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Are LinkedIn Paid Features and Advertising Tools Worth the Investment?

by Joanne Dolezal on 30th September 2019

It’s time to explore the various LinkedIn paid tools and features.

LinkedIn was one of the earliest social media platforms to take off – launched in 2003 – and it benefits from having been around a long time. The platform is well-optimised, has changed very gradually over the years and has an excellent search function. It functions on keyword search: names of businesses, colleges, universities or people. It also holds a lot of content, so topic based search works well too.

This means that you can find just about anyone you want to connect with, research any company you want to work with (or for) and target prospective customers, employers and recruits specifically.

Linked In Free Accounts

Linked In is free to use and you can creat a personal profile, company pages, groups and content (posts and articles).

You also get a free InMail address, allowing people to communicate with you within the platform.

You can publish articles directly on Linked In, post and share video, text, graphics and audio.

More importantly, you can present your experience, skills and recommendations all on one page – making it very easy for potential clients or employers to find you.

Content shared on Linked In is more trusted than on other platforms (including Facebook) and you are ‘hanging out’ with a more affluent set of connections – Linked In is a predominantly ‘white collar’ network.

LinkedIn Paid Features

There are a number of paid-for features available on LinkedIn:

  • Premium Accounts
  • Sponsored Content
  • Display Ads
  • PPC – Pay per Click ads
  • Sponsored InMail

Premium Accounts

Paid accounts are great if you’re working permanently or temporarily, maybe in business development or recruitment, if you’re working on something specific in your business (such as a recruitment drive) or you’re looking to target people outside of your networks, including geographically.

There’s a lot more information available about people, and you’re allowed to send a certain number of “InMail” messages to people who are beyond the second-degree circle of connection.

Sponsored Content

You may have a post, a video, an event or a download that you want to promote so Sponsored Content could be a good way to present it to a wider, paid-for target audience. As it is a ‘post’ or status update, your word count is not as limited as it is on other ad formats and is ideal for raising awareness and spreading the word.

They are straightforward to set up: simply paste a link to the appropriate page into a box, and it pulls across all of the meta tags, images and information needed – then the advert is ready to go. It’s up to you to decide who you’re targeting, so you can target based on location or job title.

Advertising Tools

There are two “classic” types of advertising you can do: you can set an ad with an eye-catching image or graphic and a few words (Display Ad). Or you can set up a text only advert (Pay per Click).

I recently worked with a client moving across from agency recruitment where they were spending in excess of £50,000 a year. LinkedIn has provided them with a cost-effective targeting and recruitment channel.

Again, you can test the water and see if there’s a market, what the numbers are like and if it’s worth it, and worth spending the money on advertising. The options are CPC – cost per click – or pay for impressions (cost per 1,000 impressions = 1,000 people will see the ad). It doesn’t mean that they’re going to do anything with it, but they have the chance to see it.

You can set your budget on a daily basis or with a total, and set how long the advert will run. It gives you a snapshot of your overall campaign and make decisions from there on whether or not to go ahead.

Sponsored InMail Campaigns

Paid InMail campaigns are still relatively new and tap into the huge amount of data LinkedIn has to help you target based on profile data, contact details and so on.

You prepare the copy for your campaign and identify the type of people you want to target, LinkedIn will send it to them on your behalf. You don’t get the mailing list or the data, but they send it and it’s then up to you to manage the responses.

Advantages

  • You have a much higher value audience on LinkedIn.
  • There’s also a level of seniority or degree of professional development above which people feel Linked In works for them. Members tend to be above a certain educational level, and they have a higher net worth. They’re going to have a business budget to spend and may be earning more money.
  • LinkedIn is also a big recruitment tool, so they know what average salaries are by industry, what people are worth and what their spending power is. Its targeting and search functions are fantastic, so you can find any needle in any haystack.
  • The ad platform is user friendly and the customer support is great. You can email them with issues and queries and they’ll come back to you the same day, with a response from a named person, so you feel that it’s a business service.
  • LinkedIn is also more cost-effective, particularly for recruiters – traditional ad channels can be expensive.

