Thursday, July 19, 2018

Search Vs. Display Advertising: Which Is Better?

Search vs. Display advertising

Inbound may be king of the marketing world, but that doesn’t mean outbound marketing methods can’t fit seamlessly into your marketing strategy. In fact, either approach by itself won’t cut it. As the digital world evolves and becomes more crowded, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for any company to stand out. Luckily, outbound methods like search and display advertising are great for building brand awareness and demand generation.

Especially for newer B2B companies who are ramping up and don’t have a ton of content in the beginning, search and display ads can amplify your inbound content, helping you gain traction and build domain authority.

What is Search and Display Advertising?

Search and display advertising are both methods of paid advertising through Google’s search network. Search engine advertising allows companies to bid for ad placement for certain keywords in Google’s sponsored links. When you search for a specific keyword or phrase in Google — let’s say,“new breed marketing” — the first two or three results are typically paid search ads. Through a combination of both your bidding strategy and quality score you can ensure that your page shows up first in the list of results.

Display advertising, on the other hand, allows you to create audiences within Google Ads and serve banner ads to them through the Google display network. This feature tracks users’ behavior and helps make sure that the right ads are put in front of the right people, wherever they may be on the internet.

Access the Webinar: How to Drive Inbound Growth Through Outbound Methods to learn how to integrate outbound marketing into your inbound strategy

Which is better?

You may be wondering: which is better for my business? The answer to that is, well, it depends.

Each method has its own pros and cons. Search advertising is particularly effective for competing with other brands. For example, if you google “inbound marketing,” HubSpot shows up as the top result organically, but Pardot has bidded on this keyword, allowing them to show up above HubSpot in a search ad.

Search engine ads are also good for targeting qualified leads because you have to consider search intent when bidding on a keyword. Consider your buyer personas and the relevant keywords they’re likely to search. Just because “how to make slime” was one of the top Google searches in 2017 doesn’t mean you should bid on it (unless your business offers, maybe, a slime-making service).

However, unlike search ads, display ads are great for driving people to take action. That’s not to say search ads can’t drive conversions, but having an image banner comes with unique benefits. You can use it to convey compelling messages and attractive CTA buttons, and this type of branded imaging can boost click through rates. There’s also more flexibility with display ads because there’s no character limits — but be careful because Google will flag ads for certain messages if they’re deemed coercive or inappropriate.

Furthermore, display ads are effective tools for remarketing. When someone visits your website, the display ad can follow them around the internet, subtly reminding them about your brand until they’re ready to re-engage with it.

Ultimately, the method you choose depends on your business. Consider the goals of your marketing campaign and work backwards from there. Do you want to keep your brand top of mind and encourage someone to take action? Display ads are great for that. Do you want to maintain your position as a thought leader in the industry? Search ads are probably the way to go. You might even find the best path to reach your goals is to use each method in conjunction with each other.

Whatever you choose, remember that these outbound marketing efforts should supplement your inbound marketing strategy, not the other way around. While designing and implementing search and display campaigns, keep the customer in mind throughout the entire process to maintain inbound best practices.

Test, Test, Test

Once you’ve made your decision, make sure you’re collecting data on how your ads are performing. A/B test different ads to see what your audience is engaging with and use that data to optimize your approach. Check in on your ads periodically to make sure Google is still serving them and see if you’re over- or underspending on certain keywords.

Without these insights, you won’t understand how effective — or ineffective — your ads are, and you won’t be able to properly adjust them to improve their performance.

The Takeaway

Search and display ads are great ways to boost brand awareness and demand generation. These methods can be used together or separately help you reach your marketing goals — whether you’re looking to acquire new customers or market a new product. How you use them is up to you.

However, search and display advertising shouldn’t be the main pillar of your marketing strategy. Use them with inbound best practices in mind to maximize their value. And as always, don’t forget to measure your results and optimize accordingly.

access the webinar how to drive inbound growth through outbound methods

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How To Create A Frictionless Funnel For Your SaaS Business

In the traditional marketing funnel, leads get marked as MQLs after meeting a certain set of criteria — usually based in how they've interacted with your content and website. From there, your sales team kicks into overdrive scheduling phone calls, product demos and email followups while intently focusing on how to nurture this qualified lead into making a purchase. But what if I told you there's a much easier way to make all of this happen? A frictionless way?

