Blog image - The 4 pillars of a quality website: examples from the experts

The 4 pillars of a quality website: examples from the experts

Your website is a shop window to your business and a cornerstone of your marketing strategy. In our article, we are going to tell you what we think makes up a great website. And we’ve cobbled together examples from some of the leading B2B technology organisations to show you examples of a quality website in action.   

These organisations are leading Microsoft partners who are successfully putting the qualities of a great website build into actionWe’ve taken these examples from our Top 50 Microsoft Partners website, which ranks partners on the quality of their inbound marketing strategies.  

So, if you’re currently designing or building your website, and could do with some advice or inspiration, this is a good place to start.  


Pillar 1: Functionality and purpose

When we talk about the functionality of a website, we mean the functions that allow a visitor to achieve what you want or intend them to achieve. Whether it’s to buy a product or request a demo, you need a website that allows your audience to complete a journey and respond to your call of action. So, make sure to include a form if you want your visitor to submit information. There should be simple and clear navigation, intuitive enough to allow your visitor to find their way around and consume the information you’ve created for them. 

Nintex 

Nintex, a global leader in business process automation, provide a good example of a website with strong functionality. As we mentioned above, it’s important for a website to be easy to navigate, contain quality content and include clear calls to action. And Nintex ticks all these boxesThe layout of the site is well executed considering the volume of solutions and content that they want to showcase. 

 

 

Along with good practical functionality (and a clear purpose)its also important to convey who you are and what you value as a company. 

One of the key takeaways from Nintex’s website, that I particularly like, is their positioning of people across the siteIt’s important that your brand echoes or compliments your product or service. For Nintex, who operate in the world of process automation (and the potential negative headlines of automation replacing people), it’s vital that they put people at the centre of their site. This idea of combining the practical elements of website build with branding and ethos, can be a tricky balancing act – but Nintex pull it off very well.  

 

Pillar 2: A clear user journey

There’s more to a website than a homepage. The mark of great design and the right build is the user journey that the visitor is taken on. As we mentioned when discussing functionality, clear navigation is key to this journey. You want your visitors to understand what you are offering. By making it easy to access the various areas of the site, you improve the user journey, keep visitors on the site longer and provide them with the expertise they are looking for. 

Veeam 

It is clear from the outset that Veeam are a collective of IT experts who are speaking to a specific audience (namely, IT professionals). They have a clear user journey laid out that begins with ‘how to’ video content, ends with a ‘buy’ call to action and contains a free trial and expert support along the way. That’s about as straight forward a buying journey should be, and Veeam do it well.

 

 

The other take away from this website is the clear sense of Veeam’s expertiseExtensive, detailed and valuable content is packed into this website and speaks to a specific audience, and in turn, leads them on the right journey.

 

Pillar 3: Quality content

Content is the key to any great marketing campaign  and it should be central to your website. When content is effectively, we should see succinct and concise language that avoids relying on technical or business jargon. The best content is clear and to the point and tells the reader something, whether that be marketing advicea ‘how to’ guide or thought leadership. 

ShareGate 

ShareGate pride themselves on making the Microsoft Cloud easier to use for organisations of all sizes. This focus is reflected in their website—in the look and feel, language and navigation. ShareGate are clear about what they do and why their customers choose them.

 

 

This simple and helpful ethos is consistent across their design, and is also consistent across their blog and social media profiles. Their content is always helpful, articulated in a clear and colourful manner.  

 

Pillar 4: Consistent brand and design

Your website needs to be visually appealing if you want to engage your audience. That means your designers need to think about the right colours, the visual structure of the site and how it all works together to produce branding that defines and sets your business apart. The language you use should fit your audience. If your visitors are IT developers, you can use more technical language. If they are business leaders, you should focus on the business benefits of your product or service. And remember, consistency across your site is essential.  

LiveTiles

Getting your tone of voice ‘right’ can be tricky. It takes is a clear understanding of your audience and their needs. The LiveTile tone of voice is spot on, right from the first words on their website to the latest blog they’ve posted on social media. It's a combination that shows these guys aren’t messing around. Clear, consistent and full of value, their website is a great example of how effective branding can differentiate you from your competitors. 

 


Blog image - How to write an awesome creative brief

How to write an awesome creative brief

Don't have time to read? Listen to this blog post instead. Let us know what you think.
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Over the years, we’ve responded to a fair few creative brief processes. Like all agencies, we’ve won some and lost some. But the true value of the experience comes down to what we’ve learned from the process. That’s why we’ve put together this article on the value of writing a collaborative creative brief (sometimes referred to as pitch brief, the language often depends on the project and the client).


