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Lessons I learned Spending USD 50,000 for Online Marketing in a Hyper-Competitive B2B Space

One of our clients is operating in a hyper-competitive B2B domain. In such a space, the Cost Per Click (CPC) can go up to USD 30+. With such a high CPC, and for a small company with limited budgets, investing online becomes challenging.

To illustrate the case, consider that you are a part of such company and have only USD 20K to test and get some meaningful return on investment. Assuming that you have fixed your offerings and value proposition and getting the right audience to your optimized landing page. In this case, you will get, at the best, a conversion rate of 2% (Cost per lead of around USD 150). This means that you will close two deals. And if the deals aren’t good, then you will be questioning your tactics or the utility of online marketing.

Many small B2B companies, do face such challenges. Limited by budgets, such companies find it difficult to justify the ROI — as they struggle to get enough conversions to justify their spending. So, let’s look into the options you have, and how to come up with an online marketing strategy that works.

Can search alone justify your online efforts?

To answer this, first, let’s look into the reason why in such competitive B2B Domains, the cost per lead or the cost per clicks, is so high?

In many professional B2B services cases, the contract values are fairly high. So to outbid competitors, advertisers are willing to pay more the clicks or leads. Since the pricing is done on a bidding basis, the prices continue to increase. This upward trend doesn’t go on forever — as companies start to fizzle out of this bidding process — once they can’t justify the spending. Also, another cause of such highly competitive bidding is the intent of the companies to drain competitors budgets and then to lead the space.

So, with limited budgets, this Search only approach becomes difficult to pursue. Again, if you are just starting and test, better to spend money effectively. So, let’s look at some of the other ways to generate leads.

Can Facebook or LinkedIn bring cheaper leads?

Yes, you can generate cheaper leads through FB. Facebook has a very detailed targeting option, placement, and timing options. But, still, you will not be able to find the quality of leads — as most of the inquirers will be in the earliest stages of purchase.

LinkedIn is a viable option with a massive b2b audience. But it’s pricier. Also at times, hard selling techniques, don’t result in a good number of inbound leads.

For both above channels to work, you need to get the creative, targeting, placement, and timing, right. And of all these factors, we have found creative to be the biggest differentiator for bringing in good quality leads.

The next (better) option – Retargeting

All above results in a case of retargeting your pricey visitors. Retargeting, done well, will give a good ROI. Many companies have seen combining PPC campaigns with retargeting that results in a 30%+ increase in ROI. So, that’s a good way to optimize your spending.

Again, retargeting, solely based on hard selling might not result in the optimal response. In the case of social media audiences, where the customers are in initial phases of purchase it’s better to use content marketing to nurture and convert them.

Still, retargeting requires a significant effort to get right. Different channels, Display, FB, LinkedIn, will have different requirements in terms of creatives and so on. Again, it might be expensive for the new companies to play with.

Content Marketing works!

As per the experts, most of the B2B buyers are already 60% in their buying process. So rather your competitors educating your customer, it’s better you do so. You can use content to build trust and connection with your customers — which is a precursor to any online purchase.

Also, you can utilize good content marketing strategies to capture leads through search, social media marketing, nurturing, and retargeting. All mediums are hungry for content — the one that is relevant to their audience and adds value. If you want your company to be seen as a thought leader, work with content.

Content generation and distribution is a long term effort and would require you and your company to invest time and resources. Yet, it is still the most potent one!

Email, Nurturing, and Automation

As per most of the experts, Email, by far, is the biggest asset for any digital marketer. Email gives your massive power to target, retarget, nurture, and convert your users effectively. You can use existing customer emails to generate lookalike audiences for search networks and social media platforms. You can send promotional offer. You can tailor make your conversation to the segments of the audience and target effectively. So, in case you have emails, you are set to gain a better return online investment.

There can be many effective ways of capturing emails. You can make someone leave email for important white papers, guides, webinars and so on. Once you have the emails you can work with nurturing. Nurturing provides you with the option of getting the most from your online spending. Done right, it could become the most effective with the highest ROI.

A caution! Many advertisers are tempted to simply push emails to automation tools and start sending scripted messages. For bigger companies that might work, done properly. But for a smaller company, it’s a fairly useless tactic.

If you have limited budgets then it’s better to utilize such email IDs to converse individually. So, you can start off conversations via calling, social media, or emails. To be effective, you need to learn more about each customer and add value through each conversation.

Summing Up:

In the case of our client, 50% of the budget was spent just to learn the hard lesson. But after that particular spending, we gained valuable insights to run effective campaigns, that resulted in the best possible ROI.

In my opinion, anyone who wants to start online marketing should leave a good percentage of the budget for learning and misfires. Once enough tactics have been analyzed, then you can scale. You can call it Agile or Lean Marketing efforts.