Ask the #SMXpert: Smart B2B SEM Tactics

If you have a question on A/B split testing or are having challenges with ABM targeting on paid search, read on. Contributor Brad Geddes answers these questions and more in our continuing SMXpert series!

The post Ask the #SMXpert: Smart B2B SEM Tactics appeared first on Marketing Land.

The following is a continuation of the Q&A segment with moderator Brad Geddes from the “B2B SEM: Meeting Specific Challenges With Really Smart Tactics” session held during Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West 2018.

Intro

Challenges facing business to business (B2B) search advertising buyers are unique and include:

  • Finding enough search volume on technical, niche keywords.
  • Keeping clear of high-volume consumer-oriented keywords.
  • Attributing properly despite long sales cycles and conversions that frequently take place offline.

SMXpert Brad Geddes answered questions and shared some of his strategies and tactics for creating profitable B2B ad campaigns.

Question: Given the long sales cycle and not so much search volume, how do you run A/B split testing in B2B SEM?

Brad: There are two parts to ad testing in this scenario. The first is determining what to track (conversions). If the sale doesn’t happen for two years, then you might try looking at qualified leads. If a lead isn’t qualified for 12 months, then you might try leads and so on.

The goal is to get as close to a conversion as possible in a reasonable time frame. Generally, you want the conversion event to happen in seven to 30 days so that the data isn’t so stale that you’re taking action on old data.

Because you have low volume, you want to use multi-ad group testing. With multi-ad group testing, you can aggregate the data from patterns, lines, labels and so on across ad groups so that you have more data upon which to make decisions.

For instance, in B2B pay-per-click (PPC), there are usually a few main considerations for your headline:

  • Best call to action (CTA).
  • Ability to pre-qualify the audience.
  • Primary use benefit.

If you were working on call to action (CTA) testing, you could write two or three different CTAs and use them in all of your ad groups within that test segment.

You could then examine the data by CTA across ad groups to see which one has the best conversion per impression, and that would be your ad winner. Then you could repeat with other tests, lines and so forth.

Question: Let’s talk six-month-plus sales cycles. You don’t want to jam forms down people’s throats from the beginning, but simply spending money on awareness (via ungated content) doesn’t always look good in the eyes of executives. Any thoughts or ideas on this?

Brad: The advantage of ungated content is you push your content to more people and make it easily shareable and discoverable by search engines. The downside is that you collect fewer form fills early in the funnel.

The way we measure this is with attribution management.

For example, we can give away the content and put an email signup form for more info on the page. As people come back and fill out demo request forms or take a free trial or move to the next step of your process where you can count them as a qualified lead, we can use that piece of information as a conversion.

Once we have the qualified leads, then we can examine how well our ungated content is leading to qualified leads at some point in time. We can also do some high-level comparisons of time frames to each other to see if we have more total conversions.

When you use ungated content, your conversion rates might drop, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s that more people are discovering your content; so you might see total visitors increase, conversion rates drop and more total conversions increase.

That’s still an overall business win, even with a drop in conversion rates, as you received more total customers in the end.

Question: Our B2B accounts always have low Quality Scores. Does this matter, or should we just ignore Quality Scores?

Brad: This is a tricky question; we need to break the keywords into three types first:

  1. Brand.
  2. B2B only terms (buyer agent words, B2B intent and so on).
  3. Terms that can be B2B or business to consumer (B2C).

For your brand, you can still get 10s.

For your B2B only terms, you should be able to get a 6 to 10.

The terms that are ambiguous: safety gates, accounting, task management and so on are trickier, as they can be searched for by both consumers or businesses. This means your ad’s job is to pre-qualify users and to weed out B2C wasteful clicks so you are only attracting B2B clicks.

If you don’t pre-qualify your audience you might find you have lower conversion rates at higher quality scores and you are attracting too many B2C clicks:

Think about the Quality Score factors:

  • Expected CTR.
  • Ad relevance.
  • Landing page experience.

You can create a good landing page experience. Depending on the situation, ad relevance can be average or above average, depending on how you are trying to weed out B2C clicks.

However, you should not have an above-average expected click-through rate (CTR), as that means you are attracting B2C clicks. Usually, you’ll see your expected CTR as average or below average; and that’s OK if your goal is to weed out consumers.

Based on the Quality Score math, a 7 might be possible, but a 5 is much more likely.

When you have a 4, that means that you can improve the numbers, as this often indicates that your landing page experience has dropped.

