Why should you optimise for voice search in B2B marketing?

“Hey Google, why should you optimise for voice search in B2B marketing?” If speaking those words led you here, or maybe you asked Alexa or Cortana, then you’ve actually answered your own question, in a senseVoice search optimisation of business-to-business content is why you’re reading this right now.

What do I mean by that? Why does voice search matter for your business’s marketing? And what steps can you take to make B2B content rank high in voice search results? I’ll tell you in this article.

 

But first, let’s focus on why voice search is a thing in the first place.

 

The rise of voice search

Today, more and more people are using spoken queries to find products and services. This has been fuelled largely by two factors:  

 

  • High levels of mobile device usage (smartphones) 
  • New ‘smart speaker’ devices and voice assistants 

 

According to a study from PwC65% of consumers aged 25 to 49 years old talk to their voice-enabled devices daily. And another survey from Hubspot found that 74% of respondents had used voiced search within the last month. So, it’s clear that adoption of these individual technologies – smartphones, smart assistants and voice search – have contributed to the rise of them all.  

 

But there are also some other reasons for the increase in voice search uses, which relate to material realities of life today. 

 

More reasons people are going hands-free

The COVID-19 pandemic may also have spurred voice search’s uptake. Gartner’s report ‘Optimizing Voice Search and Features for Mobile Commerce’ found that 32% of consumers are interested in hands-free technology that would limit touching or contamination. No typing and swiping, no viral transmission – although we have to wonder if today’s speech recognition technologies have been tweaked to compensate for mask muffling. That’s certainly a catalyst for algorithmic improvement that nobody would have expected pre-2020. 

 

Also Social Media Today revealed that 52% of people use voice search while driving – which could perhaps be a result of smartphones replacing dedicated sat-nav devices on vehicle dashboards. Enabling people to find what they need while still keeping their eyes safely on the road could be one of the most positive benefits of voice search’s rise. 

 

Okay, but voice search in B2B marketing?

You may be thinking: “So people are using voice search to find the next motorway service station, or a pizza place open past midnight – that’s great. But it all sounds very business-to-consumer. My customers aren’t all saying Alexa, what’s my nearest Microsoft CSP?, are they?  

 

Maybe they aren’t – right nowBut this is a trend that can only grow – and it’s likely to keep growing rapidly. Statista predicts that by 2024, 8.4 billion voice assistants will be in use worldwideAs voice search makes up more and more of the total number of all searches performed, more of those searches will be business-related.  

 

To prepare for greater volumes of voice searches and capture as much of the current voice search traffic as possible, now’s the time to start making your B2B content rank high in voice search results. Let’s look at how.  

 

Our voice search optimisation tips

I asked Fifty Five and Five Marketing Executive Charlotte Chan for her top three tips on voice search optimization. Here they are:

Charlotte’s top three

 

  1. Optimise for ‘rich answers’. Voice search results are likely to draw from Google’s Knowledge Graph, Knowledge Panel, Knowledge Box and Featured Snippets. Rich answers use these sources – Featured Snippets in particular – so make sure these elements are optimised.  

 

  1. Answer questions concisely. Current best practice is that Google prefers the answers to voice search queries to be short and to the point. In fact the typical voice search result is only 29 words in length. That’s even shorter than this paragraph.  

 

  1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Much of your potential voice traffic will be from mobile devices. Therefore, as well as succeeding with voice search, it also needs to meet Google’s criteria for mobile friendliness for it to rank as well as it possibly can.  

 

I’ve also got some of my own advice for optimising voice search in B2B marketing, which I’ll share now.  

 

My advice

Focus on conversational keywords. People query search engines in different ways with their voices than with text. That means conversational phrases (e.g., “How do I...”) and long-tail keywords.

Create pages that answer FAQs. People use voice search to ask questions, so creating content with frequently asked questions – and their answers – is the perfect way to capture their search traffic. I used a question keyword in the title of this blog!

Optimise for more search engines than Google. While Google results are used for voice searches via Google (obviously) and Apple’s Siri, other voice assistants may use different sources. Alexa and Cortana use Microsoft’s Bing – so optimise for that, too.  

 

Time to make yourself heard

hope this article has helped to illustrate the value of voice search for B2B marketing. It’s still a relatively new field, and it’s sure to evolve considerably as time goes by – so I look forward to exploring new developments in the future.  

 

Meanwhile, if you’d like some assistance in making sure your organisation is being heard by potential customers using voice search, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Fifty Five and FiveWe’ll be more than happy to help.


Illustration woman planning content strategy

Content planning: the 3 crucial steps to keeping your audience coming back for more

When it comes to content planning, developing a strategy is easy…in theory. In practice, it can be tricky to create a successful plan that not only reaches the right people but keeps your readers coming back for more. That’s why we’re revealing the three crucial steps to attracting an audience and keeping them primed and interested in what you have to say.

 

Step 1: Know your audience

The first step to great content is understanding who you’re creating it for. It’s been said a million times before, but it’s worth saying it again:

  • Research who your ideal customer is
  • What is stopping them from doing a better job?
  • What do you think they would change about the way they work if they could?

Asking these questions – every time you think about your audience – is absolutely crucial. Never lose sight of who they are, what they need and how you can help them.

icon lightbulb

Quick tip: combine tech and human insights

Get in touch with the person in charge of your sales strategy. Ask them to help you with their insights into who your business is talking to. You likely have an idea who your ideal audience is. Your sales team are the people on the ground talking to them day after day. Mine them for all the insights they can muster.

In combination with speaking to the humans who sell your products and services, don’t forget to lean on technology to give you a hand. Conduct keyword research to understand what your audience is searching for online. The phrases and keywords they use should help you understand exactly what they’re looking for.

Try to adopt the mindset that your audience doesn’t know who you are yet and then think of your content as the answer to their questions. You are the solution to their needs. They may just not know it yet.

 

Step 2: Connect with your audience

At first, your audience may be looking for the answer to a question, as mentioned above. But what keeps them coming back to you for more? It’s all down to the way you tell a story. We all love stories and are hardwired to respond to them. The key to growing a readership is to create engaging content that tells a compelling story.

What is engaging content?

Really great content goes beyond answering a question or ‘providing value’. The engaging stuff connects with the people consuming it. The dynamic is similar to a joke or a piece of art. It’s surprising, it rises above the humdrum of everything else you may have read or watched on a subject, and above all it contains your unique voice. But how do you do that?

Well, first, forget the idea of ‘converting’ a reader into a lead and a lead into a customer. These things get in the way. Instead focus on connecting with what motivates your audience. This is where the art of rhetoric comes in.

When creating your content, think about the rhetorical devices that will connect with your audience:

Logos

Use facts and figures that will resonate with a certain type of audience who need to know what you’re selling will get them results.

Ethos

Develop content that shows that you are credible in your field. Awards, length of service and experience in a sector, and partnerships with other brands or vendors are all good ways of highlighting your credibility.

Pathos

Pathos is about emotional appeal. To connect with your audience on an emotional level, appeal to their beliefs. Using anecdotes, a specific tone (e.g., 'straight to the point' or 'irreverent'), along with figurative language are all good ways of doing this.

 

Step 3: Grow your audience

Getting your content in front of people is the task at hand. But to get them coming back for the next piece is the goal. And it’s the key to growing your audience and developing your authority in a space.

So, to recap: you need to put together your knowledge and connection with an audience into great content. That will ensure that they remember you and come back for more. By knowing what your audience wants and what it needs you can create content that is relevant to them.

