One of the great things about B2B digital marketing and one of the things that makes it such an effective tool for driving leads into your funnel and, ultimately, landing you more business is the ability to iterate. You can launch campaigns, monitor their effectiveness and then make tweaks if you aren’t seeing the results you want. But is that ability to iterate making marketers lazy? It could be.
Is iteration taking the place of solid strategy?
The ability to iterate combined with a low cost makes digital marketing appealing. While we do recommend some minimum levels of engagement, you can spend as little or as much as you like on digital marketing. While that low barrier to entry is good, it can also make it tempting to test out an approach just to see if it works. If it succeeds, great, but if not, you try something else, right?
Do either of the following scenarios sound familiar?
You grab one of your people and ask them to create an asset, build a landing page and buy some ads that direct people to your new downloadable. They do as you asked, with lackluster results. But now you can write off digital marketing as something that failed, even if the blame for the failure belongs on the assets or landing page and not digital marketing broadly.
Or, maybe, you ask this person to complete all those tasks, then you start tweaking your ad so you eventually find your target audience. However, all the while you’re making those adjustments, you’re spending money—money you can’t get back, for traffic that you didn’t want.
Why you need a digital advertising strategy
In both scenarios, you put yourself in a position where all you can reasonably expect is to fail. Digital marketing isn’t something you should dive into without a strategy, hoping you can iterate your way to success.
Starting with strategy helps ensure you are putting ads in front of the right audience and that your ads say something that appeals to that audience. It’s giving you a head start, so that when you do start to iterate, you are simply fine tuning, not making wholesale course corrections.
Think of a sculptor. When he or she begins a project, they are knocking off big chunks of rock to get themselves to a place where they can start making those smaller, finer cuts that help their final vision take shape.
If you start your marketing with a well-defined strategy, you have already broken away the big chunks of rock. You’re now ready to make those more definitive cuts that help your project become a finished piece. You aren’t wasting time. You aren’t wasting effort. And, most importantly, you aren’t wasting money.
To prevent costly and ineffective iterations, you need to be able to answer three questions to start developing your digital strategy.
Who’s Your Target Audience: It may be tempting to target anyone who might possibly be interested in your offer. Cast as wide a net as possible to catch as many fish as you can, right? If you are trying to land actual fish, yes. If you are trying to reel in leads for your B2B tech product, then no. Wide nets only dilute your message and get you in front of people who probably aren’t a good match for your product or service anyway. If those people click your ads, then they are costing you money.
Instead, spend your budget to put yourself in front of prospects to whom you can provide real value, those you actually have the potential to land. We recommend you first take the time to draw up a profile of the kinds of businesses and the buyers who are most receptive to your message. Here are some questions to answer.
What industries are these businesses in?
What is their annual revenue?
How many employees do they have?
For your ideal buyer, what is their position inside of their organization, and what’s the challenge you can help them address?
How familiar is this person with your organization?
Have they been to your website before?
Knowing these things gives you a place to start when targeting your digital ads, but also when creating the marketing collateral you’ll use to seed these digital campaigns.
What’s your budget? Yes, digital advertising can be cheap. But you can’t be a complete miser if you want to see success. We recommend a minimum spend of $2,500 each month for digital ads.
We also recommend that you spend a few months in information-gathering mode. Run ads. See what works. See what doesn’t. Use this time to establish benchmarks. What kind of clicks can you reasonably expect? We’ve seen companies get upset because their ad didn’t drive thousands of clicks when, considering how niche their market and product is, the hundreds of clicks the ads did generate was impressive. So, spend a few months establishing those baselines so you have something to judge from.
Where are you going to advertise? There are a lot of places where you can sink digital advertising dollars, and you want to be anywhere that your target buyer might be. Being in front of the right buyers wherever they go increases impressions. Remember the Rule of 7, that old marketing and advertising chestnut, that requires you get in front of that buyer enough times that they remember you?
And there’s another benefit to being everywhere your buyer is. Repetitive appearances of your brand can create a buzz in that buyer’s mind, even if there wasn’t any before. To have this effect, you can either buy up a bunch of individual ads all over the digital world, or you can take a programmatic approach. Don’t get scared by a term like programmatic advertising. It just means you are using computer software to buy your advertising based on the criteria that you supply. Remember those questions about your ideal buyer we answered earlier? You need those answers now.
Iteration is great. We use it all the time in the campaigns we run for clients. It’s how we get results. But those campaigns also start with a smart strategy that we work with our clients to define. If we skipped the strategy and relied only on iteration to make the digital campaigns effective, it’d take us a lot longer to find success, if we ever found it at all.
In short, don’t rely solely on the ability to iterate to make your digital campaigns successful. Start with a sound digital marketing strategy that will make you successful from the start, then make iterative changes to further elevate the results of those already-successful campaigns.