Disadvantages

  • If you set up an ad campaign, whether stand-alone or sponsored content, you’ll get clicks and a count for how many you received, but you won’t get the contact data. It’s up to you to make sure that the secondary data capture is set up. If you’ve redirected them to a landing page on your website or data capture form, that’s the ideal method. Otherwise it’s just a number on an analytics page.
  • It’s more expensive than Facebook, with average cost-per-click being around $6 (compared to 50 cents). Minimum daily budget is $10, compared to £1 on Facebook. However, if it’s a more valuable sale (or recruit), it may be worth the investment.
  • Lastly, InMail has become a bit spammy, and more often than not people are trying to sell you stuff, rather than reaching out with anything of particular interest. If you choose to do an InMail campaign, how are you going to stand out and get people’s attention?

Remember, while there are some helpful paid features, you don’t need LinkedIn paid features to do well, or to build your network.

Now for the fun bit

You now need to decide which platform is best for you and what type of advert to do. Over the To Pay or Not To Pay series, we focus on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and YouTube, because they’re likely to be the platforms where you’re already most active and they are a good place to start.

In our next blog we look at the pros and cons of YouTube advertising.

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thought leaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

 

Photo by Rawpixel on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalAre LinkedIn Paid Features and Advertising Tools Worth the Investment?

Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers

by Joanne Dolezal on 28th September 2018

It’s never a bad time to look at how you attract people to your social media profiles and build your social media following.

There are two sides to the audience building argument.

One side will tell you to focus on quality, build your following slowly based on quality of connections and a real affinity.

The other side will tell you to focus on quantity, building your following quickly with paid social media campaigns, buying likes and followers and creating sensational content to ‘go viral’.

You will know what works for your organisation…

You will need to gauge what feels right, how much time and money you want to spend on achieving the ‘numbers’ – how many page likes you have on Facebook page, followers on Twitter or your Linked In company page.  You may prefer to focus on building your audience slowly and look at the ‘quality’ metrics: engagement – comments, retweets, shares – instead.

But you should know that these options exist, i.e. through paid advertising or ‘likes’ campaigns, if only to analyse others’ social media following more dispassionately.

Remember, though, that anyone promising you instant success is trying to sell you something…

You want to go for quality and build your following ‘organically’

It is still possible to build your audience on social media through content marketing and organic growth, by regularly posting a variety of content that is relevant and appealing to your target audience (or customers). Bear in mind that what you post on social media will depend on what type of business you run.  There are many different types of content for business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) companies, and most of it will be familiar to you.

The diagram below charts the most common formats for content marketing.

The best content is user-focussed, non-selling, informative and engaging.

Content marketing uses many different formats to deliver quality content.

Think ‘person to person’, not ‘business to business’.

What you’ll find, even when you are selling to another business person (as opposed to a consumer) is that it’s ‘B2B’ for the first five minutes only. It soon becomes you speaking to another person, another human being, and seeing them as an individual.  Everyone in business knows that this is what relationships are based on, and you’ll be on first name terms within the hour.

On the B2C side, with consumer marketing, the people who follow brands on social media want to be rewarded in some way. They want offers, deals and coupons or to know when the ‘flash sale’ is going to be. There’s very little brand loyalty these days, so think about different types of content which could be appropriate for your audience.

This quote is about Twitter, but I like it because it’s relevant to any social media platform:

“…humanize it.” Talk like a human, treat your readers like a human and empathise -this is how you get people’s attention and start to build trust with them. Be real!

Pam Moore

You want to go for quantity and grow your following quickly

All the major social media platforms have launched advertising tools in the last few years.  These are not to be underestimated, either in terms of their targeting capabilities or the potential reach they offer you, regardless of geography.  If you are familiar with the principles of display advertising (picture or video adverts) and pay-per-click (PPC) you will understand the advertising tools immediately.