A creative brief confession  

Now we could say that winning new business is 100% down to the awesome people at Fifty Five and Five, but that wouldn’t be strictly true. Our most successful proposals have been the result of clients that have been entirely open and fully supportive of a collaborative process to get the best outcome.

Whether you’re a client looking for a new agency, or an agency wanting to improve your pitch-win ratio, this article provides advice for both sides of the fence.

We’ve boiled it down to several key aspects that make up the best type of client-agency partnerships when it comes to a creative brief:

  • Research
  • Transparency
  • Collaboration
  • Evaluation and feedback

With that in mind, let’s start exploring how to make the pitch experience a win-win for all.

Do your research

Client: Finding the right talent, chemistry and shared culture and values with an agency is no easy task. Do your research – know who you want to pitch for your business. Find the experts in your field. For example, Fifty Five and Five is a perfect fit for a B2B tech brand. A bit of time spent here will save effort later weeding our agencies that were never going to fit.

Agency: It makes no sense to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. Inevitably, you’ll end up overstretching your teams, ignoring your existing clients and creating a culture of pitch complacency. Have a scorecard that you evaluate briefs against, and if the results show that you’re not a good fit, take a pass. This is not a sign of weakness; it’s sensible business decision-making. When you get to the creative brief, a good scorecard process will set you up for success.

Be transparent

Client: What are the motivating reasons behind bringing in an agency? What do you and your stakeholders want (vs. what you actually “need”), and how will you communicate this in the creative brief? When it comes to deliverables, think about how you want to run the process and be realistic with your timings and budget.

Agency: If you can’t deliver the scope of work within the timescales or budget, be straight with the client. They’ll appreciate your honesty and directness, even if it may not be an easy conversation. Share your reasons and discuss whether there’s an alternative solution. Don’t ignore your instincts or sacrifice learnings from past experiences just to win the business. It never ends well.

Collaboration is key to a good creative brief

Client: It’s really not worth keeping your cards close to your chest; sharing data (from campaign performance to customer insights) will help agencies shape their strategic response to your brief. It also makes a huge difference when you give them ample opportunities to ask questions.

Agency: Why not offer your client the chance to feed back on your ideas and co-create? It’s an excellent opportunity to showcase your culture, ways of working and compatibility. At Fifty Five and Five, we offer a one-hour problem-solving workshop as part of our approach to new business.

Evaluation and feedback

Client: It can be challenging to evaluate proposals if you don’t have clear criteria, especially if there’s more than one person involved in the decision-making process. Sharing how you plan to score proposals can help agencies ensure they deliver a balanced response, focusing on the same areas that matter to you. Try to include this stuff up front in your creative brief.

Agency: Like after a job interview, make sure you push for feedback – whether you win or lose. It’s essential to learn from every new business opportunity and find ways to apply those learnings in the future. It also allows you to continue a relationship with the client because you never know when there might be a second chance.

 

If you are looking for a new agency, and have an an awesome brief (or want someone to help you write it)get in touch with the team today.  


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.  

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. 

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.   

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.  

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.  

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.  

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. 

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.  

Leadpages’ 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. 

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. 

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.  

Deepcrawl’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.  

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. 

Mailchimp’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.  

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. 

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.   

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 

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.  

Cyfe’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.  

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.  

LinkedIn learning  

Another great example is the Partner 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. Now the tool identifies where your marketing efforts are lacking and offers training through articles and videos to help you improve those areas. Check it out. 

Partner Benchmarking Tool 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.


How to write for email campaign success and actually get results

When it comes to email campaign success, starting from scratch can be daunting. It’s predicted that we will be sending and receiving upwards of 347 billion daily emails by 2022. With all this noise, how could your emails even be noticed – never mind opened? 

But there is a way. It’s about being simple, engaging and consistent. We’re going to share some straight-forward steps you can use right now to bring your email campaigns to life and enjoy actual results—and good ones too. 

Identify the goals for your email campaign 

The first step in this process is identifying exactly why email should be your preferred option. The clearer your goal, the easier it will be to measure progress and results once the campaign has been executed.  

For example, goals for your campaign could include persuading recipients to: 

  • Download an eBook 
  • Sign up to a webinar 
  • Buy a specific product or service 

As well as provoking actions like these, campaign goals could also include: 

  • Getting recipients interested in your offerings 
  • Raising brand awareness for your business 
  • Re-engaging or nurturing current subscribers  

Once your goal is established, you can get started on defining your audience.  