Produce on a consistent basis

Looking forward to a piece of content requires knowledge and expectation of when it is going to appear. If your content is sporadic, even the most ardent members of your audience are likely to forget you. You need to schedule your work and stick to it. Creating a content calendar is a good step. Putting in place time and resources to develop ideas and create the content is crucial. And following that with a peer review will help make sure what you produce is fit for purpose.

Put your content where people will see it

There are several places your content can be seen by your audience. Your website and social media platforms like LinkedIn are the obvious two. But also creating a newsletter each week or month to send to your email marketing list is another good way of getting your work out there. Along with these, you can also publish your content on third-party sites as a guest blog or a syndication article.

Capture contact details and convert readers into subscribers

Not all your content should be kept behind gates. But long form pieces like eBooks, whitepapers or webinars can be great for capturing email addresses from interested readers. Giving people a way to put their hand up and acknowledge their interest in your content is a great step to establishing an audience base.

 

Amplify your brand

Once you've established a loyal following, then you can expand your content, developing longer/deeper/more niche stories. Your audience will follow you into new formats (such as podcasts). And a loyal audience will share, tell their friends, and help amplify your brand.


Blog image - Improve your SEO: Don't put baby in the corner

Improve your SEO: Don't put baby in the corner

It was in that dead zone, the no-man’s land between Christmas and the New Year that I watched Dirty Dancing for the first time. Sure, I’ve been ‘told’ to watch it a million times. And over the years I’ve wavered between the thought that something so famous must be overrated and being too lazy to bother switching it on.

So, I watched it. All the way to the bit where Patrick Swayze lifts Jennifer Grey over his head. And it was fun. Later, I thought that although something is said to be ‘good for you’ we don’t always listen and follow the advice. And the same might be said for certain practices when it comes to marketing. SEO is said to be ‘very good’ for your digital marketing strategy. But for a lot of businesses, it gets… put in a corner. So let's find out how to improve your SEO.


Want to improve your SEO?

Just like Patrick Swayze’s dancing talent, inbound marketing requires great content to achieve the right results. But the traffic to that content and visitors’ engagement with it can be given a real boost by a well-planned and executed SEO offering. Kind of like how Johnny Castle’s summer changes after he’s introduced to Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. Let’s look at what makes up a great SEO strategy and the results you could expect, and I bet you’ll never think of putting SEO in a corner again.

How to improve your SEO? Let's get going.
 

1. Complete your keyword analysis

We’ve moved past the days when a website or piece of content could get away with keyword stuffing. Today, it’s about well-researched and carefully chosen keywords used in the correct manner to be effective. And remember, keep that content educational, engaging, and relevant (stay away from an over-reliance on 80s film references, for example).

Quick keyword advice:

  • Choose keywords with high search rates and low competition
  • Opt for both short and long-tail keywords
  • Use local keywords (in terms of your geographic location)
  • Optimise titles, URLs and on-page SEO

Questions you should ask:

  • What keywords should we be targeting and why?
  • What is the strategy to take when it comes to the difficulty of a keyword, against search volume and time?
  • What are our competitors’ strategies?

 

2. Perform a website audit

A website audit is like an audition before you are accepted into a summer dance troupe at your family’s country club. An audit will give you a comprehensive evaluation of how you’re performing right now for SEO, across your website and other inbound marketing touchpoints. There are several content and performance metrics to consider. These include:

  • Site authority
  • Security
  • Organic traffic
  • Search visibility
  • Link profile
  • Bounce rate
  • Pages per session
  • Site responsiveness

 

3. Invest in ongoing monthly work to improve SEO

Research and audits are the prep work. Then comes the big dance. To ensure you climb the search rankings for chosen keywords you need to invest in monthly work. This requires a comprehensive set of on-page and off-page techniques and strategies. Ongoing optimisation looks like this:

> Tracking and monitoring keywords

Track and monitor keyword performance, tweaking/adding/removing keywords as required and optimising pages to further boost rankings.

> Site updates, maintenance and improvements

Improve the SEO appeal of the site, including domain authority. This work varies day by day, month by month – looking at site speed, visual design elements, landing page conversions tactics, Google search console, etc.

> Competitor analysis

Track and monitor competitor activities, strategies, successes and failures, and then, importantly, use this information to inform your own work and SEO approach.

> Backlink strategy

It’s worth putting a little thought into your backlink strategy. This includes contacting suitable sites to publish content and understanding what type of content works best on these sites. At Fifty Five and Five, for example, we have built an extensive network of contacts which helps us place the right content on the right sites, boosting domain authority in the correct manner.

> Monthly reporting

Create a comprehensive monthly report—detailing all activity for that month, metrics and successes, and plans for the next month. This might seem like the last thing you would want to do at the end of the month but it’s crucial. And it brings us nicely on to…

 

The importance of KPIs and benchmarking

If you improve your SEO, but don't track the data, what is the point? KPIs and benchmarking are important because they keep business objectives at the forefront of any decision-making across your marketing strategy. As you put your strategy to work, make sure you take the time to set KPIs and benchmark your current traffic so you can monitor the success of a campaign, or if you need to make adjustments.

> KPIs

Key Performance Indicators are a type of performance measurement that evaluate the success of your campaign or your SEO strategy as a whole. For example, in paid media campaigns, a KPI would be the number of clicks, CTRs or impressions your ad gets. The same can be applied to a piece of content, a page on your website or landing page.

> Benchmarking

Benchmarks are standards against which you can compare your KPIs to measure the success of the campaign. Using the paid media example again, a benchmark of CTR for LinkedIn in the UK is, say, 0.50%; so, if you achieved a CTR of 0.66% for your ad in LinkedIn you can see that the campaign is outperforming the CTR and therefore is going well. Hurray!

 

Play the long game for SEO success

Just like Patrick Swayze and ‘Baby’s’ relationship your SEO can take time to heat up. In fact, it will usually be several months before you see results. In our experience, though, putting the time into SEO work can really pay off. This is, of course, just a quick guide to putting in place some structure for your business—SEO is a very deep pool and there is a lot to think about and keep on top of.

 

Some of our clients’ results

Many of our clients asked us to improve their SEO. Here re some examples:

> Increased sessions

Executing a well-planned SEO strategy, our clients have increased the number of sessions on their website on average by 46%. This is based on their starting point prior to their SEO campaign in comparison to their current average sessions over a 12- or 24-month period.

> Better organic traffic

Additionally, clients have seen an average increase in organic traffic by 32%. This is based on their starting point prior to their SEO campaign in comparison to their current average organic traffic over a 12- or 24-month period.

> Higher volume of unique visitors

Furthermore, there has been an increase in unique users by 58%. Again, this is based on the client’s starting point prior to their SEO campaign in comparison to their current average unique users over a 12- or 24-month period.

 

Turn to the experts to improve your SEO

Want to improve your SEO? We provide advice on all things related to compliment your broader inbound marketing strategy. If you’re confused about the process of adding SEO into your marketing or you could do with some help with the heavy lifting (just like when Swayze lifts…you get the idea), give us a call and we’ll be delighted to help.


Illustration SEO in Google colour palette

What is a Google core algorithm update – and why should you care?

Every so often the world’s content creators and SEO specialists become suddenly impassioned by what’s known as a ‘core algorithm update’. These happen a few times a year and can have a significant effect on a web page’s Google rankings. But what is a core algorithm update? And more importantly – is it really something you should care about?

Algorithms, updates and rankings 

An algorithm update means Google has made a significant tweak to the way they determine search engine result rankings. Admittedly, these can be quite small. But for the world’s biggest search engine, small changes can make a big difference to people who rely on their search engine results pages (SERPs) to generate leads.  

