Using Paid Media to Drive Lead Generation
by Bri Curran & John Daters on Thu, Oct 15, 2020 @ 10:30
Lead generation is essential for any company looking to bring in new business. Without a lead generation strategy, it’s very unlikely that any leads making their way through your funnel will fit your ideal persona profile. So, what happens when you have a strategy that isn’t bringing in qualified leads quickly? You’re left with no choice but to get creative. Luckily, there’s a surefire way to drive lead generation—paid media.
What’s Paid Media?
Paid media is one of three media silos used in the online marketing industry. Unlike the other two silos, earned and owned media, paid media content requires payment before being put out to your online audience. Paid media serves as an additional promotion method for your content to drive leads to your business quicker.
Utilizing it in tandem with your organic lead generation practices can set you up for success in the short and long term. How is that? Well, organic lead generation practices, like search engine optimization (SEO) and blogging, for example, take time to work their magic. With paid media, you are paying to get your content in front of potential leads in the blink of an eye.
Once you go live with paid content types—i.e., social media ads or pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements—the social platform or Google immediately puts your content to work to start reaching your lead generation goals.
Another benefit of utilizing paid media for lead generation is the ability to closely target your audience by displaying your ads to people based on their demographics, geographic location and behavior. This means that you’re not only reaching people faster, but you’re also reaching people who are in line with your target personas.
The Top Types of Paid Media to Use for Lead Generation
PPC advertising, a form of advertising where advertisers pay each time a user clicks on one of their ads, has continued to grow in popularity with the amount of competition entering the digital space.
Organic SEO practices for search engine results page rankings are no longer enough and require a waiting period before showing significant results—not to mention that they constantly need to be refined and monitored as a user’s search intent changes. That’s why businesses across the world are opting to put a chunk of their marketing budget toward paid efforts.
In fact, the most common form of PPC, search advertising, is projected to reach an estimated $137 billion by 2022. PPC is now looked upon as one of three top lead generation tactics alongside on-page website conversion and email marketing, according to Formstack.
Paid Social Media Ads
Paid social media ads are any paid placement on various social media platforms. The most common social platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. There are others, of course, including TikTok, Reddit and Snapchat, to name a few, but the most heavily used are those listed above.
While many of us in the B2B community may focus on LinkedIn—assuming it’s where all business is done and all business decisions are considered and made—we’d be wrong. Excluding what are typically felt to be more B2C-focused channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is a major disservice to your company’s bottom line.
Too often, we want to force our audience into predetermined channels, whether social media or elsewhere. We see a channel like LinkedIn as being business-focused, so we want to place B2B ads there, and while this can work, it often falls short. It’s easy to forget that we are no longer a single-source community. We don’t get all our information from a single publication, interview or digital channel. We’re much more diverse in our information consumption.
While we may want to force our message in specific websites or social channels precinct to business, it turns out it’s more effective to be in front of your audience regardless of the channel. If you sell professional lawncare products like mowers and mulchers to other businesses, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you only placed ads on lawncare-related sites, for example. Don’t let the content of a site dictate your ad spends, especially on social media.
Instead, let the audience targeted on these channels dictate your efforts. Can Facebook target business owners in specific industries across exact geographic areas? Absolutely. Why not target your audience instead of just targeting the channel? Social media allows exceptionally robust targeting capabilities that dive deep into audience segmentation and predictive interaction modeling of your message and desired audience interaction.
When to Use Paid Search and When to Use Paid Social Media
To be successful in any type of marketing, including paid social marketing, you need to know how, when and why to leverage the resource. Understanding each social platform’s elements, including audience expectations, deliverable needs, setting and measuring effective and honest goals, then adjusting as insights and data points roll in are all critical to success when advertising within a paid social media campaign.
