So you’ve been running ads online. At first, everything seemed promising, but time has moved on, performance has gone down, and ultimately, you’re not getting the results you hoped for. It was easy getting your campaign launched initially. All you needed then was your platform, target audience, and creative assets. But now the creative is running dry and your click-through and conversion rates are in a steady decline. What’s your next move?
When Your Ads Lose Momentum, Revisit Your Plan
Let’s think back to when you first launched your campaign. What were your key goals and objectives going in? What stage of the buying cycle was your target audience in? How were you measuring success? If you can answer each of these questions clearly, you’re on the right track. If the results are hazy — it might be time to try again.
It’s simple to create one-off ads. But to set yourself up for long-term success – and keep the leads flowing in – you need to think beyond the now and ensure you have a strategic game plan that’s working well into the future.
In B2B marketing, it’s about playing the long game. It’s follow-through and follow-up. You’re navigating longer sales cycles, multiple decision-makers, budget approvals, you name it. This means at any given time, you’ll have prospects in different stages of the buying cycle or “marketing funnel.” One might have just started gathering information, while another is narrowing it down between two potential partners. You need to meet the user where they are with what they need.
That’s the key. If you want results from your paid media initiatives, you need to move away from a one-size-fits-all solution. Get to know the different stages of the marketing funnel – no prospect is the same. And you can’t expect a cold prospect to convert into a lead on their first touch any more than you can expect an accepted marriage proposal on a first date.
You need to invest in and nurture the relationship.
What are the Marketing Funnel Stages and How Do They Inform Your Paid Media Plan?
When it comes to the B2B marketing funnel, understand that at different points, your prospects want different things. First, they are information gatherers, then they want tactical advice from an expert, and eventually, they’re ready to select a partner. If you are able to stay the course and strategically and intentionally move them through the stages of the funnel, when it comes to making their decision, there will be no other choice but you.
To nurture your prospects into leads, you need to show up at each stage. Let’s dive deeper into each one.
Stage 1: Awareness
This is the first stage of the marketing funnel, and often the most overlooked. For someone to become a potential lead for your business, they first need to know you exist. This user is very early on in their research and is not ready to commit to anything just yet. But, it’s important you’re there when they start their searching.
When it comes to your paid media efforts, Display and Native ads showcasing solution-oriented blog articles are a cost-effective way to attract Awareness users and direct them to your site to learn more. And once they’re there, you’ll be able to move them into later stages in the marketing funnel (thank you, retargeting!). That’s why, while Awareness is typically not where the paid dollars go, it can be a crucial strategy to increase the number of prospects you’ll be able to nurture in later stages.
Stage 2: Engagement
This brings us to the second stage in the marketing funnel, Engagement. These users are past the initial research phase and are hungry to digest more. They want more than your standard blog article. They’re looking for longer-form content that further explains problems like the one they were researching in the Awareness stage.
This type of content often comes in the form of a white paper, eBook, or webinar. You’ll want to make this content gated on your website so the user must provide their contact information in exchange for your thought leadership. It’s important you capture this for future nurturing efforts via email marketing and paid tactics.
LinkedIn conversion campaigns are great for this stage. When you select the conversion objective when building your campaign, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to set up and choose a specific conversion action you want to optimize your campaign for. This could be a button click or form submission on your website. By doing this, you tell LinkedIn the exact action you want the user to take. LinkedIn then optimizes your campaign and shows it to users most likely to complete that desired action.
You can also develop granular target audiences built on specifics like the companies where the users work, the job titles or functions they hold, or specific groups they are a part of. Of course LinkedIn is more costly than Display and Native ads, but you’ll be paying more for the targeting detail and the chance to capture their contact information for future follow-up.
Stage 3: Action
By doing up-front work in the Awareness and Engagement stages, it becomes much easier for you to deploy successful campaigns in the Action stage. This user has done their research, has turned to you for additional resources, and is ready to be persuaded that you are the right partner for them.
This is the stage where you need to bring the proof. Talk about yourself, your solutions, and how you’ve been successful in the past. Ideally, the user wants to know how you will save them time, money, or resources. Case studies, success stories, and client testimonials are great ways to show what you can do.
In terms of paid tactics, retargeting is going to be key here as you’ll want to re-engage the users who have been following you all along. LinkedIn retargeting is a great way to accomplish this. You can retarget your previous website visitors who didn’t convert, or if large enough, you can upload your email list into the “Matched Audience” section in LinkedIn Campaign Manager. This allows you to populate a custom audience you can use as targeting for your campaign.
The call to action should be focused on getting that user to contact you, which is an easier ask since this prospect has already engaged with you. When setting up your campaign, select the “Lead generation” objective. This campaign type serves users that click on your ad a lead form directly on the LinkedIn platform. This helps limit the number of steps the user must take to contact you. Once they submit the form, be ready to follow up via email to close the sale.
While each stage of the funnel serves a different purpose, each one is just as important as the next. To convert your prospects into leads, it’s not as simple as targeting your ideal user with a cold ask to “Contact you.” It means you have to adopt the stages of the marketing funnel and ensure they engage, nurture, and deepen your prospect relationship over time. Then, when it comes time for the prospect to make a decision, you’re the trusted partner and resource they will turn to.
Think your company might benefit from this approach? Get in touch with our team to discuss your paid initiatives.