Dissecting & Optimising The Best-In-Class TOFU B2B Media Mix (April 2023 stats)

What are B2B marketers doing to drive their Top of Funnel (TOFU) marketing mix in 2023? According to the latest research from Insider intelligence, it's squarely into the world of social media. As you can see on the below graphic, according to B2B marketers in the USA, as of April 2023, 50% felt that social contributes the most to their TOFU goals. The traditional go-to channels of search, SEO and content have fallen down the pecking order, all of which got me thinking. What are the most effective top of funnel tactics in mid-2023?

At FunnelFuel, we're pretty ambivalent to the source of paid media and cary no bias - indeed we measure the performance of the full funnel across a diverse range of B2B clients, giving us a level of insight which is largely unmatched. We help clients measure a LOT of social media marketing, alongside plenty of the other big channels - paid search, programmatic, SEO, television, audio, Digital out of Home (DooH) and many more.

My personal view is that the B2B marketers are missing a trick with their skewed mix. I note that the 22% who answered ABM are going to fall into the below wheelhouse, as indeed can the slightly vague 'video' 30%, but essentially targeted display advertising outside of social doesn't feature in the list. However, a well-executed programmatic advertising approach, leveraging Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and contextual targeting, has emerged as a highly effective and impactful tactic for inserting a brand into the research journey of B2B buyers. Now my honest absolute best guess on the above data, is that the TOFU goals have not been tightly defined enough, and without knowing the direction of the TOFU goals, it is hard to determine how good any tactic is versus another, but when you have the chance to use a tactic which 'jumps the gun' by getting in front of prospects at the very start. of their research journey, in a sector which has very long sales cycles, then it cannot be overlooked.

Lets delve into the evidence supporting the notion that programmatic advertising can be one of the most efficient top-of-funnel tactic for B2B marketers.

  1. B2B Marketers' Allocation of Resources: According to research conducted by Insider Intelligence, B2B marketers are increasingly investing in upper-funnel programmatic marketing tactics to drive brand awareness and engage potential buyers. This includes allocating a significant portion of their budgets to social media advertising, content marketing, influencer marketing, and display advertising.
  2. The Rise of Programmatic Advertising: Programmatic advertising has gained immense popularity in recent years, transforming the way B2B marketers approach paid media campaigns. With programmatic, marketers can leverage data-driven automation to reach highly targeted audiences at scale, optimising ad placements and budgets in real-time.
  3. Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Approach: ABM has revolutionised B2B marketing strategies by focusing efforts on specific high-value accounts. By aligning programmatic advertising with ABM tactics, B2B marketers can target decision-makers and key stakeholders within their target accounts. This approach ensures that marketing efforts are directed towards the most relevant and influential audience, enhancing the effectiveness of top-of-funnel campaigns.
  4. Contextual Targeting: Contextual targeting allows advertisers to deliver relevant ads based on the content and context of the websites being visited by potential buyers. By aligning programmatic campaigns with contextual targeting, B2B marketers can insert their brand into the research journey of their target audience, reaching them at the right moment with personalised messages. This strategy enhances brand visibility, establishes credibility, and increases the likelihood of driving engagement and conversions.
  5. Supporting Evidence and Industry Reports: Several industry reports and studies support the effectiveness of programmatic advertising in driving top-of-funnel campaigns:
    1. According to a study by eMarketer (source: [2]), programmatic display advertising spending in the B2B sector is projected to reach significant heights in the coming years, indicating the growing confidence and success of this approach.
    2. A report by Dun & Bradstreet reveals that B2B marketers employing ABM strategies have experienced higher levels of customer engagement, improved lead quality, and increased marketing ROI.
    3. A study by Demandbase highlights that ABM-focused programmatic advertising generates higher click-through rates and greater engagement, leading to increased conversions and revenue.

SO what could a best in class Top of Funnel B2B paid media mix look like?

