PPC campaigns are typically associated with B2C e-commerce, but B2B companies shouldn’t overlook them.
Lead nurturing is the critical path for closing B2B sales. Properly done, it leads to higher value sales and closing sales at lower cost. But you can’t nurture a lead you don’t have. This is where a PPC campaign designed to gather potential leads is valuable. The point of a PPC campaign for B2B isn’t to make a sale; it’s to build the all-important email list.
Everyone knows the B2B sales cycle is getting longer. Buyers are more in control of the process and are consuming more content than ever as they do their research. This is despite the fact that, according to Demand Gen’s 2015 Content Preference Survey, most respondents felt they had less time to research and read B2B content. So help them out while you help yourself. When you get them on your email list, your content becomes easier for them to access. It also gives you a greater degree of control over their journey.
[tweetthis]61% of B2B buyers start the buying process with a web search; use a PPC campaign to capture these leads[/tweetthis]
The same survey found that 61 percent start their buying process with a plain old web search – meaning, the opportunity is there for a PPC campaign to capture these leads.
Not Just for the “Top of the Funnel”
Ideally, you’ll collect a qualified lead’s email during the TOFU stage. Now you can gently nurture them along the path to purchase. But don’t limit yourself. With the number of people that may be involved in the buying decision, plus the fact that the B2B journey isn’t as linear as it used to be, there are many number of points along the way where an actionable lead can be captured.
Any PPC campaign plan requires answering some critical questions. However, a B2B PPC campaign requires two more:
- Where in the buyer’s journey is the campaign target? While the typical B2C PPC campaign jumps right to the buy decision phase, the B2B PPC campaign is offering information in exchange for contact information, not closing the sale. So the information being offered needs to align with your target’s place in the buyer’s journey.
- What is the scope of the buying decision being made? At its Sirius Demand Summit 2015, SiriusDecisions unveiled its framework of three B2B buying scenarios: Committee, Consensus, and Independent. The varying characteristics of each scenario include dollar value of purchase, number of people involved in decision, nature of the decision process, and the timeframe of the purchase decision. So when you’re identifying the persona you want to attract with your PPC campaign, you need to clarify what role they have in what type of buying scenario.
3 Content Components of a B2B PPC Campaign
As with any PPC campaign, you’ll need ad copy and a landing page. Yet you’re not building these around your product or service. You’re building these around the content that’s the focus of the campaign. The content piece on offer is where you have to start.
Once you’ve clarified your target persona, the stage where they’re at in the buying journey, and what their role is in the buying scenario that likely applies to your product or service – now you can identify what type of information will be most valuable to this person. Ideally you’ve already done this as part of a larger content marketing strategy. If not, you certainly need to do it now.
For example, if your target is at the TOFU stage, you want to offer a webinar or white paper that is addressing the problem they’re trying to solve, rather than focusing on your product or service. If your target is already in the BOFU stage, then you might offer an ROI calculator or case study about what your company sells.
The point is that the central piece of your B2B PPC campaign is content that needs to be enticing enough to induce your target to provide their contact information. From there, you build backwards to design an ad, ad copy, and landing page that attract attention and convince people that want your content.
Designing the Right Form
As with any landing page, the form you create to collect someone’s information has great impact on your conversion rate. You have a couple approaches with a B2B PPC form. The higher value of the content, the more contact information you can collect. The other approach holds that the farther along in the buying process your target is, the more information you want to gather. Collecting more information here serves two purposes: First, it gauges interest level. Second, it helps you qualify the lead.
As with any PPC campaign, testing will identify what yields the best results for your goals. Asking only for an email may have a higher conversion rate, but asking for more information may lead to better qualified leads.
This is another reason why understanding where in the buyer’s journey your target is – becomes such critical information when planning your campaign. If your focus is at the TOFU stage, high volume collection of email addresses you can nurture along may be what’s most valuable to you. If you’re looking for BOFU leads ready to talk to sales, then you don’t want to waste your salespeople time having to sift through piles of unqualified leads.
Placing your PPC Campaign in Context
If you already have a piece of high-converting content, you can plan a PPC campaign around it to expand its reach. You can also always create a new piece of content. Either way, lay out your follow-up plan with people who respond to your campaign. You should know, before you roll out your PPC campaign, where you expect to take next the leads that come in from it.
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@ElisaKapha”]Know before you roll out your PPC campaign how you’ll follow up on the leads #B2B[/tweetthis]
Whether it’s the flow of content you want to push out over the next few months, or quickly sending an email asking for a phone appointment – have a plan. Otherwise, you’re just wasting the money and effort invested in the PPC campaign.
Are you a B2B company that’s run a PPC campaign? What sort of success did you have with it – share in the comment section below.
Elisa Silverman is a B2B content writer with a background in law and technology, who’s spent a career helping diverse groups of people communicate well with each other.