At Napier, we run a large number of digital campaigns, which gives us fantastic insight into how to run campaigns that deliver results that make a real impact on your business. To help you create great campaigns, here are nine tips that have worked for us:

Get the basics right

We shouldn’t have to say this, but getting the basics right is so important. Whether it’s campaigns that advertise to the wrong countries (we’ve seen large sums spent on Google ads to countries to which our clients can’t legally export products) to campaigns that produce bounce rates well above 90% and zero leads continuing to be funded. Even if you are sure, you have the campaign setup correct and are monitoring performance, check again. It’s so easy to miss things.

Pick publications for display ads based on performance

The performance of adverts in online trade publications is primarily determined by the publication you pick. You have to understand that – in most industries – nothing you do to the format, position or creative you use can bridge the gap between the best- and the worst-performing publications.

As picking the right publication is so important, you have to gather data about performance. Using an agency is one way to do this, as they will have more data than you can produce, although remember that what works for another client might not work for you. And no matter how nice the advertising salesperson is, don’t believe them: they are trying to sell you ads, not give you an independent assessment of the best place for your advertising dollars.

Use meaningful performance data

Are clicks meaningful? Maybe, but they are the most superficial measure of advertising success. Ideally, you’d want to measure the impact that your advertising has on generating new sales and customers. Unfortunately, attribution to this level is really, really hard. So, pick something that at least measures whether the click generated some engagement on your website – several pages viewed in the session, return visits, time on site, etc – rather than assuming every click is valuable or even genuine.

Some paid digital channels are particularly susceptible to generating clicks that have no value and no interest in your product. I’m particularly thinking of Google display ads that appear in apps (especially in games) and social media, where we’ve seen significant sums of money spend with no discernible benefit.

Remember a click doesn’t necessarily mean interest or a potential customer

You’ll get clicks on your ads from people who will never be customers, and who have no interest in your organisation or products. Yes, some of them are bots, but you’ll also get people clicking for no reason.

Sometimes it’s down to the design of your ad being a little too clever and getting people to click accidently. Sometimes it’s where your ad appears: we particularly find this problem with display ads in games where people are desperate to play the game and they over-enthusiastically click to close the ad, and end up on your landing page. And sometimes there is no apparent reason why people are clicking on your ad, yet they bounce immediately without even reading your lovingly-crafted landing page.

Question whether you need to run paid search using your brand keywords

One of the most wasteful forms of advertising is Google search ads where you are bidding on your own brands as keywords. Yes, it is worth considering paying if you have a lot of competitors bidding on your brand keywords, but many times we see an organisation having the only ad when they are number one in organic search. If you are going to be top organically, it frequently doesn’t make sense to pay.

Retarget the people who click on your ads

You pay a lot of money to drive people to your website from your advertising. Whether they clicked on a display ad on a trade magazine, a search ad on Google or a LinkedIn promotion, if you have set up your campaign well, they are probably potential customers. However, in B2B few people convert immediately, so no matter how hard you try with your landing page, they are probably not going to buy after the first click.

Retargeting the people that engage with your ad is a great way to move these prospects along the customer journey and get engagement for a much lower cost than the first click. Use retargeting based on tracking people who visited your landing page or within a platform such as LinkedIn. Trust me, even if you drive people back to the same content offer, there will be a significant proportion of contacts that don’t convert after the first click but do convert after retargeting.

Don’t target large audiences when they are not relevant

We all want to generate high volumes of clicks, leads and sales. But when you can target an audience precisely, and you have a niche product or service, large numbers often don’t make sense. For example, there might be a couple of hundred people in the UK who determine the total spend with agencies in the electronics industry. So, if Napier is running a campaign to this audience, it doesn’t make sense to follow LinkedIn’s “advice” to target at least 300,000 people.

There are definitely downsides to running campaigns to smaller audiences, particularly that the optimisation algorithms used by platforms such as Google and LinkedIn usually fail with small audiences. So, you’ll have to manually optimise yourself. However, if there are only 200 people to target and you can identify them, it really doesn’t make sense to pay to reach an additional 299,800 people to make the advisor from LinkedIn happy.

Be wary of “Super-Auto” mode

Digital advertising platforms are great at offering different ways to make it easy to implement a campaign – it’s their “super auto” modes. Whether it’s creating the advert or finding relevant keywords, they provide tools to help you spend your money. In general, the tools are good, but you have to remember that they weren’t developed to help you or your organisation.

You’re working in B2B. Unless you are in the top 0.1% of B2B advertisers, your campaign is tiny compared to consumer campaigns. The platforms understand this, so they optimise their tools to work with large budgets that reach huge audiences. Unfortunately, this is not you. Make use of the tools but be cautious and bear in mind that they might not produce the best recommendations for your campaign, because they simply aren’t designed for the campaigns you run. The tools also really struggle to “understand” deep tech.

Do a lot of testing

We all know this, don’t we? It’s so important to test, yet sometimes it feels like it is just too much hard work. However, getting data on what engages your audience is valuable, not just for your current campaign but for future ones too.

You do have to be careful. Don’t test without a good understanding of statistical significance (or if you don’t like maths, use our AB Test Calculator). We have seen campaigns start where advert A looks like it is doing better than advert B and it just feels that A is better. Yet when the number of impressions grow, B overtakes A and consistently out-performs A, something you’d never know if you trusted your gut early on. Randomness is not something our brains are good at intuiting.


Paid campaigns in B2B are hard to get to work. It can feel almost impossible to get the high-value decision-makers to engage, the conventional advice just feels wrong (because it was developed for consumer campaigns) and getting test results that are statistically significant can take some time. But putting in the effort to optimise campaigns (or working with an agency who will do it for you) is the only way to guarantee the RoI that your manager demands.