Google algorithm updates happen all the time. In fact, even referring to the Google algorithm in the singular it a bit disingenuous – the truth is it’s a complicated web of loosely related algorithms which has been in a near constant state of flux since Google first got going. Keeping track of all that is a fairly tall order, because updates happen virtually every day. Luckily for SEO professionals, most of these are relatively minor and no cause for alarm 


OK, so what’s
 a core algorithm update? 
 

Core updates aren’t just your run-of-the-mill minor adjustments. As the name would suggest, this is a change to the fundamental algorithm that powers the Google search engine. It’s easy to see why these updates happen - if you’re in charge of the world’s most popular search engine, you’re going to want to make sure it responds to changes in how people write, post and read content over time. So far, so understandable.  

The problem is, algorithm updates are a bit like dropping a large fishing net into the middle of an ocean - there's no clear cut line between the content you want to catch and the stuff you'd rather leave where it is 

That means whenever one of these core algorithms turns up, several well-meaning bystanders tend to get caught in the net. Virtually every core algorithm update comes complete with horror stories of businesses whose rankings change dramatically overnight. It’s also why these updates tend to make SEO folks pretty stressed.  

But how can we tell when a core algorithm update has happened – or even better, when it’s on the way? 

 

How to spot a wild core algorithm update 

Unlike the smaller everyday updates, core algorithm updates tend to get a lot of attention. Sometimes Google announces them in advance, sometimes they announce it on the day (generally via Twitter), and sometimes they keep it to themselves. The bigger the bombshell, the bigger the publicity and the bigger the splash it’ll make throughout the SEO world.   

If you want to find out what’s changing, it’s helpful to follow the Google Search Liaison account on Twitter, as well as paying attention to blogs like Hubspot and SearchMetrics – (and, of course, Fifty Five and Five…) who are generally pretty quick to spot these changes. 

Sometimes, Google will publish guidance on who these changes are likely to effect and what the ramifications are likely to be. Other times, they prefer to keep tight lipped and see if anyone notices. Their search engine, their rules. Naturally, this makes it pretty difficult to keep up of what changes are coming and when.  

The only definite way to limit the damage of such changes is through regular and thorough SEO auditing. That way, if there’s a big change to the SEO rankings of your content you can quickly see what’s affected, identify the trends and take positive steps to mitigate any damage. But as well as this, the type of content you create makes a huge difference.  

 

What pandas can teach us about SEO 

About a decade ago, Google decided that they'd had enough of 'content farms'. Such website were filled with realms of low value, keyword-stuffed content that made it onto page one of the search results through black hat SEO trickery - without providing much value to their readers. Google described such content as being "as close as possible to being spam, without actually being spam". An update was clearly in order.  

The idea behind the update, known as Panda, was to make search results better match the intent of their users. But what does that mean in practice? And what can we learn from that almost a decade later? 

Well, imagine you want to find out more about a topic such as, for example, Google core algorithm updates, and type “What is a core algorithm update?” into the search engine. Which of the two following articles would you say best matches your search intent? 

  • A detailed breakdown of the context and background to Google core algorithm updates, as well as an explanation as to what it means to you. 
  • An article with virtually no relevant informationwhich just happens to have the words “what is a core algorithm update” strategically placed all over the page to game the SEO rankings.  

Well I hope it’s the first one, anyway.  

The point is, the low-value, keyword-stuffed content might have been successful at gaining a temporary SEO boost, but it wasn’t really what readers were looking when they typed in the search term. Eventually, the rules were always going to catch up.  

 

Content that stands the test of time 

This game of cat and mouse has been going on since the earliest days of search – and isn’t likely to change any time soon. As long as search engines exist, there will always be people looking to game the system. But content that seeks to fulfill the user’s search intent has consistently managed to stay on the right side of the fishing net, for the clear and obvious reason that it’s precisely the kind of content that Google is trying to promote.  

If you’re writing content that’s genuinely valuable and satisfies the search intent of the people reading it, it’s highly likely you’ll be able to handle whatever spanners the gods of search throw in the worksSo, if you want to avoid getting caught out by the latest core update, the one helpful piece of advice is the only thing you can rely on Google to tell you every time an update happens: Write good content.  


Illustration paper planes

6 digital marketing technologies to help you raise your game

Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, from the way we communicate to the way we shop. Marketing has become an art that’s primarily digital. No matter what you’re selling, and to whom, technology can improve the quality of your marketing output and, ultimately, help you generate more leads. In this post, we’re going to examine the current state of six digital marketing technologies, and how you can use them to raise your game. 

  • Social media 
  • Paid media 
  • SEO 
  • Email 
  • Reporting 
  • Training 

You already use all of these technologies, right? Well, let us blow your mind.  

1.  Social media  

Social media can be used to build your brand identity, to reach out to your existing customers and to find new audiences. It can be used for thought leadership, to enhance your SEO rankings and as a direct channel for people to interact with your brand. Most organisations already know this, but they invest hours in social media management without having a good idea of how to get return on investment.  

The key to using social media is knowing what you’re using it for. Are you looking to create brand awareness? Then that goal needs to inform the way you use social media - you need to target your audience, create relevant content and maintain a strong brand.  

What tools to use and why? 

If you’re looking for greater visibility over your social channels, detailed insights about what is does or doesn’t work or greater control over publishing posts through automation and scheduling, these tools can transform what’s possible with social media. If you want to produce quality posts that engage and grow your social following across multiple channels, then these tools are exactly what you need. 

Hootsuite is one of the most popular tools for enhancing your social media output. It supports over 150 integrations, allowing users to update multiple networks in one step. It’s also capable of analysing over 200 metrics, so you can create a dashboard that perfectly tracks your business’s goals . It’s the perfect first tool to get started when you’re investing in your social media management. 

Social media management Hootsuite dashboard

Hootsuite’s dashboard 

Sprout Social is a social media scheduling, monitoring and reporting platform that offers a customer relationship manager (CRM) feature. This enables you to create profiles of your customers, which will lead to stronger relationships. When it comes to social media followers, it’s about quality over quantity: having many followers who don’t interact with your channel is less valuable than a few followers who do.   

Social media management Sprout Social dashboard

Sprout Social’s CRM platform 

Revive Old Post is an excellent tool to get maximum impact from your content. It helps you schedule new and old content that can be automatically posted in regular intervals that targets your audience. Many businesses make the mistake of never reposting their content, but it’s essential to reshare content in order to improve its performance. This tool will help you create a schedule that works for you.  

Content scheduling tools - Revive Old Post PRO

Revive Old Post PRO 

Loomly isn’t just a social media management tool – it’s also an idea generation platform to help you create ideas that will resonate with your audience and tie in to current trends. It suggests ideas related to your industry, any holidays or national days that are close, trending hashtags, and more. You can even integrate it with Zapier so that your content generation and publication processes are entirely streamlined.  

Social media idea genrator platform - Loomly

Loomly’s post builder 

Having a social media channel is an excellent way of reaching new audiences and creating a recognisable brand. These social media tools represent just a fraction of what’s available on the market to help you make the most of your content and your social channels. Brands are going to be expected to keep up with social media and be present on an increasing amount of channels as times go on – best get started sooner rather than later.  

2. Paid media 

Paid media is an external marketing effort that involves a paid placement. This can include PPC advertising, branded content and display ads. It’s a crucial part of any marketing strategy: by picking the right platform and targeting the right demographic, paid media can ensure your message reaches the right audience. However, to do this you need the correct tools to track your campaigns. There are also great tools to help you develop a competitive strategy.  

