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B2B paid search marketing can present an array of opportunities and challenges for businesses looking to increase lead generation and overall revenue. As I've written about in the past, paid search is incredibly important for B2B companies and our multi-touch attribution research and deep dive on Marketo's paid search campaigns proved that it can be a massive area for business growth.

To learn more about the possibilities of driving leads through this medium, sat down with online marketing expert, Brad Geddes to get his opinion on the possibilities, challenges and changes we are seeing with paid search.


First, a little about Brad. Brad has been in the digital marketing space for over 15 years, displaying his love and expertise for the field through his writing, training sessions and speaking engagements around the globe. He has participated in a variety of consulting projects from conversion optimization to product positioning and loves to educate clients and fellow marketers on the aspects of successful marketing campaigns. As the author of Advanced Google AdWords he has been a major contributor to the digital marketing space for many years.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing B2B companies when it comes to search marketing?

B2B companies often have quality score issues. If they are prequalifying B2B shoppers with their ads, then their CTRs are low. This leads to lower quality scores. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing as if the B2B companies didn't prequalify the traffic, their lead cost would be very high. So, B2B companies have to be cognizant about quality score; but they can't be obsessed with it over great lead quality. They need to make sure its good enough so their ads show; but sometimes, not so great that they are attracting B2C clicks. Quality Score optimization can be a difficult proposition for B2B companies.

When auditing a B2B AdWords account, what are the three areas to investigate first?

The absolute first thing I talk to the company about is their buying funnel. I need to know how people buy from the company, the follow-up process, length of time from first touch point to conversion, etc so that when examining the account, I can put the goals of any ad group in relation to their funnel.

I often find that a company will have a six month buying cycle, but then doesn't collect email address from whitepapers, or doesn't have a process to consistently collect and follow-up on leads. While this isn't directly related to AdWords, if you don't have a good sales funnel, then the best traffic will still not lead to a lot of sales.

The next thing I examine is their keywords, match types, and negative keywords. I want to know if the account is focusing on B2B, B2C, or both types of words. If the account is using B2C keywords, then they need to have a negative keyword list that focuses on B2C shoppers.

The third item would be the ads. Are the ads written specifically for B2B buyers? If the keywords contain B2C words; then do the ads contain B2B qualifiers on them to weed out the traffic? The reason a lot of B2B accounts have very poor results is that they look like B2C accounts from a keyword and ad standpoint. A B2B account must have filters, either in the keywords or in the ads, that weed out B2C users so the company is only paying for B2B clicks.

The 3rd Edition of Advanced Google AdWords was released this spring. What are some of the biggest changes in the industry you've seen since the last edition?

The two biggest changes are display advertising and bid modifiers.

Google has added a tremendous amount of targeting capabilities to its display network. These range from dynamic remarketing to only showing an ad when a user is: on a certain website, interested in a particular subject, and the page is about a specific topic. The GDN targeting options are a bit staggering, but they can be used to really filter your traffic so you are only getting traffic that has a chance of converting.

While remarketing is often bundled with display as that's the inventory space it takes up, it really is its own type of marketing tactic; and its one that just about every company should use. So while some company types might skip display advertising, all of them, especially long sales-cycle B2B companies, should investigate and embrace remarketing.

The other large change is bid modifiers. You can no longer make mobile only or tablet only campaigns; however, it is very easy to change bids by geography, timeframe, and modify your ads by device. This has caused a lot of issues for some B2B companies, as many of them find that tablets do not convert well for them; however, you can no longer opt-out of showing your ads on tablets. There are a few workarounds that sometimes will keep your ads off of tablets, but the changes to device targeting are the largest negative impact on B2B companies.

You've said that mobile ads require a different mindset than desktop ads. With more and more traffic moving to mobile, what can B2B advertisers do to maximize returns from this shift?

