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Mini : B2B SaaS paid media mistakes and how to avoid them.
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Last week we discussed what demand generation was. This week, we decided to take it further and share with you all some of the most common mistakes we have seen B2B SaaS companies make regarding their performance marketing campaigns.
Not setting up online and offline conversions. Traditionally performance was measured on a browser action - for example, someone filled out a form or signed up for the trial. These events can be tracked in the browser (page load) and can be pinged back to the ad platform to say, 'Hey, something good happened.' But signing up for a product doesn't mean they are activated. Likewise, when someone schedules a time for a demo doesn't mean they turned into a qualified opp. This is where offline events come into play. Offline here means an 'event' that does not happen on the client (browser) side. With Offline Events - you can optimize (and train) the ad platforms not on form fills or trial signups but on deeper level events like Qualified Opp, Subscriptions, or Activations. Hubspot / Zapier & Segment can take your server / CRM side data and sync it with ad platforms to create offline events, so you are optimizing against outcomes closer to revenue outcomes.
Under investing in landing pages and creative teams: How do you know a B2B Ad when you see it? Stock photos. Too many B2B Brands stick to what is safe (and boring). As Alejandra (Creative Director @42, whose work you've seen in the illustrations for the essays) has said - you aren't just competing for attention from other B2B brands on the newsfeed. But you are also competing against Netflix and its shiny new show. Because of this competition in terms of attention, it is crucial to invest in Ad creatives that stand out in the feed. But, once they click on the ad - don't just take them to the home page. Instead, build a relevant experience with an optimized landing page that connects with the ad and helps them overcome objections they might have. Sam Grover said it best - on the demo page, don't sell the product; sell the demo.
Over-investing in branded search: We worked with a customer who transitioned off to a bigger agency (and we left on excellent terms) - catching up with the CMO, he mentioned how the new agency just keeps investing in branded search to make performance look good. Branded search has a place, but we believe it doesn't bring incremental customers. 20-30% of your budget should be on branded search (if you are in a highly competitive category), and you want to 'defend your turf.' As an experiment - turn off your branded search for three weeks. Does organic make up for the difference? Do you notice a difference in performance?
Lack of critical thinking on bid strategies: Bid Strategies are how you tell an ad platform what you care about and how much you are willing to spend to get a result. By default, most ad platforms will default to the lowest-cost strategy. For example, on Facebook - the algorithm will try to spend the 'least' amount of money to get you the desired result. But if you sell a 50K ACV product - you can pay significantly more to acquire a qualified lead. In this case, we can use Cost Cap (a bid strategy in Facebook) to tell it, 'I am willing to pay upto 500 for a conversion,' and that gives Facebook's algorithm the ability to go beyond trying to find the 'cheapest' audiences to finding higher quality audiences. On LinkedIn, we often use manual bids to force LinkedIn to show our ads (and bid higher in the auction over competitors), so our ads take precedence over others in the newsfeed. On Adwords, we use manual CPC (sometimes) instead of fully automated. The machine (that is Google Adwords of FB) does know better, but in some cases, it helps to have more control and set broader parameters for the algorithm to work within. We are definitely not suggesting using manual bids all the time but understanding when to use specific bidding strategies to get the results.
Product channel fit: What's the best channel for SMB Paid Media? Facebook. The chances of finding an economically viable way with an SMB product on LinkedIn are low. Should you write entirely off Linkedin if you're selling SMB products? Absolutely not. Should you invest more heavily in Facebook? Absolutely. If you are selling an enterprise product that doesn't have ANY search volume - it does not make sense to invest in SEO. Product - Channel fit is all about understanding how your customers buy & aligning your GTM strategy with it (outbound or SEO or Paid Media or OOH etc.)
Treating paid media in isolation: Paid media is not a magical insert one-dollar get-two machine. It works in tandem with other channels & X channel alone won't be the magic bullet. For example, when we build marketing mix models for our customers or do statistical analysis- we see a big lift in direct & organic when paid media campaigns are running & a significant drop when we turn off all paid media campaigns. Too many times - paid media or marketing channels are treated as silos. The truth is - being *everywhere*creates a halo effect that helps build brand affinity & lowers customer acquisition costs.
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