Who’s reading these emails, anyway? 

Now, before diving into copy, you must first outline exactly who your emails will be seen by. If you’ve been doing email marketing for a while, you’ll no doubt already know who your audience is. But if you’re new to the scene, you’ll probably need to make a few educated guesses so you can tailor your content effectively.  

To do this, you can use Google Analytics to access data on demographics, interests, locations and so on. This will provide a snapshot of who your customers are and what they are interested in. 

The trick with successful emails is to make them personal. By segmenting your audience, it’s easier to send emails that at least feel personalised.

Curate effective emailfor your audience 

With your purpose and audience in mind, you’re all set to begin writingHere are a few simple pointers to keep in mind:  

  • Keep it short and sweet 

When taking into account the sheer volume of emails sent and received every day, it’s important that your copy is engaging. Avoid wafflekeep to the subject and add value 

  • Provide clear and obvious value 

If you only send promotional emails, your readers will likely lose interest. Keep them interested by outlining how your business or product can benefit themSeems too obvious but make use of bullet points and bold text so that the important parts of an email are easy to find.  

  • Stay relevant  

When writing your emails, always keep your audience in mind. What is it that they want and need? How can you address their pain points? Rather than focus on what you’re trying to sell, you should focus on what your readers need.  

  • Include a clear CTA 

What is the overall objective of your email? The call to action you include needs to be immediately obvious and move the recipient towards your goal. So, if you’re looking to encourage sign-ups for a free trial, your CTA might read ‘Sign up now!’  

  • Check, check...and check again 

Once the email is written get a second or third opinion, proofread and ensure you’ve ticked off every point in this list. When sending out an email to a large mailing list, you really don’t want to make any avoidable mistakes.  

Add the finishing touches 

When it comes to selecting imagery for your emails, we’d recommend avoiding stock photos – or at least the most obvious and artificially-posed ones – as these can deter readersAdding a few interesting images can boost the click-through rate but be mindful of the file size – as images that are too big can trigger spam filters, sending your email to the junk folder. 

Your email campaign also provides a good opportunity to highlight your website and social media platforms. Add links where possible to drive people to your site. This shouldn’t distract from the overall objective of your email, but it certainly can’t hurt to include a few inbound links where relevant.   

Create your email template  

Fortunately, there are plenty of email providers (we use Mailchimp) that will allow you to set up and schedule emails with no need for coding.  

A crucial consideration here is responsive design. This ensures that your email looks great on every device and will improve your click-through rate (CTR). If you’re using an automated email platform then this will be taken care of for you. If not, there are lots of tips out there for responsive design best practices!  

Set up tracking devices  

Before sending your emails out into the world, you’ll need to track them. This is the best way to quantify the success of your campaigns, and it can be executed with relative ease by using a tracking pixel.  

The gist of it is that a tracking pixel is added right before the closing body tag of the email. Then, when this image is loaded by the reader, the image request is logged by the server. This information is then collected by your chosen analytics service and you can access statistics on click-through rates, open rates and more. 

Testing! Testing! 123 

With all of the above in place, you’re ready to test your email. This should involve sending it out to multiple email accounts (accessed from a variety of devices) so that you can ensure everything looks as you want it to. Different email providers tend to display emails differently, so you need to check that yours works across the board.  

This stage is vital as it gives you the chance to iron out any creases before your email is sent. Any issues that you spot should be addressed, and the testing process repeated 

What are you waiting for? It’s time to push the button 

Sending mid-morning during working day seems effective in terms of open rates. To find your optimal time, it’s best to trial a few different times and analyse which gets the highest engagement.  

Let the data do the talking 

Hopefully, you will gain lots of useful insights from the data your campaign accumulates. Understanding this data is vital to understand what works and identify areas for improvement. We suggest looking at:   

  • The success of your CTA – does it need tweaking next time? 
  • How many readers are using mobile devices? If you have lots of mobile users, you’ll want to focus on mobile-friendly design. 
  • Who is least engaged with your emails? You can segment these contacts out and then try to retarget them with tailored content in the future.  

Pick a partner to do all the grafting for you 

We hope this article has provided helpful insights to get your email campaigns off the ground and produce fantastic results. However, if you don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to achieve this by yourself, we have heaps of email marketing experience and would love to lend a helping hand.  

 

If you’d like further help with email marketing, get in touch with a member of our team today. You can also check out our website for more information. 


