PPC marketing is a channel that has a great track record of helping businesses reach their goals, whether it is additional sales, leads, or other actions. However, if you’ve ever tried to tackle B2B PPC marketing, you probably know that it’s a totally different game than B2C. It presents challenges in finding the right audience and getting them to complete an action that usually takes a longer time than B2C transactions. In this post, we will explore marketing to B2B audiences and discover how we can leverage PPC to reach our goals.
First, we need to understand that B2B companies usually have challenges within their business model that aren’t necessarily PPC-friendly. Some of those challenges are, but not limited to:
- Longer sales cycles
- High competition
- Niche markets
- Higher-priced purchases
- Comparison shoppers
Rest assured, PPC can still be a viable tool for B2B marketers – even with the above challenges present. We simply need to think differently and shift our mindset to that of the B2B user and their behavior.
The B2B User
Before you start your marketing efforts, take a few minutes to understand the B2B user. One lesson I’ve learned throughout all of my years in PPC is that my assumptions are usually wrong. The best thing to do is spend some time researching and understanding your audience before investing valuable marketing dollars into your campaign.
Google has helped us in this effort and provided some really interesting information about the B2B audience, which can be found here.
Some of the biggest takeaways from Google’s study is that the B2B search audience is younger than ever before, which is important for marketers to understand as they craft their messaging. Also important to note is that the B2B user does approximately 12 searches before ever typing in a branded query. This presents a great opportunity for B2B advertisers to make their way to the user earlier on those generic keywords and serve them content that will help gain brand recognition and build their trust. The study also showed that it isn’t just C-level employees giving final approval on B2B purchases anymore. Knowing this information gives us another audience to market to.
Even though it might be tougher than B2C marketing, there are plenty of ways to leverage PPC with a B2B advertiser. Below are just some of the ways I like to use PPC when working with B2B advertisers. Of course, the path you take will depend on the specifics of the advertiser you’re working with and their goals.
- Target sales funnel
- Ad testing
- Landing page testing/CRO
- Auction Insights
Target Sales Funnel
With B2B sales, the funnel is extremely important. Remember when I mentioned that the average user conducts 12 searches before performing a brand search? Well, those initial searches are usually top of the funnel queries that are more likely to be generic and reflect a problem that someone is trying to solve. Use this as your opportunity to bid on problem-based keywords and deliver solution-oriented content.
It’s important to think about where they are in the funnel when you decide what content to provide. If they’re in the top of the funnel, they’re in the awareness stage and aren’t ready to commit to a solution yet. This is a great opportunity to prompt them to download a whitepaper or do a free demo. Save the sales-heavy stuff for when bidding on keywords toward the bottom of the funnel. Those users are ready to make a decision, so take advantage of it.
Your ads are the first interaction your company has with a new user, so it’s wise to put your effort into making sure that you’re showing the best ads possible. You should definitely engage in ad testing with your B2B campaign to ensure that your messaging resonates with people based on where they are in the funnel. As I said earlier in this post, assumptions of what will work rarely suffice when it comes to ad copy. Rather, test a variety of messaging until you’ve achieved statistical significance and then test some more.
With the B2B world typically having a longer sales cycle and different levels of approval needed along the way, remarketing can be a great tool in your toolkit. Use this as your way to remind previous visitors that they were researching your product. Also, use RLSA as a way to bid on generic terms that wouldn’t perform well in a regular search campaign. And don’t forget to take advantage of the fact that this audience is more valuable and message them differently than someone coming through to your site for the first time.
Landing Page Testing
Your ads are the first interaction your company has with a new user, but your landing pages are arguably the most important interaction. You have just invested your valuable marketing dollars to deliver this user to your landing page. This is your one opportunity to get the user to complete your desired action.
Focus on creating landing pages that present the information promised in your ad and have a clear call-to-action for users to take. After you’ve been running that page for a little while, create a variation and test it against the control page. Run the test until it reaches statistical significance and then introduce a new variation to run against the winner. This process helps ensure that our marketing dollars are working for us in the best way possible.
If you haven’t yet looked at the AdWords Auction Insights report, today would be a great day to get started. Competition can be steep in the B2B world and it’s important to know who is aggressively competing for us on the same keywords. The Auction Insights report can give us information on our competitors in the following areas:
- Impression share
- Average position
- Overlap rate
- Top of page rate
- Position above rate
- Outranking share
Keeping a close eye on this report can really give you a deeper understanding of which advertisers are impacting the landscape and potentially driving up your costs. It can also open your eyes to competitors who you didn’t have on your radar before.
Though up against challenges, B2B companies can successfully leverage PPC and make it an integral part of their marketing mix. The key to success is to speak to users where they are in the funnel to build trust, test ad messaging and landing pages, utilize remarketing, and keep a close eye on the competition. Put all those things together and watch your campaigns grow.