The world of B2B digital advertising can seem like uncertain and murky waters sometimes to B2B tech businesses.
You want new customers and higher revenue but you’re not sure how to advertise in a way that maximizes growth opportunities and minimizes wasteful spending.
A step-by-step outline is usually helpful in these circumstances. With that in mind, here are the six steps you should strategically consider as you build your digital ad campaigns.
1. Determine your desired result.
Before you start something, you need to know where you want to end up. For B2B digital advertising, the same idea holds true. What does success look like to you? What is your overarching goal for the ad campaign you’re about to craft and launch? What’s the big strategy here?
This isn’t a light consideration (that’s why we’ve got it at #1.) Time, money, and resources will be wasted on any campaign you run if you’re unsure which success mark you’re aiming at.
To simplify your goal-defining process, we’ll ask you to look at two different broad approaches to ad campaigning and marketing as well. (There can be overlap in tactics between these two, but they are generally separate advertising strategies.)
- Demand Generation Advertising
This is essentially awareness generation or top-of-funnel engagement. You need to make your target audience aware of your offering. This is measured in clicks, impressions, or video views.
You want to bring potential buyers into your universe – but you’re not necessarily looking for a purchase yet. These ads are geared valuable toward ungated content like eBooks, free webinars, product demos, or podcasts. Trust is being built through this campaign. You’re starting a relationship.
- Lead Generation Advertising
Lead gen will be at the bottom of the funnel and focus on strategies that draw in contact information. Your goal with these campaigns is to draw in specifically targeted decision-makers and make them into marketing qualified leads (MQLs.) At this point, your is to reach an audience that is ready to buy or very close to it. Your messaging will be pretty direct here, and you’ll need some killer landing pages and gated content like lead magnets to convince your target to buy. Using your ads to send the prospects to product and pricing pages can also work here too.
After you’ve determined the overall strategy for your campaign, you’ll need to know whose eyes your ads should be in front of.
2. Find your target audience.
Whom are you targeting? A large part of your strategy should focus on the persona you’re trying to target. Most businesses will (should) already have this mapped out as part of their overall business strategy and management. However, when it comes to your ad campaign for B2B tech, dive deeper into each persona. What search terms do they use? Are they more likely to use high-level jargon or generic searches? Of course, this will vary greatly based on what industry you’re targeting.
Also, don’t be afraid to get specific here. Narrow it down by buy persona, industry, company size, and position. If your target audience is refined, you’ll see better results. You don’t want to be paying for meaningless traffic.
At New North, we target companies based on all the factors above and create campaigns based on solid and deep personas, but as we do this, we always keep in mind the next critical factor on our list: budget.
3. Set your budget
You will never see ROI if your budget isn’t set. In the B2B space, no matter your overall strategy, you want to reach high-value business customers at consumer costs. Basically, you’re getting attention far below its market value.
This can get tricky here, and it is also very dependent on what figures you’re given to work with. A marketing agency determining ad spend for a client may have a different budget at its disposal than a B2B tech company working out its own budget.
Because this can vary from campaign to campaign, we’ve outlined a few key metrics to keep an eye on when you’re making your budget.
Return of Ad Spend (ROAS)
This is a quantitative evaluation of your campaign and can help you determine the success of your efforts overall. Check out this article by Big Commerce to help you calculate this number.
Cost Per Lead (CPL)
CPL is how much it costs you to capture a potential customer’s (lead’s) information. Please read our article to see the formula you need to be calculating your CPL properly. It’s actually more complex than you might think, but the payoff here is an accurate budget and a profitable campaign.
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
For this metric, you measure how much you spent to acquire a customer from your campaign. As a simple example, if your product or service is selling for $10,000 and you can afford a CPA of 25% of that price, you can spend $2,500 on acquiring that new customer.
With your budget in place, your next step is to decide where you would like to run your ads.
4. Choose your ad platform.
Here is a list of the most popular digital advertising platforms in the B2B sector.
- Google Search Network (GSN)
- Google Display Network
- Other Search Engine Ads
For most of the clients, we recommend the top 3 on this list and go from there. Choosing your platform can change depending on your overall campaign goal, target audience, and budget.
The choice here is crucial, and each platform is studied. You’ll lose money quickly on any of these platforms if you aren’t careful and knowledgeable.
Another crucial choice lies in what messaging you decide to include in your ad copy.
5. Create your ad messaging
As you approach messaging, you’ll need to consider whom you’re writing to and what platform you’re writing for.
Who’s the message going to?
Companies go to great lengths to prepare what they want to tell their customers about their products and services.
Unfortunately, this is often the wrong approach.
Potential customers are coming to you with pains, concerns, and needs. Marketers need to step into their customer’s shoes and empathize, outline a path to solve the pains, eliminate those concerns, and address those needs.
Focus on connecting here, not impressing!
Where’s the message going?
Knowing what platform you’ll be running your ads on is strategically and practically important.
To create the actual content of your ads, you’ll need to have an idea of word count design, content strategy, and keyword inclusion. All of this can be determined by the platform you choose.
Now that your goals, target audience, budget, platform, and messaging are locked and loaded, you’re ready to launch your campaign!
Once you’ve done that, don’t forget our last step towards success.
6. Review and Optimize
This final step is the icing on your campaign cake, but it can also be the base ingredients for your next advertising endeavor.
You need to see what parts of your campaign worked and where they can be improved. Consider looking at your KPIs and the budgeting numbers we talked about above to do this evaluation.
Also, employ A/B testing, user activity tracking, and attribution measurement.
The key here is having all these other steps we mentioned in this post down pat so you can drill down into what specific areas need to be optimized and improved. Metrics and tracking will allow you to do this.
Pro tip: If your campaign results are subpar, check out our article/video series on the top mistakes most B2B businesses make with their ad campaigns. Understanding those will help you do better next time if the first time didn’t meet your expectations.
Make use of experts.
This is an unofficial 7th step, but it is still recommended. After all, paid ad campaigns take management time, data expertise, and familiarity with the ad systems – not to mention the knowledge necessary to create complex strategies.
At New North, we’ve been creating ad strategies for B2B tech firms like you since 2008. Over a decade later, we’ve gained expertise in both execution and strategy to create amazing campaigns for our clients.