How to Make PPC Work for B2B Marketing (Guest Post)

Lucas Miller is a freelance blogger, content marketer and advocate for what he likes to call, "Editorial Entrepreneurship." When not working to strengthen Echelon Copy and Green Splatter, he's busy reading, writing or running alongside the Wasatch Mountains mountains in Provo, Utah. Also, for what it's worth, he claims to have an incredible head of hair.

Whether it be through search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media or some sort of strategic media outreach, the vast majority of product- and service-pushing outlets have the genuine potential to produce an impressive return on investment (ROI) for those who use them—pay-per-click (PPC) advertising confidently follows suit in this regard.

And with good reason—more than most marketing means, PPC has the ability to provide brands with real, measurable results, yet in a highly predictable format, as well. There is one problem here, though—if you’ve ever tried using PPC advertising as part of a B2B marketing campaign either for yourself or a client, you know how difficult things can quickly become.

The Challenges of B2B Business Models

So, with this in mind, what is it exactly that makes PPC advertising a more trying affair for B2B marketers? For swift changes to be made, they’ll first need to be both identified and understood. Below, you’ll find five of the biggest, most pressing issues B2B marketers encounter with PPC:

  • Challenge #1 - The sales cycle tends to be longer than those of a B2C nature.
  • Challenge #2 - The B2B space is a crowded one—competition runs rampant.
  • Challenge #3 - Though niche markets are a blessing, they make targeting tougher.
  • Challenge #4 - B2B products and services tend to come with higher price tags.
  • Challenge #5 - Big-ticket items bring comparison shoppers out of the woodworks.

Don’t get me wrong or anything—PPC is still very much a viable option for B2B campaigns. That said, with each of the above a widespread problem in today’s B2B climate, it’s vital that PPC advertisers adjust their various strategies to account for differences in buyer behavior.

5 Things All B2B Marketers Must Keep In Mind With PPC

While it’s true that using PPC for B2B marketing is more complicated than for its B2C counterpart, it can still be successfully leveraged with the right strategies in place. Below, you’ll find five to help make PPC an effective advertising tool when working as or for B2B brands. While the techniques you’ll use will vary depending on priorities, all will get the job done.

1) The Target Sales Funnel

As previously made mention, the sales cycle for the typical B2B buyer is a lengthy one. In fact, studies have shown that the average B2B user conducts at least 12 Google searches before performing a single brand search. On its surface, this might seem like a problem. What it means, however, is that larger, more generic problems are being searched for upfront.

Needless to say, as a B2B marketer, use this information to your advantage by both bidding on problem-based keywords and producing solution-oriented content. Furthermore, as far as most on-site content is concerned, provide effective, yet distanced solutions—no selling. You’ll want to save the sales-heavy stuff for the keywords you bid on for those at the bottom of your funnel.

2) The Need for Sound Ad Testing

One of the biggest mistakes PPC “specialists” routinely make is, whether intentional or not, forgetting to test their ad copy. Seriously, it’s impossible to understate the importance of ad testing. Think about it—for B2B brands, your ads are the first experience prospective client companies will have with your business. You’d be smart to put your best foot forward.

Testing allows you to determine whether or not you’re connecting with buyers at each stage of the sales funnel. No matter how well you know your audience, assuming that what you’re doing will work is a tried-and-true recipe for failure—especially when launching a B2B campaign. Test until you’ve discovered something of statistical significance—from there, move onto the next ad.

3) Remarketing Is an Absolute Must

Ready for some remarketing magic? If you’ve never tried your hand at it as part of previous campaigns, you’ll likely need to give it a whirl. Remember, the B2B sales cycle generally takes longer to complete than most. As such, remarketing often gives buyers a nudge in the right direction, reminding them that they’ve looked into using your company in the past.

When remarketing for B2B purposes,  keep in mind that you’re approaching people who are already familiar with your brand—they form a valuable portion ofyour digital audience. Because of this, built out messages that are meant specifically for them—at a warmer buying temperature, they should’t be treated as if they’re to visit your site for the first time.

4) Make Certain to Test Any and All Landing Pages

Ads are one thing, but without a series of well-built landing pages in place to help maximize clicks, they’re of little worth to you and your B2B team. Seeing as how landing pages are capable of making or breaking your PPC campaign, get them right the first time around.

According to Rory Witt of DigiMar, a PPC agency based in San Diego, Calif., there are five key mistakes digital marketers frequently make when creating landing pages for future customers:

  • Mistake #1 - The page loads slowly. Make certain yours loads in at least five seconds.
  • Mistake #2 - The design of the page is jumbled, messy and hard to follow for visitors.
  • Mistake #3 - Headlines haven’t been given the time and attention the deserve.
  • Mistake #4 - The page is filled with text, but lacks other types of engaging media.
  • Mistake #5 - The call-to-action (CTA) is forgettable, confusing or hard to find.

But enough with what doesn’t work—let’s focus for a brief moment on what you should do to take your B2B landing pages to the next level. For starters, when building out landing pages for PPC campaigns, focus the content around what’s spoken of in your ads—they’re more powerful that way. Additionally, make your CTAs as clear-cut as humanly possible—they’re big for sales.

Next, similar to what was done in the second point on this list, test the landing pages you’ve developed. Run a landing page for a few weeks. Then, using the original as a control, adjust it slightly to best determine what leads to meaningful B2B conversion. Once again, continue this test until you’ve discovered a statistical advantage. That way, you spend your ad dollars wisely.

5) Last But Not Least—Don’t Forget About Auction Insights

Of the five items mentioned on this list, this one is arguably the most important—it’s in your best interest to utilize AdWords' Auction Insights reports to get a better idea of the following:

  • Benefit #1 - Average Position
  • Benefit #2 - Impression Share
  • Benefit #3 - Outranking Share
  • Benefit #4 - Top-of-Page Rate
  • Benefit #5 - Position-Above Rate

The greater PPC industry moves at a fast pace. Combine that with the constant noise and crowding of the B2B sector, and to come out on top, your best bet is to keep up with who’s aggressively jockeying for the keywords you’re hoping to grab. Use Auction Insights to keep an eye on what the competition is doing to claim a more sizable portion of your target audience.

Wrapping Things Up

Tackling a PPC initiative for a B2B brand doesn’t need to feel like an exercise in workplace patience or determination—simply put, there’s an easier way to go about doing things. By adhering to each of the above suggestions, you’ll soon see the results you so desperately seek.