How to Optimize PPC Campaigns for B2B Buyers [Updated]
B2B marketing requires a clear understanding of the marketplace, the problems your service or product solves, and an effective method for filling your funnels. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a strategy suited for B2B organizations because it allows them to maximize digital marketing through control with effective targeting.
An ROI-driven B2B search strategy is one that fills the funnel with the right individuals for the right reasons. It sets budgets that make sense for the costs associated with your bids and customer ARR, and it contains keywords informed by your target personas‘ search intentions.
Think About This
How can you make sure you’re getting the most return for your pay-per-click cost? Are you a national or local business? Looking to target 18–35-year-olds or everyone over 40? Should your ads display 24 hours per day or only during business hours? Here are a few items to consider when evaluating your company’s PPC investment in 2020.
- 89% of B2B customers begin their buying process with a search engine. Are you missing out on customers at the top of the marketing funnel?
- B2B search is vastly different from B2C. Where B2C focuses on competitive pricing, reviews, and volume, B2B success flows from directly addressing the buyer’s need, establishing credibility, and providing evidence your solution works.
- 45% of enterprises are investing more than $20,000 on SEM each month. What is your strategy to combat competitors targeting your brand in search?
How can you make sure you’re getting the most return for your pay-per-click cost? Here are a few tactics we use at Golden Spiral to ensure each dollar is used to its fullest.
Recognize that B2B Search is Vastly Different from B2C Search
The first step in an effective SEM campaign is knowing that human nature drives search. And what drives human nature is need. The B2B buyer is searching for a solution to a large-scale pain point or business concern. Whether it’s looking for the best CRM or finding an enterprise-level web scraping solution, the B2B space is smaller than the B2C one, but much more targeted with plenty of opportunities.
Unlike traditional marketing platforms (i.e. TV, newspapers, radio, etc.), digital allows for true data-driven systems to manage lead generation. Where the B2C scenarios focus on competitive pricing, personal connection, reviews, and volume, B2B success flows from directly addressing the buyer’s need, establishing credibility, and providing evidence your solution works.
5 Components of an Effective PPC Campaign
For Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns to succeed in the B2B environment, they have to use the technology built into the search ad platform—be it Google AdWords, Bing Ads, or another solution. PPC platforms operate on mathematical principles and you can leverage these principles to your favor by bringing science into these five areas of your PPC efforts:
1. Paid Ads
Working with your landing page and keywords, your ads can either invite the right or wrong person to your website. You wouldn’t stand outside a car dealership offering free samples of food, would you? Your ads have to speak to the ideal B2B decision-maker’s need, even if the user seeing the ad isn’t the final decision-maker. The ad is a representation of the solution you’re offering, the brand, and the answer to the query the user searched—when all those align, you fill the funnel with the right individuals for the right reasons.
Ads are the primary factor in determining the cost you pay based on the user search they show for. When ads don’t align with targeted keywords and/or a landing page, you pay for that irrelevance. When they do align, you win because the user wins, and so does the ad platform.
2. Bids and Budgets
The PPC system is an auction. Your bids on the keywords are exactly that: bids for placements. Through impressions, you can show your brand (via an ad) to a user. If you’re not willing to “win” a user at the auction’s base cost, the PPC algorithm notices and reduces the way it treats your ads and campaigns. This is why you have to set budgets that make sense for the costs associated with your bids. If your budget is $30/day, but your Cost Per Click (CPC) is $15, how likely are you to be shown? Not likely.
3. Campaign structures
PPC platforms evaluate the structure of campaigns as a quality function of the auction. How you arrange ad groups with ads and keywords shows how much effort you’ve put into your strategy. A well-structured campaign offers quality signals just as much as a good user experience does. Well-organized campaigns also allow for quick, efficient optimizations, as it is easy to translate activity and data into insight and campaign refinements. If you can’t tell the wins from the losses, you run the risk of changing something that is driving leads.
With search ads, your keywords are one part of a major digital marketing structure. The keywords initiate the PPC auction but also connect you to the potential buyer of your product or service. The terms in your campaigns need to be well-thought-out and based on data, rather than a feeling.
Personas informed by successful digital sales, keyword research related to your industry, and an understanding of how your target buyer searches for solutions can (read: should) determine the keywords in your campaigns. Depending on the platform, you should align how you target a term with how your ideal buyer searches. There is a big difference between “health record system” and “EHR service,” for example, not only because of the words but also the context.
Are you a national or local business? Looking to target 18–35-year-olds or everyone over 40? Should your ads display 24 hours per day or only during business hours? Data is your friend. Depending on your niche or industry, the settings in the platform can be used to ensure you’re maximizing your budget while also refining your efforts to align with the search habits of your top potential buyers. If you know that the CEOs you’re pursuing in search are in meetings from 9 am to 12 pm, you may run your ads from 11 am to 7 pm to get the most out of their screen time. A little research into the way the target marker “works” can help you set up your campaigns in a meaningful and valuable way.
These are just a few of the optimizations that can and should be made to any PPC campaign. Although these are the most important from our experience, every situation is unique, so depending on your marketing needs, you may find that doing something slightly different may have a great impact.
The First Thing to Do After Reading This Article
Take a critical look at your company’s current PPC expenditure. If you’re already spending, do you have someone regularly reviewing and optimizing campaigns? If not, your company may be throwing money at funnel that isn’t generating real leads. Search around for queries that your buyers may be using and see who’s targeting those searches. Competitors may even be using search campaigns to target your brand name and pull decision-stage customers away before they make it to your site.
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Updated from May 10, 2018