Through no ill-intent, B2B-centric content has often been eschewed in favour of more glamorous B2C presentations at our conferences. Much of what we present is certainly applicable in a B2B marketing environment, but our solutions less relatable and associations less clear.

It was with that in mind, and partnering with our new friends at Welocalize, that the International B2B Advertising Summit 2019 came about. Set across two days - first at LinkedIn’s Farringdon HQ, and then at Google’s towering Pancras Square complex - our inaugural event for a B2B audience sought to redress the balance.

All in all it was a successful trip to London, with many of the attendees offering kind words to say:

“I thought the conference was a fantastic event which enabled me to meet others in my line of work, and learn so much about products we use regularly. To have greater insights on how Google and Linkedin work in the general realm of B2B advertising, and hearing from industry leaders on best practices was an extremely enriching experience.”
Karan Khaitan, LoopUp

For those who couldn’t make it, and for those who are keen for a recap of what was covered, here’s a summary of the two-day event.

LinkedIn 14th November

Why LinkedIn?

Jessie Nolan, LinkedIn

Jessie Nolan from LinkedIn kicked off the two-day event with an introduction to LinkedIn and why it’s considered THE platform for B2B advertising. Important to Jessie is LinkedIn’s large (655+ million) and high-quality audience, as well as the platform’s wealth of 1st party data.

Everyone who uses LinkedIn has a purpose, says Jessie; to learn, to discover now opportunities and to connect with people in their network. Indeed, LinkedIn users are 1.7 times more likely to be intent driven, and it is considered to be the most trusted social platform.

LinkedIn Product Roadmap 2020

Jen Bunting, LinkedIn

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Jen Bunting, LinkedIn’s Head of EMEA Product Marketing, further confirmed the platform’s focus on quality; the right audience reached in the right way.

Talking us through LinkedIn’s 2020 Product Roadmap, Jen made it clear that the ads they develop can’t be disruptive and out of place. Instead, they should feel like they belong. And with that in mind, LinkedIn’s Product Roadmap adhere to three “key pillars”:

  1. Delivering Engaging Experiences; for professionals in the right context
  2. Expanding Relationships; between businesses and professionals
  3. Realising Value; through our advertisers experience and products

And while the nature of a product roadmap means we can’t divulge all the information, the above presentation contains information about several upcoming LinkedIn features, including; New LinkedIn Pages, Product Notifications, LinkedIn Live, Feed Updates, Video Ad Updates, Conversation Ads, LinkedIn Events, B2B Reviews, Nurture Targeting, Audience Insights and Account-Level Reporting.

With so much set to come from LinkedIn across the next 12 months and beyond, one consistent theme emerged; the importance of video. Video, according to Jen, is becoming crucial to standing out on LinkedIn; it has a 30% higher engagement rate than static imagery.

The 5 Principles of Growth in B2B Marketing

Hayley Rubinstein & Jessie Nolan, LinkedIn

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Returning to the stage, Jessie - this time joined by Hayley - delved into three of ‘The 5 Principles of Growth in B2B Marketing’, a recent report researched and published by LinkedIn’s The B2B Institute.

According to LinkedIn, the 5 principles are as follows:

  1. Invest in Share of Voice; In B2B brands that set their share of voice above their share of market tend to grow.
  2. Balance Brand and Activation; In B2B, brands should balance the budget between long-term brand building and short-term sales activation with a 50/50 split.
  3. Expand Your Customer Base; In B2B, customer acquisition strategies tend to be much more effective than loyalty strategies.
  4. Maximize Mental Availability; In B2B, campaigns that aim to increase a firm’s share of mind are the most effective, and the more famous they make the company, the better the business results.
  5. Harness The Power of Emotion; In B2B, emotional messaging is more effective in the long-term, and rational messaging is more effective in the short-term.

In summary, LinkedIn’s report finds that ‘a number of key growth drivers in B2C marketing also work for B2B businesses and by implication that there is much greater commonality in best practice across B2C and B2B sectors than is usually believed.’

Panasonic Case Study

Rob Wilde, SearchStar

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Rounding out the first day was SearchStar’s own Rob Wilde, talking about our work with Panasonic and, in particular, the Panasonic Toughbook.

