Managing Digital Marketing Teams: In-House vs. Agency

Managing Digital Marketing Teams: In-House vs. Agency

You need more: bandwidth, expertise, results. Should you build out your team? Hire an agency? Automate? While there are advantages and disadvantages of each path, the likely answer is a combination of all three.

This guide will help you understand the tradeoff of each option and create an actionable plan for better results from your digital marketing programs.

In-house vs. agency marketing: what’s the difference and what is better?

In-house marketing refers to marketing that takes place in your own company (e.g. SEO, content production or branding). Agency marketing would be outsourced to an external company. 

So how do you determine what is better? We’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of all potential scenarios, but we think Eric Vardon said it well:

“It’s crucial to weigh both sides to see what’s right for you. So, as you review your strategy for next year and the years to come, make sure that your money is invested where your brand will see the greatest return. The right decision will be the one that allows you to focus on what you do best: selling, closing leads, and growing and operating your profitable business.”

Even the smallest team is going to have someone internally at the company who is responsible for the digital marketing efforts. By running things internally, you have a closer connection to the rest of the business and reduce friction but there are trade offs. Here are some of the pros and cons of doing things internally.

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Advantages of in-house marketing

Dedication

Marketing professionals in-house know the company and its mission much more intimately than an external worker-- it's only natural that they would put their heart and soul into the work. The company’s success is important to an in-house team, and the dedication and interest in their work will show that. It’s also easier to stay motivated and keep focus when working with an internal team, which can only be a positive thing.

Brand familiarity

In house teams know your brand and in many cases will be much more effective as a result. Having a team of copywriters or brand marketers particularly in-house is advantageous because they understand the company’s product, culture, and philosophy. This ensures that the best approach for your company is used for your content. Pick the right team and let them be in charge. They will know the most about what to say, how to say it, and who your target audience should be. Your employees get to know your service and product better than it would be possible for external consultants. Internal teams will also be more motivated to make every campaign excellent, which will reflect positively on the quality and level of performance you can see from your marketing strategies.

Communication and accessibility

Naturally, since in-house marketing teams spend all of their time working on one brand, you can easily get a hold of them and communication is usually quick and easy. Agencies can be hard to reach because they're not working exclusively on one brand and they often have to plan production timelines weeks or even months in advance. 

Common goals

When outsourcing to an external agency, they could have existing relationships with one of your competitors or establish new connections that you weren't even aware of. It’s important to be aware of your agency’s client list as much as possible and avoid marketing firms that have worked with competitors who hit too close to home. You’ll have a greater likelihood of getting quality, personalized work if your agency has worked near your space, but not with a direct competitor.

Another factor to consider is how agency partners work internally on their end. In order for agencies to provide the best service, they will often keep fulfillment teams completely separate from clients which can sometimes lead to work that is redundant, lazy, and simply not customized enough to you. Agencies who specialize in a single industry are also often known for “rinse and repeat”ing the same marketing strategies. So businesses are often left with the choice to either work with agencies who are not the best fit for their needs, or take the risk in trusting that a more specialized agency is indeed giving them custom work and not putting a new label on campaigns they’ve already run for other clients.

When working with your internal team, none of this is a concern of course, as all parties have the same common, shared goal: make the company successful. The right agency partners can provide this too, but it is certainly harder to come by with an outsourced team, than one that is directly employed by the company.

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Drawbacks of in-house marketing

Focus and monotony 

It can sometimes be challenging to focus on a single thing for a very long time. Especially when employees could potentially get bored and not like the work, as there is no guarantee whoever you hire for an internal team will automatically fall in love with the company and their position. Too much monotony, repetition, or boredom fosters an environment of less creativity and bad habits. This will result in your team losing sight of the big picture. Keep abreast to how your team is doing as individual people, and make assignments or projects as diverse as possible to keep things spicy. In many cases, a positive work routine with a healthy amount of variety can not only help managers and employees to be more confident about the work that they do, but also make decision making processes faster, as well as ensure consistency throughout the company. 

Finite resources

In order to create high-quality marketing material and run a successful advertising campaign, you will need lots of talent on your team, or be prepared that the amount of work produced has its limits…based on simply the number of people you have. If you don’t have enough talent available in-house to get a particular task done, the next best option is to hire an ad agency, and for many companies this is where a combination of both internal and external teams is the best choice. If you opt for this route, let your in-house teams manage the direction and vision of your marketing campaigns, and then fill in gaps in resourcing from your agency partners.

Less flexibility

The brass tacks truth is…if an agency’s work doesn’t pay off, it’s far easier to terminate your relationship with them than it is to let go of even one employee. Now, it’s still not pleasant or fun to onboard agencies to your company’s process every three to six months, so finding a long-term partner in that respect is still the best way to go when looking at agencies as well as internal hires. 

But especially an in-house marketing team is built with long-term strategy in mind, so as long as you are careful and thoughtful during the hiring process, having your own people is often well worth the risk. Keep in mind that recruiting and training a new team member can also be a slow and arduous process so ramp up time must be built into your timelines and projections. Once onboarded however, a quality internal team member can add more value in a short period of time far more than most agencies.

