We recently wrote a post about using paid ads to generate B2B leads en lieu of a longer term lead generation strategy based on content marketing. We coined the phrase (or at least borrowed it from agile development) of a marketing sprint as a short term, rapid way of lead generation versus the marathon that is content marketing. It’s worth checking that post out before continuing here but don’t forget to come back!
OK. Thanks for coming back. Of course, a combination of ongoing paid ads with content marketing will yield the best inbound marketing returns but this post explores 3 other aspects of the sprint in terms of what works and how else the sprint can be made to work for you. They are:
- Where does your audience live?
- How ready are they to engage?
- Testing the market
Where does you audience live?
Not geographically, but where do they go for their information? Which platform are they using? Are they using Google to research potential solutions to problems or are they more comfortable in LinkedIn? Are there some segments of B2B that prefer offline rather than online?
You might be surprised by the answer and, really, the only way to find out (if you’re not already 100% sure) is to test. Fortunately, paid ads allow you to do just that. We’re not going to cover print ads in this post but don’t rule it out – print is not dead. Has your attitude to getting post at home changed from “oh no, more junk” to “oh, the postman, I wonder what’s coming today?” I know mine has.
You’ll have seen this quadrant in the Sprint vs Marathon post.
It basically shows the trade-off between the platforms that serve those out looking (searching) and the platforms that enable the best segmentation (targeting). Unfortunately, there isn’t a platform in the [ideal] top right corner and we’ve always advocated focusing on those looking for a solution rather than, for example, ‘interrupting’ someone’s LinkedIn feed with an, albeit better targeted, sponsored ad.
However, you should invest and test all channels because you may find that your audience is more active and engaged where you least expect them. Their response to your ads will tell you that.
How ready are they to engage?
Most entrepreneurs believe the market is solid for their product/service and that prospects are ready to buy. The temptation then is to rush them through the funnel and, particularly if your brand is not well known, try to engage them too early with the wrong offer. There’s a dating analogy here somewhere. You can make your own up but something along the lines of inviting your date to meet your mother before the two of you have even met.
Back to funnels and offers. A prospect will go through stages of trying to solve their problem. Starting with ‘interest/awareness’ – what we might call “top of funnel” – through ‘evaluation’ (“middle-of-funnel”) and ‘trial’ (bottom-of-funnel) – and on to adoption/loyalty etc.
Their needs are different at each stage. At interest/awareness they’re looking for information (is this a potential solution to my problem?) Evaluation may be a live demo (for software) or a case study to see how others have solved the problem. Trial may be try before you buy for a software product.
What stage is your prospect at when they see your ad? If you’re advertising on Google Search then you’ll have a clue from the search term they used. Are they using the term “trial” or is the search term broader, more vague?
We always run Google Ads campaigns in a ‘pre-production’ mode to begin with to learn more about the search terms our audience are actually using before segmenting those terms into funnel stage and then presenting different ad creative/landing page/lead magnet combinations to match each funnel stage.
If you don’t do this, or can’t do it (on LinkedIn, for example, they’re not expressing a problem with a search term, they’re just looking at their feed) then you have to accept that you’re marketing to cold traffic and it’s best to assume they’re at the informational stage and leave your mother at home for now.
If your paid ads are not yielding the results you want then the likelihood is that you’re on the wrong platform or your message/offer is not matching their stage of the funnel. Always remember, it’s the buyer’s journey, not your sales process.
Testing the market
A marketing sprint can also be used to test the market. If you’re not sure which market segment is right for your product/service, then running a sprint to each candidate will let you see which segment is most responsive. Where are you getting the most leads – good tracking data and the ability to attribute leads back to the original source will let you see not only where the leads are coming from, but which segment is generating the most interest at which funnel stage.
Any questions? Please leave a comment or you can contact us via the Get in Touch page.