4 Tips for Improving your Paid Advertising with a great Inbound Marketing Strategy

There is a lot of great discussion taking place at the moment around the term “inbound marketing” and what it entails. I have talked previously on inbound marketing vs traditional SEO and recently presented an inbound marketing case study in London based on results we had generated using these tactics. During the recent discussion on SEOMoz, Ian Lurie made a great comment (one that more people should of picked up on):


When presenting my own strategies, I have used the hubspot definitions and counted paid advertising as outbound marketing. But as Ian point’s out above “Good display, smart retargeting and quality paid search all fit”. It makes sense to me. For the purpose of this post I am going to share 5 tips from personal experience of how creating an inbound marketing strategy can improve your paid advertising. If that paid advertising is called outbound marketing, paid advertising or inbound marketing, it doesn’t really matter, what matters is results.

1. Persona Development

Personas are nothing new, they are used in lots of different ways, to make sure you build a product that people want, to make sure your site is designed with target users in mind, and in marketing we develop buyer personas so we can market to them more effectively. The success of your inbound marketing strategy will be driven by content, so one of the first things an inbound marketing strategy will supply you with is buyer personas (may be called content personas). These are usually developed using information from your analytics package, social media monitoring, customer interviews and surveys (both internal and external). These are invaluable when building a paid advertising strategy. You can start to develop a strategy of where your message needs to be and what it needs to say. Does your persona hang out on Facebook, Twitter, news publications, niche publications. What message is going to attract a click and what should your landing pages look like when you attain that click. Grabbing a copy of the personas from the inbound marketing folk will really help focus your paid advertising strategy.

2. Google Retargeting

Although the CTR of display ads seems to be falling YoY, the spend on display seems to be increasing, one thing for sure is the technology around display let’s you do a lot more with your budget now. A great inbound marketing strategy will let you vastly improve your Google retargeting program.

Image credit: AdRoll.com

Retargeting allows you to serve relevant ads to users who have previously visited your site. You can create retargeting lists and assign people to those lists dependent on what pages they have visited. As part of your inbound marketing strategy you should be creating some really great content. This will allow you to offer relevant content like eBooks or whitepapers to users via retargeting, in order to grab contact details so you can drive them into your nurture campaigns. For example:

User A -> Visits your sites and looks at mountain bikes

User A -> Leaves site

User A -> See’s ads for eBook on 10 best holiday locations to mountain bike in Europe

Advertising a piece of content over a product page (e.g. buy this), tends to work better with display. You will get a better CTR and can drive more people into your funnel. Although these people are less “sales ready”, if you have really strong nurture programs (driving them to Facebook, or Email sign up, places they can stay engaged), it could be of more benefit in the long run.

3. LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn advertising should be part of most B2B marketing strategies. The ads can appear in two locations:

image credit andreavahl.com

The great things about LinkedIn ads is the targeting options. You have already developed personas and content specifically for them. With LinkedIn ads you can target by industry and job function. This really allows you to create a focused campaign. Keep in mind this awesome guide for writing headlines from CopyBlogger and you should see great results. I have seen LinkedIn ads perform 300% better than a standard display ad.

4. Twitter Advertising

Twitter offers 3 types of advertising, promoted tweets, promoted trends and promoted accounts. At this point in time it’s REALLY expensive to advertise on Twitter (in terms of having to allocate a certain amount of budget per quarter), but it can be pretty effective.

Promoted tweets are a great way to support your inbound marketing strategy.

You can:

a. Promote to followers: You can promote tweets about your best content (I recommend things like eBooks were you are looking to capture a soft lead) and ensure the tweet appears top of your followers feeds when they login. A great way to get instant visibility.

b. People who are like your followers: Better still you can now target users who have similar characteristics to your followers. This is a pretty awesome enhancement from Twitter as it ensures your promoted tweet get’s extra visibility. It’s similar to how Google now let’s your target users who are similar to the retargeting lists you have built.

c. Keywords: Of course you can also target users based on keywords and ensure your tweet appears top for certain searches.

The great thing about sponsored tweets is you can use them to test what type of content resonates with your audience and use that feedback to produce more of what works.

I have also seen really impressive CTR rates from Twitter. A lot better than standard display, but then it’s difficult to a straight comparison as you are offering content, when display campaigns tend to try drive through to an offer.

Anything I have missed, or I should be adding to my paid advertising strategy, please let me know in the comments.

About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.