In their brief to us, Panasonic highlighted their desire for a pan-European campaign that would reach decision makers using an Account Based Marketing approach. It was essential that the data drawn down from initial customer engagements connected to Panasonic’s sales revenue pipeline.

In Rob’s words, our solution was five-fold:

  1. Leverage LinkedIn matched audiences
  2. Overlay specific targeting
  3. Create a bespoke Panasonic Lead Gen Ad format
  4. Consider customer experience
  5. Connect the data

Google 15th November

Breaking Ground in B2B 2020

Roxanne Brownlee, Google

Roxanne started by echoing our fears that we’ve spent too much time talking B2C, and not enough time on B2B. In actual fact, Roxanne stated her excitement about B2B because of how much it’s changed. According to Roxanne, those more acute to change tend to adapt better and thrive longer.

And there are 3 key points that stand out to Roxanne as making all the difference in B2B this year and next; Digital Dependence, Great Expectations and a Healthy Disregard for Borders.

The average person in the UK spends 9 hours a day online. What does that show? It shows that at the end of every business is a human making decisions. What’s more important? That we know someone’s broad demographic (age, job, location), or that we have a deeper understanding of their interests?

Fundamentally, Google has that information as technology has transformed our research behaviours. And B2B is no different; 3 in 5 begin their B2B buying process online, and if a prospect is talking to a sales rep, they’re already 60% of the way through their buying process.

The message is clear; if your online presence is not maximised, you’re probably missing out on a lot of opportunities. We’re not doing digital marketing any more, we’re marketing in a digital world.

The State of B2B Advertising

Dan Fallon, SearchStar

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Up next was Dan with a brief overview of the current state of B2B advertising. And he was very clear that the efficiency of advertising wasn’t special any more. Instead, we need to push beyond and do more to drive demand at the top of the funnel.

Don’t go looking for growth at the bottom of the funnel. Instead, focus on an emotional approach - yes even in B2B - which has been shown to generate longer term demand and affinity. As markets mature, sales activation alone is no longer enough. Growth comes from developing fame and reputation and that’s what we should aspire to, even if it isn’t always achievable.

Having said that, Dan was careful to highlight that PPC was still relevant - if not essential - today, even in B2B. According to Dan, there is search our there for everyone - it might only be a small amount, but it’s money well spent if you can find it.

Solving the Challenges of B2B Marketing

Mike Sharp and Harry Martin, SearchStar

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It’s a common misconception that marketing is designed for B2C. In reality, B2B marketers face many of the challenges B2C marketers do - we’re all people after all.

With that in mind, Mike and Harry - in their first double-act appearance - applied the principles of Google’s 4 As Framework - Assets, audience, Automation and Attribution - to the world of B2B. And in doing so they shared a series of essential tips, tricks and solutions to marketing problems faced by businesses every day all included in their presentation.

The Importance of Culturalisation

Chui Chui Tan, Beyo Global

In her incredibly interesting talk, Chui Chui Tan explored the importance of culturalisation, and why taking into account numerous cultural factors is essential when going international.

According to Chui Chui it’s vital that businesses start by designing a good end-to-end customer experience and be able to communicate effectively. For instance, a hotel would need to get their room booking process perfected before tackling things from a global perspective.

From there, Chui Chui highlighted the importance of “micro elements” when moving from one market to another. What requirements does that particular market have? What are their concerns? What channels are they familiar with? Do they have a preferred payment method?

Being successful globally is about understanding your customers in those markets on a deeper level and catering to their specific tastes. Get it wrong and things could go very badly indeed. You need to combine market insights with behavioural insights and cultural insights.

Chui Chui provided many examples of this and where companies might trip up. For instance, while tanning products are massive in the West, skin whitening products are popular in most Asian countries. That’s market insight.

In fact, most Asians try their best to hide from the sun when it’s out - parasols are popular, and people even go to the extent of wrapping their faces in towels to avoid tanning. That’s behavioural insight.

And finally cultural insight. It may sound a little close to the wind for us, but fair skin in Asia harks back to a time when the rich and wealthy would appear fairer because they didn’t have to slave away under the hot sun. But in a western nation, having tanned skin might show off the fact you’re wealthy enough to go on holiday.

How Effective Measurement Enables Global Website Improvements

Ryan Webb, SearchStar and Matt Cooksley, Grant Thornton

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For his first of two appearances, Ryan was joined on stage by Grant Thornton’s Matt Cooksley for a look at SearchStar’s work to streamline and improve their global Analytics implementation.

