Many best practices across B-to-C and B-to-B paid search campaigns are similar. However, B-to-B marketers face some unique challenges—and opportunities—in paid search. Have your teams put the following best practices in place to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your B-to-B paid search campaigns?
1. Understand the B-to-B Buyer
Whether you’re running B-to-C or B-to-B campaigns, the foundation for any paid search program is customer understanding. Once you understand who the B-to-B buyer is and how he or she searches, paid search keywords and copy can be tailored to best appeal to that person.
Keep in mind that there are three types of B-to-B buyers:
• The User Buyer is the person in the organization who will actually use the product. The User Buyer generally identifies the need for the product.
• The Technical Buyer screens vendors to ensure that the product meets the organization’s needs.
• The Economic Buyer sits in executive management or finance and controls the organization’s budget; this person is concerned with the purchase’s big-picture ROI.
2. Engage the B-to-B Buyer
B-to-B paid search campaigns must be tailored to appeal to each type of B-to-B buyer. For instance, if you’re targeting the User Buyer, keywords and copy should focus on the challenges your product solves. When crafting copy, think about how your product will help the User Buyer become more efficient in the workplace.
If your target is the Technical Buyer, focus keywords and copy around product features and competitor comparisons. Consider boosting visibility on comparison shopping engines or review sites (via the paid search content network) to engage the Technical Buyer when he or she is making product comparisons. For the Economic Buyer, focus keywords and copy around price, quality or long-term product ROI.
3. Filter out Non-Business Users
The biggest challenge for B-to-B paid search marketers is identifying and filtering out unqualified, non-business-user clicks. Clicks from non-business users raise costs without benefit. To filter out non-business users, perform ongoing copy and landing page testing to determine which combinations of copy and landing pages result in the most sales.
This is an iterative process; the more you test, the more optimization opportunities you’ll uncover. Over time, you’ll be able to create copy and landing pages that are laser-focused on B-to-B buyers. Additionally, you should track keywords that drive clicks but not conversions. Continually filter out keywords that have high bounce rates.
4. Implement an Attribution Model
Selling to businesses generally requires a longer sales cycle than selling to consumers, and many B-to-B products are big ticket items. This means that—for some B-to-B products—the buyer is unlikely to click on a paid search link and make a quick purchase from a landing page. Therefore, many B-to-B paid search marketers measure success by the number of leads—that is, the number of people who come from paid search who provide contact info through a web form or who call the company.
You should thus provide specific toll-free numbers on paid search landing pages, which can easily be done by utilizing a call vendor. This enables you to understand exactly which call-in leads came from paid search; it also enables you to distinguish paid search web form conversions from paid search call-in conversions.
This data can provide valuable insights (e.g., call-in leads are 50 percent more likely to convert than web form leads). When success can be directly attributed to paid search, you’ll be able to implement more aggressive bid and keyword position strategies. Additionally, you’ll have hard data to make better paid search investment decisions.
5. Brand Your Product via Search
Many of the best B-to-B marketers aren’t focused squarely on lead generation. They’re focused on branding—ensuring that their product is top of mind when the buyer happens to have a need for it. Before implementing a paid search campaign, you must clearly define whether the goal is to drive leads or to drive awareness.
In terms of keywords and copy, paid search branding campaigns should align with offline branding initiatives. To drown out your competition, you should own top position for brand names and mission-critical keywords.
If needed, paid search branding campaigns can also focus on managing company reputation.
Leo Dalakos (email@example.com) is vice president of client services at Performics.