Advantages of utilizing agencies for digital marketing

Less investment upfront

Doing an in-depth cost analysis of what’s the lowest investment between all options we’re looking at for resourcing your marketing is not a straightforward process by any means. While in-house employees tend to “cost” more than an agency initially in terms of salaries, your bottom line could end up bearing the burden of that cost savings in the long run from poor performance, fewer deliverables, or simply a lack of familiarity with your brand and your company’s needs. However, what agencies can offer that outshines internal teams is that they can offer many services for a lower overall fiscal investment. If your company is a startup or on the smaller side, and budgets are tight, using an agency only may be the best bet for you. Many marketing firms are open to customizing their packages so it works within your budget and you can always renegotiate the contract if you would like to increase or decrease spend. But be sure to have a lawyer review all documentation before going into an agreement, as it is fairly standard in the industry to build in cancellation fees or a required percentage of buyout for early termination. To give you a rough idea of what hiring in-house may be for some of the professionals you would be able to work with through an agency, we’ve outlined below a few common salaries in the U.S. (updated June 2022)

If you take the median of these salaries, you will get an average salary of $100,000 per year. If you had a team of 3-6 people, it would not be surprising to put aside anywhere from $300,000-$600,000 per year in salaries, not including benefits like 401K, equipment, healthcare, or any other company perks. 

In comparison, digital marketing agency fees can range anywhere from $50,000 per year to a $1,000,000 per year or more…depending on your needs. Keep in mind that this does not include paid media spend as well, which often requires a somewhat significant investment. From a fiscal perspective, the outcome for your business could vary drastically between an agency being far more cost-effective than an in-house team clear up to the two scenarios costing about the same, or even an agency costing your business more than full-time hires. In most cases, agency work will come out to be cheaper, but as we list here there are trade offs, so be leery of making this decision fiscally first. Ideally the overall cost ought to be the last consideration after all other factors have been weighed and measured.

Fewer administrative headaches

Agency marketing is great because of the level of freedom and flexibility it can offer. There’s very little hassle for the client in terms of resourcing because if an agency takes on more work than they can handle, filling that workload is ultimately the agency’s problem. This step removed can be a huge burden lifted for many business owners. Not to mention, you don't have to worry about issues like employee turnover, which is a consideration when hiring people on staff. An agency ensures your strategy is never put on hold. However, statistically marketing agencies have some of the highest turnover rates out there, so while your work will never stop i.e. there will always be someone to do the work–the person fulfilling your work is likely to change often, which could affect quality. 

More varied and diverse expertise

By partnering with a marketing agency, you have the chance to choose from some of the best marketing companies in the industry. In terms of marketing as a topic at large, you’ll usually get excellent broadstroke marketers that have done a little bit of a lot of things. Because agency professionals have to be flexible enough to work with a myriad of businesses at once, they tend to understand the mechanics of marketing and on-the-ground execution quite well. Agency pros are also often on the cutting-edge of great marketing strategies and techniques and they have unique insight working alongside dozens of other marketing professionals, all day every day. This provides a passive knowledge-sharing and training that most marketers can only get in an agency environment…as it is quite rare for in-house teams to be big enough that they have the same level of diversity in expertise among their team members. 

Potential disadvantages of agency marketing

Lack of industry knowledge

Some agencies have only been active in a handful of industries, while others work with almost anyone and everyone so they have shallow, broad knowledge of many industries. If you come from a niche industry, it may be the case that some agency marketers know nothing about your field. Consider this and other circumstances when seeking marketing help. It is worth looking at their previous work to establish whether they have dealt with clients from your particular field before or whether they have a close enough relationship to your marketing strategies that the learning curve will not be too steep and painful. Kate Churkina of SEMRush said about this,

“Just because one solution worked for one client in a certain industry doesn’t mean it’s suitable for another client in a completely different industry. Failing to understand the nuanced parts of your client’s business can often lead to unforeseen obstacles during the course of a project and leaves your client questioning your every move.”

It’s important to keep in mind that when you start working with a new marketing agency, they need quite a bit of guidance, so have patience and plan accordingly. As you get to know them better and vice versa, eventually you will be able to step back and let them do most of the work, as any agency worth their salt will take your feedback over time and responsively adjust. While it takes time for the agency’s various specialists to get your brand tone, message, and creative direction just right, if they are well-managed and well-structured…it will improve over time, and they could even become a natural extension of your company.

Agency teams are often stretched thin

It is not uncommon for marketing agency teams to have too many customers and not enough people to support them. A recent study indicated that agency account managers may need to manage as many as 14 accounts on average. Having so many people to correspond with, so many objectives to reach, and so many projects to oversee is a recipe that can sometimes lead to project deadlines being pushed and missed.

An agency should set realistic deadlines and prioritize client work according to expectations that are clearly laid out from the beginning. Most companies are realistic about the fact that they are trading lower costs for longer timelines, but that of course is tied to the caveat that those timelines will still be clear and agreed upon. Communication is key. When shopping for an agency partner, consider the number of clients a marketing agency has on their books before you decide to enlist their services and ask candidly about their employees’ work-life balance. This should give you a rough idea of how much time they are likely to have available for your project or if your outsourced team is simply too busy or not structured well enough to give your company the time you need.

Inexperienced individuals

The thing about top agencies is that they charge the big bucks for high-quality services while smaller agencies may be getting creative or cutting corners to make the dollars and cents work out. Consequently, this essentially means you get what you pay for–while most agencies try to have a good mix of more experienced and junior talent, the reality is more expensive agencies will likely be hiring great marketers with more knowledge at a higher competitive salary. But, there are many small to mid-size agencies that are structuring their businesses smartly to give newer professionals opportunities under the close guidance of more experienced mentors. Understand before getting bids from multiple companies that internships and entry-level fulfillment is an innate part of the agency industry, as its one of the best ways to keep costs reasonable and keep hires on for longer as they have the opportunity to be promoted within the company quickly. A quick rule of thumb: when choosing an agency, it's good to look for one whose clients are similar in size and revenue to your business.