It’s time to reinvigorate your best lead generation strategies

What your marketing can learn from Rocky IV 

(Please bear with me while I relate lead generation strategies to a boxing film from 1985...) 

Remember that training scene in Rocky IV? Sylvester Stallone goes to a Russian farm in the dead of winter to get in shape for his bout with Ivan Drago. While his opponent uses state-of-the-art equipment, Rocky trains by hacking at trees with an axe, lifting logs, sawing wood, pulling sleds, crawling face first through the snow.  

What’s my point? Well, who won the fight? (Spoiler alert: it was Rocky) Cutting edge technology can provide an advantage but it doesn’t replace good old-fashioned grit and determination.   

Let’s move from the boxing ring to the marketing gauntlet - 61% of marketers say generating leads and site traffic is their top challenge. 85% of marketers say lead generation is their most important goal. Lead generation is hard. Almost as hard as defeating a giant Russian boxer surrounded by his comrades.  

It can be tempting to look for the ‘silver bullet’ that claims to boost your leads. in reality, it’s a result of consistent marketing efforts, ongoing relationships, interactions and everything else happening in a business’s day-to-day. 

Below we’re going to run through some old lead generation strategies and introduce some new ones too. But to generate those leads, just like defeating Ivan Drago, it’s going to come down to good old-fashioned hard work and staying persistent.  

#1 - Microsurveys 

Microsurveys are extremely short surveys, made up of a handful of questions that take a couple of minutes to complete.   

This has a variety of benefits over regular surveys. The short nature naturally brings a higher participation rate and, in terms of lead gen, you can approach people at a specific point in the customer journey. Sometimes, without them even leaving the page.   

Lead generation strategies in practice 

Let’s say you’re an IT consultancy targeting the top end of the sales funnel. By locating and focusing on customer pain points (pre-identified through marketing personas), you could create a microsurvey on the challenges they want to solve with your services. Embed this microsurvey on a webpage with high traffic and watch the responses roll in.   

A little further down the funnel, you could embed a microsurvey into the top of your email newsletter. Here, you’ve got a more engaged audience than your website and you can use that to your advantage. Adding a one or two question microsurvey in your newsletters is a great way to gather consistent, unique insights. Ask your subscribers what content they’d like to see and include it in your next newsletter!  

#2 - B2B influencer and word of mouth marketing 

Influencer marketing is where you encourage, persuade or pay market influencers to promote your product or services. This can encourage word of mouth marketing (even if those words are said over the internet) which can result in 500% more sales than a paid media impression.   

People listen to their peers. An individual is far more relatable than a brand. A shoutout from an influencer in your sphere can provide a big recognition boost, they can also add authenticity and credibility to your business through thought leadership content.   

Lead generation strategies in practice 

Now, let’s say you’re an ISV. The first step is to build a pool of potential influencers. Tools like Audiense andFollowerWonk are great for this, helping you find and rank leaders in your industry or niche. Even something as simple as looking at the ‘most popular’ social accounts that follow your brand can net surprising results.   

Why not combine microsurveys and influencer marketing by asking current customers who (in your field) they like to listen to, read and watch?

It’s important to remember that building relationships with influencers is a gradual process. B2B purchases usually involve multiple decision makers, giving the ultimate decision more nuance than in the B2C space. The good news is, the average B2B purchase dwarfs that in the B2C market, giving successful referrals a huge impact.   

Aim to start small. Thought leadership content is a good first step and can be a gentle introduction to your product and brand. Once they’re on board, educate them on your product. Despite being experts in their field, the more they know about your product and brand, the more genuine their marketing will be.   

#3 - Lead magnets 

Also known as gated content, lead magnets offer a long-form resource, such as an eBook or whitepaper, in exchange for contact information. Essentially providing information for free, this can be hugely tempting for the reader.   

This might be number one on the list of lead generation strategies, but one lead magnet stands tall in terms of success rate: webinars. Adobe Connect found a 51% average registration conversion on their webinars, leading to 36% live attendance and a further 55% viewing the recording post-event. This opens the door to a series of polls and further communication during the webinar as well.  

Lead generation strategies in practice 

Start a webinar! Or other content that involves the ‘human’ element, like podcasts or a video series. If these are live events, signing up will feel like a natural step of the process. Even if visitors are getting pre-recorded content, knowing that they’ll see or hear from a real person - not just read some text - helps usher form filling.   

