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A guide for using Google Ads for B2B lead generation

Reaching a B2B audience through paid channels can be tricky. These types of campaigns often suffer from a variety of common challenges including highly competitive and expensive keywords in industries like finance and marketing, a smaller keyword playing field with lower search volumes than you’d like.

 Richard J Pickul
Richard J Pickul Published on Tue, 10 Mar, 2020 Reading time: 6 Minutes

B2B conversions can also be hard to quantity compared with B2C conversions because they can occur offline or out-of-band far more frequently and this can make it difficult to connect it up with leads > revenue.

In this article we’ll be reviewing some of the challenges of B2B Search Engine Management campaigns and we’ll discuss how B2B marketers can navigate around the most common obstacles and get the most from their paid search ads.

Challenges of B2B audiences

If you’re using paid marketing channels (Google Ads, Bing Ads or Linkedin Ads) you’ll know that these types of channels are an integral part of finding new clients. With over 62% of B2B buyers saying that a web search was one of the first resources they used when starting their buying journey.

Even though B2B buyers are clearly using search engines to discover new product and services, paid search in the B2B space suffers from many challenges. Here’s a quick summary of the types you’ll experience.

1. Long Sales Cycle

It’s probably unsurprising that B2B sales have extended sales cycle. It can be as short as a few minutes but more likely, it’s going to be in the several days or even weeks period. Why? Obtaining sign offs, permissions and signatures on PO’s are the main hold-up. This and B2B sales are usually strategic in nature and require additional thinking behind them.

2. Highly competitive keywords

Depending upon the industry, B2B keyword inventory can be incredibly expensive. Wordstream reports that the average CPC for B2B terms is over $3, whilst most B2C terms range from between £1.50 > £3.00. There are a few caveats like financial or legal services but on the whole, it’s generally considered cheaper to target consumers.

3. Lower inventory than B2C terms.

B2B terms generally get less searches than B2C terms. There just aren’t as many people searching for ‘database hosting providers’ as there are searching for ‘warm gloves’ etc.

4. Complexity

The complex nature of B2B products and services in certain industries such as technology, healthcare and telecommunications can make keyword targeting and ad copy copywriting particularly challenging.

5. B2B vs B2C keyword crossover.

With the consumerization of business services and tools, the once complex vernacular is being whittled down and becoming more confused. Searching for ‘Cleaning services’ may provide you with household cleaners and data cleaning services for large databases. Targeting well has never been so important than it is now.

Benefits of using SEM for B2B lead generation

Whilst the challenges can seem daunting, using paid search has huge potential for B2B companies. With the high value per sale from a B2B sale, businesses can generate hugely profitable campaigns through PPC. Even when CPC is over £10, we’ve still seen great margins created through paid channels.

Additionally, since many B2B campaigns are focused on lead generation rather than direct sales, paid search is a great way to get new prospects into the sales pipeline quickly.

If people don’t convert on your landing page, they may end up exploring your website and signing up for an email newsletter or reaching out via your contact form. Remember, after they’ve made it into your sales database, you can start to build a relationship and eventually generate meaningful revenue from them over the long term.

Keyword selection

I love a bit of keyword selection. In the B2B world, it’s the most crucial element of setting up a campaign.

Even if you have a live campaign or a set of keywords ready to go, it’s hugely valuable to do some research to determine exactly what your audience is searching for.

Google’s Keyword Planner is an exceptional tool and it’s completely FREE through Google Ads. This tool helps advertisers discover new keywords and get search volume and keyword forecasts. To access the tool, do you the following.

1. Log into your Google Ads account.

2. Click on the Wrench icon at the top of the screen. Select Keyword Planner from the Drop-down menu.

There are also some (paid) Search Engine Management tools that can be helpful for advertisers who want to dig more deeply. The majority of these tools provide some level of competitive information which can be very helpful when researching new keywords but a word of warning – this information is usually old (normally by a few months) so it’s best to use it as a guide rather than a hard and fast fact.

SEMrush and Spyfu are two examples of keyword intelligence tools. You can test them out to see what kind of information they provide, though the results are limited unless you subscribe.

Tips to minimize unqualified clicks.

Since one of the biggest challenges with B2B paid search campaigns I competition (leading to high CPCs), followed by unqualified clicks, we’re going to review some ways you can reduce clicks from unqualified searchers.

Be specific

Keywords – It’s crucial for B2B marketers to be extremely specific with their keyword selection, ad messaging and landing page creation. Your clicks are expensive so make them count.

Ads – In an ideal world, you’ll bid on keywords that are relevant to your business or product but this isn’t always clear-cut. This is where your landing page comes into play. You can add an extra level of qualification to help deter those without a relevant interest through the wording of your Landing page or by better targeting the type of client you’re appealing to.

Introduce advanced settings to avoid wasted clicks

Geotargeting – Even if you’re targeting a global audience, you will likely want to setup geotargeting to ensure your ads only appear where you’re sure to get viable leads. This is particularly helpful for advertisers with limited budgets (which is most of us). You could exclude locations that don’t have a good return. This is a very flexible feature since advertisers can exclude locations in a variety of ways of including country, zip code, city and more.

Scheduling – You can restrict when your adverts show. For example, if you find that your clients are more receptive during working hours you can stop your adverts from showing outside of these core hours.

Negative keywords – Adding negative keywords to your account is another way to minimize wasted clicks. Adding ‘free’ into your negative keyword list will stop your adverts showing for searches including the word ‘free’. If your product is premium and you find that searches including ‘free’ are costing budget and not returning any sales, adding the word to your negative list is a great way of avoiding clicks by similar customers.

Optimization – The Summary

We’ve only really scratched the surface of what can be done to help avoid wasted budget for B2B paid campaigns. The bottom line is that when it comes to search, nothing is written in stone. There are no guaranteed ways to improve the performance of your campaign but through review and optimizations, you can gradually improve the output of your campaigns and eventually enjoy the results.

Whether you’re about the launch a campaign for the first time or you’ve been running Google Ads for years, there’s always room to optimize and improve the quality of your paid search leads.

Richard J Pickul
Richard J Pickul Published on Tue, 10 Mar, 2020

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