B2B Marketing Blog

How To Scale B2B Paid Search

By Andrew Nguyen
Mar 6, 2015
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Actionable advice comes from those who succeeded. So we decided to ask the experts how they scaled a B2B paid search campaign.

Scaling B2B paid search is not easy. But it’s been done before and this post features the marketers who did it.

They explain the keys to success for B2B paid search, including how to discover the correct long tail keywords, converting on landing pages, and optimizing efforts based on revenue data.

Here’s what we learned.

Start Small, And Scale to Profitability

When companies take the wrong approach to PPC they dismiss it as a channel that doesn't work. Successful PPC requires time to test and optimize. Many companies invest a large budget in a short period of time. When they don't see the ROI they immediately axe the channel. 

According to Matt Boaman, SEO Engineer at EZSolution, the combination of high search volume, low CPC, and high dollar products can predict the scalability of your B2B paid search campaign.

scalingb2bpaidsearch

"The best approach is starting with a small budget and make changes over time to scale up to profitability," explains Boaman, "If you find conversions at a good ROI and your ad is only being displayed 10% of the time, then you likely have a great opportunity to drive more conversions, at the same profitability, if you increase your budget."

EZSolution is a certified Google partner and was founded by Tom Malesic. Interesting fact: Twenty years ago, Tom Malesic was selling Kirby Vacuum cleaners door-to-door, and today operates a web marketing firm named by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 5,000 fastest growing companies in the US.

Optimize Based On Revenue Data

Longer sales cycle require you to focus down the funnel.

ROI is always the goal. But the path takes different turns depending on your marketing model.

Whether you are enterprise software or use freemium SaaS to acquire account sign-ups, the mantra is always the same: Follow what converts successfully downstream.

You may be generating marketing qualified leads or acquire free account signups. But are these free accounts upgrading to premium subscriptions? Are these MQL's moving to SQL and closed-won?

Focusing on top level metrics in B2B won't answer how you get conversions and grow your business. 

Tony Yang, Director of Demand Generation at Mintigo says:

Focusing only on top-level metrics like CPC and CTR may cause you to optimize your marketing budget and efforts for the wrong outcome. While it’s important to consider these metrics for ways to improve campaign performance, you must look at the full picture to drive success towards the goal that you will ultimately be measured on – ROI. 

In February 2015, Mintigo launched the Predictive Marketing University, helping marketers learn and apply predictive modeling at their organization. 

Mintigo also wins Best Landing Page (in my book) for using stock photos created to promote the VInce Vaugn comedy, Unfinished Business, on their own homepage

Create Ad Campaigns Based On Prospect Needs

In demand generation, marketers guide their prospects along a journey. You know their pain points. You know they are qualified to buy.

It's now a question of assisting them across funnel stages. To do this the journey must be seamless.

Buyers should feel they discovered the solution and are on their own journey. When you orchestrate this correctly, demand generation succeeds.

"Providing the right message to the right audience at the right time in their buying journey will lead to increased demand and, ultimately, revenue." says Jason Abrahams, VP of marketing at Root3 Growth Marketing and instructor at Digital Professional Institute in Chicago. 

Landing pages need to be specific to the ad content, with a single, focused objective and limited options for navigation so as not to deter the visitor away from the immediate call-to-action, explains Abrahams. 

The buyer's path should be a clearly paved and B2B marketers need to be prepared with relevant content and offers. 

Connect AdWords To Your CRM

Leads are cheap. At least in B2B, only a small fraction of leads turn into customers. And only specific keywords and content are tied to these conversions. 

Austin Paley, Communications Manager at Blue Fountain Media, addresses this problem by connecting Adwords to his CRM, saying, "It allows you to determine which keywords are bringing you individual accounts while giving you the ability to optimize your paid search campaigns for genuine, quality leads."

To scale search, "You need to tie data back to the real monetary return of your PPC efforts as opposed to using an estimated value," says Paley, "This makes a massive difference when it comes to understanding which leads are worth your time, identifying which type of ads you should increase spend and resources on, and which ones to scale back, or remove altogether."

Paley manages all corporate PPC campaigns for Blue Fountain Media. The digital marketing agency was named one of Awwwards' 10 Best Agencies in New York City.

Find The Longtail Keyword To Capture More Clicks

According to Jack Borgo, Director of Analytics and Content Strategy at Astuteo, the biggest factor for success in B2B paid search is targeting long-tail keywords using match types.

In paid search, a disproportionate number of search queries are for B2C. This means B2B marketers need to find the longtail keyword, or search phrase, that get clicks from B2B searchers.  

For example, a company selling transmissions to OEMs may initially target "car transmissions" or "car" + "transmissions."

The ads will receive a lot of impressions, but the vast majority will be for consumers looking for a repair shop.

"Campaign managers need to recognize that impressions are an indicator of exposure, not of performance. Instead, examine matched “search queries” (in Google Analytics) and find the specific keywords generating the highest click through rate and conversion rate," says Borgo. 

Once patterns are recognized, target the long-tail version of more niche searches.

Using the same example above, these longtail keywords may be "commercial vehicle transmissions" or "oem transmissions."

"Will the number of impressions drop? Absolutely. But there will be an immediate improvement in click-through-rate, cost-per-conversion and cost-per-click," explains Borgo.

Here's a video on understanding search term data.

Align Marketing And Sales Data 

Companies with both a marketing and sales team, typical of B2B, need to coordinate efforts to make paid search work. 

"The real key to lead gen success is true partnership between sales and marketing when it comes to lead qualification. It's critical that marketing knows the traits of good sales leads," says David T. Scott, CMO of Gigya and author of The New Rules of Lead Generation

Scott suggests using BANT (budget, authority, need, and timeline) to determine lead qualifications and hand off points between sales and marketing. 

We champion Scott's approach and outline our process for sales and marketing alignment here

Closing Thought

Scaling a B2B paid search channel isn't hard if you use the right approach.

Yes, there are many moving parts, and it requires attention to detail.

But applying the principles outlined by the experts in this post will make it possible to find success in paid search advertising. 

Follow the contributors to this article and subscribe to our blog for continued coverage on B2B paid search. 

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Topics: adwords, paid search, demand generation

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