Once again, here we are.
Ads are created, money is being spent, impressions are aplenty.
But no one is buying.
It is a terrible feeling. You're probably asking yourself, what did I do wrong?
Honestly, probably a lot.
B2B ads are WILDLY different than B2C ads.
Most people think they are the hardest kind of advertising to do, but we couldn't disagree more.
With the right tools and strategies, B2B ads are a walk in the park.
Finding this article couldn’t have been better for you because we have 10 strategies to get you high-quality B2B leads that no one else has.
Ready to make some money?
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What is a B2B ad?
A business-to-business (B2B) advertisement is an ad from one business to sell its product or service to another business. This differs from business-to-consumer (B2C) which is an advertisement from one company to sell its product or service to a consumer for individual use or consumption.
B2B advertising vs B2C advertising
Although it may seem similar, advertising for B2B is much different than advertising for B2C. Everything from the strategy, to the copy, to the keywords is different.
B2C sales can happen in minutes.
The average sales cycle for B2B companies is 102 days.
When you sell as a B2C, you sell to one person.
When you sell as a B2B, you often talk to multiple decision-makers throughout the process, sometimes even an entire department.
These two differences alone require a different approach. Then you consider the commitment.
B2B purchases can often be pricey, year-long contracts. There’s more purchase pressure. It’s not as spontaneous as some B2C purchases.
Knowing and acknowledging these differences between B2B and B2C advertising is the start of understanding the strategy of B2B Google Ads (opens in a new tab).
How do I target B2B on Google Ads?
Targeting a B2B audience on Google Ads (opens in a new tab) is easy once you understand how long it will take, where to go, how to talk to them, and what makes them act.
Like with all B2B advertising, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul when it comes to B2B Google Ads too. The mindset needs to be that you’re building a relationship with your audience. Relationships get better over time, and so will your results.
Ultimately you’re there to help make them the hero. A hero to their department, their boss, or even the whole company. Unlike B2C advertising where marketers can aim to entertain or stir up emotions, B2B audiences prefer value over anything.
The B2B audience is always looking for information, whether it be thought leadership or informational answers. Ads that can provide all the answers in addition to prove ROI are the ones that are winning audiences.
To put it simply, a B2B audience is high maintenance—and they’re worth it.
Later, we’ll get into the specifics of exactly how to target a B2B audience on Google ads using strategies such as target audiences, negative keywords, and retargeting.
Do B2B Google Ads work?
B2B Google Ads can seriously rack in the ROI, from brand awareness, to lead generation, to securing sales.
Let’s consider the facts:
- 93% of B2B buying processes start with an online search
- Before interacting with a website, the average B2B buyer conducts 12 different online searches
There’s no question that search is a vital part of B2B marketing. And there’s only two ways to show up in search the search engine:
- Organically, using SEO or
- Paid, using PPC campaigns
SEO (opens in a new tab) can work wonders, but it takes a lot of time, money, and effort to produce enough of the right content and show up where you need to be.
So let’s consider another fact:
Traffic brought through PPC (pay-per-click) advertising yields 50% more conversions than organic advertising.
With the right digital marketing strategies and knowledge, PPC campaigns can bring your business to a new level of lead generation and sales. Google Ads allows your business to get in front of your target audience at all stages of the funnel with targeted messaging that says exactly what they need to hear, when they need to hear it, where 89% of B2B researchers are already searching for answers.
We helped Finning, a world-wide Caterpillar equipment dealer, increase their conversions by 86% while reducing their CPA by 24%. Want to know how we did it? Google Ads. Shout out to Smart Bidding (opens in a new tab).
Then there’s Juniper Networks, a company that provides high-performance networking and cybersecurity solutions. We were able to help Juniper Networks lower their cost per lead by 86% while increasing conversion rates by 326%. Yeah, you read those numbers right. Want to know how we did it? Google Ads. Shoutout to negative keyword audiences, they’re the real MVP.
With Wunderkind (formerly BounceX), a SaaS technology built for performance marketers, we saw a 48% decrease in cost per demo and brought the conversion rate up by 203%. I’ll give you one guess on how we did it.
There’s way more where those came from, too. We have over 200 case studies (opens in a new tab) with positive B2B lead generation like those three examples to help prove the point.
