You may wonder if pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a smart marketing strategy for business to business (B2B) companies. Will your ads reach the right people? At what cost? Or will they simply be ignored? Many people have the misconception that PPC advertising is just for business to consumer (B2C) companies.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. PPC advertising can be extremely effective for B2B companies if you know a few core concepts. In this article, we’re going to share some helpful PPC marketing strategies you can use to increase your sales.
Need help developing a profitable PPC campaign that generates highly qualified leads? Cardinal can provide expert PPC management services.
B2B Market Characteristics
One of the main differences between B2C and B2B is the size of the target market you’re trying to reach with your ads. B2C PPC ad campaigns are generally geared towards general consumers and can often be quite large. Whereas, the B2B space is often a little more complex. You’re trying to reach employees at other companies, oftentimes in very niche markets. This means that your PPC campaign will be targeted to a much smaller audience.
However, you can use this to your advantage if you target your ad campaign appropriately. To fulfill this objective, it is helpful to know some of the characteristics of the B2B market. Let’s look at a few of them:
The B2B audience is much smaller.
If your company offers a product to another company, then you have to know who your ideal audience is to be able to create PPC ads specifically directed to them. Don’t expect a large pool of searches within a short period; it’s going to take time to cultivate these leads.
Your company (and advertising campaign) is not the only one in the market.
Even though you are in a niche industry, there is often fierce competition. Your ideal customers are likely evaluating several options from companies similar to yours. If you want to get the lion’s share of the market, your advertising campaign needs to stand out among your competitors.
Your B2B buyer is not a single person.
Within a company, the process of purchasing a product is not done by a single person but rather by a group of people within a department. They will evaluate your product to determine if it is worth buying or not, factoring in whether the benefit outweighs the cost to their company.
The sales process is long.
In a B2B sales cycle, it tends to take longer for people to determine whether they need a product and which one to purchase. Decisions are often made by committees, with multiple layers of approval. Everyone has different priorities and you need to be sure that your product can satisfy their diverse requirements. It’s important to remember this because you may not see an immediate return on your advertising investment.
As you can see, this market is a bit more complex to understand than the B2C market, which is why it is necessary to know the best strategies for developing a PPC ad campaign that will drive your business’s growth.
In marketing a B2B product or service, we hope that these expert tips will help you run successful PPC campaigns to gain as many customers as possible.
Align Your Keyword Strategy with The Buyer’s Journey
The keywords you select for your ad campaigns have a direct impact on the results you’ll generate and your ROI.
As mentioned above, the B2B buyer’s journey can be quite long, especially when many people are involved in the decision-making process. Before they make a purchase decision, they typically go through certain stages, which are: awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, advocacy.
Products and solutions in the B2B market are very specific, so the keywords used are equally precise.
When creating your ad, consider how your offer aligns with the buyer’s journey. Are you providing educational content, like an eBook, about a common problem? In that instance, your keywords should focus on the problem that your target audience is experiencing. They don’t know what solutions (or products) exist yet, they are focused on their problem.
As the B2B buyer progresses through the buyer’s journey, their keywords become more specific to the solution they need. At this point, they know exactly what they need to purchase and are often comparing vendors. By targeting these long-tail keywords, you’re more likely to secure a sale since they’re more likely to buy at that point.
An effective PPC strategy includes ads at each stage of the buyer’s journey. When a potential customer visits your landing page, they’re given relevant information that allows them to progress through the stages in the sales funnel.
When developing your strategy, consider each of these stages and create appropriate advertising campaigns around your product. You can then measure your ROI at each stage of the funnel to determine where you should focus your advertising budget.
There are many tools that can help you evaluate keywords for your PPC campaigns, such as Google Keywords Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs.
Stand Out From Your Competitors
There’s a lot of competition in the PPC advertising environment, especially in the B2B market.
Most potential customers will investigate other products like yours before deciding to purchase. That’s why the ‘consideration’ stage is important, giving you the chance to let your advertising campaign distinguish you from your competitors.
Determine which features and benefits differentiate your product from your competitors and make sure you create PPC ads that highlight those.
Create B2B Landing Pages That Convert
Landing pages are web pages within your website where prospects land after clicking on your PPC ads. Landing pages must match your ad copy, be succinct and persuasive, and load quickly to be effective—these are important factors of optimizing your conversion rate.
A landing page usually contains the most important information related to the product that the brand sells, but this is sometimes not the best tactic.
A more effective strategy to adopt in your PPC campaign is to design landing pages primarily for collecting email addresses of prospects and website visitors. For that to work, the landing page should be simple and clearly relay the information that you want your web visitors to grasp.
On your landing page, make sure to place your CTA strategically, even considering using two CTAs- the main one and a secondary one. A secondary CTA gives visitors another chance to convert as they scroll through the page.
Prospects may not give you their email address immediately, but you can persuade them with a powerful lead magnet like an eBook, video, swipe files, templates, et cetera, as well as making your landing page design both responsive and fast.
