Filling the top of your sales funnel with leads is easy to do in B2B digital marketing, however ensuring those leads will turn into valuable opportunities and potential revenue is a more challenging task when the leads coming in are not the most qualified. One of the ways we can advertise more effectively and work toward spending a larger percentage of advertising budget on qualified prospects is by getting more strategic with the audience we are targeting.

B2B Audience Targeting

There are several factors to consider in preparation for reaching your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) through SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and digital advertising channels. These include:

  • Overall Business Objectives
  • ICP and Persona
  • Marketing Channel Mix
  • Interests, Intent and Demographics
  • Audience Exclusions

One of the most important pieces of any digital marketing campaign is understanding the business objective. What is the main goal of the campaign, which part of the sales funnel do we want to address and what action do we want them to take? For the sake of this exercise, we will assume that we simply want to fill the top of the funnel with net new prospects, gathering leads through a form fill requesting a top of funnel hand-raiser such as a whitepaper.

The challenge is to fill the top of the funnel with prospects who are as qualified as possible, using data that is known or understood to be relevant to the organization.

There are several reasons that we would want to use digital advertising and SEM to reach new prospects; Perhaps the organization is fairly new and doesn’t have enough potential leads in the pipeline. It could be that the organization doesn’t yet understand what valuable pipeline leads even look like. It could also mean that significant initial lead data needs to be gathered to test a pilot ABM (Account-Based Marketing) program. Most commonly, digital advertising and SEM would be used alongside a current ABM program to reach net new potential prospects not yet identified in existing target account lists. Each of these objectives are possible with a mix of readily available digital advertising channels and an understanding of who it is we want to reach.

ICP and personas can be defined at the individual level and/or at the account (company) level.  If your organization offers a software product for project managers in the financial services industry, then that is the audience we want to reach and the information we would use to identify the best possible marketing channel mix and targeting tactics we want to use to reach these prospects. Some pieces of a top-of-funnel marketing channel mix could include:

Search Advertising: Using keyword targeting to target search terms that a financial services project manager might be searching in their day to day research. This could be competitor products, pain points specific to their position and workflow or functionality of your organization’s software.

Social Advertising: Channels such as LinkedIn allow marketers to target LinkedIn users based on their job title, position, groups they are a part of, companies they work for, their job seniority, skills, job function and more. This allows an organization to reach a more targeted group of users who are not actively searching for your product.

Advertising in Facebook also offers an opportunity to reach users by job title, education and other demographics. Twitter allows you to serve ads to people who follow certain Twitter handles, are participating in a specific industry event, interacting with certain keywords/topics and more. The ability to cast a wide net to potential interested prospects is endless with a mix of social advertising channels.

Programmatic Advertising: Programmatic channels allow marketers to serve display ads on multiple display networks, with nearly endless audience segmentations of job title, interest, contextual, buying intent indicators and more.

Most channels that are selected as the right marketing mix for your specific organization’s goals and audiences offer the ability to layer on additional interest, intent and demographic data to your higher-level targeting tactics. This is a powerful way to ensure that the net you are casting is reaching those who are more likely to become prospects for your company, rather than wasting spend on a larger percentage of unqualified leads.

In this image, we identify one of Google’s many “in-market” audiences that can be used to further segment any search or display campaign for better relevance and higher intent.

In-Market Audience

One final piece to ensuring advertising spend is getting used efficiently is the practice of audience exclusions. As campaigns start generating leads, it is important to exclude anyone who is already in your lead database from seeing any top-of-funnel campaigns. Additionally, any demographic, interest, intent, company, job title or otherwise can be excluded from a campaign just as it can be targeted to one. This allows even more specific segmentation of the campaign and tightens the focus on who is seeing your ads.

If your B2B organization is ready to gain greater efficiency in advertising media spend and reach more qualified leads through SEM, PPC (Pay Per Click), Programmatic, Social Advertising and more, contact us today for a complimentary evaluation.


About the Author

Amanda Krause

Amanda Krause is a data-driven digital marketing professional with expertise in SEM and PPC paid search management, serving clients in a variety of industries since 2001. Certified in Google Ads, Google Analytics, Microsoft Ads, Programmatic Strategies and ABM, with high-level expertise in enterprise B2B and SaaS for revenue-focused results.

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