#4 - Never underestimate the power of a landing page 

The landing page is the step between lead magnets and form filling - the dedicated space where a visitor becomes a lead.  

This might seem obvious, but that’s because it’s proven to work, time and again. It’s also because we still see companies link CTAs to their homepage. A call-to-action should always drive a visitor to a place designed to convert them into a lead.   

So, you know that landing pages are critical to success. How do you make sure they actually convert your visitors into leads? We’ve got a step-by-step guide that explains exactly how. 

Lead generation strategies in practice 

This time, you’re a marketing agency offering best practice advice and content marketing for B2B tech companies. You’ve got an avid reader approaching the end of your blog (sound familiar at all?) and there’s some relevant, in-depth content that could help them further.   

We practice what we preach. The link above takes you to a dedicated landing page where you can peel through our free ultimate guide to B2B content marketing, curated by our very own experts at Fifty Five and Five. All you need to do is to fill out the form - but you know that now, don’t you?   

Lead generation is an uphill battle, but every great training montage features a rise to the top. Rather than reaching for the next advanced piece of technology, change your mindset. Go back to basics, thinking of ways to improve and optimise what you’ve already learned. Yes, it’s hard work. But as Rocky said: “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change.”  


Our team’s top tips for B2B marketing automation

It might be an unpopular opinion, but sometimes I do wish the robots would take some of my jobs. When it comes to tedious and repetitive tasks like creating targeted mailing lists, or personalising individual user journeys, actually, you know what? Take it away, robot friends.  

Bill Gates is widely credited with saying that lazy people will find an easy way to do things. I think Mr. Gates has it slightly wrong here – sorry, Bill. It’s actually smart people that find an easy way to do things. That’s why we have the amazing tools that we have today – very smart people built incredibly complicated software and algorithms so that computers can automate tasks or analyse data so that we don’t have to. That’s brilliant, and I want to get in on it. 

In this blog, I’m going to tell you how you can use B2B marketing automation effectively to make marketing jobs easier and our work a lot more impactful. There will also be insights from some other members of the team who use automation regularly in their work for our clients. Let’s start with that classic mainstay of digital marketing: the email.   

Smart, responsive email marketing 

Many businesses use email marketing to communicate with leads and existing customers. It’s one of the oldest, most established, tried and tested formats. Automated email marketing usually comes under one of the following categories:

  • Event-based emails that are triggered by pre-defined events or user behaviour 
  • Drip-feed email content that’s scheduled to be deployed at specific times 

Trigger events include when someone joins your email list, clicks a link in an email, fills out a form or visits a page on your website. When these things happen, you can pre-define an email to be sent out to them. This is a great way to follow up from previous points of contact and nudge a prospect along the path to a sale.  

Drip-feed email content is a series of automated emails to subscribers sent out at pre-determined intervals, usually forming the bulk of your email campaign and taking prospects on your lead nurture journey. These emails are perfect opportunities to provide leads with content that will support your sales pitch – links to blog articles, eBooks and more.   

Here at Fifty Five and Five, we often use Marketo and Mailchimp for our email marketing automation. As well as scheduling emails, today’s sophisticated B2B marketing automation tools often allow you to make use of your customer contact lists in clever ways, and they can also provide valuable data on how your email campaigns are performing.  

I asked our marketing executive Maria about how she uses Mailchimp. Here’s what she said: Mailchimp helps you to build an email campaign by sorting your audience based on some specific characteristics (such as where they're based, what they signed up to before, etc.) and it pulls them into the campaign. Then, once you launch the campaign, it sends the email to who you choose to be part of the pool and it gives you useful insights, such as open rate, drop rate, etc. that help you to shape up your campaign.  

In summary, Maria also added: “Email automation is a great help in reaching out to leads and providing them with "richer" information on your product or servicesAnd, when it comes to managing large amounts amount of data – thousands of emails or more – these tools can save a lot of time and reduce the chances of making mistakes. 

Optimised paid media advertising  

B2B marketing automation can also be highly valuable in the world of pay-per-click advertising. Running successful paid media campaigns is a skill, and it requires an awful lot of time, in the prep and planning stages, through to creative design and execution. However, once the strategy and assets are agreed, it's time to be smart in order to achieve the best results possible. That’s where automation and machine learning can help. 

For example, if you're running a Google Ads campaign and not using 'Responsive Search ads', you're missing a trick. These ads use Google's algorithms to serve potential customers with the most personalised combination of copy you have provided. That means the user sees something more relevant to them, and you can benefit from better results and performance. 