Besides what we saw in the above graphic, I'd venture that these 5 tactics have a lot to offer B2B marketers:

  1. Harnessing the Power of Targeted Programmatic Advertising: Targeted programmatic advertising, powered by advanced data-driven automation, has revolutionised the way B2B brands reach and engage their audiences. By utilising programmatic technology, brands can leverage comprehensive data insights to deliver personalised messages at scale, optimising ad placements and maximising campaign performance.
  2. Strategic Account-Based Marketing (ABM): ABM has emerged as a game-changing approach for B2B marketers. By aligning programmatic advertising with ABM strategies, leading brands can target high-value accounts and key decision-makers. This targeted approach ensures that ad placements are precisely tailored to reach the most influential stakeholders in the research journey, enhancing brand visibility and generating higher-quality leads.
  3. Contextual Targeting and Content Alignment: Contextual targeting allows B2B brands to deliver relevant ads based on the content and context of websites visited by their target audience. By aligning programmatic campaigns with contextual targeting and content alignment, brands can interject their messaging seamlessly into the research journey. This strategy enables them to position themselves as thought leaders and provide valuable insights to potential buyers at critical decision-making stages.
  4. Leveraging First-Party Data: Leading B2B brands understand the value of first-party data and use it to fuel their programmatic advertising campaigns. By utilising their own customer data and behavior insights, brands can precisely target prospects who align with their ideal customer profiles. This personalized approach helps increase relevancy, engagement, and conversion rates.
  5. Account-Based Retargeting: Account-based retargeting is an advanced tactic that further enhances the effectiveness of programmatic advertising. By tailoring ad content specifically for target accounts, brands can re-engage and nurture prospects who have already shown interest. This personalised retargeting strategy helps keep the brand top-of-mind during the research journey, driving higher conversion rates. Yes this may be associated with lower funnel activity, but it doesn't take much lateral thinking to slot in at the top of funnel either.
  6. Advanced Measurement, segmentation and Analytics: To optimise top-of-funnel paid media strategies, B2B brands rely on advanced measurement and analytics tools. By monitoring key metrics, such as impressions, click-through rates, lands, on-site goals and conversions, brands gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their campaigns. This data-driven approach allows for continuous optimisation and ensures that resources are allocated to the most impactful channels and messages

Conclusion: As B2B marketers strive to maximise the impact of their top-of-funnel campaigns, programmatic advertising, coupled with ABM and contextual targeting, emerges as a powerful strategy. By leveraging programmatic technology, B2B marketers can efficiently insert their brand into the research journey of potential buyers, capturing their attention and establishing meaningful connections. The evidence and industry reports discussed in this blog post demonstrate the effectiveness of programmatic advertising as the most efficient top-of-funnel tactic for B2B marketers. By adopting this approach, businesses can drive brand awareness, engage their target audience, and ultimately accelerate their growth in the dynamic B2B marketplace.



Implementing World-Class B2B Content Marketing To Move Your Marketing Needle

Welcome to our blog post on B2B content marketing! If you're in the world of business to business marketing, you're likely familiar with the term content marketing. But what exactly does it mean when it comes to B2B marketing? I’ll preface that the majority of what I’ll discuss today relates more to the impacts of content marketing on your B2B SEO, however we also cover the ability to propagate this world class content via paid media and organic channels to maximise its reach and its impact.

Dive deeper: An introduction to programmatic SEO and how you can use AI content writing technologies to create micro-nuanced content to dominate the search engines 

Content marketing is the use of high-quality content to attract, engage, and inform potential customers or clients. Creating content that stands out and delivers value is crucial for building relationships and driving sales. This post will provide insights and tips to help you get started, and to take your strategy to the next level. So, grab a cup of coffee, and let's dive in!

1. The Benefits of Implementing B2B Content Marketing

B2B content marketing is gaining traction as one of the most effective ways to generate leads among potential customers and prospects. It is cost-effective and has the potential to increase brand awareness in a big way. From syndication to content partnerships, through to dominating longer tail search queries which definite the deep nuances of your industry, world class content can position your business and brand in-front of potential new customers much earlier in a research journey then many other forms of marketing.