How does automation fit into the picture?

In short, marketing automation is the time-saving way to outreach, auto-respond and get closer with your customers through machine learning and artificial intelligence. Automation allows you to send exactly the right message at precisely the best moment, which can enhance and deepen your interactions with customers while saving your real-life staff precious time. By letting bots and software do some of the redundant, repetitive tasks…your internal and external marketing teams will be able to keep their brain space and efforts reserved for what really matters: creativity, innovation and new campaigns that will drive the growth of your business.

So now what? Do I have to choose? Who do I hire?

We know that working with an in-house marketing team vs. an agency can be tough and isn’t the most straightforward decision.

Unfortunately, we can't provide you with a definitive answer that is best for your business—every situation is different. What we can say is that there are some pretty common themes we’ve seen across many different industries:

  • If you’re a smaller business with few clients, you might be able to handle your marketing campaigns on your own with a small in-house team. On the other hand, if you are growing as a business and looking to scale up quickly, an agency might be the way to go.
  • For many mid-sized companies, a mix of agency and in house teams is idyllic because it offers the company flexibility to speed up or slow down initiatives depending on their goals, seasonality, or logistical roadblocks. 
  • Enterprise businesses tend to also do well with a combination of both agency and in house marketers, but the biggest difference we’ve seen here from the mid-size market is that there are simply more dollars floating around, more people involved to manage both internally and externally, and in general this makes decisions or pivots slower and more arduous. Enterprise companies need to be quite particular when vetting both agencies and internal teams as the ability to change direction will most likely not happen quickly. It’s also far more common in large businesses to split work more cleanly between teams simply for ease of management. For example, consider giving all your paid media management and SEO to agency partners, while you keep content development and email marketing in house…that kind of thing. Clear lines in the sand on who is doing what will make everyones’ lives easier.

No one can know your business as well as you do — so it’s all about making the right decision for you and your business. For all of these scenarios, having expert consultancy available to you from several places is never a bad idea. Two heads are better than one, and with multiple marketers analyzing your business and strategy…your campaigns are sure to be innovative and unique.

How can Marin help?

While we cannot make all your resourcing decisions for you, our expert solutions team is now bigger and more experienced than ever. This dynamic group of individuals work with our clients both with onboarding our software and providing guidance in a multitude of marketing dilemmas.

Our diverse group of marketers can manage your paid media optimization hands-on until you are ready to take the wheel or they can collaborate with both internal and external teams to provide additional insights. We will provide support and expert consultancy your in-house teams and agency partners will value to make positive paid media performance the driving force of your company growth.

As a global leader in digital marketing, and through long-standing publisher partnerships like LinkedIn, Meta, Apple, and more, we have the latest data regarding new campaign tactics and strategies.  

Expanding as a company, facing hurdles or financial challenges, or simply not having the bandwidth to get everything done you would like to are all good reasons to explore our expert solutions services, in conjunction with our industry-leading software

Request a consultation today to learn more about how we can help your teams get more done, in less time.

Apple Search Ads 101

What are Apple Search Ads?

Apple Search Ads is a paid media platform where developers can advertise their app directly in the App Store. Placements appear at the top of search results in the App Store after a user inputs a query, which is why the advertisements are search-based. Overall, Apple Search Ads are a great way to make your app more discoverable. Naturally this increases your app’s brand awareness, impressions, user base and downloads.

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Why are advertisers moving to Apple Search Ads as an ad platform?

Apple Search Ads launched in 2016 and enabled thousands of App Store developers to help build up their reach and find quality users. And while the Android operating system has the most global market share, iOS dominates in the US with close to 60% market share (Stat Counter). Additionally, iOS users are more likely to spend more on in-app purchases, making it a potentially lucrative revenue stream for app advertisers to employ.

According to the AppsFlyer Performance Index report, Apple Search Ads grew by 34% in app installs from the year 2020 to 2021…indicating that iOS users are more engaged than ever in getting the most from their apps. In both gaming and non-gaming apps, Apple users ranked Apple Search Ads second overall for quality and retention, only slightly behind Facebook in rank. 

So if you are seeking high-intent traffic with a high likelihood of staying engaged post-install, look no further than Apple Search Ads. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything needed to get started in. 

“At Apple, we believe that advertising can play a positive role for both businesses and people. This is why we've built a platform that delivers industry-leading performance and value for advertisers, while ensuring an experience that customers love and trust.” - Apple Search Ads

Apple Search Ads Basic

There are two versions of Apple Search Ads: basic and advanced. The basic version is easy to set up, as the name suggests, and has the benefits of being quick and cost-effective. The downside is that the targeting options are limited too, so you only pay per install, not for how many people see your ad.

This setup works well with those who are just starting out marketing their apps, since advertisers can quickly set up a few campaigns and be off to the races. Easily digestible dashboards also make it easy for advertisers to review their performance in a very straightforward way. And since there's no long-term commitment, you're free to choose the length of time you want to promote your app, starting and stopping whenever suits your needs.