Bidding algorithms are also hugely helpful in the paid media world, as our Head of Client Services Aidan Danaher explains: “Almost every platform provides this functionality, along with traditional methods like manual cost per clicks, or maximum CPC. What's great about this approach is it will optimise based on the objectives you've set, improving that ever-important customer journey, and ultimately the conversions for your campaign. 

As Aidan says, functionality like Responsive Search ads and bidding algorithms are now a vital part of the paid media toolbox. Businesses today should definitely be harnessing them across their pay-per-click marketing.  

Scheduling your social media campaigns 

Social media marketing is another area where B2B marketing automation can offer serious benefits. Scheduling and automating your social media marketing means whoever’s managing your social media accounts doesn’t have to concern themselves with remembering to post this or that post at a particular time – which may be when they’re sitting down to eat lunch or getting settled for a night of TV.  

Our writer and social media executive Megan explains the benefits: Social media automation allows me to keep a clear view of all our upcoming content. It's important to post consistently on social channels, and the tools we use allow me to plan ahead of time – so we never miss a day or an opportunity to engage our audience! 

Fifty Five and Five marketing executive Laura also had this to say on the subject: “To ensure the success of your campaigns in social media, timing is crucial. That means finding out at what time of the day your audience is going to be most receptive to your message. But we're all human – and sometimes very busy ones – so it's easy to forget to post. That’s where social automation becomes a game changer.” 

Top tips for making the most of social media automation  

No more grappling with time-zones 

This ability to schedule social media activity at any time of day or night is especially useful if your team want to post in different time-zones. They don’t have to be awake at 2am to post because it’s midday somewhere else in the world. With social media automation, they don’t have to be.  

Keep a healthy balance  

This isn’t to say that all your social posts should be automated. Social media is, by its very nature, supposed to be dynamic and personal – there’s no substitute for posting in the moment.  Ad-hoc social activity capitalising on recent events, news stories and trends ensures your followers stay engaged, and don’t feel like they’re just following a bot.  

Be careful with your responses 

On a similar note, think carefully before using automated responses to social media interactions – this can easily come across as lazy and impersonal. We’ve all received an automated “Thanks for following!” DM and thought, “OK, great, but so what?” A good rule of thumb is to automate your campaigns and use real-time personal interaction for the rest.  

Choose the right tool for the job 

Hootsuite is the social media automation tool of choice for organisations all around the globe, including our own. It’s simple to set up and use, with an intuitive dashboard interface and support for all the most important social networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. 

I asked Laura about the benefits of using Hootsuite for B2B marketing automation. Here’s her reply: “From my experience with Hootsuite, I can say that it helped me a lot in previous campaigns to get the right message across to the right audience while making sure that my campaign execution was following the strategy thoroughly". She’s summed it up well.  

Ready to get started with B2B marketing automation? 

I hope this blog has been useful in illustrating some of the many marketing automation benefits. Automation is addictive: once you start using it, you’ll soon be finding new ways to apply it to your role and across your whole business, making life easier for everyone and achieving some pretty impressive marketing results. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.  


Illustration man at computer

Win new work. Save your business. Cheer wildly. 

We all know the score. Trying to win new work is tough. Sourcing prospects, tailoring your marketing, arranging meetings and keeping potential clients happy whilst they are courted by numerous competitors all takes a lot of effort. And, in the current climate, it’s harder than ever.  

In light of this, we thought it would be useful to share some insights around what we’ve found works when it comes to selling ourselves to prospective clients, and the vital steps we take in the sales cycle journey. We’ll showcase our current approach to finding leads, outlining our sales processes and how our teams contribute – and how you can do the same. 

We may be biased, but we like to think we’re quite good at what we do – so we’ve collated our key findings here. We hope that, by following this structure, you’ll be well equipped to perform a full health check on your business and uncover new ways for gaining leads and driving sales.  

How do you currently win new work? 

To kick things off, we suggest taking a high-level view of the ways your business currently wins new work. This provides a super helpful insight into areas where you do well, and where there is room for improvement.  

It helps to organise this exercise into the following categories:   

Main channels for new work 

The likelihood is that there are already multiple facets to your business that have the potential to bring in new work. This may include: 

  • Existing clients. For many businesses, a high proportion of their revenue will come from work with current clients.  
  • Referrals. Former clients and current employees can be brilliant sources of new work. Never underestimate the power of a recommendation! 
  • Your website. Take a look at your website visits, content downloads and website leads – how do these elements contribute to your overall revenue? 
  • Social media. The potential for social media to bring in new leads is huge. Are your channels bringing in new work? If not, it may be time for a strategy overhaul.  