This depends a lot on the sales cycle for B2B companies. For many B2B companies that are using white papers or form fills as a lead generation; they should move from responsive design forms to mobile only forms or webpages. This is due to the length of time to fill out a form on a mobile phone. Many companies use forms that ask for a lot of information on desktops, and on a device where you have a full keyboard and a large screen, this can sometimes be OK (although, form optimization should still be used). On a mobile device, those same sets of questions that might convert well on a desktop are often overwhelming and users abandon the forms. You need to use different forms by device if you ask anything more than name, phone number, and email.

In addition, you should stress the phone number on a mobile device. The user is one touch away from calling you. This is different behaviour than a desktop where its just as easy to type out an email, fill a form, or call a company. On phones, you must be succinct and push the call-action on your site.

You've talked at length about advertisers losing control, with closed variants being the latest example. Have we hit bottom? If not, what's next?

We've not hit bottom yet. The bottom, which is years away, is you giving Google a website and a budget and letting them do everything automatically for you. This won't come anytime soon as the ad messaging is so important to companies that they will be loathe to give that control away to a 3rd party. However, we'll see some additional control loss in 'automatic features'. For instance, there are some companies who don't want to use sitelinks. There is a feature in Google that automatically creates sitelinks if you don't have any. While this is an automatic feature that looks like its a time saving process, in some instances, its a loss of control. These types of exceptions are not the norm; so you don't hear much about these being a loss of control.

It's difficult to say what Google will do next as just when you think there's not a way to take away a feature; Google finds a way to do it. Now, I don't want to just bash Google, the brand new feature known as ad customizers they recently launched is fantastic and is a time saver for a lot of companies. We often throw things at Google when they do something we don't like, but then expect them to launch new features we will like and we don't thank them for them - we just talk amongst ourselves on how to use this feature.

Overall, I do think Google is doing marketers a disservice with their changes to devices and match types, but they do try to help on occasion as well.

What's the most thrilling thing you've done?

I'm a huge outdoors fan. I like to backpack, canoe, kayak, etc. When I was first learning to kayak my instructor told us that there's an easy rule-of-thumb about going over waterfalls: as long as your kayak is longer than the waterfall is tall - you're in great shape. If the waterfall is 1.5 times or higher than the boat, stay away.

Later that day, he has me staring down a fifteen foot falls while I'm sitting in my 8 foot kayak. Not only is the falls well over 1.5 times the boat length and I have spent less than 4 total hours in a kayak (although, I was a very experienced canoeist by that time), there are several large boulders jutting out of the water less than ten feet from the bottom of the falls, and its shallow water, so you can't go vertical or you'll hit the bottom and wreck your boat. So you have to have momentum to boof (landing flat) the falls without going vertical, and then immediately regain control to side slip around the boulders. If you mess up any part of move, you're doing some damage - either to the boat or yourself.

After confirming that my instructor wasn't just playing a joke on me - I went for it, boofing the kayak over the falls and landed 3 feet from the boulders. The kayak glanced off the boulders before gliding off around them. I enjoyed it so much, I picked up my kayak climbed back to the top of the falls, and proceeded to do 10-20 foot falls the rest of the afternoon.

See Brad at Dreamforce

Be sure to check out Brad's session "How to Get More B2B Customers Through Google AdWords" on Thursday at 9am in the Grand Ballroom (Rose) of the Palace Hotel.


Visit the Bizible booth 

We're excitied to share that we're sponsoring Dreamforce this year! Be sure to stop by the Bizible booth in Moscone West and we'll show you our Salesforce AdWords integration now with multi-touch attribution first hand along with a few other new features in the works like our cross-channel CMO dashboard. Not attending this year? Click here to watch a demo.

Visit the Bizible booth 

We're excitied to share that we're sponsoring Dreamforce this year! Be sure to stop by the Bizible booth in Moscone West and we'll show you our Salesforce AdWords integration now with multi-touch attribution first hand along with a few other new features in the works like our cross-channel CMO dashboard. Not attending this year? Click here to watch a demo.