What tools to use and why? 

Using a third party platform means you can extend visibility of your advert placements and find a larger audience. Your ROI needs to be optimal, which means a lot of planning and overseeing your long term strategy. A management platform simplifies the process, allowing you to target your audience more effectively and reduce your overall spend.  

There’s a great tool called SpyFu, which enables you to carry out PPC competitor research. Whether it’s a competitor’s estimated monthly spend, the keywords that they are targeting or how well their ads are ranking, SpyFu gives you insights to help put together a highly competitive campaign strategy . 

SEMrush is a popular paid media tool that offers an extensive keyword database. It makes building ads simple -using information about the ads posted by your competitors to ensure that they have the best chance of ROI. This chance for better audience targeting means your PPC campaigns will be more likely to succeed. 

SEO tools - SEMRush dashboard

SEMrush’s dashboard 

Leadpages is a tool that’s suited for smaller businesses who are looking to engage with their core audience on social media channels. It acts as a funnel, sending your target audience to a specific landing page designed for them. When it comes to social media followers it’s a case of quality over quantity – if you can engage with a small selection of more interested followers, your content is more likely to see conversions. It’s integrates with with Google Ads and Facebook Ads, so you can capture leads effectively and quickly.  

Custom landing pages - LeadpagesLeadpages’ dashboard 

PPC is an investment that takes research and precision to get right. Before intelligent digital marketing tools, it was simply a case of buying ads in places you thought your audience would see them and hoping for success. But now, with the amount of research and segmentation that’s possible, your business stands a much better chance of getting seen by the right people. 

3. SEO 

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is all about staying visible on search engine results pages. It feels like an arcane art sometimes because Google is forever changing its algorithms. Staying on top of these changes is hard enough but being able to adapt your SEO to these changes and stay ahead of competitors is the real challenge.  

What tools to use and why? 

Moz is a great bet for continued SEO success. Not only does it offer useful educational resources to keep on top of SEO best practice, but the Moz all-in-one SEO toolset provides the full range of capabilities that you need. It tracks desktop and mobile keyword ranking, allowing users to easily keep tabs on any and all active keywords. This intelligent keyword analysis is supported by other features like link building and opportunities, site audits, search visibility score and page insights. 

SEO tools - MOZ dashboard

Moz’s dashboard 

DeepCrawl is a unique website crawling tool. It provides SEO auditing that shows you a deep dive of your site issues to assess your overall site health. With features like backlink tracking, device breakdowns, ad hoc keyword research and more, DeepCrawl puts you in a great position to begin improving your SEO from. It’s not a tool for keyword research or position monitoring, so it’s perfect for SEO newbies.  

SEO website crawling tools - DeepCrawlDeepcrawl’s dashboard 

In today’s competitive online world, it’s not enough just to use SEO practices and hope you rank above competitors. You need to use the right tools to find the right online niches to occupy. Long tail keywords, in particular, have become a beacon of hope for small businesses hoping to rank on results pages. Taking SEO seriously means doing your digital research and picking the perfect keywords.  

4. Email 

Our email inboxes are awash with communications competing for our attention. With so much competition, you need to make sure you optimise your emails so they stand out from the crowd. Great email marketing isn’t just about open-rates but click-throughs and conversions. It’s not just about getting people to open your emails; you need to offer actual value.  

What tools to use and why? 

MailChimp is our tool of choice for sending out emails. MailChimp allows you to automate your email marketing with simple A/B testing, ready-to-use campaign templates and a simple email designer, so you can focus on the strategy to guarantee that your emails add value to the target audience. ‘MailChimp reports’ make it easy to track how successful your emails are at engaging with your audience, using advanced segmentation for precise targeting, distribution by time zone and comparative data reporting. 

Email platform - MailChimpMailchimp’s dashboard 

SendinBlue is a digital marketing suite that includes an email marketing platform. It’s easy to build emails with a drag and drop editor, and it offers personalisation, data list segmentation, automation and analytics. The free version is more than enough to keep a small business going, offering unlimited contacts and up to 300 emails a day, so this is an ideal way to get started with email campaigns.  

Omnisend, as the name suggests, is an email marketing tools with omni-channel capacity. Within the automation workflow, you can add additional functions like push notifications and social media messages alongside your email campaigns. This is a wider approach to email marketing, incorporating it into targeted workflows that reach your audience using multiple personalised methods. It’s ideal if your marketing resources are stretched, giving you a single tool with plenty of functionality.  

Omnichannel email managing plaform - Omnisend

Omnisend’s automation dashboard 

Email marketing is one of the core tools for a marketing team for a reason; it’s excellent at nurturing leads into customers. It also offers an opportunity to create a dialogue with your audience, sending them targeted updates and offers that’ll pique your interest. It’s a more one-on-one dynamic, and that means gauging the tone and the relationship between you and your audience correctly. The name of the game here is personalisation. 

5.  Reporting 

40% of marketers said that demonstrating the ROI of their marketing activities is one of their greatest priorities. Marketing professionals are under pressure to prove that their campaigns are creating business value. These days, marketing is very much a numbers game. You need to be able to report back to the C-Suite with hard evidence that your campaigns are working – otherwise the budget for your next social campaign will dry up. 

What tools to use and why? 

Most tools and platforms – from the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to the dedicated-marketing tools like Hootsuite – offer in-depth analytics. Google Data Studio collects real-time data from YouTube, Google Ads and Google Analytics to help you create dynamic, interactive dashboards. It’s also compatible with multiple third party data sources like Twitter, MailChimp and Salesforce. Google Data Studio helps users put together reports that are fully customisable, easy to filter and easy to share.   

Data reporting tools - Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio’s dashboard 

However, for that added bit of magic to pull everything together, Google Analytics stands head and shoulders above the rest as a tool for measuring the bigger picture – particularly by monitoring traffic arriving on your website and how site users are behaving. Google’s machine learning capabilities mean that Google Analytics can generate insights you just can’t get anywhere else.  

Google Analytics dashboard for reportingGoogle Analytics dashboard 

Cyfe is a popular tool for marketers because of its comprehensive reporting. It tracks just about everything within your business, from social media to analytics, and sales to KPIs. There are more than 250 metrics available to measure, and it’s easy to integrate with other services like Google and Salesforce. The dashboard is fully configurable with pre-populated widgets that can be tailored to each marketer’s need. The reporting is all-encompassing across your business, so this is a great tool for businesses without much room for new tools.  

Data reporting dashboard - CyfeCyfe’s dashboard 

Instead of thinking of reporting as the culmination of your efforts, you need to think about it as the way that you justify future investment in your marketing efforts. After all, management want to see results and return on investment – this is the best way to show that the tactics you’re using are successful, and that you have ideas about how to improve in future. Digital reporting tools are your best friend when it comes to innovation in your marketing efforts.  

 6.  Training 

In a sector where change is almost always constant – SEO is a great example of this – it is essential to keep on top of the latest marketing platforms. In this respect, to succeed in marketing you need to be a life-long learner. You need to be open to change and ready to pick up new skills all the time. 

What tools to use and why? 

There are several tools that can help you keep up with the latest digital marketing platforms and skills. LinkedIn Learning is a great example – with a wide range of professional courses and tutorial videos. There are courses for every level from beginner to expert, and even over 16,000 entirely free courses. From the technical aspects of PPC to the writing skills you need for engaging content, there’s a course here for everything.  

Tools for continuous learning - LinkedIn Learning LinkedIn learning  

Another great example is the Top 50 Microsoft Partners benchmarking tool; a tool created by our team at Fifty Five and Five. Using a wide variety of metrics, you can rank your company’s marketing efforts across its social output, website and blog. See where you rank today.