This is why, in our opinion,  every business needs to start investing in content marketing and combining it with B2B analytics if they want to grow their business through more effective marketing.

Content without the right analytics seriously dilutes the potential of what’s the content can be doing for your brand. With the right B2B analytics, you can measure the effectiveness of your content marketing whilst gaining huge insights into which companies are reading which bits of content - offering you a new approach to top of funnel marketing. You can make data-driven decisions about what works and what doesn't. You can create more targeted content that speaks to their needs and interests. You'll also have a better understanding of your target audience. This can help you build lasting relationships with your customers and grow your business, delivering the opportunity to position your brand as the specialist in your industry. If you're not already investing in B2B content marketing and analytics, now is the time to start.

I often think of a strong organic content model as being the opportunity to own the conversation with prospects who are just starting their research journey - and are at that stage where they do not necessarily have any understanding of the market participants and who the ‘big players’ are. At this stage in the journey, if your content is coming up to answer the key questions that these prospects are posing [to Google/their search engine of choice] then you get the first chance to make the all important first impression. Businesses can thus establish thought leadership in their industry using valuable and engaging content, and having being the ‘first port of call’ for the early-stage researcher, they have the chance to make a lasting impression, one which could and should last through to purchasing, even if that is a number of years down the road. This approach - high quality content addressing the full funnel,  helps you to build early trust with the audience. But how can businesses know what content resonates best with their target market? That's where B2B analytics comes in.
You can gain insights into what types of content their audience is interested in. This is done by analyzing metrics such as, website traffic, social media engagement and email open rates (yes you should be aiming to capture subscribers and then create automated content journeys, and use website personalisation triggers, but this is a whole topic in-itself)

With this information, businesses can create more targeted and effective content strategies. It allows for driven engagement and conversions. Using B2B analytics in your content marketing efforts is key for keeping up with changing consumer demands. This helps you to stay ahead of the competition.
Businesses can use data-driven insights to create effective strategies that promote their goals. Companies can identify which efforts are generating the most ROI and build upon those tactics for better results. This is done by tracking the performance of content. B2B analytics provides a powerful tool for optimizing content marketing. Enhanced strategies and creating more successful campaigns are just a bonus.

Learn more: Did you know that GA misreports many referring websites as ‘direct traffic’, giving you a false reading on your funnel? Lean more including the impact of dark social on B2B analytics

2. Using B2B Analytics to Create Engaging Content

B2B web analytics platforms like Journey by FunnelFuel combine over 200 data points. There is the chance to get lost in the data and measure data points which ultimately may not matter, yet clearly there’s lots of data within these platforms that can help you write better B2B content. Therefore its important to Identify the metrics that matter the most to your business. Content goals, such as website traffic, lead generation, and revenue are important for many but aren’t necessarily the metrics that you’d be tasked with delivering. It is also important to note, that as attractive as the above 3 goals may sound, they don’t necessarily combine. For example; a content approach tasked with driving upper funnel traffic could be targeting much vaguer keywords and topics then one which is optimised purely for leads and revenue. The latter may require really bespoke content which is aiming right into your deepest use cases, but these may be terms which have a lot less interested parties and thus their ability to drive meaningful traffic is much lower then their broader keywords with possibly less keywords in them. ‘Business hosting’ may capture lots of users and searches, but ‘Hosting for web security clients’ may gather the sorts of truly interested website visitors which could align with your offering and drive post-visit deeper engagement - into leads and sales.

1. Start by setting specific goals and KPIs for your campaigns, and track them.
2. Use analytics tools to measure these important metrics.
3. Collect data on lead generation and track the quality of your leads.
4. Use revenue data to measure the ROI of your campaigns and identify areas for

Google Analytics and SEMrush are two of the most used analytics tools for B2B marketers. And for good reason! These platforms offer a wealth of data and insights that can help you optimize your content marketing efforts. They help you get the most out of your campaigns. Google Analytics and SEMrush are instrumental in helping marketers track performance. They tell you what types of content attract the most attention and lead to conversions. It's essential for every B2B marketer to master the usage of these two platforms.