With the right set up and components, Google Ads really work. So let’s take a look at what those strategies are.
10 strategies for successful B2B Google Ads
1. Embrace the sales cycle
Remember earlier how we talked about the B2B sales cycle being an average of 102 days. Don’t sweat it. Celebrate it. Embrace it.
The best B2B sales don’t happen overnight. Some sales can take over 12 months. Using that time to build a trusting relationship with your customers through PPC benefits you two-fold. Not only will you make the lives of your sales team easier by setting them up for a shorter sale time but it’ll also enable the client team to lock in the customer long-term because of the strong foundation your content establishes.
You know what that means? High ROI 😎 I’m talking conversion rates that can increase by 72%.
To embrace the sales cycle, tailor your Google Ads content, offer, and copy to fit the mindset of a decision-maker at the stage they’re in.
From a high level, you can think about the sales cycling in three stages:
These people (opens in a new tab) are problem-focused. They don’t know or care who you are, they’re just trying to figure out their issues.
- Keywords you’ll want to include: “broken”, “fix”, “troubleshoot”, “replace”
Ok, they realize they have a problem or understand it. More importantly, they recognize that their problem needs a solution.
- Keywords you’ll want to include: “software”, “tool”, “optimize”, “vendor”, “supplier”
This is the high-quality audience (opens in a new tab) we all strive to get facetime with. They acknowledged their problem, they researched solutions, and they’re ready to purchase one.
- Keywords you’ll want to include: “demo”, “quote”, “proposal”, “pricing”, “trial”
Targeting by stage is the peanut butter, but content is the jelly that completes utilizing the sales cycle. Get yourself a full PB&J.
Trying to throw a “Buy My Product” CTA in the face of a cold (opens in a new tab) prospect will majorly backfire.
You come across money-hungry and pushy. Visitors won’t give you the time of day.
So what do you offer? What should your content be? They need value. An explanation to their problem, a description of how to fix it, background on why it happened, or legitimate research about it in a white paper or report.
Now that you understand the importance of separating your ads by what's happening in the sales cycle, we can talk about organization.
2. Stay organized
It’s helpful to understand the structure of Google Ads.
You should make one account per website. Within your account, there will be ad campaigns. Campaigns can be taken literally. One campaign per product or launch or service. Within each campaign, you should have many ad groups that are organized by purpose. Keywords and Ads go with an Ad Group.
And if you’re doing Google Ads like us, you may have a lot of Ad Groups to employ the SKAGs (opens in a new tab) technique, but more on that later.
Many B2B Google Ad pros choose to organize groups by funnel stage.
For example, a mid-funnel group might be for owning your branded terms to catch visitors doing research on your business or a bottom-of-funnel group might be dedicated to beating the competition. The organization within your Google Ads will become very important as you’re able to personalize targeting more and especially once you’re able to run a/b tests (opens in a new tab) or start optimizing.
Keep in mind that each group requires its own budget, audience, landing page and bid amount.
3. Extensive keyword research to understand the business and industry
The single most valuable thing you can do for successful B2B Google Ads is to research the business and industry (if you don’t know it in depth yet). You need a deep understanding of the product or service.
For successful ads, keywords need to be as specific as possible. You need to know exactly what search terms your target audience is typing into Google search.
For example, let’s look at PPC. Sure the keyword “pay-per-click” will capture some searchers, but most people jump straight to searching for “PPC.” You need to know all the acronyms and jargon used in search terms to catch the most qualified searchers.
In general, keywords can be grouped into four main categories:
- Generic: words directly about your service or product
- Branded: words containing your brand name
- Competitor: words surrounding your competition
- Related: words surrounding your industry, service, or product
As you’re researching and coming up with keywords, be sure to cover all four categories.
Generic and Related categories will capture your audience at the top and middle of the funnel. Branded and Competitor keywords tend to capture those closer to the bottom of the funnel.
Pro Tip: set up a brainstorm with your sales team. Since they are talking with all the prospects, they should have a good idea of the specific pain points your target audience is having and what they may be looking for.
Google Keywords Planner
Google Ads has a tool built into the platform to help you find the best keywords called Google Keyword Planner. Added bonus—it’s free.
Google Keyword Planner will help you discover new keywords, get search volume and forecasts, and even show breakdowns by location or device.