Fifty Five and Five Top 50 Microsoft Partners ReportThe Top 50 Microsoft Partners dashboard

Google Digital Garage also offers a fundamentals of digital marketing course that’s extensive enough for any beginner. After all, a lot of digital marketing is about working with Google, so why not go directly to the source for more information? It’s self-directed, with 26 modules coming in at around 40 hours, so it’s a handy way to get started for free. 

Keeping on top of your marketing education is essential – things are always going to change, and if you don’t keep up then you’ll get left behind. We like to think of training in marketing as a way of investing in the success of our future efforts.  

Why are digital marketing technologies important? 

There’s now such a wide range of applications to help B2B marketers that it can be hard to decide what your team requires. A recent BrightTALK study found that lack of resources such as staff, funding and time remains the biggest obstacle to successful B2B lead generation for 61% of respondents’. With that in mind, more marketers are going to rely on digital tools to streamline their marketing efforts. 

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer variety in the market, but the key is remembering what your business is trying to accomplish. Create a strategy and set goals – this will make it easier to identify features in tools that will be most beneficial to you. There are thousands of tools available, so make sure to create a list of the most beneficial services your business needs before you get started researching. 

We hope this guide can point you in the right direction to find the technology that your marketing team requires.  

 

At Fifty Five and Five, our expert marketing team use a variety of digital marketing technologies to help them deliver the best results for our clients. To find out more about our team, what we do, and the technologies we use, get in touch with us today.


5 top PPC trends 2020

Whatever you can say about 2020 so far, nobody can claim it’s been uneventful. Businesses, markets, economies – they’ve all been on a rollercoaster ride in the months since the clock struck midnight, the fireworks went off, and this year began. And the world of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing hasn’t been sitting still either. As a digital marketing executive at Fifty Five and Five, I’ve been closely monitoring recent changes in the paid media world and evaluating how they impact the marketing landscape and how new developments allow us to better serve our clients. In this blog, you’ll learn my discoveries and what they mean for your business. Let’s explore the top 5 PPC trends 2020 has seen so far.

1. The rise of automation

Although some marketers have regarded automation with suspicion – and others have outright rejected it – it’s becoming a reality we can’t avoid. And one that’s starting to show significant benefits.

More and more marketers are adopting Google’s responsive ads and Facebook’s automated ads. Facebook’s offering hasn’t yet delivered the results we’re looking for in our tests, but the format is still young, so time will tell if they will improve PPC performance in future.

Google’s responsive ads achieved a click-through rate (CTR) of 5.69% in a recent PPC campaign – compared to a 4.32% CTR via the expanded text ad format. It’s a promising start, which might owe something to the fact the Google’s responsive ads were launched earlier (May ‘18) than Facebook’s (Dec ‘18).

In any case, it’s clear that automation is definitely the way the wind’s blowing. Here are three of the biggest benefits of getting on board with the trend:

  • Higher CTRs: Google’s responsive ads performed 5.75% better than expanded and converted 8.5% better.
  • Easier to understand: the Google Ads interface allows users to see whether their ad’s quality is good enough or need improvement.
  • Saves time: Optimise your ads and achieve better results with less manual tweaking and experimentation.

Now I’ll run through some top tips for making the most of PPC automation:

Be smart when building ads

Now you have a smart tool that tells you whether your ads are good or bad and whether you’ve inserted the keyword enough in the text. Be smart and select the best-performing keywords to implement in the copy so your ads will perform even better.

You’ve got time now. Use it well!

I’ve often faced the challenge of not being able to optimise negative keywords because I don’t have time. In the past, monitoring ads often required going through worse performing ads, analysing what isn’t working and talking to the writing team to improve them. That’s over now, so we can focus on other more important matters like keywords and improving audience targeting. For example, Google Ads provides the option to target a specific audience sector and it offers stats that help you see whether those audiences are performing. Marketers are also able to tweak the bid for each audience, which is an excellent way to use the time that automation is helping you save.

2. SEO and PPC are now a team

This year has also seen search engine optimisation (SEO) and PPC working increasingly closely together. These two disciplines are indispensable to a digital marketer’s toolbox, and their new convergence means that together they offer even more value. This PPC trend 2020 introduced is a victory for joined-up digital marketing: when all the elements fit together and work perfectly.

Here’s how SEO can help to improve PPC performance:

Increased visibility

By running a PPC campaign along with SEO, you’re ensuring your website’s traffic increases considerably and also you’ll give the impression that you are a permanent presence in your market.

More keyword data to analyse

Running SEO and PPC campaigns together means you can see and analyse a wealth of additional data that will enable you to make more informed decisions in your global marketing strategy.

Best-performing PPC ad copy informs organic content strategy

It’s useful to see which of your ads work well and lead to maximum conversions. You can then create title tags, meta description and content using these as your basis, learning from what has worked for PPC.

3. Audience targeting is getting better

More and more businesses are realising the importance of accurate targeting of their digital marketing, and of offering potential customers valuable content. At Fifty Five and Five, we’re already long-time devotees of the art of content marketing, so it’s good to see others are reaching the same conclusions we have.

Here are the most effective ways to reach your target audience via PPC:

Define your audience via personas

Defining your audience involves more than selecting the right keywords or targeting the correct audience in Facebook ads. By creating our own consumer personas, you’ll be able to be more specific and accurate with your targeting and ensure you’re building the right audience across all the different channels.

Offer useful and relevant content

Content isn’t just about getting the client’s offering out there and waiting for leads to come. Don’t just try to trigger clicks: provide content that responds to their needs at that moment. Using the right tone and expressing the intention to help will reach your audience and encourage them not just to click on the ad but go further, completing a lead form or visiting the website the ad links to.

Build a relevant audience in each platform

Each platform is different and they’re continually changing. It’s recommended to stay up to date with the latest news, so you can be a useful, credible authority for your audience. They have questions, and you want to be the one with the answers. For instance, if they’re following you for digital marketing news and insights, they may ask: “should we use hashtags in Twitter ad copy?” Or “should we build an audience on LinkedIn based on skills or job titles?” Keeping up with new announcements means you can provide the information they’re looking for.

4. ¡Viva el video!

Video is one of the most engaging types of content available to marketers, and we love to work with the format because of the amazing results it can deliver. The better optimised the video is, the better results you can get. For example, our latest video campaign on LinkedIn reached a view rate of 34.25% – which is higher than the benchmark provided by LinkedIn.

So how can we make the most of video content to create very successful campaigns? Here are our tips for the fundamentals:

  • Briefer is often better. Usually a short length of around 30 seconds is best.
  • Focusing on the content is the key. Be dynamic and get straight to the point.
  • Music matters. Don’t annoy your audience with a distracting background track.

5. It’s time for portfolio bidding

This is really clever and useful stuff, and a topic I’m fascinated with – it could be one of the most exciting PPC trends 2020 has brought. I could write an entire blog on the subject, and perhaps one day I will. But for now, let’s take a look at what portfolio bidding is and what it offers.

The PPC bidding portfolio is a library where you can store different bidding strategies used across campaigns and ad groups, as well as keywords, to help you reach your goals.

Here’s why I think the bidding portfolio is very cool:

  • It helps you to ensure all your campaigns are fully optimized at all times, giving you the best chance that they will succeed.
  • It saves lots of time in managing each campaign’s budget and it also gives you more control over what you spend.
  • Its new seasonality feature lets you tweak bids for specific periods of time. This means you can align them better with other activity.