Website leads   

Your website should be set up with targeted keywords that address the services you provide. Keeping these keywords up to date and optimised is an ongoing process – and one that’s very important in bringing in leads. To assess how well your website is performing in converting leads, it’s worth looking at: 

  • The content you produce that surfaces on Google. For us, this is largely blog content – so we understand the necessity of putting out regular posts on topics our audience will find valuable. But whatever kind of marketing content you produce, now’s the time that it needs to shine.  
  • Traffic from social media. How many visits to your website come from your social channels? If certain channels already perform well, it could be time to put more effort into social media marketing there in order to fast-track new opportunities.  
  • Email content. Do you send out regular updates to your mailing list? If not, maybe it’s time to step up your email marketingKeeping in touch with current contacts is a great means of keeping your brand at the forefront of their mind – should they realise they need your services.  

How your team can help win new work

Aside from the pointers listed above, it’s worth remembering another valuable resource at your disposal: your people! Your team is comprised of individuals who could all prove to be great assets for business growth. This can take on many forms:  

  • Referrals. Everyone’s on LinkedIn these days, which means we all have large networks comprised of individuals and businesses who may benefit from your offerings. Tapping into this resource is never a waste of time.  
  • Employee advocacy. This simply refers to the promotion of a business by its workforce. This could involve getting your employees to share company information on their social media channels to boost engagement and brand awareness.  
  • Upselling on existing projects. The employees working on specific projects will be well placed to identify scope for more work. Encourage your team to strike up conversations with clients about new ideas for work, and to keep thinking about more ways to address their needs.  

It would be a mistake to overlook your employees’ potential for bringing in new work. Start conversations and get the ball rolling – once you’re all on the same page, you may be pleasantly surprised by the leads that could follow.  

What does your sales process look like? 

Of course, when new leads come in, it’s important that your whole organisation is ready to deal with them efficiently. For guidance, our process looks a little something like this: 

  1. New work appears as a case or an opportunity 
  2. For opportunities, we begin to plan appropriate resourcing to ensure we have the means to handle the workload 
  3. The pipeline and future opportunities are then managed by relevant account directors 
  4. Work orders are issued to clients and the entire process is signed off 
  5. Work commences and the whole team pitches in where necessary 

Finetuning your sales process will not only provide a better, more streamlined experience for new prospects (and keep them coming back for more!), but it will also put you in good stead for handling multiple opportunities as and when they arise. 

Spoiler: the best sales pitch is simply doing a good job 

We truly believe that being good at what you do, exceeding expectations, and consistently delivering good work is the best sales tactic out there. Every single piece of content you produce, whether it’s billable client work or internal marketing, needs to add value and showcase the very best of your expertise.  

At Fifty Five and Five, we’re always asking ourselves (and each other!) if we are offering value and producing work that will make clients want to work with us again. This is how we build relationships that have lasted as long as we’ve been around.  

If you need help getting your marketing on track so that you’re better placed to win new work, we’d love to talk through your options. Get in touch with a member of our team today to learn more about how we can work together to realise your full business potential.  


Our all new Digital Top 50 Report

We’ve received many enquiries about our Top 50 Report in the last 12 months. Of course, COVID-19 and a virtual Microsoft Inspire have impacted us all somewhat, but we took the circumstances as an opportunity to fast-forward our plans for an all new Digital Top 50. You can find it at https://top50.live or read on to find out more. 

Top 50 goes digital 

So, we’re excited to announce that we will soon be launching the 2020/2021 Microsoft Partner Top 50 – in a brand-new digital form. For the first time, you can: Browse and navigate the Top 50 online, benchmark yourself against competitors, gain even more insights into your digital marketing efforts 

 

“We’ve always prided ourselves on the quality of the data and the rigour of our analysis. Now we’re giving everyone the ability to run their company through our analytics tool and not only find out their scores but also benchmark themselves against their competitors. In real time. For free!” 

 Chris Wright, Founder

Access real data in real time 

And that’s not all. The new Top 50 website will be running in real time, meaning data will be updated on a regular basis. We're also taking this chance to hone our scoring system even further this year. The brain behind our data is smarter, as our analytics engine has been updated to better understand what makes great content – and thus great content marketing. 