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Budgets:

Apple Search Ads Basic works fine up to $10,000 per month, per app. After $10K it is required that you move up to Apple Search Ads Advanced. While it is not required to move to Advanced options within this $10K budget, you may still want to consider running your campaigns on Apple Search Ads Advanced for the additional features available to you. 

For all new accounts, Apple Search Ads offers a $100 credit to get started. This gives you the opportunity to do a small test and see if it is the ideal advertising platform for your business.

Benefits:

  • $100 account credit for all new accounts
  • Pay as you go at a fixed cost-per-install of your choice
  • Basic management knowledge is acceptable
  • AI-powered solutions assist performance through machine learning

Considerations:

  • Lacking audience segmentation options
  • No keyword refinement available
  • Limit to the number of apps that you can promote at any given time

Apple Search Ads Advanced

In Apple Search Ads Advanced, your options are more extensive and you can get specific with settings that matter–like keywords, audiences, and creatives. The metrics and insights available to the advertiser are also more comprehensive in the advanced interface…so you know on a micro level how your campaigns are performing.

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Benefits:

  • No budget limits or app limits - promote as many apps as you’d like
  • Targeting options are far more specific and sophisticated than Basic
  • Keyword optimization is straightforward and simple, with machine-driven recommendations (very similar to Google Ads)
  • No limits on Attribution AI, full access to all features

Considerations:

  • $100 account credit not available
  • Management has increased complexity and nuance
  • Takes time to optimize and oversee, more so than basic (although when paired with MarinOne, significant time can be saved and efficiency shortcuts created)

Getting Started with Apple Search Ads

Setting up your account

Setting up Apple Search Ads is relatively hassle-free. Ensure that you log in with your Apple ID and have granted the app access to your email address. You'll also need to choose which app you'd like to promote. If you published it through Apple Developer Console, it ought to appear as an option to select for promotion at this point.

Launching a Campaign on Basic

Setting up an advert campaign couldn't be easier. All you need to do is choose the app from the drop-down menu, select the geographical region you want to target, enter your monthly budget and max CPI (Cost Per Install) or CPT (Cost Per Tap). Apple Search Ads machine learning AI will take it from there.

Naturally, ads will not run unless you have a valid method of payment entered, so at this point you will need to enter a credit card number or other form of payment. When filling out this section, you will also have an opportunity to see if you qualify for the $100 promo credit. The credit will automatically be applied when you add your card.

Launching a Campaign on Apple Search Ads Advanced

In the Advanced setting, setting up an ad account and launching your first campaign requires a bit more time, but not much…it is still quite simple for a beginner to take on. You're going to need to decide which app you want to advertise and where. Apple Search Ads now cover 61 countries, so select those that are relevant for your campaign. You will also need to set the budget and more. The pricing is based on the cost-per-tap model, where you set a maximum level of money you are willing to spend for a tap. The price will go up depending on how much you bid and there is an auction system determining the top bids.

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Apple Search Ads Audience Segmentation

There are various segments for putting the most relevant ad possible in front of your target demo. Mix and match multiple a/b tests with these segmentation options.

  • Search Match - matches ads to appropriate searches with the use of AI to automatically pair the best query with your app.
  • Keywords - much like Google Ads, you can choose particular keywords you feel fit the product or you can receive machine learning assistance here as well and target the keywords Apple Search Ads suggests.
  • Customer types - there are a myriad of options for you to make ads visible to your core customers depending on your campaign needs, such as returning or existing customers, or users of similar or competitive apps.
  • Demographics - gender and age range are the core segments offered in demo audience segmentation. Remember that when you apply age and gender refinements, you automatically exclude customers with LAT turned On or Personalized Ads turned Off. Apple’s privacy policy goes into detail about how LAT and Personalized Ad settings may affect targeting.
  • Device type - the main distinction to be made here is whether the user is on an iPhone or iPad, and what generation thereof.
  • Location targeting - you can segment campaigns by region or country, which offers some specificity to who you would like to reach. This is particularly beneficial to geo-specific apps like DoorDash, Uber, or Pokemon Go.

Keyword Refinement for Apple Search Ads

For anyone already familiar with Google Ads or Microsoft Ads, Apple Search Ads work very similarly, at least as far as keyword list development goes. There are 3 main types of keywords you can use on the Apple Search Ads platform:

  • Search Match: Apple Search Ads uses the app listing to generate keywords.
  • Broad Match: Apple Search Ads suggests relevant keywords and adds them automatically, with some optimization by the user.
  • Exact Match: As the most specific and targeted keyword iteration, these are typically manually added by the advertiser. Brand keywords, competitor keywords, and extremely targeted phrases like product names are all great candidates for exact match.
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Best practice indicates that you ought to only use one match type per ad group. Adding appropriate negative keywords is also very important for Apple Search Ads advertisers. By blocking irrelevant keywords, you can save money on bids, which are often wasted on customers who won't download your app or are not relevant enough to your brand’s targeting.

If you want to optimize your campaign performance for Apple Search Ads, the most fundamental rule is to include relevant keywords in your ads. A simple method to follow is as follows:

  1. Find new searches through the search match and broad match types (use a dedicated ad group for this)
  2. Include the keywords with the highest performance to your different ad groups
  3. Add the keywords that perform poorly to a list of negative keywords.

Best Practices for Apple Search Ads Campaign Management

Keep your campaign structure simple

Don't undertake an overly complex campaign structure or begin to restructure things too frequently simply because it sounds like a good idea. There are many simple things you can do to optimize your campaigns (like many of the tactics in this guide), so be sure to explore those first before making any drastic changes. 