I think you’ll be hearing the words ‘bidding portfolio’ more and more in digital marketing conversations as time goes by, so my advice is to get acquainted with it sooner rather than later. My prediction: it’ll get to the point where you wonder how you managed without it – like all the best developments.

What will be the next PPC trends 2020 brings?

I hope this article has been useful and that you’re finding these changes in the PPC landscape as interesting as I am. The year’s not over yet, and there’s still time for new trends to emerge before we usher in 2021. It’s a fast-moving world – let’s see what’s up next.


Meet the team: Laura, digital marketing executive

We recently caught up with Laura Lopez, a key member of our Demand Gen team. She told us a bit about her working life at Fifty Five and Five and what she loves most about her job as a digital marketing executive.

Hi Laura. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Laura Lopez, digital marketing executive at Fifty Five and Five. In my role,  I cover most fields in digital marketing. This includes PPC, social media, SEO, and the strategy behind these fields as well.

Where are you from?

Zaragoza, Spain.

What did you study at university?

Journalism. I loved it at first and still love writing but I realised later on that journalism wasn’t right for me.

Where did you work before Fifty Five and Five?

Directly before Fifty Five and Five, I worked for a technology company in the Microsoft partner network. At first, when I started, I was so taken aback by all the Microsoft acronyms, I didn’t understand a thing. I spent the whole time trying to work out what all the Microsoft tools were doing. But now, I’m an expert. That experience really set me up well for this job. Sometimes I feel like a nerd. A Microsoft nerd.

If you had to pick a favourite area of digital marketing, what would it be?

Pay per click campaigns.

That was a quick answer.

I like working on Pay Per Click campaigns the most. PPC is more straightforward in terms of getting tangible results, fast. When you drive a lead gen campaign, you actually see people responding to your ads. Seeing people react to all your hard work is very satisfying.

Describe a typical working day… in the office.

In the office? The one that we don’t have access to at the moment?

If you can remember life before lockdown?

Ha. Ok. So, the day starts with me catching up on my tasks and projects. If there are paid media campaigns running, the first thing I would do is check on that. To make sure everything is in place in terms of budget, in terms of links, making sure everything works correctly.

Then I start catching up with SEO, to make sure we are on top of any updates or any algorithm changes that have happened. And the same for social media – for instance, if there are any notifications or mentions we need to be aware of for our clients.

Then we have our ‘stand-up’ meeting and I start in on my list of tasks for the day ahead.

It sounds like a busy schedule.

Yep, but it is enjoyable, rewarding work and we have a great team here at Fifty Five and Five that supports us.

What’s the stand-up meeting?

This is our daily meeting in the morning, where we meet with the entire company and quickly go through our priorities for the day. It's a nice way to catch up with everyone, but also to make sure we are on track and on the same page with all of the various projects going on.

What’s your favourite part of the day?

I think what I like most is analysing data and finding out the reason behind the performance of ads and campaigns. For example, when there’s a campaign going on, I enjoy checking in to see how it has progressed. Analysing how many leads we’ve got over the day and understanding why that has happened. This might sound a little bit weird, but I even enjoy having a quick check over the weekend. Even when I don’t have to. Just to see how it’s going.

So, this is 24 hours, seven days a week PPC?

Well, actually, when I am tired of Netflix, I go to LinkedIn and check it. Just to see if there’s anything exciting going on… ok, I am joking. Whoever is reading this is going to think, woah, chill out.

But, seriously, what I enjoy the most is research. Normally we come up against many challenges, because a lot of the work we do is quite technical and best practice is always evolving. I find SEO quite challenging in this respect. And so, what I enjoy most is when I research something and suddenly the light comes on and I find the answer to a problem. That is the happiest moment of the day, of the week.

I said that I love PPC because it delivers results fast. But I also love SEO because you never stop learning. And when you figure out an answer which helps you overcome a challenge, it feels great!

What skills do you think are needed to be good in your role?

Perseverance. Because some projects can be quite time – and energy – consuming.

It is important to have a positive attitude. It’s hard work. But it’s rewarding work. You know, I was only half-joking about looking at LinkedIn on the weekends. You might laugh but PPC is quite exciting sometimes.

Another important skill is wanting to learn. Being very open to the latest news, announcements and developments in every field. You should be… I don’t how to say it, but it’s important to be an expert in what you do, but at the same time you need to be open to what is going on in other areas of marketing, or technology, so that you can respond to challenges with a broad view and with a contextualised understanding. Because digital marketing is always a mix of different fields. Being open-minded and willing to learn is crucial.

What do you like about Fifty Five and Five?

The people… obviously. I love all the people at Fifty Five and Five. It’s a great team. If you need something, someone is always willing to help you.

There’s also always room for you to investigate your way through things. There’s no “it can’t be done” attitude. I like the freedom to be able to work on my own projects in my own way, but also, at the same time, knowing that I have the full support of the team.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out in your role?

I would say: always ask questions. There are many new things coming up every day. And it’s difficult to keep up, so we have to help each other.

Also, because things keep changing, it’s always good when someone comes in with a pair of fresh eyes. So, it’s really useful, when you are new, to speak up - because it can be helpful for the whole team. And everyone brings different experiences and skills to the job.

If you had to start again… in life… what would you do instead of marketing?

I don’t know. I started out in journalism. But I realised I didn’t like it. Maybe photography? I have always enjoyed that.

What’s your favourite thing to do on the weekend?

Before the lockdown my favourite thing was going out and exploring South London. I’m looking forward to doing that again soon.

Thanks Laura!


10 common Google Ads mistakes to avoid (Part two)

Do the results from your Google Ads campaigns match the ambitions you set? Here are ten Google Ads mistakes to avoid so that you can achieve the results you are hoping for. 

Recently, I sat down with our two longest-serving paid media specialists, Laura and Maria, to discuss some of the Google Ads mistakes to avoid when running paid media campaigns. However, they were keen not just to highlight mistakes but also to earmark a few areas of the platform that are hidden away or less known.  

We had to split the blog into two parts, because Laura and Maria overwhelmed me with tips and adviceYou can read the first five mistakes to avoid here. Now, let’s take a look at the final five. 

Google ads mistake 6Forgetting about Search or Display is an easy mistake to make 

A nice easy one to kick off the second part of our list. But, as Laura and Maria both suggest, it’s one that is all too easy to forget about. When setting up a campaign, you need to remember to tell Google what kind of campaign you are running and which kind of network it is targeted at. 

Laura’s advice: When you are setting up a campaign, you have different steps you need to go through. These are: 

  • The type of campaign 
  • The name of the campaign 
  • The networks you are targeting 

You need to go through these and set up the right ones for your campaign. The mistake here concerns the last of these, networks. 

Google works with many partners across the internet. These are divided into Search and Display. Search ads are those you see at the top or bottom of the Search Engine Results Page. Display ads are graphic ads that appear on web pages, usually at the top or on the side of web pages – think of the banners at the top of a news article or a pop-up video that might appear midway through reading. If you leave both boxes ticked, your ad will be targeted at all of these partners. 

 If you are setting up a Search campaign, you don’t want it to be targeted at the Display partners. It doesn’t make sense to do this, but it is all too easy to forget to untick the Display box. This is a mistake that is easy to make when you are new to the platform. 

Google ads mistake 7: If you don’t use a benchmark, you won’t know what to expect 

When starting any Google Ads campaign, it is important to have a good idea of what to expect. This way you can plan accordingly. By looking at previous campaigns with similar budgets you can get an accurate forecast of what is achievable. 

