At Experience Inbound 2015—the first year of the annual sales & marketing conference that Weidert Group co-hosts—attendees had the opportunity to learn about B2B trends for digital marketing from Ryan Panzer, a Business Development Manager at Google.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Ryan about Google’s AdWords platform. We talked about how AdWords can help an inbound marketing strategy through targeted content promotion.
Jonathan: What's the main reason you would want to include AdWords in an inbound process? You're trying to create content and get in front of people that are looking for the right information. How would you start that process?
Ryan: A couple of things come to mind here: First of all, when you look at inbound marketing, a lot of emphasis is placed on driving organic search visibility through the selection of really high value keywords and, as you know, that takes time to do.
I heard an analogy for this: Trying to drive organic search traffic is like trying to turn an aircraft carrier; it takes a long time to turn around a giant boat. Using AdWords allows you to utilize the airplanes of the aircraft carrier. The planes can take off quickly and get to where they need to go, and the aircraft carrier can follow them.
I see AdWords and pay-per-click as being a great way to kick off an inbound marketing campaign. We can drive some initial traffic generation as the organic search results catch up.
Jonathan: It's a way to get it started fast before your content has time to build your credibility to really work its magic.
Ryan: Which is kind of interesting. Inbound marketing relies a lot on audience and AdWords offers a number of solutions for engaging a key audience.
It could be an advertising tactic like remarketing, where you utilize display advertising and video to get your message past site visitors. It could be something like ads in Gmail, where you can target an email marketing message based on contractual signals within a user's email account. Those are effective audience targeting strategies, and can be a good way to incorporate these two ideas together, after that initial traffic push has been completed.
Jonathan: I'm thinking of somebody in their Gmail account seeing, based on the emails they're sending or searches they have made, advertisements for related content. It's not an active thing, but because they've searched for it you know that they're interested in it. It’s more passive. It’s still inbound because it's not interruptive and is there when they need it.
Ryan: Right. You can also think of this: Inbound marketing relies heavily on email marketing as a user engagement. In a Gmail inbox, you have your promotions inbox. An AdWords ad gives you the ability to occupy a listing at the top of the inbox for a set period of time. So while a marketing email might fall through the inbox over time, an ad is is a way to ensure that those inbound marketing emails are top of mind.
Jonathan: So you can get in their email inbox without sending them an email. It’s like sending them an email without sending them an email.
Ryan: The format for ads in a Gmail inbox looks just like an email. It has the identical visual make up as an email, but it has the promotions label on it. There's also remarketing, which is an effective strategy for audience re-engagement, and a nice supplement to inbound marketing.
Last year at the Experience Inbound conference, Chad Pollitt talked about the rise of native advertising units, and their importance to content marketing. Gmail ads, as well as promoted videos on YouTube, are, in a way, Google’s native ad formats. In some ways, search AdWords are a native ad format, too, because it's the exact same appearance as an organic search.
So in summary, there are three things: you can do search AdWords right away as the initial driving force for your content; you can use remarketing to nurture leads. You can also supplement your email marketing you're doing with email ads.
Jonathan: Is there anything specific about B2B you can speak to with AdWords and contextual targeting?
Ryan: Sure. In B2B marketing the first thing to know is that any time you make a business management decision there are a lot of steps involved. There was a study done that showed that there are 12 engagements with a business' content prior to contacting a business. Some are searches; some are articles read on content sites. AdWords provides a real quality way to reach those people during those 12 engagements. What we often say is that if you're only using search, you're only reaching people for 10 percent of the time they're using the web. AdWords gives you the full plan to meet business decision makers.
There's also a number of predefined audiences and contextual targeting strategies for reaching to that audience. For example, there's an audience available for business productivity software: people who want to make their business more productive through technology. There's a contextual category created about business management people reading about how to run their business more efficiently. We could reach those sites in that moment of intent.
Jonathan: So you could use that contextual targeting to promote content based upon an audience's position in the buyer’s journey. You can tell when someone is at the beginning of the journey, and give them top of the funnel content. And as they move down the funnel give them more advanced content.
Ryan: Yeah. I would start putting my contextual content at the top of the funnel. Towards the middle of the funnel would be my audience targeting solutions, where I can target the in-market customers. Then at the bottom of the funnel I can use a search strategy targeting brand keywords and very long-tail keywords for your products and services.