As an example of a great yet simple campaign structure, let’s say you have 500 keywords, two different match types and are targeting people who have downloaded your app as well as those who haven't. While fairly straightforward in terms of methodology, that still makes 4,000 optimization possibilities. That's a lot of variants to manage and monitor before ever incorporating more sophisticated tactics or segmentation. 

It's important to weigh your business goals with your use of optimization and testing new opportunities. Adding more things to your Apple Search Ads campaign can add a lot of extra work and complexity, so be sure to assess what is fitting for you first.

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Be cautious about bidding too high

Apple Search Ads documentation tells us the TTR (Tap Through Rate) per ad unit is taken into account by the Apple Search Ads algorithm in deciding to display a certain app. The higher your TTR, the lower your cost per tap. Such an implementation pummels bigger players with expensive rates and also negatively affects advertisers with a lower budget by limiting their ability to compete.

If your TTR is anywhere between 3-5% (a common rate within the non-gaming industry), then your app is unlikely to rank well and you’re going to be struggling with poor conversion rates.

If your conversion rate is low and you're not getting targeted traffic, instead of increasing bids, try other keywords or optimize your ASO (App Store Optimization) game by working on keywords in the app description or metadata. 

Capitalize on the Ad Variation feature

As a result of Apple Search Ad's Ad variations feature, advertisers can tailor ads to users by aligning creative to keyword themes and audiences for more relevant content. First you’ll need to set up custom product pages, more on that here. You can create up to 35 pages using different preview videos, screenshots, and promotional text. Once that’s done, you can version out ad variations sending users to specific product pages when they tap your ad. This gives Apple Search Ads managers the ability to curate a preview into the users’ experience when using the app based on their preferences. These custom ads are available on devices using iOS 15.2 or later. If your ad reaches someone with an earlier iOS version, your default ad will appear on their device. 

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Check for traffic outside of the US

When you use Apple Search Ads campaign-targeting settings, all the US storefronts you're shown are based on the location chosen by a user in your device. There are also a number of countries that don't have the App Store. Therefore, Apple considers downloads from these regions as US-based downloads at the matching rate. 

Based on data provided by AppsFlyer, the percentage of this type of traffic varies between 20% and 40%. Without a doubt, the percentage is higher in games versus other apps. This can lead to your ads’ Return on Investment (ROI) being negative or less than zero, so it’s crucial to set conversative goals and account for this potentially variable traffic, up to 40%. Anot bnbher tactic is to run your ad campaigns during the peak hours of your targeted region only, versus 24 hours a day. This can reduce irrelevant “US” traffic by 80%.

Use App Store Optimization and Apple Search Ads hand-in-hand

Apple has changed the limit for the maximum number of keywords allowed for app names; it has been reduced from 100 to 50 characters. This will make it more difficult for apps to cram as many keywords into their name, which is often called "keyword stuffing." This impacted keyword rank positions for over 15% of the iOS App Store's top apps, whose names had over 50 characters. However, with Apple Search Ads, publishers who don't use App Store Optimization techniques are still able to gain a competitive advantage.

The key takeaway is that the rate of installation via the App Store search bar is very high, both for paid and organic placements, which is why utilizing both Apple Search Ads and App Store Optimization tactics is the ideal strategy for app advertisers. In fact, over 65% of downloads happen after users search for apps in the App Store. Much like a grocery store shopper is interested in buying things on the shelf, mobile users are much more likely to want to download an app when they're browsing the App Store. Publishers can use Apple Search Ads and App Store Optimization to drive more customers to their app at a high-intent moment in their journey. 

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How MarinOne Can Help with Apple Search Ads

Our comprehensive system for optimizing ad campaigns across multiple networks offers agencies and brands an easy way to find, filter, and compare the best ads for a given keyword or demographic. Compare your Apple Search Ads campaigns against Google Ad campaigns, Microsoft Ad campaigns, LinkedIn and many more platforms in one fully-customizable tool.

A few of the key offerings that makes our software distinctive include:

  • Custom groups with A/B testing functionality to reach your target market and new markets. 
  • Expert insights and consultation from our managed services team to increase conversions and lower cost per lead.
  • A single interface for making any kind of digital ad - whether you want to schedule ads for a later date or publish content that's already written.
  • Our Marin-specific conversion tracking tool allows you to have insight into the success of your keywords and segmentation.
  • Forecast budget and spend more effectively by having omnichannel performance comparison all in one place.
  • Automated reporting and data visualization provide customizable modules which increase your efficiency.
  • You can consistently measure the results of your Apple Search Ads against the results of campaigns for other publishers and platforms.

Here you can learn more about MarinOne for Apple Search Ads, and schedule a demo with one of our advertising experts to get started.

If you're still wondering whether or not you should use Apple Search Ads, read some of our related articles that will convince you this is the right tactic for your business and help you strategically plan your Apple Search Ads campaign roadmap.

Paddy Power - Apple Search Ads Case Study: Improve CPA by nearly 30% using Marin bidding
Why you should be running Apple Search Ads
Automated optimization for Apple Search Ads
Get your app in front of the right people

LinkedIn Advertising 101

LinkedIn's Marketing Solutions allow marketers to find new prospects, increase engagement, and move prospects through the sales funnel. To help you get the most out of LinkedIn, here are some tips to help you with everything from determining your budget to measuring your success. 