While you shouldn’t make changes based solely upon Quality Score, in B2B, we usually aim for a 5 or 6 for the terms that can be B2B or B2C and start optimizing at a 4 or re-evaluating our metrics at a 7 just to make sure we aren’t getting too many B2C clicks.

Question:  What challenges have you experienced with ABM targeting on paid search?

Brad: When we think about just PPC for account-based marketing (ABM) and we’re ignoring LinkedIn and Facebook data, it’s impossible to only target an employee of a company outside of customer match.

So one of the top goals is to get enough email addresses from the targeted companies to use customer match. You can do that by targeting a very small radius around the company’s campuses, making white papers just for that company and so forth to bolster your customer relationship management (CRM) data.

Then you bring in the LinkedIn and Facebook targeting to help augment the total users, as with those platforms you can often narrow your targeting enough to only target a few companies, or even a single one in some cases.

Another way to help is to focus not just on a single company, but a company type, such as enterprise companies in the tech sector or medium-size financial companies (You’ll need more parameters than I listed).

Then you can also use similar lists to reach more people who are like-minded.

So with search, ABM = audience + keyword. The keywords you know, so the main focus is building the audience lists.

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Why your marketing performance problem is really a measurement challenge

Figuring out how your company will grow is one of the biggest challenges facing marketers. The playbook is clear: Choose a high-value audience, execute relevant and creative campaigns, and voilà, results and growth for your brand, product or service. But setting your marketing team up for success is tougher than ever. One reason is that, […]

The post Why your marketing performance problem is really a measurement challenge appeared first on Marketing Land.

Figuring out how your company will grow is one of the biggest challenges facing marketers.

The playbook is clear: Choose a high-value audience, execute relevant and creative campaigns, and voilà, results and growth for your brand, product or service.

But setting your marketing team up for success is tougher than ever. One reason is that, at many companies, the individual players aren’t using the same playbook. They choose a lower-value target, or the wrong one altogether, launch campaigns without insight and watch growth and ROI sputter.

Getting on the right track for growth is easier said than done. If you’re not seeing the number of leads, conversions, sales or other key metrics you’re looking for, finding out what’s not working and knowing how to fix it is tough.

The issue may not be your marketing tactics at all. It might actually be how you’re measuring performance. Without accurate measurement that de-duplicates results across customers and gives each touch point the proper credit toward a desired outcome, you really don’t know what’s working and what’s not.

This makes it almost impossible to invest in the channels that are driving results and avoid wasting spend on those that aren’t.

Digital marketing is complex

This is a common problem for today’s marketer. For decades, marketers have used traditional channels such as print, radio, TV, yellow pages and outdoor ads to reach consumers. But the digital revolution has proved disruptive to traditional marketing approaches. TV, radio, print and outdoor now work alongside digital marketing —  search, organic and paid search, email, social and video.

An explosion of digital channels, platforms and tools have made marketing more complex than ever. There are more touch points as consumers take control of the funnel, interacting with brands across multiple devices, niche media outlets and streaming TV.

Being able to reach and engage your best customer as they move along a tangled digital path requires sophisticated understanding of tools and tactics and clear strategy and vision. But the strategies and technologies that marketers have relied on for years to target, analyze and optimize their marketing and advertising campaigns have not evolved fast enough to keep pace with these demands.

Click on the image above to get the free ebook.

Marketing teams don’t share goals

Another challenge to growth is that it’s common for marketing teams to operate in silos. Most marketing organizations are split between marketing (direct mail, website, mobile, email, SEO, social, PR, events) and media (display, paid social, SEM, affiliate, print, radio, TV).

This split is compounded by multiple layers up and down the org chart: CMO, VPs, and directors, each with a team of managers and specialists under them, executing tactics and managing spend for each channel. Every organization also has multiple agency and vendor relationships.

That’s a lot of people in the pool. This complex structure often leads to individuals or teams working toward independent key performance indicators (KPIs) and incentives, leading to fragmented, ineffective optimization — by channel instead of across channels.

Aligning your organization toward common goals is challenging, especially when the goals change. Organizational silos and the complexities of the digital era have created measurement challenges that make it more difficult to maximize marketing effectiveness.

You may be hurting rather than helping performance

When goals, metrics and incentives align, teams can work together to boost performance and enhance the consumer experience along the entire funnel. But when they don’t, channel managers may unknowingly be working at odds.

Assuming that every part of the organization is doing all they can to feed the funnel and drive results is no longer enough. If your organization sets individual goals and incentives by silo, you may be hurting rather than helping performance.