Maria’s advice: Not analysing the data is a huge mistake. Everyone needs to analyse the data. 

You need to compare a new campaign with previous campaigns that had similar objectives and budgets. We always look to see how many clicks those previous campaigns achieved for the budget that was spent. This gives us a benchmark, which we can use to plan the strategy for the next campaignThis way we can show our clients that if they invest a certain amount of money, they will get certain level of results. 

This is incredibly useful. Imagine a client wants to spend £500 on three-month campaign. We can look at the benchmark, and it shows just what the impact will be. For instance, £500 might be used up in a week; it’s not enough for the results the client is hoping for – and we’ll suggest another strategy. 

Google Ads mistake 8: Not making use of ad extensions is a missed opportunity 

Ad extensions are the small additions you see directly underneath an ad, usually consisting of side links or extra information. Google lets you add all sorts of useful information here and making best use of these is an important part of running a successful Google Ads campaign. 

Laura’s advice: “Using ad extensions is one of the many things that Google puts forwards as an example of best practice. They highly recommend it, because it drives traffic to your ads and results in a good click-through-rate (CTR) for your campaign. What’s more, it’s tactical. You can take up as much room as possible from the search rank, to push you up and competitors down.” 

“You can add as many ad extensions as you want. You can include an address or contact details or links to other pages on the web site. You can connect to Google Maps, which will provide directions on how to get to your business. You can even add a phone number as a link (a “call side link”), so that when it is clicked it automatically begins a phone call.” 

These are all tools which simplify how the user can get in touch with you. It’s important to use these, especially if you are a local business offering services for local people. If a campaign is local to city, or even on a national level, this can be really useful. 46% of all Google searches are linked to something local. So, it is a big mistake not to take advantage of this.” 

Google Ad mistake nine: You should optimise your ads every day or you’ll miss out 

It’s really important to keep monitoring the performance of your ads. By looking at the data you can find ways to optimise themLaura and Maria recommend doing this every day. Here, Laura gives an example of one area you can exploit. 

Maria’s advice: In general a lot of the work on a Google Ads campaign is done up front. You need to plan ahead for keywords and ad copy. But there are many opportunities to improve your ads once the campaign has begun. So, you need to keep an eye on how the campaign is developing, so that you can optimise it daily.  

Laura’s advice: “The campaign overview offers a glimpse of how the campaign is performing, providing the main highlights. One thing it tells you is the difference between devices – i.e. how your ad is performing on desktop computers or on mobile phones.” 

“If it performs well on mobile, there are things you can do to tweak your ad to reach mobile users even better. You could start by including ad extensions that work well with mobile users, for instance adding contact details or call side linksAs people are looking at the ads on the go, why not make sure the address is there, so they can get in contact if they are in the area. It’s important to take advantage of things like that. 

Google Ads mistake ten – If you don’t use rules, you risk unnecessary errors 

If used correctly, Google’s Rules can give you greater control over your campaigns. As Maria says, it’s a lifesaver and can prevent all sorts of difficult situations developing. 

Maria’s advice: “This was a big discovery for us. It’s really useful because it gives you more control over your ads – effectively, it prevents you from making mistakes.” 

“Usually we will use it for spending, but it can be used for anything. Sometimes, as we mentioned in mistake five in part one of this blog series, even if you set up spending for the day, it can go over, or even double. With rules you can tell Google when you want the campaign to stop, for instance at a certain time or under certain conditions. For instance, once you reach the budget, stop.” 

“Google doesn’t let you pick a total budget, just the number of days the campaign will run and the daily budget. If you don’t check that daily, Google can easily spend that budget in two days. So, if you set up rules, you can tell Google to stop the campaign if a certain amount of money is spent. It’s a lifesaver.” 

This is an important tool, yet many marketers don’t know it exists. Its a hidden one. Unless you went through a certain certification where you are shown the whole platform and how it works, you won’t know to use it. 

Realise your ambitions with Google Ads 

At Fifty Five and Five, our purpose is to help our clients realise their ambitionsWe plan, execute and manage a wide variety of paid media campaigns of all sizes and budgets. Over the years our PPC team has grown in experience and expertise – and some of the biggest organisations around the world trust us to run Google Ads campaigns for them. 


10 common Google Ads mistakes to avoid (Part one)

Google Ads is a popular and highly effective way to drive traffic to your website or campaign landing pages and content assets. Not convinced? Well, approximately 75% of the world’s desktop and laptop searches come through Google search. Apparently, that works out at around 70,000 searches every second (stats courtesy of, you guessed it, a quick Google search). If you want to get your campaigns in front of your target audience, avoiding the most common Google Ads mistakes is essential.

Recently, I sat down with Fifty Five and Five’s two longest-serving PPC specialists, Laura and Maria, to pick their brains and – a quick confession from me: although I write a lot of copy for Google Ads, I know little about what actually goes into setting up and running the campaigns. So, this proved a great opportunity to learn more about what Laura, Maria and the rest of our busy paid media team do to make sure our clients’ campaigns are a success.

We had a long discussion, and I learned a lot about common Google Ads mistakes. To share our knowledge, we’ve compiled a list of ten to avoid. Here they are:

Google ads mistake 1: Ignore negative keywords at your peril

Negative keywords are the search terms you don’t want people to have used to get to your ads. If you set up a campaign to promote your managed services, you don’t want people who are looking for jobs in managed services to click on your ads.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, set the right negative keywords. Choosing ‘managed services specialist salary’ or ‘managed services job roles’ as a negative keyword would ensure you don’t attract the wrong attention.

Laura’s advice: “We recommend putting your negative keyword list together at the start of the campaign. But, during the campaign, you may become aware of certain keywords you want to add to this. When you are in Google Ads looking at a campaign, you can go to ‘Search terms’. Here you have a list of all the keywords, including both negative keywords and search terms, that are associated with your ads. We suggest checking these on a regular basis during the campaign – sometimes every day, maybe three times a week.”

Google ads mistake 2: Poor keyword research and unsuitable keywords will derail your campaign

According to Laura and Maria, poor keyword research is one of the most common mistakes that marketers make.

Laura’s advice: “This is a tricky one because sometimes a short tail keyword, for instance ‘digital transformation’, might at first seem like the right choice. But on closer analysis, it’s simply too broad. You would get a lot of impressions, probably a lot of clicks, and end up spending a lot of money. It’s highly likely that users won’t be interested in what you’re offering or will not stay on your site for long. That’s because this keyword could draw in people who are just searching for ‘what is digital transformation?’.

A short tail keyword, for instance ‘digital transformation’, might at first seem like the right choice. But on closer analysis, it’s simply too broad.

“A better option would be to use ‘digital transformation solutions for HR’, for instance. Or, if you are promoting a whitepaper, use that in the keyword.”

Maria’s advice: “It’s more sensible to use a mix of short tail and long tail keywords – and then to monitor the results to see which keywords are working and which aren’t. You might have a broad keyword, but if it’s driving clicks, and the clickthrough-rate (CTR) is high and the cost per click is good, then it could be worth keeping. But normally broad keywords are expensive.

“You should also look at the bounce rate and the average session duration. For instance, a keyword might be producing a great CTR, but the average session duration is zero or ten seconds. This strongly indicates that whoever is clicking on your ad is not engaged with what they find when they get there. In that case, it’s worth pausing the campaign. Time to try a different approach.”

Google ads mistake 3: Keyword Planner is a fantastic tool and not using it is a crime.

Google Ads is full of useful tools to help you run your campaigns and set them up to be effective. Keyword Planner is one of the most relied upon – and there’s a reason for that.

