04 Feb 2016
Best Paid Media Channels For B2B Marketing

The Best Paid Media Channels For B2B Marketers

Content marketing can no longer be considered a trend. With more than three-quarters of B2B marketers planning to increase their content production this year, according to research by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), it’s clear businesses have realised the value of content in growing and nurturing their customer base.

For established brands with huge audiences, engaging existing followers with great content is a no-brainer. But for many organisations, it can be a little more difficult to get your message out there. Your customers are inundated with content, from crowded news feeds to constant notifications, and your business is probably competing against bigger brands with similar services to offer. So how can you get your voice heard and start growing a loyal audience?

Earned, Owned And Paid Media

To get your content out there, you need to be using a combination of earned, owned and paid media. Owned media consists of the content you publish on your own website or blog, while earned media is the publicity you gain from other media channels like news stories and product reviews. Paid media is the other tactics used to distribute your content to a wider audience. Here’s a helpful breakdown:

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Why Should You Pay For Content Promotion?

Paid promotion tactics are a great way of tapping into a huge potential audience for your content outside of your existing networks or database. CMI found the most effective content marketers are using paid channels to promote at least four different types of content including blog posts, news releases, whitepapers and webinars. They’re also spending more than 25 per cent of their marketing budget on paid promotion.

You might be wondering if you really need to invest in paid tactics. After all, isn’t the point of content marketing to nurture a relationship through useful, relevant content, rather than paying for customers? In our current crowded landscape, savvy marketers will make effective use of both, by using paid tactics to help achieve their content marketing goals. CMI says:

“Successful content marketers are redefining the calls-to-action on their ‘paid’ efforts. Today’s smart strategy is about using paid promotion to build a marketing database (or audience) and not necessarily trying to focus on a direct lead or sale.”

Your paid media will fuel the success of your owned and earned strategies by putting content in front of the right people. But ultimately, the results will depend on how useful and engaging this content is.

What Channels Should You Use?

There are a number of paid media channels you can be using to get your content out there. Here are five tried and tested channels that are most suited to a B2B audience and easy to get started with.

LinkedIn Sponsored Updates

It can be difficult to reach large audiences on LinkedIn. To start with, you’re restricted by the followers of your page – and let’s be honest, many of them are probably employees or existing clients. You also have to post updates at the exact time your audience is online, before your content is quickly buried in their newsfeed. Using Sponsored Updates will put your LinkedIn posts in front of relevant people outside of your network, helping you to attract more followers.  The targeting capabilities make this channel perfect for B2B marketers. Want to target product managers based in Sydney? Or maybe you’re looking to reach C-Suite executives in the finance industry? With LinkedIn you can target by demographic, job title, function, business size, industry and more, so you can reach a very specific audience segment.

Outbrain

Have you ever seen those links to related stories that appear under a news article? These are powered by content amplification algorithms that recommend relevant content to readers based on the article they’re reading and their online behaviour or interests. Services like Outbrain have deals with large publisher sites like ABC News and Fairfax, and can drive high quality traffic from these websites to your content. Try promoting content that is tied to an offer, or has been proven to drive conversions, so you can see measurable results. It can also be a great platform to test engagement on different headlines across publisher sites, so you can implement the best performing ones on your own emails or social posts. A recommendation from a trusted site helps to position your brand in a positive light, so make sure your content lives up to its promise and steer clear of clickbait headlines.

OneSpot

When you hear ‘retargeting’ you probably think about those ads that follow you around the internet after you’ve put an item in your shopping cart and thought better of it.  We all know how frustrating this can be, but that doesn’t mean retargeting can’t be part of a successful B2B marketing strategy. When done well, retargeting hones in on a customer’s interests and provides them with relevant content they’re genuinely interested in. This helps to keep your brand top of mind and drives traffic back to your site.  OneSpot delivers multiple pieces of content to your prospects, across your own site and others, using data on their customer journey to tell a coherent story. It’s important that you have content developed for each stage, from brand awareness to conversion. For example, you would show different content to casual visitors who have only looked at your About Us page than subscribers who’ve read a bunch of blog posts and downloaded an e-book. Share content that moves them further down the funnel without disrupting their online experience.

Twitter

Twitter has numerous paid campaigns for different objectives. Two of the most helpful tools for B2B marketers are Promoted Tweets and Lead Generation Cards. Promoted Tweets are similar to LinkedIn’s sponsored updates – you pay to get the tweet in front of more people, not just your followers. This is particularly valuable on Twitter, as the rapidly updating feed means your tweets can easily disappear.  You can target users based on interest categories, specific accounts they follow (such as your competitors), keywords they’ve searched for or their demographic details. With the Lead Generation tool, people can sign up to receive emails simply by clicking a button on a promoted tweet. This is a great option if you’re trying to build your database or promote a special offer.

Google

You’re probably already dabbling in SEO or keyword optimisation, but if you’re not focusing on paid search it’s time to ramp up your efforts. Bidding on keywords makes it more likely that people will find your content when they’re searching for information, which is hugely important when it comes to growing an audience. It also means your content should answer common questions, provide solutions or identify customer challenges. There’s nothing more off-putting than clicking on a misleading headline to find a thinly veiled sales pitch. You also want to make sure you’re not just bidding on highly competitive keywords like ‘marketing’ or ‘software’. The shorter and more general a keyword, the harder it is to rank for, and the less likely a potential customer is looking for your services specifically. Focus on long-tail keywords instead. For example, if you sell automation software, try search terms that relate to customer challenges and questions, like ‘how to automate social media posts’ or ‘best marketing automation tools’.

Summary

To stand out in this noisy online landscape, paid media channels are now a crucial component of your distribution strategy. Find out where your customers are spending time online and pick the channels that align with your target audience. No matter what channel you choose, your focus should be on providing high-quality content, giving potential customers a reason to find out more about what you have to offer.

Feature Image via Audience Stack

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