Technology B2B Marketing Brand Strategy

Reach, frequency & branding – 3 key elements for cashing in on creativity, finds LinkedIn


By Preethi Ravi | Journalist

March 21, 2023 | 10 min read

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Did you know that 71% of B2B ads are unlikely to drive any sales impact? It’s because these ads are unmemorable and lack creativity, finds research from LinkedIn.

Mental availability is the most important concept in advertising today, suggests LinkedIn research

Mental availability is the most important concept in advertising today, suggests LinkedIn research

Business-to-business (B2B) buyers want more than just facts about the products they buy, they also want to be engaged and educated in a memorable way. Marketing requires human-to-human connection; it’s no different with B2B marketing. B2B brands can leverage their most powerful strategic asset – creative advertising – with great effect. And that’s true for any brand, in any category, in any market, if deployed correctly.

Creative remains the undisputed champ in terms of sales drivers. Research from Nielsen Catalina Solutions indicates that almost half (47%) of sales contribution is affected by creative, 22% reach and 15% brand factors like price and penetration – all of which affect the overall result.

Seeking to flip B2B marketing’s creativity crisis on its head, LinkedIn research Cashing in on Creativity finds creative to be the biggest contributor to the success of an ad campaign with an ability to drive up to 10-20x more sales. Emotional impact has shown to be a key differentiator for results, with higher click-through rates, lead gen form, conversion rates, and follower acquisitions.

“What we tend to forget is that buyers of tech stacks and software are not just demographic data points, but are individuals with emotions, preferences, and a need for connection,” says Pooja K Dhanothia, director, APAC lead of enterprise client solution, marketing solutions at LinkedIn. “By tapping into the emotional needs of their customers, B2B brands can create a resonance that goes beyond the transaction, leading to repeat business and increased brand recognition.

“Brands can maximize their growth by being ‘easy to mind’ and ‘easy to find’. Therefore, emotionally resonant creative can make a brand more mentally available, ensuring that it quickly comes to mind during purchase decisions.”

Creativity lends to long-term growth and brand building

According to research from LinkedIn’s B2B institute, with creative pre-testing company System1, 77% of B2B ads score 1 (lowest) on a 1-5 scale of creative effectiveness whereas for business-to-consumer (B2C), that number is 53%. Most B2B ads used generic formulas such as voice overs, stock images, block text, they don’t show their logo until the very end, and few have story arcs.

This presents a huge opportunity for B2B marketers and shows that despite all the advancements in adtech over the past few years, if your creative isn’t resonating with your audience, it’s irrelevant.

Monica Bhatia, head of South East Asia and Korea at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, suggests four key metrics when measuring ads:

  1. Ad recognition: what percentage of potential buyers recognize having seen this ad?

  2. Ad recall: what percentage of potential buyers correctly link this ad to the advertiser?

  3. Ad likeability: how do potential buyers score this ad on a scale of 1-5?

  4. Ad clarity: what do you think the key message of the advertising is?

“B2B marketers have been historically guilty of a tunnel-vision focus on product-led messaging, leaving little room for investment in creative brand building,” says Bhatia. “Brands need to build mental availability which requires distinctiveness and clear branding. This means that marketing attention should be focused on building these assets so that a brand is easier to buy, for more people and in more buying situations. No marketing activity, including innovation, should be seen as a goal in itself, its goal is to hold on to or improve mental and physical availability.”

Brand marketers gain seat at the revenue generating table

B2B marketers are not just storytellers but strategists who are transforming their organizations into innovative and customer-centric businesses. One of the most powerful ways a marketer gains their seat at the revenue generating table is by embracing performance branding.

“Performance branding is the art of telling purpose-driven brand stories, one metric at a time,” suggests Dhanothia. “By breaking down silos between brand and performance marketing and focusing on the metrics that matter most to the CFO – such as customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, and ROI – you can demonstrate the impact that marketing is having on the bottom line and create more efficient and effective marketing campaigns that drive measurable business outcomes.”

Engaging prospects across multiple touchpoints

For a successful creative campaign, scaling the brand across multichannel approaches yields results. For example, Publicis Media was appointed by a client in digital payments to scale its brand message across key Asia Pacific markets. By adding LinkedIn Audience Network (LAN) to the mix, the agency was able to drive more views.

Using the same targeting criteria as its ongoing LinkedIn campaign, LAN was used to serve ads to the same target audience when they were active on other sites, effectively increasing video views by 61% and growing campaign reach for the brand by 16% without impacting audience quality.

For B2B marketers to amplify their creative campaigns, engaging prospects across multiple touchpoints throughout their decision journey is key for B2B marketers to amplify their creative campaigns and efficiently achieve their marketing goals. Tools like LAN are effective in enabling businesses to reach their targeted professional audiences across multiple touchpoints and in different trusted environments to boost performance across advertising objectives.

LinkedIn’s Bhatia says that audience network-enabled campaigns see up to 25% more reach, while also enabling businesses to be prepared for the third-party cookie deprecation and the loss of Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA): “LAN uses LinkedIn’s exact same first-party data. Advertisers can harness the power of LinkedIn’s B2B dataset through privacy-enhancing solutions like Group Identity, to accelerate their marketing outcomes across a network of vetted publishers, all while keeping member privacy at the forefront.”

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Creative formula for stories that sell

LinkedIn’s research suggests three key elements for an effective B2B ad:

  • Situation increases relevance – ads with clear, present branding are far more likely to build strong memory structures that link your brand to relevant buying situations

  • Creativity increases attention – powerful creative can be 10-20 times more sales effective. Brand building along with creative storytelling is critical to capture the attention of B2B audiences

  • Branding increases attribution – tell a story about a character in a relevant buying situation, using emotion, heavy branding, and a memorable soundtrack.

Research recommends branding early, regularly and creatively to ensure buyers are reached early to “increase the probability a brand comes to mind in a buying situation”. This mental availability, LinkedIn says, is the best working explanation for how advertising works: by building or refreshing memories in a buyer’s mind that influence future sales.

The creative process must be systematized, managed, and improved just like any other valuable business process. B2B marketers must be bold and brave with their creative to unlock results.

“You must be willing to take risks, try new things, and step out of your comfort zone. While achieving brand fame takes time, creative consistency and investment, the rewards can be enormous,” concludes Dhanothia. “And once you achieve brand fame, you'll have a competitive advantage that endures over time.”

To learn more about the research from LinkedIn, including the creative formula for effective B2B ad campaigns, visit here Cashing in on Creativity.

Technology B2B Marketing Brand Strategy

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