaging and continued conversion rate optimisation. Take a peek at our latest articles on what warning signs to look out for, as well as which metrics you need to measure for lead generation success.
Overall, if your goals are to drive traffic and brand awareness through increased content reach, then native advertising is a digital channel worth testing. But if lead generation is the name of your game then it may be time to test and invest in paid social media activity.
Either way, no matter which option you choose, always review, analyze and enhance your activity to find out what’s working, what’s not and to adjust what you’re doing, to ensure you’re always generating the best return possible.