Using PPC/Adwords in a B2B environment

PPC Stop & ThankGetting the most out of pay per click advertising in the B2B realm

B2B environments are far more complex, both on and offline than other advertising environments, and this complexity carries over to online advertising. Generally, the B2B environment has a longer sales cycle as well as a convoluted purchasing process; one that is typically done in a manner which means that the decision to buy often does not lie with an individual who may be exposed to your advert while searching, but any number of people (who many have never seen your advert or even of heard of you). The actual purchasing process within larger organisations, no matter how modern and streamlined, rarely lend themselves to a paperless checkout/purchasing process. This is something that we will be revisiting here in the coming weeks.

A B2B PPC campaign could see a huge amount of clicks on a given keyword; and in fact, these clicks may even convert to sales. However, as we know, clicks and conversions alone do not make the process profitable – in retrospect they could make for a huge expense.

In order to profit through PPC advertising, you will have to develop and implement a model specific to your company from the very start. And depending on your exact business model, it is important to tailor the campaign towards predefined, concise goals that sit alongside and complement the overall model.

Knowing the acceptable price per acquisition is often the best starting point, and drilling down to acquisition by specific channel can provide you with even further insight. B2B models often assert a fairly high cost per acquisition after giving consideration to the customer lifecycle. But with a pay per click campaign this acquisition can be polluted by individuals (c’s rather than b’s) who have little or no long term profitability, and this can really skew such findings.

Defining the goals and developing the model is, of course, highly dependent upon the (range of) product both for sale and promoted within the campaign –some products that really do PPC in the B2B realmmake things easier for marketers. For example, a supplier of clocking-in equipment is not likely to attract a huge amount of interest from individuals, and therefore marketers and advertisers will not need to worry about shielding the campaign from unprofitable consumers as much as a supplier of wholesale storage bins would. Worst case scenario means that all of your keywords around the words “storage” and “bins” could attract an influx of traffic from consumers wanting household bins.

Keyword tools and tools that try to identify the quantity of traffic generated by specific search terms have their place in the development of an adwords campaign as well; but there effectiveness is limited. There is no way these tools can recognise or account for the true value of a keyword to your business; and this one thing that forms the foundation of a successful paid search campaign. To a keyword tool traffic is traffic, all of equal value.

The root of the problem

The problem stems partially from adwords’ inability to specifically target businesses in the same way an offline mailing would. Because you cannot decide who clicks your ads when running an adwords campaign online, you will likely experience a high number of inappropriate clicks on an ad that fail to convert – and this can be costly especially where small business and startups are concerned.

With PPC, marketers cannot even filter out ‘bad clicks’ by functioning as trade only as a bad click would need to be made in the first place just to reach a page providing this information – and of course by that time it is already too late. Of course with offline mailing you can target companies and even consumers much more directly; but in today’s information age, who wants to spend the time and money associated with printing out materials and mailing them all over the country?

There is no quick fix for the above problem; however, there are several best practice guides in existence which aim to streamline your PPC campaign within the B2B realm. The problem with these guides, however, is that (perhaps in an attempt to appeal to a larger audience) they are quite general and apply the standard rules of PPC advertising.

The guides referred to above may be ideal for those who are just learning the basics of PPC and trying to apply it to a B2B world, however, anyone who wants to profit from a successful online campaign­­ will need significantly more insight. Guides focusing on ad copy, budgeting, the long tail and negative keywords, all of which are vital to a successful campaign are not enough on their own. How many times can you repackage googles adwords guidelines and call it good advice?

In the coming weeks we will explore some techniques that can be applied to a B2B PPC campaign on an account, technical and business level to enhance what you have already and lay the foundations for success in the future. We will also look at the legal issues which surround PPC advertising when competitor keywords and trademarks are involved Subscribe to the RSS to be alerted when the post is live.