Welcome back to our deep dive into always-on paid social. In the first post, we explained what is always-on paid social, major benefits to employing an always-on paid social strategy, and platform-specific benefits for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Now that you know why it’s important, let’s talk strategy. Simply running ads all the time isn’t enough. True it’s better than stop and start, but if you’re going to make the switch to always-on, it should be with a clear strategy. This will require content and large quantities of it. Ask yourself these two questions: 1. What’s the right content? and 2. What’s the right content mix? Let’s explore both.
The winning combination of brand and lead gen paid social content
In overly simplistic terms, there are two types of content your brand uses to fuel the content marketing machine: thought leadership/awareness content and lead gen content. The Huffington Post defines thought leadership as “the creation of content that harnesses a brand’s expertise in their industry to provide useful information or solutions to questions and problems their audiences face.” This can also include expertise in your customers’ industry (such as a brand like Toast discussing trends in the restaurant industry, not just in the payments industry).
According to LinkedIn internal research in always-on marketing, 82% of business decision-makers and 81% of C-Suite execs said thought leadership content increased their trust in the organizations they were considering doing business with. Flexing your knowledge and authority in an industry is essential to cementing a relationship with a prospect. This is the more broadly appealing, generalized industry content people can enjoy even if they aren’t aware of your specific product or service. Do not gate this type of content. This is how the public learns about your brand and its perspective on the industry—they’re not ready for demos and sales calls.
Lead generation, on the other hand, is specifically about your brand and its products. Marketo defines it as “the process of stimulating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing sales pipeline.” Chances are that if you’re reading this, you already know what it is and spend a lot of effort here, so we won’t belabor the idea.
The trouble is, almost every single brand I’ve worked with tends to keep these efforts far too separate—saving the great thought leadership content for organic social exclusively and only putting money behind lead gen efforts. It’s understandably easier to calculate ROI on a lead gen program since leads have a dollar value and an insightful blog is more complicated, but here’s a statistic to help you make the case: in an internal study conducted by LinkedIn of a global financial services company advertising on its platform, conversion rates increased 6X in paid campaigns when both brand and acquisition messaging were used in tandem.
Use the 60/40 Rule
The right mix of content will vary slightly between brands and industries, but research shows that your brand should follow the “60/40 Rule.” Investment in long-term brand and trust building, combined with short term brand activations are the key to reap sales benefits of those investments. This means 60% of your content should be “upper funnel” content that’s geared towards thought leadership, reach, and problem awareness.
The other 40% of your efforts should be nurturing those in the mid-to-lower funnel with all the lead gen content you can muster to aid the decision-making process: white papers, infographics, cost and feature comparisons, product demo videos, and free trials. Include a mix of both gated and ungated content. If your brand operates across the funnel in this 60/40 split with paid efforts, it balances long and short-term objectives.
Use Organic Social to Improve and Supplement Paid Social Strategy
Even the best organic posts are subject to the ever-changing algorithms of the platforms they’re posted on. Your post can also get buried under more popular content, and organic posts can’t target prospects either. That’s why it’s important to “boost” or promote your most successful organic content in addition to your existing paid campaigns. It’s an easy way to ensure you’re hitting that 60/40 mix of thought leadership and lead gen.
It’s possible to create a consistent feedback loop between organic and paid social. Organic post performance will help determine what resonates with audiences and inform what content goes into paid campaigns. Use paid ads to test creative, copy variations, and assets to inform future organic posts. It’s best practice to have at least four ads live at all times in a campaign, so adding top performing organic posts to your paid campaign is an easy way to increase the number of ads in rotation.
Use Always-On for Nurturing High Intent Audiences
Once someone has engaged with your brand or visited your website, continue the momentum, and engage with these “warm” audiences perpetually to make sure you’re always reaching them at the right time. It’s ideal for lower-funnel campaigns. Ways to do this include the following:
- 1st Party Data (Retargeting) – Placing a pixel from each social platform on your website allows you to serve ads to an already interested audience, and hopefully, your campaign response rate will improve since the audience knows you already.
- 3rd Party Data — Providers such as Bombora have what they call “surge topic data” and can tell you which companies are in-market for your product by what topics those companies are searching for. Use this tactic to refine an Account Based Marketing (ABM) list of thousands down to hundreds of companies that have shown interest in products like yours. With that level of intent insight, it’s probable to see an increase in campaign success.
- Connect marketing automation and social—Did you know that many platforms, such as Marketo, can push audience lists directly to LinkedIn? It’s true. This is ideal for cross-sell and up-sell messaging to existing customers, and early-stage leads. As we’ve pointed out previously, most buyers need multiple touchpoints, so seeing messages in both email and social reinforces recall for your customers.