For successful content marketing, you need to build your inbound marketing funnel.

The Inbound Marketing Funnel

For those who are new to paying to reach new ‘customers’, both operate on an auction model.

With paid ads, the most exposure (impressions or reach) goes to the highest bidder for that target audience.  It’s a fair system, in as far as you know either how much (the maximum) you are prepared to bid for either a click (through to your website or product page) or impressions, the number of people the ad will be presented to (sold per mille/’000).

When you are buying ad campaigns on each platform, you’ll be asked to choose your goals, based on the stage in the inbound funnel (see at right) / customer journey you want to reach your customer at.

Basically, you will be looking for Awareness, Consideration or Conversion.

Paid ads can help you reach target customers beyond your networks, sector, industry, location or language.

Some ads will present your picture ad, others may have a few lines of copy and Call to Action.  The success rate on all social platforms is low: typically the click-through-rate (CTR) will be lower that 0.5% or the people you are targeting.  You then have to follow up in some way to convert them.

Targeting can be based on the common characteristics of you target customer (or buyer personas) or you can create ‘look-alike’ target audiences based on the custom tools within the platform.  For more information about the paid ad tools on each platform, please see our blogs about each platform.

Buying followers can be done in a couple of ways.

The first option is to respond to a direct approach, normally on social media, offering to sell you followers.  These are normally sold per thousand.  Buy followers at your peril.  They won’t engage with your content (posts) and may distort your page analytics (metrics) significantly.

Accessing a pre-existing ‘community’ that has been pre-built by an agency can produce an impressive number of page (and post) likes.  Some will have millions of members who are, evidently, very obedient and do as they are asked.  This is a tactic if you need to demonstrate interest in your brand or products, perhaps to an investor, but it is not cheap.  Or particularly sustainable.

Am I against ‘paid’ social media?  No.  I think the targeting and advertising tools have the potential to put you in front of people you’d never reach otherwise.  I think the best combination is paid + organic, still delivering as much quality content as you can to your social media following.

But I would avoid buying followers, in the same way that I’d avoid buying contact data.  It is poor quality and unlikely to convert.

Whether you want to build a social media audience that delivers ‘quantity’ or ‘quality’, we recommend you:

1. Identify your target market – you may already have some information, but the more you know about who you’re trying to target, the better the social media platforms will support you. They have targeting tools built within them based upon the data they gather from users, and in the paid versions these are really sophisticated.

2. Know what they’re looking for – once you start to interact with them you’ll know what questions they ask and also what kinds of things they interact with.  Taking time to understand what your target customers care about helps you talk about topics they are interested in.

3. Attract and engage them – by being interesting, engaging and relevant, you’ll start to attract people to your profiles and pages.  Use the language they understand and use themselves and your posts will be relevant to them.

4. Build trust and earn leads – doing so will encourage people to visit your website, subscribe to your mailing list and download the lead magnet you’ve created in exchange for an email address. They WILL ring you or send you a direct message, because it happens all the time.

5. Measure and improve. Think about what you’re going to measure, because big numbers don’t always mean anything. The quality of interactions is what matters for a social media following who will ultimately buy from you, or recommend you to others.

Social media is great for weak links, so don’t feel too disheartened when things don’t go your own way immediately and don’t expect too much of people.  After all, you’re not face-to-face, so you can’t rely on non-verbal cues or the opportunity to have a proper conversation to build rapport.

At the bottom of the inbound funnel, once somebody has become a customer, it’s a great way to keep in touch with them.

Turn them into an advocate and they will make sure your posts, comments and shares ‘move’.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.

Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1. The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
  2. Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
  3. How do You Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
  4. Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
  5. Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers
  6. Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
  7. Mobile First and Live Streaming Video Help You Succeed in Social Media

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

For more Content Marketing tips and tricks, grab your free eBook here.

