Boost platform marketing ROI with these three steps

Should you be doing platform marketing as a B2B marketer or not? You’d think that as the global head of marketing at a social network I’d say of course you should.

By Jordan Dow

I don’t. Platform marketing certainly has a lot of benefits, including its precise targeting, measurability, and reach. My clients also report great click through rates in their scientific target audience. That being said, they’re less sure about return on investment (ROI) on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. These sites seem to generate traffic for them, but not revenue. That’s why I’ve looked into why platform marketing for science marketers often falls short of expectations, and how to make it work.

Platform marketing high ROI

It's actually not that complicated to make ads work on social media: find the biggest number of people who have the greatest demand for your product at the right time and tell them about it. The three ingredients you’re looking for are reach, targeting and context. But the challenge is that you need all three to make platform marketing work. If one’s lacking, the chances of your campaign delivering revenue go down the drain along with your marketing dollars.

Scientists are avid users of Facebook and LinkedIn

First, let’s look at reach. Scientists use Facebook and LinkedIn just like everyone else. A recent study by scientists at the University of Ontago in New Zealand and from the University in Miami asked of 540 scientists about their social media usage. It showed that 87 percent used Facebook and about 73 percent used LinkedIn.

Most mainstream platforms offer highly sophisticated targeting - even for science marketers

The second ingredient to our recipe for successful platform marketing is targeting. Good targeting determines whether your messages will reach the right people. A recent analysis?by Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings confirms this. It found that only 59 percent of ad impressions served across all consumer segments reach their intended audience. Facebook and LinkedIn both offer extensive precision targeting capabilities. Options range from standard demographic targeting to behavioral targeting based on what scientific content users consume.

Context counts and is the culprit

An ad for next generation sequencing equipment seems out of place in a feed with family pictures.

Context is where most social networks fail, and as a result, disappoint both science marketers and scientists. That’s unfortunate because context is important. As the market research firm IRI Worldwide found, placing your ad next to thematically related content can improve your ROI by 30 percent.

The reason is that scientists don’t seem to find much work related content on Facebook and LinkedIn.?The New Zealand/Miami research team talked to one scientist about Facebook who finds it difficult to keep “track of the useful responses amongst the banal statements of the obvious or the inflammatory remarks of trolls and anti-science dissenters.” Similarly, LinkedIn is no place for scientific research, according to this senior scientist who told Nature that “LinkedIn seems to be more useful for consultants who want to advertise their skills, and isn’t a good source of research publications or research-oriented discussions (which is why I prefer ResearchGate).”

How to make platform marketing work for science marketers

To get this extra 30 percent increase in ROI, find a platform that offers reach, targeting and context. You’ll find scientific context everywhere scientists turn to get information for their research. This includes library websites, repositories, and scientific publishers’ websites. What's more, a handful of platforms are fully dedicated to science, including Google Scholar and ResearchGate (the company I work for).

Google doesn’t sell ad space for Google Scholar, which leaves you with ResearchGate. ResearchGate offers over 500 million monthly impressions, and standard platform targeting capabilities. Scientists use the site to connect with each other and share published and unpublished research with peers and the public. This means that you can also target based on scientists’ connections, expertise and publishing record. Most importantly, only scientists can sign up to the network, which creates an exclusive environment for research. This makes ResearchGate perhaps the only platform that offers the necessary trifecta of reach, targeting and context to scientific marketers.

Sign up to my webinar to get deep insights into platform marketing and campaign planning and let's talk about how you can use ResearchGate to boost your platform marketing ROI.