We often see marketing teams suffer from analysis paralysis when it comes to launching their targeted B2B advertising campaigns. To be sure, the pressure is on for all marketers to show strong returns on their ad investments. But it’s important not to let perfection be the enemy of good. That’s because, particularly in digital advertising, the reach for perfection often backfires.
When we overthink a campaign, we end up trying to serve too many needs. We aim to increase awareness and engagement and conversion all at once. And we put forth brand messages that pile on product messages, as well as third-party validation and whitepaper offers. And we also try to ensure that the digital marketing team, the product marketing team, and the sales team are all getting their needs met. The end result is often a disjointed advertising campaign with too many messages, too many calls to action, and just an all-too-confusing experience.
For a number of decades now, marketers–and buyers–have been conditioned to believe that what people really want is more choice. More choice in what content to consume, which clothes to wear, which of the 25 new genres on Spotify to listen to, and what coffee to drink, whether a double caramel macchiato, a vanilla latte, or a triple espresso. We live in The Cambrian Era of Choice, an era in consumerism where we’re experiencing an explosion of product diversity for a prolific number of potential experiences triggered by nuanced choices that we can make at any chosen moment in time.
But this never-ending array of choices results in cognitive overload. That’s because, according to Cognitive Load Theory, people can only process information into long-term memory or short-term memory, but not both. This means that when we’re asking our audience to consider storing information into their long-term memory (like brand differentiator factoids) and also into their short-term memory (like a whitepaper download), you’re sending conflicting stimuli. The reality is, they can only process one set of information, and the other acts as a distraction, reducing the effectiveness of your message.
Consider also the paradox of choice, a phenomenon that occurs when people are presented with too many options. Instead of making them happy and ensuring they get what they want, it stresses them out and actually stifles their decision making. Add to this that we all have shorter attention spans than ever. (I often tell Demandbase customers that the average attention span of an internet user is about a nanosecond.)
So how do we combat all of these forces–cognitive overload, the paradox of choice, and short attention spans–from working against us? By keeping our B2B advertising campaigns as simple as possible. I recommend verbatim repetition of the same basic message throughout the entire ad experience, from impression to click-to-action.
I know, I know. You have a lot to say and just a few pixels to say it in. You have a lot of stakeholders to please, initiatives to push forward, and KPIs to move up and to the right. But if you resist the impulse to serve all these masters in any one given campaign, you’ll have greater success with your digital campaigns across the board.
Either look to drive awareness, engagement, or conversion, but never all three at one time. Each type of campaign will be measured by different goals. Also, remember that whatever campaign you build, it cannot meet the needs of every internal department. Finally, identify the value of your message: You’ll want to address the needs of your audience within their customer journey.
A tip about brand messaging: Try not to get into detail about your brand until you’ve moved a prospect lower in the funnel. Upper-funnel campaigns should focus on customer needs, not your features and functionality. You’re building a relationship with the user in upper and mid-funnel campaigns.
A wise old marketer once told me that if you want to build a relationship, “put a mirror in front of your prospect’s face.” Reflect back to the user that you feel their pain and you’re here to help, even without them having to do business with you. This is where all the how-to’s and best practices come in handy.
It should be abundantly clear to the contact what exactly is waiting for them on the other side of that click. Don’t use “Learn More” if you’re going to ask them to download something. Instead, use “Download”.
For example, use “Got Stable Network Redundancy?” in the ad and “How to Get Stable Network Redundancy” on the landing page. While they are slightly different, you’ll want to keep headlines across channels, especially on both the ad and the landing page, as similar as possible.
Don’t fall for the “more is more” mentality. Don’t try to be all things to all people in any one B2B advertising campaign. Clear goals, simple and consistent messages across the experience, and singular calls to action are the way to combat both cognitive overload and the choice paradox, not to mention the nanosecond of attention the prospect is likely to give you.