Using the MQL model, your sales team is bogged down by this cycle of high-touch nurturing. These high-touch leads are expensive, eating away at valuable sales calories that could be redirected toward leads who already understand the value of your offering. And do you know which leads already know this? Ones who are already using your product on a free trial or freemium version. By targeting these PQLs, or product-qualified leads, you can start to create a frictionless funnel for your sales representatives and buyers. Here are four ways to start leveraging your PQLs for a frictionless sales experience:

4 types of pql-284813-editedSource: OpenView and Brian Halligan

Free Users

In this first group, you have all of the contacts who downloaded a free version of your software or started a free trial. They've just started exploring your company as a solution and might not be ready for a full purchase yet, but you can still create a more frictionless experience for them — and your sales team.

Start with a high-level nurture campaign that offers advice on how to get started with your product, case studies on other clients who have seen success, and any other content to highlight benefits of staying with your tool. Depending on contacts' interaction with that campaign, target users to follow up with on a phone call, engage in personal conversation about their use of your software, and help make them make the most of their free version.

By targeting these free users rather than traditional MQLs, your sales team can have more productive conversations with leads who actually understand your product.

Download The Definitive Guide to SaaS Marketing to learn actionable ways to grow your business.

In-Product Hand Raisers

After a free user gets onboarded and starts playing around in your product, they may come across a "gated" feature. A gated feature is something not yet accessible to them in the free version or is an add-on or upgrade from their current version. In many cases, they can request additional information about this feature right in their portal by submitting a form or otherwise raising their hand.

This action signals to your sales team that the lead is ready for an additional conversation and may be ready for another purchase. Because the prospect has self-identified their interest while actually using your product, your sales team can have a much easier, lower-touch conversation with these leads.

Feature Limit

Very engaged, freemium users will eventually exceed the limits of your software's free version. In this case, users have already been experiencing your product and are aware of its benefits to their organization. This prior use may increase their conversion rate to your full, paid software to over 50%! They're already "bought" in to the free version, and now need to convert into paying customers in order to continue reaping the benefits you offer.

Again, this action almost self-identifies them as someone who is ready to talk with your sales team, and enables a frictionless experience for both parties. Your sales team isn't wasting time on uninterested leads and these engaged users are immediately offered help and additional resources.

Touchless Purchase

Finally, after using the free version of your product long enough, incredibly happy users may turn into touchless purchasers without a single discussion with your sales team. In this situation, it's likely this is a small purchase — upgrading a feature on their own or purchasing an add-on — but in true frictionless fashion, they've done it on their own. However, in order to make touchless purchases successful, it's recommended you have a pricing page available on your website, and an in-platform checkout process. Without them, users would still have to go through your sales team to learn more about your pricing model and to actually make the purchase.

After purchase, utilize small, followup touch points with your new customers to ensure their success and begin the up-sell or cross-sell process. While these conversion points will happen the least, these users will be the most engaged and eat up fewer of your sales calories as you continue working with them. However, keep in mind that in the SaaS industry, touchless purchases lose their effectiveness as purchase amount increases. After a point, your sales team will have to step in — or your business growth will plateau as touchless purchases drop off.

Scaling a SaaS business can take tremendous effort. If you need guidance on what to tackle next, download your copy of the Definitive Guide to SaaS Marketing. This guide will take you through a number of comprehensible and actionable strategies you can use to grow your SaaS business, all the way from goal setting to customer success and retention.

saas-marketing-guide

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

B2B Marketers: What Netflix Can Teach You About Engagement

b2b marketing engagementThere’s a reason Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu all have autoplay enabled on their platforms — it encourages engagement. Whether it’s the next episode in a series or a recommended piece of content, their goal is simple: keep you watching. They show you something they think will be relevant to you based on everything they have [...]

B2B Marketers: What Netflix Can Teach You About Engagement

b2b marketing engagementThere’s a reason Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu all have autoplay enabled on their platforms — it encourages engagement. Whether it’s the next episode in a series or a recommended piece of content, their goal is simple: keep you watching. They show you something they think will be relevant to you based on everything they have [...]

What Is BANT And How Can It Enable Your Sales Team?

What is BANT

Ever hear the term BANT? If you've spent much time around marketing and sales initiatives, chances are you have. In fact, chances are you've heard it more than a few times. As with most acronyms, people tend to assume everyone already already knows what it stands for, but that's never really the case. With this in mind we're going through BANT letter for letter to find out what it means and how it can enable your sales team.

What is BANT?

BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Needs and Timeline. There! That's everything you need to know about BANT...