Organic vs. Paid: what's the difference?

If you're new to LinkedIn advertising, it's essential to know that there are two types of content placements: organic posts and paid ads. 

Organic posts 

When you create a post on LinkedIn, it appears in the activity feeds of your connections and their connections. These posts go out for everyone to see, but they also get pushed down in peoples' feeds over time. 

Paid social media ads

You can pay to make sure you appear at the top of your audience's news feeds when they log in. As with organic content, people will be able to like and comment on these posts, too (unless comments are turned off).

Pros and cons of organic posts versus paid ads

Organic posts are free but tend to drive fewer leads. Paid posts can be expensive, but they generate more qualified leads for your salespeople. 

  • Paid ads offer options for targeting, allowing marketers to reach specific audiences based on company size, industry, etc.
  • Paid ads offer a lower cost per lead than other marketing forms, including cold calling or email campaigns.

Why it’s necessary to use a mixture of organic and paid

Your marketing strategy should include a mixture of organic and paid posts. Organic posts allow for greater flexibility because you to reach a large audience without restricting the targeting options, which is beneficial to your B2B lead generation efforts. They’re also vital for building brand awareness and enhancing credibility. Paid ads allow for better targeting and more substantial leads.

What is LinkedIn advertising, and how does it work?

LinkedIn ads consist of sponsored updates, sponsored messaging, and display ads. There are nuances to optimizing each ad type, which we will get into a bit later…but first, let’s cover some basic definitions and some of the simple understanding you’ll need to start LinkedIn ad campaigns.

An example of a sponsored ad - Image Source 

According to LinkedIn, "creating and running a successful ad campaign on LinkedIn is similar to creating and running a successful advertising campaign anywhere else—only better." They say this because the advertising options on LinkedIn are more targeted than on other social media sites. However, they also note that "You will need to think differently than you would for traditional media."

"Creating and running a successful ad campaign on LinkedIn is similar to creating and running a successful advertising campaign anywhere else—only better." - LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Sponsored Messaging

Formerly known as Sponsored InMail, this ad type goes directly to a user’s inbox. There are caps on these messages, and they come in two forms: a message ad or a conversation ad. To make sponsored message ads successful, personalization is paramount. It’s also best to keep copy short and incorporate some visual elements to increase the likelihood of capturing LinkedIn members’ attention. 

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Sponsored Content

Sponsored content ads appear as posts in the news feeds of LinkedIn members and typically include a business logo, headline, image, and link to your website. They’ll also say “sponsored” to let the user know it’s an ad. 

Sponsored content is a type of native ad that can be seen whether you're on your mobile feed or desktop. The ads come in three different forms: carousel, single image, or video. They look and feel much like organic content on LinkedIn; however, LinkedIn marks these ads with a “promoted” label to distinguish them from other posts and connect them with companies in which the user may be interested.

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Text Ads

Text Ads have been around for a while, appearing alongside LinkedIn’s desktop feed. They are ideal if you are looking to have repetition in advertising a particular demographic group again and again. They can also be a cost-effective way to reach a wide audience and increase brand awareness. Grab attention with this ad type by addressing a certain user particularly, like, “Seeking HR Professionals for Hire” and having a strong CTA such as, “Apply Now.” 

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Display Ads

Display ads are shown on targeted LinkedIn pages such as Jobs or Companies. They can be text or images that redirect users to any destination you like, such as your site or a particular blog post, etc. 

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Dynamic Ads

LinkedIn’s Dynamic Ads are able to talk to the user directly thanks to personalization. For example, the ad based on your profile pops up and features your own personal details such as your photo and job title.

Some users are turned off by this ad type because it is so individual, calling attention to data privacy concerns. A/b test this ad type judiciously and make your copy is upbeat to best combat a negative connotation.

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Why should I include LinkedIn as a platform in my paid media strategy?

Benefits:

  • You can choose your target audience by job title, company, industry, or seniority level—which helps you narrow down your market.
  • Ads on LinkedIn are typically cost effective compared to other forms of traditional advertising, such as locally driven print or radio campaigns. 
  • In the digital space, conversions on LinkedIn tend to be a bit pricey…but they are often worth it due to a much higher quality of lead for B2B businesses. The close rate of leads from LinkedIn tend to be the highest compared to close rates for any other paid social platform. 
  • The social context puts your ad in front of potential buyers who are already connected with and know your brand. This means less time is spent building awareness from scratch.

Considerations:

  • Updating ad content regularly and monitoring the performance of each piece is time-consuming. You need to be committed and willing to invest in order for it to work.
  • Your tone will need to be specific for LinkedIn—you need to know your audience very well to maximize your return. 

Who should use LinkedIn advertising?

The short answer? Anyone and everyone. As our friends at LinkedIn like to say…there is no longer B2B or B2C, as all marketing is truly B2P or “business to person.” This is obviously a somewhat tongue-in-cheek phrase, but the sentiment is valid that more marketing tactics do not vary so widely as we once thought between business-to-business or business-to-consumer products. As millions of people continue to work remote, and the lines between work and home become much more blurred, the focus for us as marketers should be on finding the right person wherever they are online. 

“The lines are all blurring together and the reality is…marketing on LinkedIn is really business to person, or B2P. In today’s landscape B2B or B2C signifiers are somewhat limiting.” - Melissa D'Arienzo

Are there specific benefits for B2B marketers?