Know Your Goals
Before beginning any campaign, be sure you have a clear and measurable understanding of the goals you want to achieve. Don’t necessarily run ads for the sake of just playing in the space or with unmeasurable goals in mind, and definitely consider the “why” behind “vanity metric” goals like likes and comments within an ad.
Focus on goals that are going to have a demonstrable impact on a critical business metric—be it sales, leads or another goal-driven metric that has real and tangible importance to your bottom line. For many, this metric revolves around lead generation, either as sales qualified or marketing qualified leads, that then turn into revenue. Regardless of your goal, ensure it’s measurable and that all your efforts in audience targeting, platform selection and ad creation focus you toward that end.
Audience Differences Across Social Platforms
Audiences across social media platforms can vary, and knowing how to “speak their language” is a key to social advertising success. First, know what the platform is for. For example, LinkedIn caters to a professional, white-collar audience, so ensuring your ad messaging represents audience expectations is crucial.
A platform like Instagram requires image-first thinking, as this social channel is visually experiential, and ads should be visually appealing to fit with platform user appetites. Facebook somewhat bridges the gap between the image-heavy Instagram and business-minded LinkedIn. It’s here where a story through images and a business case composed of compelling ad copy can combine a bit more freely.
Measuring Results and Taking Action From Insights
I often say, if you set up an ad and just let it run with no review or adjustment, then you might as well just buy a sign by the highway. One of the great benefits to digital is the ability to learn from your efforts in real time, but if you take no action on learnings, you’ve potentially wasted your greatest asset—agility.
Give your campaigns time to run and gather data, but once you have a suitable dataset, mine it for insight and take action based on where the data leads. For example, look at where your converting audience resides. Is there a specific geographic location or two that seem to drive the most leads, or are there others where money sinks into a pit with no return?
Modify your targeting to match these insights. Is there a demographic set where your message seems to resonate more? Move spend to capture them. Be sure the metrics you see also align with your stated goals. If you’re driving leads among an audience with no capital to spend, you’ve either targeted the wrong audience, chosen the wrong platform or have ad creative issues. Dive in and see what needs to change to turn your goals from aspirational into realized quality results.
How SyncShow Does It
SyncShow’s philosophy is that we always start with the end in mind. Knowing the goals of an organization that have a meaningful impact is what every strategic initiative we engage in is focused on. The same is true for paid social strategies. We’ve worked closely with many organizations, helping them direct their spending and targeting in the places that return results.
For example, a B2B accounting and finance firm recently wanted to bring in additional leads to a notoriously hard-to-fill pipeline for an enterprise resource planning (ERP) product for manufacturers. Finding an audience for such a niche product can be difficult. With a software as a service (SaaS) application, geography is wide open. With no brick and mortar needs, SaaS can be offered anywhere. However, budgets don’t often allow for broad-spectrum saturation marketing across any and all locations.
The first step we took after identifying client goals and a deep dive into the ideal audience, along with budgets available, was to pinpoint a highly targeted geographic location to ensure effective spend within a measurable location—in this instance, it was a designated market area-based section of a state. Within that geographic region, we then targeted an audience based on industry needs, decision-maker titles and job function.
Once we knew where the audience was, who they were and their needs, we began looking at audience sizes to match spend levels within channels. In this instance, LinkedIn allowed us the best options for success. Now, months later into the campaign, we see leads roll in at a pace you could set a watch to.
We’ve dialed in the cost for each lead acquisition, have adjusted ad types and refined geographic and demographic targeting to ensure ads are effective, and audiences are distilled to target those who convert. This one campaign has now become a guaranteed source for leads that can be turned on, turned off or dialed up and down whenever needed.
How Does PPC Work in Generating Leads?
PPC ads have been a lead generation strategy since their inception. To understand how to leverage paid search ads for leads, we need to understand the psychology of a search. For a PPC ad to display, a user must first self-identify their intent by typing in a keyword search within a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.). Unlike paid social or display advertising, which can be considered “disruption advertising,” where we are focusing targeting on demographic and geographic information, as well as assumed audience affinities and tracked past actions, and forcing our ads on this audience, paid search ads don’t display unless an active and relevant search by a true user is made. In this way, we are not guessing on intent and need, but instead are delivering results based on real-time queries.
