What’s PPC and should I use it as a B2B company?
Developed in 1996 (before Google!) PPC, or pay-per-click is an advertising method in which the advertiser pays only when a user clicks on an ad—not when they view it. PPC is useful for companies to drive website traffic and direct users to specific landing pages. For B2B, optimizing those landing pages for conversions makes PPC a reliable channel for lead generation.
If B2B companies don’t use PPC advertising, they’re missing out on potential customers. B2B customers are online, just as B2C customers are, searching on Google for services, solutions and software. Your company should be present and accounted for in the B2B PPC space, as well.
If you are using PPC already, awesome. However, we see several common mistakes in research and development for PPC ads. To start, it’s helpful to know how the ad channels work, and how to best use them.
PPC Ad Channels
Generally speaking, B2B marketers should be familiar with the ins and outs of Google, MSN, and LinkedIn ads. To use them successfully, you need to know your target market, audience, and personas. By matching your messaging to your audience, you can offer an applicable solution to their challenges and increase conversions.
Google Ads is what most of us think of when discussing PPC campaigns. However, the search engine giant doesn’t have great audience targeting for PPC. Therefore, you’ll need determine and focus on your best keywords, so you can hyper-target for who is Googling exactly what you sell. If you’re specific (e.g. If you’re selling a software, make sure your keyword includes that) and you create the right CTA on your landing page, you can take advantage of the best parts of Google Ads. Read more on our blog for best practices on B2B Google search ads.
MSN Ads have been getting recent attention due to the connection to ChatGPT under the Microsoft umbrella—but really, they’ve been around for a while. Some B2B industries, like manufacturing, thrive with MSN organically. If you see promising metrics from MSN organic traffic, don’t miss an opportunity: Test out a PPC campaign in MSN while you do your Google PPC. You can even click one button to import your Google Ads info over to MSN Ads. Need more encouragement? It will cost you a lot less: MSN Ads are about ⅓ of the price of Google ads. Some audiences tend to use MSN over Google. Be sure to capture your leads where they’re searching.
Stop procrastinating on your LinkedIn Ads. According to Hubspot, 65% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through LinkedIn paid ads. LinkedIn PPC is great for B2B thanks to the ability to target the audience by industry, role, and company size. You can essentially filter out anyone who doesn’t fit even a narrowly defined ICP. And when you know exactly who you’re speaking to, you can address (and solve) their exact pain points through your ad.
Now that you’ve brushed up on PPC ad platforms, you might feel ready to create your campaign. Before you do, we gathered the top 10 mistakes we’ve seen marketers make in B2B PPC so you can avoid them and start bringing in more leads on whichever platform you choose.
#1 Not Tracking Conversions
You know the Solid Digital saying: “What gets measured gets done.” If you are not measuring the results of your PPC campaigns , money and time are likely being wasted. Research and management are all part of the process—so you’ll need to make sure you’re tracking every conversion. Seeing what works and what doesn’t You can use tracking for Google Ads, MSN Ads and LinkedIn so that you can compare channels, time periods and metrics like visits, time on site and form fills in GA4. If you are always working with a PPC agency, ensure transparency by asking for monthly meetings and reporting to get an understanding of your ROI.
#2 Going Too Broad
Not everyone is looking for your product. You’re not selling shoes. You’re selling something for another business to use as a solution—we’re looking at you, SaaS companies. The B2B audience you are targeting is most likely much smaller than the average B2C audience. Stop talking to the whole wide world, and start being selective about who you’re targeting, and how. Doing this in the context of PPC means making use of phrase and exact match types as well as long-tail keywords.
#3 Not Using Negative Keywords
Look at the search queries coming through not just for keywords to add to your account, but for irrelevant keywords that you can add as negative keywords as well. By adding negative keywords into your PPC campaigns, you will ensure that you don’t suffer from low click-through-rates due to impressions of those keywords without clicks, or from wasted costs if you do get clicks. Cut the fluff and cut the costs. Put negative keywords into ad groups, campaigns or even shared negative keyword lists that apply to multiple campaigns.