 

Photo by Fleur Treurniet on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalBuild Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers

Get the Right Message and Get Their Attention

by Joanne Dolezal on 20th July 2018

The modern consumer is egocentric, and truly only cares about themself.

They care about what they are trying to achieve and what matters most to them.

So naturally, they skim (ruthlessly) over content in their social media feeds that aren’t of interest to them.

Unless you get the right message you will not get their attention.

This means that your content and posts need to be tailored to them. Just them.

They need to be interesting, engaging and relevant. To them.

If it’s about you, your customers really aren’t that interested. Unless it’s about them.

 

Zig Ziglar famously said:

“people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”

Particularly, how much you care about them.

If you can reach out to people with your content and demonstrate that you have something that will change their lives, then you will get their attention.

Listen with your eyes

You need to post and share content that’s relevant to their lives, so how do you find out what that is? Enter, ‘social listening’.

I highly recommend watching and listening (observing) your customers on social media, whether you’re just starting out or moving to the next level. Be passive and see what people are talking about, sharing and interacting with. If you don’t you can often get it wrong.

Develop buyer personas

When you are ready to move beyond the broader categories that people fall into (segments) and start thinking about what is influencing their decision making, you may want to develop your buyer personas. Our recent blog on buyer personas explored the different ingredients that go to make up a buyer persona, but if you take the time and really drill down into who they are and what makes them tick, creating content for them will come as naturally as speaking with an old friend.

Get inside your customers head

Who is your customer and what do they want? Perhaps they’re trying to overcome a challenge or tackle an issue that they’re dealing with. Or it could be something positive, such as an aspiration or desire.

If you appeal to their current mindset, rather than giving a lot of information about your products, services and staff, you will get their attention more easily. Concentrate on solutions to their challenges, ways to reach their ambitions and try to anticipate their questions. If you can give them the answers, you will be helping them to come to a decision. And demonstrating your expertise and trustworthiness.

And get inside your customers heart

When you start talking about someone’s problems, their fears, hopes and aspirations, in a way that shows respect, empathy and understanding, you get their attention.

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

Henry Ford (quoted in Dale Carnegie)

This is your opportunity to show the human side of your brand – social media is a great place for us to demonstrate our ‘personality’ – and make a personal connection.

What’s really interesting, is that even B2B purchase decisions will be influenced by how the customer feels. It is not just a rational decision, so think about how they feel right at the moment. Can you appeal to their emotions?

What is the Right Message?

We’re still selling something. Good sales people know that you’ve won the sale when the answer to all your questions is: YES. You’ve exhausted their objections, allayed their fears, gained their trust and confidence, then finally, their business.

It’s whatever you say, that makes them want to say ‘ yes’.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.

Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1. The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
  2. Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
  3. How do You Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
  4. Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
  5. Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers
  6. Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
  7. ‘Mobile First’, Live Streaming & How to Succeed with Social Media Marketing

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

 

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalGet the Right Message and Get Their Attention

How You Will Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media

by Joanne Dolezal on 13th July 2018

For your customers, time may be a movable feast. Showing up at the ‘right time’ is therefore the ultimate challenge. So how do you know the right time for your customers on social media?

There are always 24 hours in every day, 7 days in a week…

But the bottom line is, for your customer, time may feel like it’s in short supply. This will be more noticeable at different times of day, days of the week or whether they’re just about to take some time off and want to clear out their inbox.

Your goal is to post social media that reaches them

at the right time or day of the week, for them.

A quick look at your social media analytics will tell you when your followers are actively on that platform.

Facebook Analytics Posts even gives you a visual of when your connections were on Facebook each day. So as long as you are active on Facebook, or scheduling important messages for those key times, you will show up at the right time for them.

 

Work pressures and other life priorities are a big factor too.

Sometimes your LinkedIn update might have just popped up at the wrong moment and they didn’t have time to respond to it. This doesn’t mean that people don’t care, or are not interested, you’ve just caught them when they’ve got other things going on that are more urgent for them.

