You have a product or service that you know will appeal strongly to other businesses. The senior management team in your company has allocated a marketing budget for you to promote those products and services online and offline to make sales and to gain market share.
Online, you’ve decided to use a mixture of pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and search engine optimisation (SEO) to distribute the compelling, engaging, benefits-led content you’ve created to appeal to potential clients.
In this article, we look at how to drive value with B2B PPC advertising to maximise the number of leads you generate and minimise the cost per lead your company pays. We’ll deal with driving value from SEO in a later blog post.
What is B2B PPC advertising?
There are two dominant forms of B2B PPC.
On search engines, you bid to appear as high as possible on search engine results pages on specific queries and keyphrases. For example, if you sell office furniture, you may choose to bid on search terms like “office desk”, “filing cabinets”, and so on. You only pay Google when someone clicks on your advert. Google’s pay-per-click advertising program is called Google Ads.
On LinkedIn, the most effective social media platform for promoting B2B products and services, you’re targeting by demographics – by job title, by business sector, by company size, by geography, and more. LinkedIn has two charging models – cost per thousand impressions (CPM) of your advert and cost per click. In general, it costs less per click than per thousand impressions.
LinkedIn is also classed as social media and falls under the Paid Social remit. However, as it has a CPC model within the platform, and for the purpose of this article, we’ll place it under PPC.
Does PPC work for B2B products and services?
More than seven in ten business decision makers search for information online when researching a potential purchase.
PPC advertising does work for B2B products and services when done correctly. It is, however, difficult to get right and the costs can run away from you when a poorly structured PPC B2B lead generation campaign fails to deliver results.
The building blocks of a successful PPC lead generation campaign
1. Targeting who sees your advert
B2B PPC campaigns share one defining characteristic with more traditional direct marketing approaches (like email marketing and telemarketing). With both, you can select just the audience you want to be exposed to your marketing messages. On B2B PPC campaigns, you select either by the search terms prospective clients use or by audience, such as an In-market audience related to your industry.
With both B2B PPC and direct marketing campaigns, the less precise you are in your targeting, the more expensive your advertising is and the more you pay per lead or sale generated. Precise and focused targeting maximises return while reducing the overall investment required in a campaign.
If you sell billing software to solicitors’ practices and barristers’ chambers, the best B2B LinkedIn strategy is to restrict your target audience to just decision makers (like senior partners) within solicitors’ practices and barristers’ chambers. On the other hand, the best B2B Google Ads strategy would be to research the keywords and phrases most likely to be used by decision-makers looking for a solution to billing issues.
2. Write adverts to provoke curiosity and stimulate interest
Most PPC adverts allow very limited room for you to tell your audience what the product or service you’re marketing is let alone give you the space you need to fully promote its benefits.
For example, on Google, you have a 30 character limit on your headlines and up to 90 characters in your descriptions (3 headlines and 2 description lines). While you can include an image with a LinkedIn text ad, you have 25 characters for the headline and 75 characters for the description (plus the website address you want visitors to go to).
Brevity may be clarity but even an experienced copywriter will tell you that it is a challenge to sum up a product or service in such constrained space. Copywriting is the art of trial and error – using different appeals to the end user market to see which gains the most traction.
You should take this approach and launch your campaign with a variety of different PPC ads to test how the market responds to each one. A variation of 2-4 ads will help to A/B test which perform the best.
Monitoring keywords, audiences, and ad performance
Try to keep track of every audience you target and every keyword you bid for across your campaigns to determine the cost per conversion you are achieving.
For each audience and keyword, what is the cost per click? How many clicks does it take to persuade someone to leave their contact details? How many conversions does it take to generate a direct sale?
You may wish to stop bidding for certain keywords or targeting certain audiences if the cost per conversion is too high. Likewise, with your actual PPC ads – do some ads deliver more meaningful engagement than others?
By constantly refining who you approach and the adverts you approach them with, your cost per conversion will decrease, your sales team will have better leads to work from, and your monthly overall advertising cost will decrease (or you’ll get more leads for the same budget).
3. Build a sales funnel
With direct marketing, once a lead has been generated by email marketing or telemarketing, then the sales team follows up. With B2B PPC campaigns, your “sales funnel” is the equivalent of your online sales team.
On certain types of B2B products and services, an immediate online sale may be possible. However, for most companies, this is the beginning of a process which will eventually and hopefully lead to a sale.
When you have persuaded someone to visit your website from a B2B PPC marketing campaign, you usually need to give them something of value straight away – this may be knowledge they don’t have contained in a well-written blog post or the opportunity to download an informative white paper or e-book. This may be the only time they’re at your site so you need to take the opportunity to capture these prospects’ details so that you can stay in touch with them in the future.
Their decision to purchase a product or service identical or similar to yours might be imminent. It might be twelve months away. Wherever you have caught them on their buying journey, you benefit from being able to stay in touch with them because you now have their contact details.
You need to prepare marketing materials which attract their interest and engagement at the:
- Awareness stage (when they realise, they might have a problem or an opportunity),
- Interest stage (when they’re seeking detailed information about products and services to overcome that problem or exploit that opportunity), and
- Consideration stage (when a decision to proceed is imminent).
It’s your responsibility to keep prospects engaged and interested once they have left their contact details with you and it’s the creation of the materials to do that which will influence the success of your B2B PPC campaigns.
The benefits of keeping track of your advert and funnel performance
The best B2B Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads campaigns involve constantly monitoring how your PPC ads are performing as well as how many prospects make it through your sales funnel to become customers (conversions).
Which keywords and audiences offer your company the lowest cost in generating actual leads (direct contact from future clients) and in obtaining contact details (for sales funnel use)? How does the text used in each PPC ad variation affect those figures?
For your sales funnel, are there points in it when the user drops off or progress to the next piece of content in the funnel slows? If there are, try to identify why and replace the content with something new to see if this reduces exit rates and increases the number of users who convert/get to the bottom of the funnel.
4. Use re-marketing/re-targeting services to stay in front of potential prospects
Last but not least, we’re all familiar with PPC re-marketing/re-targeting even if we do not know the actual term. This describes when you visit a website and then, suddenly, you keep seeing ads for the same company on social media platforms and in display advertising on other websites.
Not everyone visiting your website first time will contact you for a quote or leave their details. However, re-marketing successfully encourages potential customers to visit your website again giving you a second opportunity – and conversion rates actually increase with the number of times they see your adverts. Better still, some re-marketing clicks can cost up to 10 times less than your original PPC ad did.
Get help with planning your B2B PPC marketing campaign
To maximise driving long-term value from your B2B PPC marketing campaigns, please get in touch to see how I can help. I have worked with clients such as Sage, Trend Micro, CIMA, Accuity, and GetFeedback successfully promoting their brands online with thoroughly planned and well-executed B2B PPC campaigns.
Let me know about your company, what you sell, and who you sell it to. I can help build and present a plan on how to create and maintain ongoing B2B PPC campaigns where you will see an increase of the visibility of your company to your target markets and create a reliable and profitable online marketing channel delivering high quality leads for your sales team to work with.
Please call me on 07875 039968 or contact via the form.