As marketers, we’re all aware of the buyer’s funnel, which is what categorizes potential customers into various buckets—the most simple of which are awareness, consideration and conversion. An effective paid search campaign understands this funnel and tailors a search term to meet a user’s needs. We’ll save the “awareness” piece for another article—as leads are not typically generated at this point.
Generally, those in the “consideration” phase of their journey are looking to compare products or services, often based on quality, price, service and fit. They are not quite yet ready to open their wallets, but they are willing to listen to your pitch and gather more information directly from you. Because of this, useful content or insight that helps them learn more about your product/service is more willingly traded for lead information (phone, email, etc.).
Due to this, these middle-funnel buyers are willing to offer their information for things like a look-book, spec sheet, whitepaper and other informative pieces. Targeting keywords in search will capture this opportunity.
For example, if you provide solutions in plastics, a piece on “How X company used injection molding to cut costs by 30%” or “How our extrusion molding processes reduced setup times in parts manufacturers” will capture the needs of potential buyers in the “consideration” phase. Because of this, a keyword strategy focusing on this middle funnel should capture information-based keywords as opposed to bottom-funnel terms like “buy now,” “sign up” or “request a quote.” Instead, focus on targeting common phrases that customers ask your associates, like “reduce machine downtime,” “fastest production time,” “free delivery” and other terms that are informative.
Alternatively, having a middle-funnel strategy will normally result in more leads, with which you can then nurture into closed customers. Having bottom-funnel strategies will provide fewer but more purchase-minded customers. Ensuring your brand is available for these last-step customers can mean a quicker lead to conversion time and a higher-quality lead count.
With potential customers who have, one way or another, already been made aware of their issue, have researched their options and are ready to open their wallets, a strategy should focus on cutting out any obstacles and “fluff” and getting a user the final result they want—a product or solution that meets their need. In these cases, it is time to target action-oriented keywords like “how to hire a parts manufacturer,” “plastic extrusion companies near me,” “metal casting quote” and other conversion-ready keywords.
How SyncShow Utilizes PPC
SyncShow builds custom funnels within PPC campaigns that are cognizant of effective buyer funnels. Knowing the pain points and needs of potential buyers within a B2B sector tells us what is of value to potential customers, and we create content and bid on keywords that meet these needs, thus capturing middle-funnel leads.
We then take these marketing qualified leads and help to nurture them further along their buyer journey until they become sales qualified leads and are talking to your brand directly and moving your bottom line. In addition to a middle-funnel strategy to capture users in a pipeline, we also go right to the conversion point to ensure those that are ready to buy are presented with your product or service in the proper way. This includes compelling ad copy, proper landing pages, effective calls-to-action and keywords that focus on user need and keep click costs manageable to ensure profitability.
We’ve done this effectively across a myriad of manufacturing organizations, as well as logistics and trucking companies looking to fill loads and find drivers. The devil is in the details of effective lead generation, but knowing what makes a company unique and knowing how to market that fact in the right way at the right time through paid search has made SyncShow effective for our B2B clientele.
Knowing how people search online across different channels and how to target a specific audience with proper ad content at the right time and in the right way, a B2B company can be effective in the paid advertising arena. Just remember, it all starts with your goals—what you want to accomplish—then comes a focus on your audience—who are they and where you can reach them. Next, you craft the message and deliverables that align your audience’s needs with your business offering, activating that message across the right channel in the right way. Making sure you focus on metrics as campaign progress will take you beyond basic paid engagements and into data-driven results and decisions that will continue to see your lead funnels grow and your sales pipeline fill.
Are you ready to begin your paid media strategy? Get in touch with one of our online marketing experts to get started.