Use Compelling Ad Copy
Your ad copy is the information that you give to potential clients, where you will also include an appropriate CTA for your product. Here’s an example of an ad copy:
When it comes to the B2C market, ad copy is usually very simple, since words like “buy now” or “order today” prompt immediate action.
On the other hand, in PPC campaigns that target the B2B audience, more specific words should be used. In this market, it’s unlikely that purchases will be made quickly due to the number of people involved in the process.
That’s why you want to give information about your product instead of promoting quick offers. Use phrases like “easy to use”, “easy to integrate”, “ranked best in class”, among others. These phrases resonate in the minds of potential clients and cause them to pay closer attention to what you are offering.
Here are some tips to improve your ad copy:
You don’t want clicks from everyone—you only want the right people to convert on your ads. Include pre-qualifying information in your ads so that only your ideal customer will click. For example, is your product for companies that have 50 employees or 10,000? How much does it cost? If it’s a 50,000 investment, you want to be sure only those with that budget click your ad.
Also, think about who will make the purchase decision. What’s their title? What emotional triggers will they respond to? Including this information in your copy will ensure that those who click are more likely to make a purchase.
Think about common objections they may have and address them in your ad copy. This removes barriers that would prevent them from considering your solution, making it more likely that they’ll click on the ad.
Emphasize Your Key Differentiators.
What makes you different than your competitors? How is your solution superior? What benefits does it give the customer? Distill this information down to succinct points that will persuade your target customer to consider your solution.
Build Trust and Credibility.
If you’ve won awards or have been featured by prominent professional organizations, let the world know! This tells them that others trust you and value your expertise and product or solution. You can also include information from case studies or testimonials. People want to validate their decisions and trust reviews from others, especially prominent figures in their industry.
Speak to Emotions Versus Logic
All purchases appeal to people’s emotions, even those that are made by companies in the B2B space. Therefore, it’s important to develop ad campaigns that appeal to these emotions. This will make your ads more persuasive and increase conversions.
However, in selling products to companies, you also have to appeal a bit to logic because when purchasing an expensive product or service, logic will always hinder quick impulsive purchases.
To appeal to customers’ emotions and at the same time approach it logically, relay the values of your company and demonstrate why your customers should trust you. With a strategy like this, you can win the battle between logic and emotions and ensure that potential customers buy your products.
Use Appropriate CTAs
Since B2B companies are selling a different type of product that benefits a group of people rather than one individual, call-to-actions (CTAs) must be strategic and value-driven. If your PPC ad isn’t generating leads, there’s a chance that your call to action button or text is boring, too generic, or confusing.
In B2C campaigns, the CTA can often be immediate and imply urgency; words that motivate a person to take action right then and there. But for B2B campaigns, this tactic rarely works.
When it comes to creating a B2B call-to-action, the best thing is to offer information instead of the option of immediate purchase. Since the sales cycle is often very long, offering free trials right away is not a good option (because they don’t know enough about your company)—educating them is often more effective.
The purchase process is slow, so the important thing in this type of PPC ad is to attract decision-makers within the organization and give them a reason to discuss your ‘product’ or brand in their next meeting.
Cardinal Digital Marketing uses this tactic all the time by regularly publishing educational content about how to grow your business. To learn more about our PPC management services, visit our website for more information and case studies.
Review, Optimize, and Repeat
It’s also important to constantly evaluate and optimize your campaign by conducting thorough research. This will help you determine which keywords, designs, and offers are the best to use in your PPC ad. Split testing your advertisements can help you eliminate assumptions and base your strategy on facts. You can test different call-to-actions, different statistics, and the benefit that you’re promoting.
It’s also a good idea to stay up to date on any algorithm changes from Google. They change their search algorithms constantly, so this has a great influence on PPC advertising campaigns.
Track B2B Lead Generation Performance
The B2B sales cycle is long because people at the beginning of the B2B process are not quite sure what product or solution they need. They’re still trying to understand their problem and how to solve it. At this stage, they’re looking for information. If you offer high-quality and relevant content in the form of an eBook or guide, they will likely give you their contact information (name and email address) in exchange.
Once you have it, you can nurture them with more educational content and resources. From this point forward, you should be using technologies that will enable you to monitor your prospect’s engagement with your brand. Are they opening your emails? Visiting your website?
Don’t be frustrated in the beginning if your ROI is small. This is a common characteristic of the purchasing process in the B2B market. It takes time for campaigns to show a substantial ROI.
But it’s important to be aware of how much money you are investing compared to what your long-term profit margin will be. You need to know the total cost to acquire a customer. Study the total cost of the campaign, the volume of visits on your landing page, the CTR, and how many email addresses or soft leads you’ll receive.
All these factors will tell you how effective your advertising campaign has been. Fortunately, there are many tools available that allow you to quickly see how your potential clients behave when clicking on your PPC ads.
With this ongoing information, you can constantly improve your PPC advertising campaigns.
When running a PPC campaign, the most important thing is to instill in the customer the feeling of confidence about your brand and your product. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that the sales process in the B2B market can be very slow, but this is not a problem, only a characteristic of the market. You simply have to align your PPC advertising strategy to it.
Founder and CEO
Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).