My last article focused on how retailers can have a mega-successful holiday season. B2B and B2C holiday strategy need to be segmented because this time of year is dramatically different for these advertisers. Now, let's focus on how B2B advertisers can utilize Q4 to dominate Q1.
Often B2B advertisers can feel like Q4 is ghost town. Overall site traffic can decline and conversion rates can be softer during this time. The proof is in the numbers below. These are stats for B2B advertisers in Q4.
Reasons for this annual low tide can vary. The reason mostly resides with budgetary issues, but that isn't the only reason Q4 can be lonely for you B2B advertisers.
- Exhausted spending for the year: Many businesses operate on an annual budget that is mostly exhausted when Q4 rolls around. However, this means that the flood gates for spending can open in Q1 when budgets are renewed. As a B2B advertiser, this needs to be the core of your Q4 strategy; preparing to dominate Q1.
- Holiday travel: Plain and simple, the people that make the purchase decision just aren't in the office due to holiday travel.
- General exhaustion: Even if folks have some budget left, or don't have annual budget restrictions, and they are actually around the office – they may just be tired to make any major decisions!
Review Trends from Last Year
- Analyze prior holiday performance: Know when the click/conversion low tide is going to hit your PPC campaign. You should have a wealth of data stored in your various analytic reports to predict when both the drop in Q4 and pick-up in Q1 are going to happen.
- Mitigate the low tide & accentuate the high tide: When you already how traffic is going to fluctuate during this time of year, you can act appropriately.
- Coordinate with all stakeholders: Sometimes marketing departments and sales departments don't inform each other of their holiday season expectations. This can cause friction between teams and missed sales targets. Make sure that all stakeholders understand what PPC traffic is going to do during Q4 and Q1 so no one is shocked by slower leads in December or overwhelmed by a huge boom in January. The image below shows annual trends for advertisers in B2B verticals.
Ramp Up after New Years
- Traffic slump from Thanksgiving to Christmas: As you can see in the graphs above, many B2B advertisers will see a slump between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plan accordingly!
- Traffic increase after December 27th: However, many B2B advertisers wait until January or even mid-January to get their Q1 strategies firing on all cylinders. We have found that the B2B market actually starts to pick up right before New Year's as people start thinking about the upcoming year for their business. You should start ramping up your Q1 strategies around this time. This way you can get in front of those early buyers as well as hit the ground running when January rolls around.
Build a Killer Remarketing Foundation
- Build Q4 specific audiences: If you are already running remarketing campaigns through AdWords, then you should create specific audiences to which you want to target your specific Q1 strategy. If you aren't running any remarketing now, you should create new campaigns within AdWords or Google Analytics to this process started.
- Review your remarketing cookie duration: The main objective of this Q4 strategy to target users in Q1 when they are ready to make a purchase. However, if your cookie duration is too short, you might miss the prime purchasing window. For example, if your average sales cycle is 4 weeks long, you should allot for extra time because you will have a few holiday weeks on that pixel. If you want to remarketing for 4 weeks during January, make your pixel 8 weeks in duration: 4 weeks for December and 4 weeks for January.
- Consider video remarketing: Within AdWords you can remarket to users who interact with your YouTube channel and/or videos. Your AdWords and YouTube accounts need to be linked to utilize this strategy. This strategy can be powerful because huge amounts of users watch videos to acquire information about large-scale purchases. However, keep in mind that these users are usually a little less engaged than your traditional remarketing audience because they didn't visit your website – but rather they watched a video. You should adjust your bids (lower them) for these folks.
Create Tiered Conversion Strategy
- Education-based conversions: As we discussed earlier, in Q4 your B2B audience may just be conducting research for a large-scale purchase in Q1. You could use this to your advantage. What kind of free content can you provide to help your audience make their purchase decision? And of course, any free content you provide should also reveal that your product/service is ultimately the best choice.
- Action-based conversions: When the New Year rolls around, you can still offer the education-based conversion, but now folks will be ready to take action! Go ahead and make that hard sale, get samples out to prospects, or get folks into a trial of your software. Put the petal to the medal.
When balancing your two conversion actions, think about the usual search query progression of average user. They usually begin looking to solve a problem or enhance a process.
As they get more educated their queries before more specific. Your audience will get more information and begin to compare their available options (comparing you to your competitors). Once they make a decision, they will go directly to your site or conduct a brand-related search. You want to visible at every step of the process.
Implement Your Killer Remarketing Strategy
During Q4 and Q1 you want to establish a persuasive momentum. This means that you want to be visible at each step of the research and buying process. Here are the tactics you can deploy to make sure this objective is achieved.
- Standard Remarketing: This is your standard remarketing tactic. Your ad appears to previous visitors via the Google Display Network.
- RLSA: With Remarketing for Search Ads you can target previous visitors to your website when they conduct other queries on Google. How cool! For example, they may search for your brand again. Or they may search for a competitor's brand. Or they may search for reviews on your products/service. RLSA will allow you to appear on these searches!
- Video Remarketing: Get in front of your video audience again! We discussed this tactic earlier in the article you should certainly get it a shot.
- Social Remarketing: We are focusing on Google in this article because it's so popular with B2B marketers. But remarketing on Facebook can also be very valuable to B2B.
- Search Companion: This isn't a form of remarketing. With Search Companion an advertiser can distribute their ads on the Google Display Network, and your ads are trigger by specific queries on Google search. For example, someone could search for [red shoes], and then click on a site that discusses famous red shoes and your ad could appear.
With all of these tactics you are aiming to generate sales in Q1 by being as highly visible to your audience as possible.
This list should serve as an inspiration for you to research each of these tactics. There is plenty of helpful information to get you started with each of these in AdWords' help section and also in publications like Search Engine Watch.
Do These Things Now
To get this process started you have to thinking about your remarketing audiences and get them started now. Even if you aren't sure what the messaging or landing page will be just yet, if you don't start dropping remarketing pixels in November and December, you won't have any to see your message in the first place!
B2B advertisers, Q4 doesn't have to be a wasteland! Till the soil of this fertile time of year so that your crops in Q1 will be bigger and better!
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!