#4 Crock Pot Method—Set it and Forget It
B2B PPC is not a billboard or a Yellow Pages ad. You can’t launch a PPC campaign and walk away. The SERP (search engine results page) is not static and you’ll need to check in to keep up with changes your competitors and the search engines are making with each new search query. With Google’s constant experimentation, you too should be testing the waters to see what’s working and what isn’t, and allow small shifts (with a control) so results are clear and decisions are data-driven. In addition to this, your competitors will always be updating their efforts, which will impact the cost of your ads. Solve this issue by looking at your ad performance every week (or more)—put it on your regular calendar schedule—to see what adjustments can and should be made.
#5 Not Using the Right Landing Page
The last thing you want your site visitor to do is say, “Why’d I end up here?” and leave. If you use the wrong landing page your bounce rate may jump up. You’ll also have spent your budget on clicks that aren’t getting you results. Make the journey obvious and easy by matching the keywords and ads with your ad group’s landing page. Alignment will get you the desired conversion. All that said, not every campaign will need a new landing page to be created. Brands can often use pages already on their websites – just ensure there’s:
- A clear call-to-action (button or form)
- Some sort of social proof
- Info on what the user has searched for
#6 Not Using a CTA (Or the Wrong CTA)
You might target users in different stages of the buying cycle through different keywords and campaigns. This means that your call to action should vary as well just like it does on your website for users in various parts of your funnel. LinkedIn ads do particularly well when you offer something of value to users such as an industry-specific download or free webinar sign-up. Search ads on the other hand are shown to those seeking out your services and solutions so you can ask for form fills, sign ups for demos and get those visitors into your sales funnel.
#7 Ignoring MSN and LinkedIn Ads
If you’ve wondered if anyone searches on Bing (which shows MSN ads) the answer might surprise you. To determine if it’s a fit for your ads, you can take a look at how your organic traffic on Bing performs – if it’s equal or better than the metrics you see from Google Organic, try it. With increasing success over the years, it’s worth expanding your budget a bit and you don’t need to double it to test a campaign or two on MSN. Take some of what you spend on Google and siphon it towards MSN Ads.
LinkedIn Ads have been growing in popularity and success as well. LinkedIn found that ad viewers typically have 2x the buying power of other ad platform users. Additionally, the same study revealed that 4 of 5 LinkedIn ad platform users drive business decisions. For B2B, this is exactly the audience you’ll need to convince with your ad. And, as mentioned above, the targeted audiences you can create in LinkedIn can be especially useful when you have clear ICPs and messaging.
#8 Not Utilizing Settings
When you set up your ads, be sure to look at your settings. For instance, you can target Google Ad campaigns by geo meaning more targeted ad language, landing pages and higher likelihood of conversions. You can also adjust bids by device – B2B often doesn’t do well with tablet users and sometimes even mobile users don’t give you intended results. Another oft-forgotten setting that we find useful for B2B companies? Adjusting your schedule by days and hours. If you don’t see conversions coming in overnight and on the weekends – use your budget during the work day when it works best for you.
#9 Not Looking at Competition
This is especially important for paid search when you are competing against your competitors in an auction to show in those top three ad spots. Do your own searches for your most important keywords and note who else is showing (and how their ad copy compares to yours). You can also use tools such as SEMrush to get an idea of competitors’ keywords and ad copy.
#10 Not Doing A/B Testing
Data, experiments and control are all part of the process. A/B test your ads. Test different landing pages with the same ads to see which converts better. With B2B PPC, consistent improvements make a difference over a stretch of time. For reference, 10-15% of your budget should be allotted for testing. This is a great way to discover new things that work.
For B2B PPC, marketers must understand where potential customers will be. Find them through Google Analytics, by A/B testing, and through keyword and competitor research. Look closely at every detail, and with improved targeting thanks to LinkedIn and easy updates with Google Ads, you can reach your ideal audience. Create a strategy that works for your brand, so you can see steady growth in your B2B marketing efforts through increased website traffic, qualified leads, and higher ROI.