By Julian Kramer, Search Marketing Manager
Every B2B marketer will have been faced with the question of which marketing channel to use to reach their ideal buyer audience. The trouble is that there is a multitude of channels to choose from, each with its own advantages and pitfalls. Being able to filter which channels to use for maximum audience impact is therefore an essential skill for marketers. So which criteria should be applied for channel selection?
Don’t worry, we at FBU Towers are here to help educate and enlighten you! We’ve weighted up the pros and cons for the eight most popular channels for B2B acquisition to aide your decision-making. Prepare yourself your favourite hot drink and enjoy!
Webinars are an excellent way of engaging with your target audience. The basic concept of a webinar is to provide valuable advice or content in a live session which is streamed over the Internet. Webinars typically have a well-planned structure to help the viewer better understand a topic and lead them towards some form of action.
You are in full control of your content and therefore can go into greater detail about your product than you could on a mere landing page. You can engage your audience through interactive polls and by giving a live demo of your product.
Webinars usually require a lot of preparation. You might not have the technical or marketing nous to organise a well-planned webinar with all the automated aspects of marketing build-up and follow-up that should go with it. The good news is that specialised agencies can help you to organise and run a successful webinar from scratch.
2. Content Syndication
The concept behind content syndication is that you give valuable content to a specialised third party provider who then obtains leads using the content as a hook, usually through email marketing. Syndication therefore helps increase the exposure your content receives, even if you haven’t already developed a subscriber audience. Do make sure to check the provider’s GDPR compliance credentials before signing on the dotted line.
The content syndication provider will guarantee a specific number of leads for your budget. Cost per lead will be quoted based on your targeting criteria – it will be higher for C-Suite audiences, and it can also vary significantly between different countries.
You can also be very specific about the job titles that should be targeted as part of the campaign.
You do not have control over the lead generation process as such, and are therefore dependent on the provider to be able to draw the audience you desire. You don’t have the same visibility to the data as you would in your own campaigns and so might be missing opportunities for enhancement.
3. Google Ads – Search
Google search advertising is based on a set of keywords which you specify in your account which are then matched with the search terms people are typing in on Google. To get the most out of Google ads you should put sufficient time in upfront for keyword analysis to make sure you know which commonly-searched terms best relate to your content.
You can test different keyword variations to see which searches are giving your product or service the best traction. You have complete control over the entire lead generation process, from testing different keywords and ad variations to trying out different landing page variations.
It is hard to predict what cost per lead you are going to get until you are actually running your campaign, especially if you have never done so before. Without proper planning and budgeting, you risk exposing yourself to higher costs than you would have anticipated.
Also, if you sell a very niche product it can be hard to get enough search volume in which case you need to start thinking a bit more laterally and use more generic keywords. However, it is best to use keywords which are as closely matched to your product as possible. Otherwise, you will set wrong expectations and end up paying over the odds, as Google penalises advertises for what it deems irrelevant advertising by charging a higher cost per click.
4. Google Ads – Display
You can use text or banner ads which Google either places algorithmically on what it deems relevant websites (tread carefully with this: several high-profile brands have found their ads placed on sites displaying explicit or extremist material without their knowledge!) or else you can pick your placements individually.
This will be your go-to channel if you have little or no brand recognition in a market. Google display advertising offers wide reach on a variety of digital properties including websites and apps. It allows you to combine a number of targeting options including keywords, topics and in-market audiences.
You can also exclude underperforming placements and whole categories of websites, for example sites containing content that’s deemed inappropriate such as sexually suggestive, tragedy and conflict, profanity and rough language etc. This is an important aspect in protecting your brand’s reputation.
This is not the most refined approach to targeting your best audience and so you may find yourself going too broad and subsequently receiving little engagement. For example, in Google display advertising you have no way of specifically targeting senior IT decision-makers and are therefore reliant on your keywords and topics hitting the right job roles.
5. LinkedIn – Sponsored Content
LinkedIn remains the most popular professional-oriented social network. With this form of advertising you sponsor a specific post on LinkedIn so that it goes out to as many people in your targeted audience as possible.
LinkedIn gives a number of targeting options which are specifically tailored to B2B marketing. For example, you can target by job title, company size, seniority or education level, giving you a greater level of confidence that your content and messages are reaching your prospective buyers.
LinkedIn is one of the more expensive B2B marketing channels, with cost-per-click rates (CPCs) going up year after year. This should be factored into your budgeting from the beginning, or else you may find you receive a nasty shock when it comes to campaign evaluation. Furthermore, compared to Google you may find that the LinkedIn ad set up can be a little fiddly, though LinkedIn has made strides recently to improve this.
6. LinkedIn – Sponsored InMail
In a nutshell, InMail is a customised message which is delivered straight to the LinkedIn message inbox of your target audience. You do not need to have a prior connection with this person, allowing you to reach those out of your current professional network.
You have decidedly more space for your message than you would have in a Google ad or a LinkedIn sponsored post (up to 200 characters in the subject line and up to 2,000 characters in the body). This means you have a greater opportunity to explain why you are contacting them and why your product, service or event is relevant to them. You have all the usual LinkedIn B2B targeting options at your disposal (job title, company size etc.) and so can ensure that your emails are carefully tailored for your desired audience.
As with LinkedIn’s sponsored content service, InMail sits on the pricier side of the B2B marketing channels. Essentially, you have to pay a premium for more granular targeting options.
7. Twitter – Website Cards
On Twitter you typically target people based on whom they are following – e.g. if you are selling products or services in data security then you could target followers of key data security influencers, security media or followers of your competitors.
Twitter operates with fairly low CPCs compared to the other marketing channels. Twitter is one of the biggest social networks worldwide with more than 336 million monthly active users worldwide.
Twitter does not provide the detailed targeting options that LinkedIn offers. The social networking site typically captures less contextual information about its users, and therefore is limited in terms of accuracy or targeting.
8. Banner advertising – one of the major trade journals in your vertical
Most industries tend to have one or more publications that report specifically on the sector, bringing regular visits and subscriptions from interested professionals. Advertising on these sites is a good way of raising awareness of your product or service with the right audience. You buy an advertising slot directly through the publication’s sales team and most bigger publications have readily available rate cards.
You can be sure to reach people in the vertical you are aiming for, therefore limiting the element of ‘waste’ in your campaigns. You will get exposure for a guaranteed cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM).
With banner advertising you have no way of targeting by seniority, meaning you cannot be sure whether the buyers and decision-makers are actually consuming your content. Some publications have minimum spend requirements which can be a put-off to some advertisers. Moreover, you can only really know what cost per lead you are going to get once you actually start to advertise, and rates can differ significantly from advertiser to advertiser. This makes accurate budgeting quite tricky.
Finding the right channels for your marketing
In summary, your choice of B2B marketing channel depends on a number of factors including your marketing budget and expertise, your cost per lead targets and your target audience.
Here is a quick reminder of the pros and cons of each of the channels:
- Webinars: excellent for engaging your audience but require advanced MarTech skills
- Content syndication: gives you guaranteed number of leads for your budget, however control of the full marketing funnel is out of your hands
- Google Ads – Search: leaves you in full control of your marketing funnel but no guaranteed results
- Google Ads – Display: gives you wide reach, but limited targeting options
- LinkedIn – Sponsored Content: great B2B targeting options but comparatively high CPCs
- LinkedIn – Sponsored InMail: gives you ample space for customised messaging but again not the cheapest option
- Twitter – Website Cards: no specific B2B targeting options but low CPCs
- Banner advertising in trade journals: will get you in front of the right vertical but not as targeted as LinkedIn; can have high minimum spend.