Learn more: Google analytics isn’t fit for purpose for B2B marketers - lets access its flaws and your options for a more all-encompassing platform to drive your success

So, we've established the importance of content marketing. Now let's talk about how we can make sure that the effort we put into creating compelling content is reaching our target audience.

3. Crafting Compelling Blog Posts
B2B content marketing can be challenging. There's an even bigger challenge when it comes to creating content that connects with your target audience. That's why it's crucial to understand your audience before you start writing your blog posts. Straight off the bat, it’s worth noting that the range of applicable topics and the volume of associated queries is often much much lower for B2B clients then our B2C cousins. I’d therefore encourage you to break topics into smaller parts then you may ordinarily do, letting you cover the detail whilst leaving other sub-niche parts of the topic to be covered in requisite detail another day.

You can identify the pain points, challenges, and interests of your target audience. This is done by conducting thorough research. This will help you create content that resonates with them and provides them with value. Utilizing B2B analytics can provide you with insights into what type of content is most effective and engaging to your audience, as well as which of your content writers is doing the best job of engaging. By combining data-driven insights, you can develop a winning content strategy.

Blog posts should use storytelling techniques to keep the audience engaged and interested. Descriptive language and real-world examples of how your product or service can help are key components for success. Anecdotes can be used to make a more personal connection with the reader. This allows them to relate on a deeper level to the content presented. Creating content is not just about showing your ideas or new concepts. The true goal of any content creation is to resonate with the reader.

4. Boosting Content Reach with Social Media Outreach

Great content is timely and expensive to produce and its important to consider the ability to drive ROI. ROI won’t come if your great content is read by nobody. I remember hearing on the industry circuit once that one major brand in the payments space was paying upwards of $500,000 per unique piece of content, which included fancy videos, interviews and other such expensive content forms. Their average number of views over a contents lifetime was <50. They’d need that content to work incredibly hard with each reader to get anywhere working with such low viewer numbers.

I have assumed for the most part in this blog post that the main focus is on creating content for search engine rankings (SEO), but we shouldn’t omit the ability to push our high quality content into social media - both your organisations own social as well as employees who may be willing to share it too.

Identify your target audience and tailor your social media strategy. Before you start any B2B content marketing, it is important that you know who your target audience is so you can create the right content for them. There is a high probability your marketing strategy will not achieve the results you want if you don't understand your audience after all.

Social media doesn’t have to be organic either. There are a multitude of ways to run some pretty discrete paid channels of media around good content including;

  1. Paid social promotions / boosts
  2. B2B influencer posts
  3. Other paid media like Native adverts

5. Engaging Your Audience with Videos and Graphics

Incorporating visuals in your content marketing strategy can increase audience engagement. It provides an effective medium for conveying complex information in a simplified way. Yet, to make the most of your content marketing strategy, you also need to leverage B2B analytics.
B2B analytics allows you to track the performance of your content marketing campaigns. It also makes data-driven decisions on how to optimize them for better results. With the right B2B analytics tools, you can gain insights into your audience's content preferences and behavior. This includes topics they find most engaging and which channels they prefer to receive content on. You can create a more effective content marketing strategy that resonates with your audience.
Creating videos and graphics that appeal to interests and preferences can help to establish a connection with them. Fostering brand loyalty and creating viral content is an added benefit. But how do you know which videos or graphics would resonate with your audience? That's where B2B analytics come in.
By analyzing data, you can gain insights into what types of content your audience prefers. This information can then influence your content creation strategy. This will then help you create more effective content. Don't underestimate the power of analytics! They can be the key to unlocking the full potential of your content marketing efforts.
B2B analytics tools offer the ability to track the success of your video and graphic content. This is done with view counts, engagement metrics, and conversions. It allows you to check what content works best with your target audience. You can then make necessary changes for future campaigns for more effective results. You are sure to maximize ROI and reach higher levels of success with a data-driven approach. Just make sure to use proper and reliable analytics.