In this talk, Ryan explored 3 key themes; the importance of an Analytics set up that works, the impact of great reporting dashboards, acting on the insight derived.

Firstly, a robust Analytics set up is key because of the actionable insight and accurate data it can provide you with as a businesses. You need to have faith in your data if you’re going to act upon that information effectively.

Secondly, great reporting dashboards can take you on a journey from diverse data points to full connected wisdom. And it is by getting as far along this journey as possible that can make actions like stakeholder buy in and reporting that much better.

And thirdly, it’s absolutely vital to act upon that wisdom. Don’t squander it. And that’s where conversion optimisation comes in. Fundamentally, you need to use the insight you’ve derived from your beautifully presented dashboard to inform user experience developments.

From Localisation to Digital Transcreation

Rawad Jammoul, Adapt Worldwide and Ryan Webb, SearchStar

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When it comes to memorable stage duos, Morecambe and Wise have nothing on Rawad and Ryan. The pair took us on a fantastic tour around the world of localisation and transcreation to uncover exactly what is meant by these two terms and how they can be employed to turbocharge international growth.

Ryan first introduced us to the opportunity presented by an increase in “local” searches, such as those containing the phrase “near me”. Paired with the wealth of location data that Google holds on its users, these searches can power better ad targeting, ad messaging and more relevant landing page content.

This form of “localisation” can certainly have a massive impact on the performance of advertising activities but, as Rawad was keen to point out to Ryan, this isn’t his understanding of what the term means.

For Rawad, localisation is about taking brands to new international markets in a way that’s sensitive to the local language, culture and audience behaviour in those markets. Translation is one aspect of localisation but really what’s needed for it to be effective is digital transcreation.

That is, translation and content creation that meets the need to be sensitive to the nuances of local language, culture and behaviour in order to better reach and resonate with local audiences.

It’s not enough to literally translate English ad campaigns into another language and expect them to perform well. Google isn’t the dominant search engine in all countries - Yandex is the leader in Russia. Naver is big in South Korea, and in the Czech Republic, it’s all about Seznam.

Without understanding the differences between markets and how best to operate in each, performance is never going to be optimal. But if you do pay attention to these things, the benefits are tangible, providing better reach (in the form of improved keyword selection), better CTR (in the form of more relevant ad copy), higher Quality Score, better conversion rates and more revenue.

The Future of Work

Hugh Dickerson, Google

Hugh finished off our two day extravaganza with a thoughtful and insightful consideration of the future of work. In his words, “co-working as a term is a phenomenon”, and the very nature of work is changing before our very eyes. But it’s only now that we’re truly able to see and appreciate it.

According to Hugh, B2B customers perform a third of their work away from the office, the equivalent of 90 billion emails annually. The reason? Technology.

Back in “the day”, you couldn't lift your filing cabinet or computer. You could barely raise your mobile phone to your ear. If you didn’t get your faxing done before 5pm it was never seen again, forever consigned to the void behind the cabinet the machine lived upon.

Now everything is automated, gone are the days of deals discussed over 3 hours of lunch and wine. But what connects all of this? Time, of course. And it has 3 main implications...

  1. You can and should reach audiences outside of 9-5
  2. Consider the new boardroom; many more touchpoints
  3. Embrace becoming a digital storyteller

Fundamentally, 95% of B2B customers use connected devices to do their jobs with 10 used per person on average. Importantly, Millennials now make up 35% of the workforce meaning you can no longer afford to focus on a single device.

We’ve created a blurring of work and personal life. While your top account customer is deciding what office space to rent, at the same time they’re booking a skiing trip to Val d’Isere. Four in 5 use personal devices for work and 70% use work devices for personal things. There’s no longer a clear delineation between what’s personal and what’s for work

You need to broaden where you market to B2B people. In truth they’ve got 8 tabs open for personal stuff on their work laptop. And if we can no longer rely on the way we’ve built relationships, we need to adopt a new way of digital relationship building. Building stronger relationships will be about digitally telling your story; crucially, through video.

A Final Word

A big thank you to all our speakers, everyone who attended, and all who made sure that the summit was another fantastic SearchStar event. If you have any questions, feedback or thoughts you’d like to pass on, get in touch here >>>