What makes LinkedIn unique for B2B marketers is its targeting options: allowing businesses to reach specific audiences based on their company size, industry and other business data. However it is becoming increasingly common to see personal and playful content being shared on LinkedIn, making the rules of engagement more lax than they once were.

Although LinkedIn is not as popular as Facebook or Twitter in terms of users and reach, it is one of the most effective platforms for business-to-business (B2B) marketers looking to reach a specific type of buyer with relevant information. 

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How do I create a LinkedIn advertising campaign?

Whether you're running an ad campaign through LinkedIn's self-serve interface (Ads Manager), or working with an agency that manages your accounts for you, the process is basically the same. 

You'll start by selecting your audience demographics—age range, gender, industry/job title—and then define your budget for the campaign and your maximum bid. After that, you'll need to set a timeline for your campaign and choose a call to action (CTA).

Next, upload your ad, enter some creatives and content if you're promoting a LinkedIn Page update or event, and complete the process by paying for the campaign.

On the other hand, if you're promoting a LinkedIn Company Page or job posting, simply click "Promote this" from the associated pages’ menu bars to get started.

Regarding setting your budget, there are a few steps and things to remember. Start by choosing whether you want to set your budget by the day, week, or month. Then choose how much you want to spend. There are limits, but LinkedIn will notify you if you exceed them.

How methods can I use to manage LinkedIn campaigns?

Once your ads are created, there are three main ways to manage and optimize your LinkedIn ads: manually, via LinkedIn, or through a third-party marketing platform.

Via LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s campaign manager interface is a straightforward way to manage your LinkedIn ads. There are no other steps to take once you've set up and completed your ad. LinkedIn will take care of the optimizing and managing aspects. You're limited only by your daily budget in this method, but it's fairly time-consuming to manage

Via a marketing platform

Managing your LinkedIn campaigns via a marketing platform like MarinOne means all your data is handled through one interface. The management of ads is more simple this way and does not require any special knowledge or training. Our guided walk-throughs help users get started right away on the interface, and your dedicated  account managers are ready to assist with any questionsl. Using an integrated platform means you don't have to rely on IT or an agency to set up or manage your LinkedIn advertising campaigns for you. 

MarinOne unifies industry leading optimization tools with flexible reporting and bidding to help advertisers maximize the impact and reach of their LinkedIn marketing investment. And MarinOne serves a hub that links marketing activity with true business impact from an advertiser’s CRM, allowing optimization to revenue, not just form fills. By connecting downstream customer data with  advanced automated bidding, MarinOne can significantly improve the performance of your campaigns.

LinkedIn Audience Targeting

Geotargeting

Location is a the only requisite targeting option when starting a LinkedIn ad campaign. The location or area can be as broad as an entire country (or multiple countries) or as specific as one city or zip code.  LI uses the location indicated in a user’s profile or their IP address to determine where they are physically. Exclusions are an effective layering technique for this targeting option as you can make very specific indications of who you need to reach through this method. For example, say you target all of a metropolitan area or county, but you want to disclude a residential area in favor of where most businesses are located. Exclusions would be a good way to make that delineation. 

Demographics

This is where LinkedIn is quite dissimilar from other social networking sites, as demographics are not a predominant factor in targeting segments. The two main options regarding demo are gender and age. And age is an estimation in many cases of the LinkedIn algorithm as the user may not have indicated an age, but rather the LinkedIn AI is making an estimation of their age based on what the member put in their profile, like years of experience.

Education

You’re given a variety of educational targeting options in LinkedIn, including targeting by fields of study, schools and types of degrees. With options based on a person’s major field in their degree, it's easy to find a specific segment based on this data. 

Member schools lets you target by the college or university where a member completed courses. Membership by rank lets you create an audience according to an individual’s ranking at their learning institution.

Company

Targeting by company is particularly useful when you want to reach a specific list of ABM accounts or reach a distinct industry. The options LinkedIn offers here include industry, size of company, name, followers of a certain company, and company connections. 

"Tip: Create several campaigns that vary according to the size of the company and customize your messages and offer (content) for that audience. This strategy allows us to be much more relevant, which should improve the performance of our campaigns." - Magnetica Advertising

Job Experience

This may be one of the most useful targeting options on the LinkedIn platform. Several types of LinkedIn ads exist that allow you to target your audience based on their job or experience. You can, for instance, target people based on what they do in their job which is grouped into a standardized profession, such as “accounting” or “construction.” When paired with other exclusions you can create great niche segments that are still broad enough to reach a range of individuals in jobs with a relevant interest in the service or product you are offering.

Job seniority lets you target users by things like their rank or influence. Job title segmentation allows you to target members by what they list as their current title. Member skills will help you find people with relevant skills by keyword search. These keywords would match what the member has listed in the skills section of their profile, those mentioned in their profile text, and inferred skills based on machine-powered profile analysis.

The last targeting field under the job umbrella is years of experience. This option lets you target users based on the years of experience they have accumulated over time. LinkedIn also excludes gaps in experience and doesn’t count overlapping experience, meaning that you don’t have to worry about covering two fields with one job posting. 