6. Keeping Content Fresh and Relevant
If you're looking to install content marketing and B2B analytics then you should conduct regular content audits. This allows you to identify gaps in your current content strategy that need to be filled with new content. Paying attention to your audience's interests and pain points is essential. Once you understand them, you can then create content that resonates with the audience. This drives profitability for your business.

Be sure to use the appropriate metrics to measure the success of your content and make adjustments as necessary. When you take the time to invest in content marketing and B2B analytics, you'll be well on your way toward achieving your goals.

Identifying gaps in your current content strategy is critical if you want to stay ahead of the competition. Conducting regular content audits will allow you to identify areas that need improvement. This also paves the way for new opportunities that can be capitalized upon.

Thereafter, using data from B2B analytics should be an essential part of your content marketing. It plays a crucial role in any promotion strategy. This will ensure that the content you create reaches and applies to your audience. You will get a better return on investment from all aspects of your content marketing efforts. This all relies on a thorough understanding of what kind of content works best for your target customers.

Scaling B2B SEO; AI Content & Programmatic SEO Tactics To Dominate Search Engines & Lower SEM Costs

Of all of the marketing channels available to the modern B2B marketer, SEO in many ways remains one of the most perplexing - In many ways SEO still lives in an earlier incarnation of the internet where links are traded and dubious, hard to measure and hard to gauge tactics were used to try and dominate the SERPS. Yet SEO has vast potential to feed your marketing funnel and lower your SEM investment, whilst letting your brand benefit from the trust that high Google rankings can uniquely deliver.

When you add in that its often perceived that the query volume for B2B terms are too low, SEO falls into the back-burner of the different media approaches available. Yet when many of FunnelFuel's clients are able to invest upwards of $1m per month on paid search, its intriguing that the organic approach still remains such a small part of the bigger picture. Especially when the insights it brings can help with programmatic advertising and delivering content led experiences into the content web based on robust first party data.

The benefits are clear, but what does a modern B2B approach to SEO look like, leveraging AI content creation and programmatic SEO?

Today we're exploring the concept of programmatic SEO for B2B. You'll likely be much more familiar with the term 'programmatic' when it comes to media buying and programatic advertising, but the concept as it pertains to SEO is actually much more one of content generation, and leaning in on the ChatGPT led world of AI-content creation to cover more ground with many more highly optimised pages targeting specific keyword variations.

Therefore, arguable Programmatic SEO is the route to scaling SEO. To effectively expand your SEO, Programmatic SEO could be the answer. "All" you have to do is create a massive amount of pages - occasionally reaching hundreds of thousands - focusing on a single keyword pattern. Clearly this would be so incredibly cost inefficient and expensive in years gone by the tactic would never have even been considered, but again, now we live in a world where AI is making SEO-unique content (if not quite great content) available for pennies in the pound.

Therefore, previously, programmatic SEO was only accessible to organisations receiving content from user-generated sources (UGC), e-commerce vendors (products), or data providers (SaaS) since these companies did not have to produce content themselves. The major obstacle to SEO progression has been the generation of content.

Integrators faced a hindrance in generating content themselves despite being able to produce a plethora of standardised pages. Human written words are costly, human written words that you'd actually want your B2B prospects to read are cripplingly expensive

Content creation bottlenecks can be vastly reduced with AI tools, enabling companies to implement programmatic content effectively, even in the absence of user-generated content, products or data.

Besides boosting traffic, these tools allow companies to conduct SEO split tests on programmatic content, optimise longtail queries and enhance customer acquisition costs through retargeting. Therefore the modern marketer sees this programmatic SEO as a spearhead for their other biddable media channels, meaning an AI written longtail content piece could trigger a marketing cascade and deliver the right to play and address that topic.

Integrators can benefit from Programmatic SEO.