Laura’s advice: “It’s a good idea to use Keyword Planner, which provides insights for PPC and also helps you discover new keywords. It provides lots of useful data, such as the competition and the average monthly searches. Most importantly, it gives you keyword suggestions. You can define the location, the language, the search network, the time your ad will run and much more.

“What’s more, Google keeps improving Keyword Planner. Now you can include the URL of the page you want to promote, so Google can scan that page and tell you exactly how the keywords you have chosen are working for you – a huge help. It’s a big mistake not to take advantage of these features when researching keywords.”

Google ads mistake 4: If you don’t test different variations of ad copy, results will suffer

You can set up your ads like a pro and do everything right, but if your ad copy doesn’t speak to your target audience in language that grabs their attention, your ads will fail. Therefore, you need to test your ad copy. The mistake here is to fail to write enough ads to test.

If your ad copy doesn’t speak to your target audience in language that grabs their attention, your ads will fail.

Laura’s advice: “Some marketers have two versions of their ad copy and think that is enough; some only have one, which is not good for testing. We normally try to have three different versions at least, normally four or five. This provides the room to test different descriptions and headlines.

“A/B testing is essential, as it helps you see what’s working best and what isn’t.”

Maria’s advice: “It’s also good to make use of Google’s responsive ads. When you use responsive ads, you can implement all the headlines and descriptions you have, and then Google uses machine learning to organise them so that they have a greater impact. We find that responsive ads usually perform better – at least that’s what we see most of the time.

“This automation seems to be part of a wider trend. And it is a mistake not to embrace it. Google and Facebook are trying to bring users towards an approach where they take greater control of how your ads perform on their platforms. The thinking goes that if they can help customers improve their results and ROI with paid media, then these customers will keep coming back with more business – a win-win scenario.

“With responsive ads, you don’t have control over which ad will be shown or the specific structure (i.e. the combination of headlines and descriptions). But you have full control over the headlines and descriptions submitted in the first place, before Google’s machine learning works its magic. I think this is something some marketers are against. But if the results are better, why would you not go for automated optimisation?”

Google ads mistake 5: Neglecting to take daily budget in consideration can be costly

As Google optimises your ads for your target audience, it will change certain aspects of your campaign, based on what is performing and what you are trying to achieve. If your daily budget changes, it can have expensive consequences.

Maria’s advice: “When you create a campaign, you set up certain parameters (e.g. daily budget, audience, keywords etc.). Google then goes into a phase called Learning where it ‘learns’ your settings. This can last 48 hours, so it’s always good to set up early and schedule in advance, to let Google perform its magic before your campaign goes live.

I’s always good to set up early and schedule in advance, to let Google perform its magic before your campaign goes live.

“But it is important to check this daily. Because in the process, Google can do some strange things sometimes. For instance, it can double your daily budget.

“For example, if you have a daily budget of £20, optimised for clicks (the bidding strategy that is), and if your campaign is doing well, Google may take your daily budget and spend up to twice as much. Suddenly you have £40 of daily spend. In that example, it’s not too much of a worry because the spend is small. But when the campaign has a big budget, in which the daily spend might be £200 or £300, then waking up in the morning and seeing that your campaign has spent £600 instead of £300, it can give you a heart attack. So, you need to be aware that this is a possibility and keep checking daily.”

Laura’s advice: “It depends on the bidding strategy. If it is being optimised for clicks, then Google has a limit. It will only raise the budget by double. If it’s for conversions, there is no limit. It can be 3 or 4 times more. So that’s something else to be wary of.”

 

… to be continued.

We can help you avoid these Google Ads mistakes

That’s end of the first half of our list of ten common Google Ads mistakes. To learn more, make sure you check back for the second part, published soon. If you can’t wait till then, you can go to our services page to learn more about the paid media services we offer.


Storytelling in B2B marketing

Once upon a time, on commercial premises far away, there was a business. It had lots of products, services and even products that were a service. The business needed to market those to other businesses. But it had a problem. In a crowded marketplace, it was hard for the business to differentiate itself. There were many similar businesses, all with their own products and services, targeting the same businesses and people within them. But one day, the business found a way to connect with sales leads much more engagingly and effectively and stand out from the competition. This is the story of storytelling in B2B marketing.

Not just tall tales

It’s easy to associate the term ‘story’ with fiction: a narrative far-removed from reality. But true stories are everywhere, from biographies and history to news stories. Think about the stories that resonated the most with you or evoked the biggest reaction. Was that because they brought the situation they described to life? Could you relate to it?

That’s good storytelling. Telling a story – whether it’s pure fiction or an argument for a product or service – in the most effective way possible. There’s been a lot of hype around ‘storytelling’ in marketing over the last few years, but rather than being a trend or a methodology or a buzzword, it’s more a principle to be considered in your B2B content strategy. And it’s definitely not a principle that should only be applied to the consumer sphere. In fact, good storytelling in B2B marketing might be even more important – and I’ll explain why.

Bringing business stories to life

B2B companies – especially tech ones – have a problem with abstraction. In their haste to address all the high-level needs or concerns a buyer may have, such as overall cost or efficiency savings, marketers and businesses neglect to ground business benefits in the minds of the audience. There’s a tendency to make bold, intangible claims like ‘Our solution will raise efficiency and productivity in your company’. How? And what does that specifically mean, in the working lives of Joe and Jane Employee?

If your leads can’t grasp how your product or service can help their business, in an end-to-end sense that starts with the end user and ends with the bottom line, then they’ll be less likely to choose it. That’s a very important story and it needs to be told well, particularly in order to effectively communicate your unique selling point (USP).

The truth well told

There’s long been a sense that business audiences are dispassionate, coldly calculating creatures, due to the responsibility of holding the company purse strings. And there is some truth to that. Heavy is the hand that wields the budget. Decisions aren’t made as lightly as choosing which crisps you feel like eating today. But to suggest B2B audiences don’t respond to evocative, well-crafted stories is a fairy-tale.

People are people, whether they’re wearing their business hats or not. And, whether it’s business or consumer marketing, they can see through attempts to hoodwink them. But they are also drawn to honest, relatable stories that show a clear understanding of their needs and concerns. This is what advertising legend Harrison McCann called ‘the truth well told’ when he founded his agency in 1911. So, you see, storytelling in B2B marketing is nothing new. It’s just that sometimes we need a reminder of the ‘well’ part.

Well-crafted, human stories

How do you tell your brand or product’s story most effectively? Humanising it and helping the audience to relate are a good start. Quotes, case studies and testimonials – especially video ones – can play an important part in your B2B content strategy. Introduce your existing customers, well-known influencers or your own employees and let them tell their stories. They say the proof is in the pudding. Extending that metaphor, there are few things more compelling than happy customers explaining how you made that pudding and how much they enjoyed eating it.

Storytelling is also important when it comes to hypotheticals – probably more so. If you’re giving an example of how your solution would work for a hypothetical company, don’t be afraid to embellish the account with a few more details. Give the business a name and history. Create some personas. Good storytelling in B2B marketing goes beyond business problems – try to understand the frames of mind. What are their concerns? What will make their lives harder or easier? The more you can empathise with them, the more the audience will, too.

Getting started with storytelling in B2B marketing

Discovering the stories that you want to tell is a task in itself. Gaining the deepest insights for the most compelling storytelling often requires speaking to customers or your own employees at length. Don’t skimp on this – you may find it beneficial to enlist a marketing agency which conducts this research, creates personas and tells these stories all the time. Their storytelling expertise, combined with your in-house knowledge of your business and your customers, will result in marketing that will really speaks to your leads.

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