Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has long been seen as a key promotional tactic in ecommerce, but many people who control B2B marketing budgets remain sceptical about the value of such ads. However, at Applied we have achieved excellent ROI for B2B customers from both Google and LinkedIn advertising campaigns.
The appeal of PPC to ecommerce companies is obvious; simply set up a Google Ads (as AdWords is now branded) search or shopping campaign, watch traffic flow to your product listings pages and count the money from the conversions. Of course, driving healthy ecommerce sales via PPC is much more complex than that and requires genuine expertise (not to mention a good product at an attractive price, with the right delivery options!), but the basic theory is straightforward enough for anyone to understand that it could work.
If your offer involves a high-value service or complex customisable product targeted at other businesses, and the sales cycle typically has multiple stages, it is much less clear how a simple PPC ad can help. After all, no-one is going to click through from an ad, spend five minutes looking around your website and immediately commit to spending £50,000 with you.
But while instant orders may not be a realistic outcome given the nature of your product or service, PPC advertising can perform a number of important roles in B2B marketing campaigns.
A well-targeted Google Ads, Bing Ads or LinkedIn Sponsored Content or InMail campaign can help to drive quote requests or initial requests for information from companies you were not previously in contact with.
When using Google search ads these enquiries could come from any business within the region chosen for the ads to display in, while LinkedIn’s many targeting options allow you to put your message in front of decision makers in a group of specific companies or within a particular industry.
At Applied, the PPC campaigns we’ve managed for our B2B clients have driven good-quality enquiries from both UK-based and overseas businesses. Some of our customers selling engineering products have received potentially high-value enquiries from as far afield as Australia, Brazil, UAE, Korea and the USA directly from online ads.
Have the right system to respond to these enquiries in place and they can lead to long-term relationships with large lifetime values, even though the timescale from the initial click on an ad to closing the first sale may take months.
Brand and product awareness
If your business is a new entrant to a particular market or has a new product that your target sector does not yet know about, PPC advertising can be a cost-effective element of an awareness campaign.
Get your keyword research and bid strategy right and your company’s name could feature in ads at the top of relevant Google search results, raising awareness of your brand within your target markets. Combine this with well-written ad copy and prospective customers will click through to find out more about your products and services. (Remember, keyword research and ad copy aren’t one-off pieces of work, and amendments based on campaign results data should help to greatly improve the effectiveness of your Google Ads campaigns over time.)
Again, LinkedIn’s multiple targeting options allow you to put sponsored posts or direct messages in front of decision makers and influencers in a particular sector or even in specific companies. If you have a niche product or service that not many people would be searching for in Google or Bing, LinkedIn advertising can be a straightforward and effective way to raise awareness among prospective customers.
PPC ads do not only have to target people who were completely unaware of your company. Google remarketing ads that display to people who have previously visited your website can be a low-cost way of reminding them about your core offer or to put new products or services in front of them. Linkedin and Facebook also offer retargeting options that can be effective, depending on which industries you sell into.
Remember that PPC works best when part of an integrated campaign and ads can be used for more than just showcasing a particular product or service. They can tie in with other marketing activity by, for example, promoting your company’s stand at an exhibition or directing people to favourable press coverage.
Sales and marketing information
Well managed pay-per-click campaigns can also generate useful data to inform your other sales and marketing activity.
Google Ads click stats often provide a guide to which search terms you need to optimise your company’s website for. What you believe people will search for to find your products and services and the keywords they actually use can be very different.
Similarly, the statistics on which keywords drive the most enquiries can give you some insight into which aspects of your products and services your prospective customers see as most important. For example, if all your PPC-generated enquiries come from people who used search terms related to the energy efficiency of your products rather than their other technical advantages, you may wish to rethink the emphasis given to those two elements in your sales presentations.
For further useful information, combine your PPC campaign with the use of a lead tracking service that identifies the companies that visit your website. For a relatively small monthly fee such services can provide vital data for your sales team and help to ensure that some of their cold calls are warmer than others.
Managing PPC campaigns
While the concept of PPC advertising is simple, successful execution of campaigns is more difficult. From initial keyword research, budget setting and ad copy to identifying which search terms drive the most relevant enquiries and redesigning campaigns to focus on them, there are multiple variables to consider, monitor and react to.
Applied Digital’s Google Partner certified PPC team have extensive experience of working with B2B customers and helping them to achieve demonstrable ROI from their online ads, whether their goal is immediate sales, high-value leads or brand awareness.
Contact us on 01484 302010 or via the website for more information about how our PPC management services could benefit your business.