Once you start selecting keywords, Google Keyword Planner will display the average monthly searches, indicate the competition level, and give you an idea of how much you’d have to bid to get to the top of page one.
Learn how to set it up and take advantage of all the different features with our Google Keyword Planner Guide (opens in a new tab). Once you’ve mastered it we have 5 other keyword mining tools (opens in a new tab) that will help you find PPC gold.
4. Targeted audiences
Not all audiences have to be a shot in the dark, especially when it comes to B2B. Take a look at some of your organic visitors to figure out which businesses are already scoping you out using the Internet Protocol (IP) address. An IP address is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the internet. Think of it like your home address. It’s where you send mail to and from—it's a unique identifier of your location.
Every IP address is registered to an individual or company. Most mid-large size companies have their own IP address which is good news for you. Unfortunately, Google Analytics has blocked the ability to view IP addresses.
Fortunately, there are a ton of tools that can help identify who’s viewing your website.
There’s also options such as Clearbit, ZoomInfo, and Lusha that can not only help identify the company of visitors, but also enrich the data even further with information such as emails or phone numbers.
Once you know which businesses have visited your website, you can add the User Domain of the IP addresses as a custom audience within your Google Ads. For example, if you target amazon.com, you can target Amazon employees who access the internet with an IP address from that domain.
Pro Tip: Using this technique will also allow you to exclude IP addresses. Try excluding IP addresses coming from your competitors so you’re not wasting any money on them.
5. Negative keywords
Not utilizing a negative keyword list is the easiest way to waste ad spend.
With most keywords, there are obvious but related words that are used with a totally different intent. The most common situation where negative keywords come into play is with job seekers.
If your goal is to sell data security software, you don’t want people who are searching for “data security jobs.” It’s a no-brainer to include “job(s)” in your list of negative keywords.
If you’re not targeting job-seekers consider adding the following keywords to your negative list:
Pro Tip: Consider misspellings, homonyms, and accidental pop culture references when compiling your negative keyword list.
How you structure your Google Ads account is vital to your PPC success.
With that in mind, the Single Keyword Ad Group (SKAGs) approach is one of the fastest ways to elevate your click-through-rates, quality scores, and most importantly, the money that you’re making.
SKAGs allow you to maintain control of your account and achieve higher performance from your Google Ads account.
As the name implies, SKAGs are ad groups with just one keyword in them.
By pairing your keywords into their own unique ad groups, you can make sure that the keywords you’re bidding on match the search terms you’re paying for.
If you don’t take care of this, you end up with something we call “The Iceberg Effect.” (opens in a new tab)
7. Optimized ad copy
It’s easy to get to the part where you’re actually writing the ads and put down whatever comes to mind first. But that copy, as minimal as it may seem, has a profound impact on the success of your Google Ads.
There’s a few best practices (opens in a new tab) to follow for optimized ad copy.
- Speak to pain points. Before pushing the product or service, acknowledge the problem. This will help get the attention of a searcher and let them know that you understand.
- Personalize copy to the funnel. Depending on where a searcher is at on the funnel, they’re looking for different answers. Those pain points will be different all along the way. From looking for an answer to their problem, then searching for different solutions and finally narrowing down to their chosen solution.
- Be specific and use numbers when possible. Science backs it. People like specific numbers. Let them know it’s a “14 day trial,” or that you have “16 solutions” to their problem or “791 people signed up for the webinar.”
- Keep it simple. Cut out the extra fluff, get right to the point. Rather than a headline that says “Learn more about data security in our newest report,” cut it down to “Free data security report.”
- Stand out from the crowd. Pay attention to competition, the ads surrounding yours. Make sure you’re not saying the same thing.
- Use social proof. The ultimate FOMO and sign of credibility. List your latest awards. Note your number of clients, number of downloads or subscribers.
- Use extensions. They’re there for the benefit of the user. When used thoughtfully they help searchers easily find their next move. Whether it’s a call extension, links to relevant pages on your website, or directions.
8. Optimized landing page
The landing page is just as important as everything else in an ad.
There’s a lot that can go into a landing page from top to bottom. After successfully (opens in a new tab) creating landing pages for multiple clients, we’ve identified a few best practices (opens in a new tab) we know every good landing page needs:
- Ditch the top navigation. Keep visitors focused on the reason you want them there.