 

"The excitement and build up to the final reveal at Inspire grew year on year - Partners eagerly visiting our stand or visiting our website to get their hands on a copy of the Report and find out their position. Now you won't have to wait. Not only can you find out your score but you'll see how that compares to your peers and competitors."

Barnaby Ellis, Head of Creative

Stay competitive and ahead of the curve 

In our current climate, it’s more important than ever before to strategically plan your marketing output. To do this, you need a clear overview of your own strengths and weaknesses – alongside those of competitors in your field. By benchmarking yourself against competitors and accessing our data-driven insights, you’ll be able to track your marketing progress and ultimately improve it. We can help you to stay ahead of the curve and realise your full potential. 


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.


No more third-party cookies. What’s next?

The digital world has been rocked by the news that Google plans to completely phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome, its web browser.

Why has Google made this decision? When do they want to have finished phasing out third-party cookies? What does that mean for internet users, businesses, and digital marketing?

In this blog, we’ll explore how the changes will affect everyone, as well as the steps businesses can start taking in order to make the transition.

But first things first. Some of you may be wondering, “What is a third-party cookie, anyway?” Let’s cover that quickly.

What are third party cookies?

Cookies record your individual preferences for the websites you visit. They’re used to identify individual users and give them a personalised browsing experience – the website ‘remembers’ who you are, so what you see is tailored to you.

  • First-party cookies are created and stored by the website you’re visiting at the time – a first party. They’re used by them when you visit to collect analytics data, remember preferences such as your language settings, and generally ensure that your user experience is smooth and personalised.
  • Third-party cookies are created by sites other than the ones you’re visiting – third parties. They’re commonly used to track users across multiple sites, and for retargeting and serving ads to them. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been “followed around the internet” by an ad or product which appears time and time again wherever you go, it’s likely you’re seeing third-party cookies in action.

Internet privacy issues

Being tracked around the web using third-party cookies and served targeted ads is an experience many find pretty spooky, and one that some find downright creepy. These sentiments are part of a wider backlash that’s taken place recently, critical of businesses seen to be compromising internet users’ privacy for commercial purposes. Tech ethics in general is a huge talking point right now, from data protection discussions around legislation like the GDPR to responsible deployment of AI.

Google is one of many companies making efforts to be on ‘the right side’ of Internet privacy. Back in August 2019, they announced their plan to develop a set of open standards to enhance privacy on the web: the Privacy Sandbox. The ultimate goal is for someday all a person’s browsing data to be stored in this ‘sandbox’, on the user’s device, instead of in cookies. And this data will also be anonymised for privacy compliance.

Phasing out third-party cookies is the next step toward that goal. The likes of Firefox and Safari have already phased them out, but Google is taking a more drawn-out approach, over a period of two years, to ensure that online advertisers can make the transition successfully. As of March 2020, the Google Chrome browser accounted for around 63% of the global market share for internet browsers. That’s why, although others have already blocked third-party cookies, this is the definitive event that truly sounds their death knell.

But what does all this mean for you, in the here and now?

Major consequences for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

These developments are sure to impact the world of paid media advertising very significantly. That’s because PPC ads rely heavily on using third-party cookies, and data gathered using them, to find, identify and target marketing prospects all over the web.

However, all is not lost. Even without third-party cookies, there are still ways to achieve highly targeted and effective marketing.

What are the alternatives?

  • Targeted ads in social media. You can launch targeted ad or promoted posts in social media. You can target audiences in terms of their industries, demographics, and similarities with your own followers.
  • Contact list retargeting. Retarget prospects on your contact lists on platforms including LinkedIn. Your contact list is cross-referenced with their member list, so you can serve ads to leads you’ve already identified.
  • Make the most of first-party cookies. You can still use first-party cookies on your site to obtain valuable user data. This can be used to refine your personas, create campaigns and improve your marketing.
  • Ramp up email and content marketing. Use existing and new data gathered via first party cookies, social media insights and more to make content marketing and email marketing really hit the mark.

A web without third-party cookies

Although the death of third-party cookies may pose some initial problems as businesses and markers phase them out and adopt other forms of marketing, in the long run it’s a necessary step toward fostering greater trust.

It’s also an opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves from the competition. The more other businesses and consumers trust that your data protection practices are above board, the more comfortable they’ll feel sharing their own data and giving you their custom. As with most tech ethics issues, the winners in the world after third-party cookies will be those who turn data protection into a point of pride, not a thorn in their side.

Want to discuss how you can make the most of your marketing without third-party cookies? Get in touch with the team at Fifty Five and Five today.