That’s because each silo has its own metrics. Your Paid Search Manager is optimizing keyword performance while your Email Marketing Manager is tracking opens and click-through rate. How can you be sure they’re looking at the right numbers to achieve company goals?

Aligning metrics to a common goal is key

To truly understand the value of each consumer interaction with your brand, it’s not enough to count impressions or eyeballs or to measure the effectiveness of your marketing using last-touch metrics. You need to know the effectiveness of each marketing touch point in every consumer journey, regardless of where those touch points occur.

No matter which goal you’re focused on, you have to make sure your metrics align so that you’re tracking the right indicators. From a marketing perspective, this is critical. Marketing teams and management need to align on objectives and the KPIs that track progress toward achieving them.

Multi-touch attribution: New measurement for all channels

Many brands are reluctant to use advanced attribution methods that accurately assign fractional credit to marketing and media touch points, yet they’re spending millions of dollars annually measuring performance using last-click metrics they know are flawed.

To be effective, marketing organizations and their agency partners must rely on a data source that offers a holistic picture of performance and makes it possible for everyone to work toward shared goals. At the same time, each team member has different needs for actionable marketing intelligence at a different cadence.

Multi-touch attribution is an approach that makes sure all members of the organization are working together. Multi-touch attribution integrates disparate marketing performance data to establish a single source of truth.

By collecting, consolidating and normalizing performance data into common measures and taxonomy, this methodology supplies the insights your team needs on a consistent, holistic basis. Some multi-touch attribution solutions even integrate third-party behavioral and demographic audience data to provide tactical performance insights by audience segment.

Five attribution use cases

Here are five ways multi-touch attribution helps make sure your team is looking at the right numbers.

CMO: Budget allocation

It’s budget-planning time. The CMO of a large retailer needs to justify current marketing spend to other C-suite leaders and decide how to allocate budget and coordinate messages and experiences across online and offline channels.

Because they use multi-touch attribution, s/he knows VPs of marketing and media can report on which channels are driving business objectives for each target audience. The CMO uses that information to reallocate budgets to achieve higher top-line growth and better bottom-line efficiency.

VP: Cross-channel interaction

It’s the end of Q2. Last quarter, the brand launched a new multichannel campaign to drive sales of a new product, but the campaign fell short of its performance goals. The VP needs to know how to best allocate spend in order to increase sales by 20 percent in Q3.

Since a business rival is launching a competing product, she knows the marketing messages need to resonate with target customers and compel them to take action. She asks the managers of paid search, display, email and their e-commerce site to use multi-touch attribution to report on cross-channel interactions before deciding how to best allocate her quarterly budget to reach Q3 targets.

Channel manager: Email

It’s Monday, and there are campaigns rolling out on Tuesday and Thursday to different audience segments. The email channel manager needs to boost click-through rates to meet the weekly KPI.

Using multi-touch attribution, he checks the response to last week’s campaigns and sets up A/B tests for the emails going out this week, tweaking creatives for each audience segment to see which raises CTR. He then optimizes the email by segment and pushes those out to generate a higher return.

Channel manager: SEM

At the agency, the SEM channel manager sees via multi-touch attribution that the effectiveness of her Tier 1 campaign has suddenly dropped off because a new competitor has started aggressively bidding on the same keywords with an enticing offer that’s stealing click share.

She directs the SEM specialist to increase max bids by 10 percent and asks for an update on impact to performance in 24 hours. In the meantime, she asks the media analyst to report on which ads in the rotation are driving conversions at the highest rate for that campaign so she can direct her SEM specialist to pause the weaker performing ads.

Media analyst: Dimension analysis

At the agency, the media analyst pulls the numbers gathered via multi-touch attribution from yesterday’s mobile app, digital video, display and paid search ads. He compares creatives, ad sizes, offers, devices, geography and publishers to see which ones are performing well. He notices that last night’s new creative is working well across publishers, but only in the bigger size. He alerts the media buyer to boost ad size across channels.

Getting the marketing performance you deserve

Digital innovation has created a new set of opportunities and challenges for marketers. As a result, many brands today think they have a performance problem. The truth is that they actually have a measurement problem. If they can solve the root of the issue — poor measurement — they’ll get better results.

Multi-touch attribution allows brands in all industries to tackle the daunting task of properly measuring and optimizing the results of their marketing efforts. This makes it a whole lot easier for your organization to work together toward shared goals and grow.

To learn more about how you can be a better marketer in the digital era, download the Nielsen Visual IQ e-book: Crossing the New Digital Divide: Your Guide to Marketing Effectiveness

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