Paid advertising has evolved from being the main stand-alone, product-centric channel to a content-focused tactic that supports your overall organic and content marketing strategy. Having a paid advertising plan on top of an organic campaign gives you an advantage over a competitor that sticks entirely to SEO. Let’s take a look at five ways you can leverage paid advertising with each paid platform delivering a specific purpose.
When investing in paid promotions consider the following factors to gauge their ROI:
- Your goal. Is it brand awareness? Lead generation? Sales? Upsell or cross-sell?
- Your key performance indicators. It can be the number of visits, downloads, opt-ins, leads, views, etc.
- Period to measure the metrics. You must have a timeline to start and end collecting the metrics.
- Clear definition of a successful campaign. Based on your goal and metrics, how would you rate the paid promotion?
1. Use marketing tools on review sites to stand out vs. competitors
You probably already know that B2B buyers are researching online to know more about you long before you know them. According to Google, 70% of Americans read product reviews before they make a purchasing decision. Similarly, a CompUSA and iPerceptions report found that 63% of consumers are more likely to buy from a website with product ratings and user reviews. Both statistics can only corroborate why popular B2B software review directories such as FinancesOnline (third-party websites that compare SaaS products) are becoming a lead resource for buyers, including your prospects.
B3B review sites help people find and easily compare all the products they’re interested in from one location. In B2B, reviews sites save busy executives, managers, CEOs, and decision-makers the time and effort if they want to know the best software for their company. For instance, by comparing software and using a proprietary SmartScore system, FinancesOnline can give prospects a quick and insightful overview of how the product fares versus the competitors.
For a B2B software vendor like you, being present on all popular B2B review sites is a must. It isn’t enough though if you want to stand out from your competitors when prospects are deciding which software to buy. You can distinguish your software with a wide range of marketing tools that most review sites offer. For example, on FinancesOnline getting a premium plan will let you optimize and prioritize your review’s position in your category ensuring you show higher than your competitors and you’re the first product every user sees. FinancesOnline also enables you to showcase your product as a suggested alternative even when users compare only products of your competitors. This can have a great impact on your sales, especially if you pair it with other premium features such as a Verified Quality Seal for your product or a set of industry awards that also show your product is superior to your competitors. can give your software more credibility and earn user trust consequently increasing your sales. These are just some of the paid promotional tools you can leverage on a review site. If you’d like to learn more about the opprotunities to promote your product you can ask for more details about premium plans here.
2. Use paid SEM tactics to kick start your SEO
Paid SEM advertising is an excellent way to kickstart a campaign or if your website is new. Since you can highly target the audience, paid SEM can give you quality leads at once, even as you develop your organic marketing. In fact, B2B marketers consider SEM as the most effective paid advertising method, based on a Content Marketing Institute report.
Likewise, SEM is also a good way to create brand awareness, associating your brand with what buyers are thinking at the moment of their product discovery. For instance, a buyer searches for “best CRM for small business.” Even if you don’t appear in the organic search results, your ad ensures (granting that you have a strong bid price) that the buyer sees your brand while he’s thinking of the best CRM for small business. Never mind if he doesn’t click on your ad, the same buyer may land on a review site to compare his options, and he’s likely to remember your software, thanks to the ad he’s seen earlier.
As a rule of thumb, start with a high CPC to maximize the number of impressions, then lower down the bid once your CTR is established.
3. Use content discovery platforms to promote your stories
Did you know only 13% of marketers are using content discovery (Content Marketing Institute)? That means you have more legroom to promote your content. If you don’t know what content discovery is, it’s the section you find in top sites–usually at the bottom of the article in news websites–bannered by ubiquitous titles, “News around the web” or “If you like this story, you might also like this article.” They work like PPC/PPV ads, but they promote stories instead of products.
Content discovery vendors like Outbrain and Taboola are featured in major websites like CNN, Time, The Weather Channel, Tribune, NBC, and Business Insider, which means you get to publish your content in any of these high-level sites with aggressive bidding. But first, you need real content (not a press release, but a topic or issue that’s relevant to your product) to get enrolled in this platform. If your blog is active, you shouldn’t have any difficulty looking for content to promote. Otherwise, you need to develop an editorial calendar, if not within your organization, an external team that specializes in B2B content can save you the time and effort. Here you can find more ideas on how to advertise SaaS products.
4. Use LinkedIn Sponsored Updates and Promoted Tweets to project expertise
LinkedIn is all about career and business networking, where your audience are mostly professionals, managers, and business owners, who love reading and exchanging opinions about their professions and expertise. It’s a B2B audience waiting to hear your views, not to see what you sell. For instance, instead of pitching your CRM software, you can talk about CRM’s benefits or trends. As a vendor, your opinion carries weight because you’re a player in this industry. If you manage to project authority, your company credentials that appear below your photo will do a nice job selling your software.
In the meantime, while you’re amassing more followers to your page, you can pay your way to be read. The best way to leverage LinkedIn is to go for Sponsored Updates. Compared with LinkedIn Ads, Sponsored Updates are more targeted and demographics-specific, a key to why LinkedIn today is the most effective B2B social media platform. Moreover, Sponsored Updates appear in the user’s timeline, making it less intrusive and giving it a more organic appeal.
As support to your paid LinkedIn post, you should also tweet about it. Although Twitter has a more general set of users, they are mostly thinking and opinionated people open to listen to thought leaders. You can pay for a Promoted Tweet and target your audience by hashtag or user demographics. Similar to LinkedIn Sponsored Update, Promoted Tweets are displayed in the user’s timeline to blend in with organic tweets.
5. Use Facebook Promoted Posts to engage
Having a lot of followers in your Facebook Page is no longer a guarantee that your posts are read by a big audience. Facebook has tweaked its algorithm that only a small percentage of your followers actually get to read your updates in their timeline. The rest has to visit your Facebook page, but who does that to a B2B company?
Paying for Promoted Posts ensures that you reach your followers in their timeline. But the rub is, unlike LinkedIn and Twitter, Facebook users are casual and informal and given to humor, gossips, vanity, and stuff that we do after work. So your LinkedIn white paper won’t do well in this platform if you promote it as is. Rather, think of a more witty or personalized content that ties up to your promotion. It can be a funny quote, a cartoon, a meme, whatever that tickles your Facebook followers. Here’s a good example how a software vendor uses humor to drive home an otherwise serious topic:
Paid promotions shouldn’t be seen as an option to organic marketing (or vice-versa). Rather, paid advertising is the short-term fire starter to your long-term SEO, social media, and content marketing efforts. The company that can wield paid advertising to “market its marketing” has a big advantage over one that focuses only on organic search. Check out this B2B marketing ideas post for more useful tips on how to promote your software.