Well, perhaps not quite. Without context they're just words, and although words like budget, authority, needs and timeline may sound important, they're not effective on their own. Let's start from the beginning, shall we? BANT can be defined as a B2B lead management process. BANT (budget, authority, needs and timeline) is a system used to assess the quality of a prospect. Once we've identified a prospect's quality based on the BANT criteria, we can use this information to prioritize sales leads and pursue those that are most qualified.

Budget: The value your prospect has placed on your service

It's always a wonderful day when a prospect's budget is perfectly in line with the actual cost, but there are many cases where it's just not going to work out that way. Sometimes their budget is based on what they personally feel the value should be. Sometimes it's based on interactions they've had with your competitors. Sometimes they don't have a budget at all, which may be an indicator they're not a serious buyer.

How budget enables your sales team: Asking the right questions and getting to the bottom of a prospect's budget enables you to develop a sense of their qualification. If the budget doesn't line up with the cost of your solution, it may not be a match. But use best judgement here, because sometimes they can still be won over.

Authority: Identifying who the decision makers are

Sometimes we work directly with a person of authority from the beginning, but a lot of times we work with someone further down the ladder. The idea with this part of BANT is to figure out who the final decision makers are. The knowledge you gain shouldn't trigger you to stop speaking with anyone who doesn't have the final authority, but it should help you understand where the final signature will be coming from.

How authority enables your sales team: By getting a clear view of how the decision making process works, you can identify decision makers from champions/advocates, and use this information to better support your sales efforts. If you don't know the chain of command or who you need to have buy-in from, your efforts won't be as effective and efficient. Knowing who to speak with, when to speak with them and how to speak with them, is highly dependent on knowing authority level and chain of command.

Download The Complete Guide to Inbound Sales to learn how to best structure your sales team for growth.

Need: What the prospect needs to solve their pains and challenges

Need is a big indicator of whether or not there's an alignment between your prospects' pains and your solution. It is an important topic to explore deeply because sometimes prospects think they know their pains, but their real pains are very different from those they've identified. Take the time to understand their true challenges. Those are the places where your service will make their life a little bit easier.

How need enables your sales team: Once we gain insight into a prospect's needs, we can understand how to best position our services. Such insight not only helps further qualify the prospect, but offers us a strategic position in the way we communicate and close the prospect into a customer.

Timeline: When the prospect plans to roll out their chosen solution

Sometimes a prospect is a great fit. They have the budget, the authority to approve and the need, but the timeline is off. If the timeline is too short, it may not be feasible to accommodate the request, or it may not be within the budget to do so. If timeline is too far out, it may mean the prospect doesn't identify this as a priority.

How timeline enables your sales team: Clear expectations for both parties are the key to success. When sales knows the expected timeline, they can work to ensure resources are in place for when the sale closes. Doing so creates less friction in the transition from sale to delivery, which also provides better customer service. Once timeline is established, and agreeable, sales can confidently determine the prospect's qualification.

The Takeaway

BANT is a lead management process used for sales qualification. It stands for budget, authority, needs and timeline. Someone using BANT in their inbound sales process will ask specific questions designed to uncover these four criteria. Based on the prospect's answers, the lead can be prioritized and pursued accordingly.

While BANT still has relevance and continues to be used, many inbound-focused marketing and sales teams have adopted alternatives such as GPCT (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline), which shifts the focus from the seller to the buyer. The GPCT process attempts to offer more value up front while keeping the focus on the prospect's needs. Regardless of which process you choose as your sales qualification framework, always ensure you're offering value to your prospects while working toward appropriately qualifying them.

Ready to learn more about the sales process and inbound selling? Download our Complete Guide to Inbound Sales!

inbound-sales-guide

Friday, July 13, 2018

6 Must-Have Segments for Financial Services Personalization Campaigns

segments for financial servicesSegmentation is a fundamental component of digital marketing. When you segment your site visitors, you are dividing them into different groups based on some shared attributes or behaviors. When you think about your main customer segments, you may immediately start grouping them according to demographics or life stage — but there’s more to it than [...]

6 Must-Have Segments for Financial Services Personalization Campaigns

segments for financial servicesSegmentation is a fundamental component of digital marketing. When you segment your site visitors, you are dividing them into different groups based on some shared attributes or behaviors. When you think about your main customer segments, you may immediately start grouping them according to demographics or life stage — but there’s more to it than [...]