Employing programmatic SEO involves generating multiple pages with a uniform structure, aimed at capturing a particular search pattern.

Betterteam created a plethora of job description pages as an illustration.

Causal provides an extensive library of formulas for Excel and Google Sheets, consisting of a whopping total of 1,000 pages.

Gusto offers a multitude of payroll calculators designed for various states.

All three of these illustrations are not aggregators, but rather integrators. The method for generating content for each programmatic page varies significantly.

The process of generating programmatic content involves five steps that remain consistent.

  1. Establish a specific set of query syntax or patterns that align with your product.
  2. Determine the page elements (such as features) that cater to the users' purpose and those that have proven to be effective.
  3. The writers will then execute the content writing while the engineers may construct a calculator, as needed.
  4. Upon completion, the product will be shipped out for testing.
  5. Proceed with split testing procedures and make modifications accordingly.

The SEO strategy is centered around the product, which integrates the website as an essential component. The emphasis lies on creating landing pages instead of a content-oriented marketing approach that prioritises a content hub or blog.

Programmatic SEO is presented with a pair of fresh obstacles.

AI is revolutionising the way SEO works, as evidenced by one of the aforementioned examples utilising ChatGPT-4 to produce all its content. The success of this strategy has prompted some of my clients to adopt similar tactics, and it's likely that more companies will follow suit.

Nevertheless, there are two fresh obstacles that surface: ensuring high standards of quality on a larger scale and monitoring the traffic generated by less popular SEO keywords. The latter can open up the longtail of traffic but many of these terms will generate a handful of queries per year, so your usual approaches to monitoring their business impact need to reflect this challenge

CNET recently discovered that AI tools are prone to hallucinations and are not always accurate when it comes to simple facts. Although AI performed well, it still got basic facts wrong, which could be attributed to the lack of human quality control. This situation raises questions about the effectiveness of Google's fact-checking algorithms, but the overwhelming truth remains that editing and fact-checking cannot be automated at this time. This becomes a challenge if your objective is to create a LOT of content - the fact remains you cannot simply ask an AI tool to make content, and then simply copy, paste and publish.

When generating numerous pages with AI, whether it's a hundred or thousands, who assures that the information provided is precise and dependable?

Human editors remain the ultimate fix. While they can't comb through all pages, they can at least review a few samples. I believe that more scalable options for fact-checking will soon emerge in the market. In the meantime, plagiarism detectors such as Copyleaks, Unicheck, and similar tools can already offer some much-needed respite.

Some brands may take a more pragmatic approach. Putting the wider content live, with some robust sampling, and then editing, improving an enhancing the pages which start to get SERP traffic could offer a practical solution. If the page ranks, make it better, if it doesn't, leave it be until if/when it does. Circle back in 3 months and look at SEO data to check which pages are getting close to the ranking and traffic driving action, and then improve them.

Achieving better quality outcomes involves dedicating time towards refining the prompt. I've found that several individuals hastily settle for their initial results, without exploring other possibilities. It takes around 10-20 iterations, or sometimes more, to obtain favorable outcomes. When applied on a large scale, thorough testing and modification of the prompt yield significant benefits.

Due to privacy concerns within search console, monitoring longtail traffic has become quite arduous, with over 50% of queries being filtered. A large website belonging to one of my clients, which has hundreds of millions of indexed pages, obtains an excess of unaccounted for longtail traffic, rendering Search Console obsolete. Although the server-side can tackle traffic tracking alone, pinpointing longtail keywords and monitoring their ranking is a challenge beyond solution.

To optimise tracking, it is recommended to divide traffic and rankings measurement. Analyse the channel-based traffic for both organic and inorganic sources and rely on third-party trackers for monitoring keyword rankings. Often, using sound judgement can help determine which query a page is prioritising.

In my humble opinion, AI content has a bright future despite the new obstacles that may arise. Although it may shift search patterns slightly, the benefits of enhancing SEO efficiency through its implementation outweigh the potential drawbacks.