LinkedIn Advertising Tactics

LinkedIn ads can be a great lead generation tool, but you should track the return on investment of your campaigns to see what's working and what's not before investing too much time and/or money in them. That said, here are a few best practices to get you started:

  • Start with a small budget: As with any new type of ad campaign, start small to test whether or not this is going to work for your audience.
  • Include a clear CTA: Your CTA should be simple and compelling. For instance, if your top goal is to get people to sign up for a demo, you could use "watch a product demo" rather than "learn more about our company." You can also experiment with personalized CTAs that provide value to the user. 
  • Keep messages short and snappy: Don't lead with too much information when writing your ads. Walls of text are unappealing and obscure the CTA, which defeats the purpose of advertising in the first place. Stick to one concise sentence that highlights the value of clicking on your ad.
  • Add more engagement elements: Use images, videos, and GIFs to make your ads more engaging for users.
  • Use a mixture of organic and paid: By having a harmonious marriage between your organic and paid media content, the brand equity and consistency of your messaging will have a greater impact with users, increasing the likelihood they will retain and remember your key value proposition.

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  • Be consistent: Stick with just one call to action in all your ads so users know exactly what the offer is before they click on it. If you're advertising different products or services, vary your headline instead so users see some variety.
  • Use lead forms for lead gen: If you're advertising B2B products or services, use LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms to collect contact information from users who are interested in your product/service. You can then directly follow up with these users to nurture the relationship over time. Remember that the end goal of LinkedIn advertising is to drive sales. Therefore, you will need to retarget these leads with ads or messages inviting them to buy your product or service.
  • Use targeting options: Target people similar to your existing customers, lookalike audiences based on broad user data (e.g., location, industry), and specific user attributes (e.g., job title, company size). Keep in mind, when using lookalike audiences based on specific user attributes, create a custom audience first.

LinkedIn Content Trends

The experience with Coronavirus has brought some macro trends that are influencing how advertisers interact with customers on LinkedIn in 2022. We’ve listed below a few of those trends that you definitely need to be aware of while determining next steps for your LinkedIn strategy.

Economic Recovery

The first is a boom in economic recovery, with a positive momentum in GDP & the Labor market. According to a recent analysis performed by LinkedIn, ecommerce has had a 73% increase in workforce need, digital content creators have increased in number by 44%, and the demand for more digital marketers at large is up 33%. Economic health for each market also seems to have a direct correlation to vaccine rollout, which varies significantly from country to country.

Digital Transformation

In 2021, e-commerce grew three times what it was before the pandemic, which has paved the way for new industries like telehealth. As one example, this new method of virtual medical communication did exist before the pandemic, but as Covid-19 made it a more critical need, it has now revolutionized healthcare overall. As administrations found that patients actually enjoy the option to visit their local doctor remotely, all signs indicate  that option is here to stay.

New Workplace Norms

Employers are more and more often providing their employees with the option to work remotely, while some companies are promoting or even requiring a return to the office or a public workplace. Statistics show however that many working professionals prefer being able to work from home as it gives them a sense of increased flexibility. This means we are at a critical point for the future of acceptable workplace culture and this is going to impact how leadership attracts and retains talent.

A Call for Increased Diversity

LinkedIn as an organization is also seeing content and statistical trends that support more diverse workplaces is an ever-growing priority for many c-suite executives. As the global workforce tries to recover from the pandemic that's been going on for a few years now, roles like "chief diversity officer" seem more needed than ever before. In fact, CDO is currently the fastest growing c-suite role being posted on LinkedIn. On top of this, three out of the most in demand skills of LinkedIn’s top twenty for 2022 are around diversity, inclusion and belonging.

"Chief Diversity Officer is the fastest growing c-suite executive position on LinkedIn in the world at this moment." - Jessy Jacques

Companies Must Create a Culture of Trust

Last but not least, the most important trend for companies to consider that LinkedIn has observed in their global content analysis is the requisite for organizations to be trustworthy and genuine. With the pace at which damning information can be circulated globally, and the ability for said information to become the undoing of an organization, it is imperative that businesses know who they are as a corporation. If the mission, vision and values of your business are unclear, the likelihood your representation in the public eye could take a negative turn increases exponentially. And both consumers and potential employees expect companies to practice what they preach as well. With virtually anyone having the ability to “expose” something internal that may not align with your external messaging, conducting your business unethically has a much higher risk than it once did, even if no laws are being broken. The power of the individual to call companies out for bad leadership or other poor business practices is strong.

How MarinOne can help with LinkedIn ads

With MarinOne, you can design and launch a successful LinkedIn campaign in minutes. Key features include:

  • Custom ad groups to align targeting with your marketing goals
  • A/B testing for lower cost per lead and higher conversion rates
  • Access to a best-in-class customer support team that provides reporting, training, and recommendations to help improve ROI 
  • Complete ad and post management from one easy-to-use interface
  • Ad optimization and automation
  • Offline conversion tracking associated with raw queries to provide better insight into whether keywords make sense to be added based on their post click success.
  • Spend and performance forecasting
  • Budget management and pacing tools
  • Automated reporting and data visualization
  • Unified reporting and campaign management allows you to manage your LinkedIn campaigns alongside campaigns for all other publishers

MarinOne is the only platform designed from the ground up to connect B2B marketers' campaigns across all paid social media platforms seamlessly. Plus, because our system learns from every campaign run on our platform, your ads will deliver even better results the longer they run. 

If you’re interested in trying MarinOne for yourself, check out our free 30 day trial.

Click here to learn more about MarinOne for LinkedIn, including additional resources, case studies, and demo videos.

Not convinced LinkedIn ads are the right fit for your business? Check out our case studies with other organizations to get more detail.

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