- One clear call-to-action (CTA). Ok fine, sometimes two works, but there still has to be one clear, preferred action. It should be, at a minimum, above the fold and at the bottom of the page.
- Keep it relevant. Your landing page needs to match the ad they clicked on to get there. If it’s offering a free report and you send them to a service page, you won’t just get a bounced visitor, they’ll also think less of your brand any time they see another ad. Not to mention, your ad’s quality score (opens in a new tab) will take a dip.
- Strong copy. All the way through. And make sure your headline and subheader communicate your business’ Unique Value Proposition (opens in a new tab) (UVP).
- Hero image and visuals. We’re not saying they need to be fancy, but come on, no one wants to read a page full of only text. Bonus points for visuals that can help convey information for a better user experience.
- Benefits and features. You are trying to inspire action after all, so don’t forget to communicate the why.
- Social proof. Just like in the copy. Here you could even embed a video of a customer testimonial. Be sure to list your latest awards, note your number of clients, or downloads or subscribers. Share UGC if you have it.
- Journey awareness. A good landing page tailors the CTA, the copy, and the visuals to where the visitor should be in the sales funnel. Don’t get too pushy for a sale before they learn about who you are and what you do.
9. Measurement & optimization
PPC is not something you can set and forget.
The best PPC has every single detail fine-tuned. From the headline to the landing page to the specific offer marketed. The fine-tuning can only be accomplished by a/b testing (opens in a new tab).
And without the right metrics, you can’t identify what’s working or what’s not.
Be sure to connect your Google Analytics to Google Ads.
Make sure you have all the conversion points sent up as goals (opens in a new tab) within Google Analytics. Conversions are your most coveted action, so you’ll want all the info you can get.
Here’s 21 huge insights (opens in a new tab) you can benefit from when Google Analytics is connected to your Google Ads properly.
Believe it or not, our team checks in on ads daily. Managing can become extremely time consuming, but we’re all about working smarter not harder. These time-saving tips (opens in a new tab) will maximize the value of your time and the return on every ad dollar spent.
The fact of the matter is that 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to buy. At least not yet.
There’s 23 convincing reasons (opens in a new tab) to employ remarketing towards that 96%. In general, the remarketing efforts allow you to
- stay top of mind even as they shop around or check out competitors
- continue to provide value and thought leadership to those who aren’t ready to purchase
- get a second chance at converting lost leads with convincing social proof or a good deal.
Especially because you’re dealing with the B2B sales cycle, you can’t expect visitors to convert right away. You also can’t assume that they’ll remember you months later. Don’t leave it up to fate or you’ll lose qualified leads. Make sure you’re there to provide whatever they need, every step of the way.
Google Ads makes it easy to retarget visitors using Remarketing Lists For Search Ads (RSLAs). We’ve put together a 12 point guide (opens in a new tab) to setting them up (and capturing lost conversions).
By employing a RLSA campaign for an award-winning provider of friendly, peppy and efficient virtual receptionists, we saw a 125% drop in CPA.
See the positive results (opens in a new tab) we’ve had with five other clients.
B2B Google Ads Wrap Up
All too many times, we’ve seen B2B marketers that either throw their money out the Google window or write off PPC due to bad results.
But, even more times, we’ve used Google Ads to help make game-changing improvements (opens in a new tab) in businesses. We understand why Google hits hundreds of billions in revenue. Because it works.
We’re confident enough to say that we guarantee positive results. Hit us up (opens in a new tab) if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need impressive results right from the get-go. If you’re down to take it on yourself, you can get a peak at our Google Ads course (opens in a new tab) which is how we train internally.
If you found this article helpful, here’s some other can’t-miss content you’ll want to see:
- The Ultimate Google Ads Optimization Checklist: 25 Rules To Success
- AdWords Account Structure: The Perfect Setup For Success
- Explaining Google Ads Costs: 28 Things Every Advertiser Should Know
- 10 AdWords Ad Copy Hacks & 100 Tricks: Data From 100+ Clients
- 35 AdWords Filters For Improved Performance And Efficiency
- 7 Monstrous Ways To Improve Your AdWords Performance
Let us know how it works out. We love to see it! Or, if you have any further questions, leave a comment below. We could talk Google Ads for days.