B2B Marketing Blog

5 Questions B2B Companies Should Ask Their Paid Search Agency

By Lauren Frye
Jan 11, 2016
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Businesses should be smart about where they invest their marketing budget, of course. But it’s surprising how many businesses work with a B2B paid search agency without asking some very important questions.

While the reports they receive back from these service vendors may seem worthy of the cost of their advertising, it’s prudent to ask the tough questions and probe for ways to make your investment even more rewarding.

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If your business has revenue goals, your paid search agency should be working to achieve the KPIs that will help the company reach their intended mark. And each of these performance indicators should be measured in terms of revenue.

And -- don’t just take ‘yes’ for an answer. Probe further to see how your agency plans to help you accomplish your revenue goals. What kind of tracking are they doing? What kind of reports are they generating? What kind of metrics are they measuring? What kind of software are they using?

Ask your B2B paid search agency these next five questions in order to make sure that you’re all successfully working toward the same ultimate goal -- revenue.

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[QUESTION 1] Are we optimizing our keyword selection by how much revenue each one generates?

In the past, keywords selection was primarily a guessing game. There was no way to track which leads were generated by which keywords. And, it was a tedious manual process to link those leads directly to the opportunities created and the revenue generated in the long run.

However, marketing technology has advanced to the point that advanced attribution solutions are available to marketers. If a company installs an attribution solution for their paid search agency to use, they can track which specific keywords, campaigns, and display ads generated the most revenue and capitalize on that success. It’s not a guessing game of views, clicks, and landing page conversions any longer. Now, the game can be played to win revenue.

Rich Norwood at ClosedOpp tells his story about how B2B marketing attribution has influenced his agency’s approach to paid advertising. He says, “[Attribution] gives my clients a major competitive advantage in that they see exactly which keywords cause their best opportunities and deals. The other tools can give you some idea of what is and is not working, but [attribution] is the only tool that gets 100% of your data right.”

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[QUESTION 2] Are our ad network accounts connected to our CRM?

A customer relationship management system should be able to track customers through their entire buying journey. It’s immeasurably helpful for all important information about a potential customer to be kept in the same place in order to streamline the marketing and sales process. The CRM is customarily the driving force behind this type of organization.

As such, it’s important for a CRM to contain all the data that it possibly can in order to better inform marketing decisions regarding strategy and spend. This is why it’s important for paid advertising channels to funnel their data into your CRM. By establishing these data connections, marketers are able to see the paid advertising keywords, campaigns, and ads that were responsible for conversions early on in a customer’s buying cycle.

Ideally, a paid search agency should know which marketing activities more often converted customers and generated revenue. That way, they’re able to spend your money on initiatives that have already proven to make you money.

If your paid search agency knows which of these marketing activities more often convert to customers and generate revenue down the road, they’re able to spend your money on initiatives that have proven to make you money in the past.

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[QUESTION 3] How would we go about connecting our ad network accounts to our CRM?

If their answer to Question 2 is ‘no,’ a marketing attribution program is able to connect advertising network accounts to a CRM through an API integration. API integrations occur when software applications are able to connect with each other on a programming interface level. Basically, the programs have to be built to talk to each other.

This allows for seamless data transfers, creating one smooth set of information that connects from start to finish without a hitch.

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[QUESTION 4] Do we use cookies to track anonymous visitors after they arrive on our site through our search and display ads?

After a visitor arrives on your website though a paid ad, there are no personal identifiers that could link that visitor to their real identity. The President of the United States could be viewing your website, and you would never know. There’s no email address, no name, no contact details, no company information -- nothing that could be ported over into the CRM.

Hence, it becomes necessary to save this unknown prospect’s web activity history anonymously. This is done by using cookies to track a user’s movements and detect when they return to the site by matching cookie IDs. Anonymously tracking prospects who aren’t yet leads in your CRM is the second piece to discovering how your top-of-funnel marketing activities are converting to revenue.

Imagine a prospect clicks an ad, visits your website, and then leaves. The next day, she sees a social post, clicks the link, views the site, and then leaves. A week later, she enters a keyword and finds your site again, only this time she downloads a piece of content.

Without marketing attribution, that lead would have supposedly been generated by the content download. But really, there were three key marketing touchpoints prior to that form fill that were influential in converting the lead.

Marketing attribution software can track a user’s activity so that, when that lead is created in the CRM, it also ports over the past marketing touchpoints that the (then anonymous) prospect had experienced.

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[QUESTION 5] What type of attribution is used to create the reports you develop? Should we switch to a multi-touch attribution model?

The previous scenario is based on multi-touch attribution, an attribution system that attributes revenue to multiple touchpoints throughout the buyer’s journey. However, some attribution systems only use a single-touch model, where all of the revenue credit is given to one touch along the entire marketing and sales funnel. Not only does this skew the reported data, but it also neglects to recognize key marketing components that served to motivate a buyer.

In our example, if a company used a single-touch model, all of the potential revenue credit would be doled out to the lead conversion landing page, or to the organic search keyword. However, the first-ever touchpoint -- the display ad -- goes completely unrecognized.

Without all of the data, it’s impossible to optimize properly, and that’s why a multi-touch attribution model is so crucial. So, ask your paid search agency:

  • if you’re using attribution
  • which attribution model you’re using
  • if they would consider moving to a multi-touch model

CMO of MongoDB, Meagen Eisenberg, has called their marketing attribution software “an essential tool in our marketing technology stack.” B2B marketers are recognizing the indispensable power of marketing attribution, and more and more influential players in the marketing space are wholeheartedly jumping on the bandwagon.

Meagen Eisenberg went on to note, “[Marketing attribution] has given us better insights to where marketing is contributing to revenue and we can make changes accordingly."

Marketing attribution can set a company apart from the rest. If your paid search agency is on board, they’ll have the tools they need to proficiently optimize for revenue.  

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