 

 

If you look at the analytics for your social media accounts and also look back through your feeds to see the time of day or day of the week you get the most engagement, you will start to build a picture of your followers. It really is different for each person/business, but as a rule of thumb, if you’re B2C (business to consumer) you should try scheduling posts to go out early morning, in the evening and at weekends, as these are good times to reach your audience.

If you’re B2B (business to business) early mornings, lunch time, and early evening are good times to reach your followers, as these are common times for people to dip into social around working hours. Weekends can work surprisingly well too and LinkedIn is a busy place even on a Sunday evening.

Remember, not every workplace tolerates social media activity on site or in working hours. Even B2B posts may not reach your audience until they ‘clock off’ and head home.

Your customer may have a short little attention span

Sadly, you may find that your lovingly crafted social media posts are competing with lots of other things happening in their lives. They may be dealing with their kids/pets/partners or have the laptop and the TV on at the same time, whilst having a quick dip into Snapchat or Facebook.

Multi-screening customers mean you have a third or a quarter of their attention at best, which is a lot of competition for your social media. Don’t just post once. Share the same posts at regular intervals throughout the day or week to ensure that they don’t your followers don’t miss them and potentially, miss out.

http://www.netimperative.com/2015/05/rise-of-media-multi-taskers-the-battle-for-consumers-attention-spans/

And your customer is mobile too

Location is important: where are people consuming your content?

The chances are that if they’re reading it on a mobile phone, they’re on the move (or having a quick ‘social snack’). They may be travelling or waiting for someone, checking out your restaurant or pub on Tripadvisor en route, or looking to see if an item is in stock en route to your shop.

Whatever they’re looking for, they will want to do it quickly and make a decision now. How well does your social media support these kinds of searches? Photos, maps, videos, quotes, testimonials, product reviews, links – social media platforms support just about any kind of content you need to help your customer find and choose you.

Smartphone screens are still quite small so make graphics and text overlay REALLY BIG so it can be read easily on a small screen. With imperfect eyesight!

Get ready to take your customer on a journey

There’s another dimension to time as well, which is thinking about the right time in that customer’s journey. Using the Inbound Funnel below as a guide, then typically if they’re at the early stages they’re just beginning to perceive a need or want. Content and posts that will intrigue and attract them and get them to visit your website are important.

 

Later on in your customer’s journey, as they progress, they’ll need deeper content, such as a video to show how to do something or how something is used.

An ebook, guide, whitepaper, email series, etc that offers them more information will garner their email address.

Later still, they may welcome a webinar or Facebook Live, which gives you an opportunity to expand on the topic and answer their questions.

The further they go along that journey, the more they need. Your posts in social media need to help customers to make the best choices and decisions for them, which is a key strength of content marketing.

Plan posts and schedule ahead if you want to reach them at the right time

The best way to plan is to use some simple tools.

Everybody uses a spreadsheet, and you don’t need anything more complicated than that, because it needs to be flexible and easy to update.

There are also a number of scheduling tools, and Hootsuite and Buffer are particularly good when you’re just getting started. As you develop you may want something more sophisticated, but only if you are doing a serious amount of social media on a variety of topics.

 

Scheduling platforms have different price points and strengths. As you progress, MeetEdgar is mid-priced and very good at scheduled, yet randomised posting but it doesn’t give detailed analytics. Sprout Social is slightly more expensive but gives you a lot of analytics, particularly around #hashtags.

Choose what’s most appropriate for your business stage, size and goals.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.

Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1. The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
  2. Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
  3. How You Will Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
  4. Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
  5. Build Your Social Media Following versus Buyer Reach and Followers
  6. Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
  7. Mobile First and Live Streaming Video Help You Succeed in Social Media

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Ready to take the next step? Download your free Content marketing eBook today.

 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

 

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Joanne DolezalHow You Will Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media