Planning B2B Search Marketing

Business to business markets are still quite reluctant to use pay-per-click campaigns as a way to boost business. The purchasing cycles in the markets are longer, buyers are more educated and price sensitive and the internet is historically not a popular distribution channel for these types of products.

However, when you consider the generally higher profit margins with transactions which have much higher values, a small PPC campaign that is responsible for just a handful purchases can more than account for the advertising costs, as well as serve to increase brand awareness.

But these campaigns can also often fail when they’re poorly managed, or waste resources. Vital factors to keep in mind include:

Track Your Leads

It’s unlikely that a potential customer would make a huge purchase after reviewing some datasheets and looking over the prices. The cycle will probably involve a series of phone calls, a meeting and perhaps even a formal negotiation towards the end.

As such, tracking the success of your PPC campaign is more complex with B2B markets, as the campaigns don’t often lead to a direct conversion. Call tracking and CRM integration is good way to measure success.

Call tracking assigns a specific phone number for the business for each campaign, which is displayed on that campaign. This way you can see where your leads are coming from and which targeting methods are most successful and which need to be abandoned.

Find the Right Key Performance Indicators

You have campaigns which are accumulating monthly costs while you have a sales cycle which can be up to a year long. Using monthly, or even quarterly, return on investment as a performance metric can be short-sighted.

Instead, try using KPIs which are realistic and can more specifically tell you if your PPC campaign is worth the expenditure. Instead of using cost-per-conversion, you may want to substitute with a more indicative ratio, such as cost per sales appointment or cost per qualified lead for example. This will tell you that the campaign is working, but that the sales pitch or value proposition is losing potential customers.

Make Sure Keywords Are Targeted Not Just Popular

When doing keyword research, we often go for the keywords which get the most local searches. However, it discounts the intent behind these keywords.

If you pick a keyword which has a double meaning or can be applied in a variety of different industries, you could end up coming up in the wrong results. And worse, this inappropriate target market may even click on your PPC advertisement.

Ad Scheduling

As one might imagine, the majority of conversions on B2B websites occur during working hours. People don’t often look to make business purchases during their casual hours.

Use this fact to target your advertisements so they only display during these hours, so as not to be wasteful with your PPC budget. Google offers AdScheduling which allows you to do just that.

Ad Copy Targeting

Even if you take care to use carefully targeted keywords for your campaign, as mentioned above, your ad copy itself may encourage the wrong people to click through on your ad.

This makes targeting ad text just as important as targeting the right keywords, especially when it comes to business to business propositions.

With that in mind, try and make sure your ad text keeps focused on your target. It’s no good getting middle management interested when you really need to connect with the decision makers.

Evaluate the Appropriate Response for Leads

As many sales people know, not every lead should get the same response. The response should depend on which stage of the sales cycle they are in. Being too aggressive may scare off customers who are just seeking background information.

There are lead scoring and lead nurturing online services and software packages, but the real key to succeeding in this practice, is training sales staff to use these new lead sources.

Other Internet Advertising Methods

Depending on your product, you might want to consider a different advertising method. If your product is not a directly sought-out business solution, paid search might be less effective.

People won’t search for a product they don’t even know they want. Using Contextual Advertising, which displays ads to users on participating sites, based on their search and browsing habits, may be a better way to find qualified leads, or at least build brand awareness.