Paid strategies for enterprise B2B marketing

It’s a common challenge for enterprise B2B marketing teams to try and figure out exactly how they should be investing in paid social and paid search strategies, and if they are even worth it? A lot of paid advertising, especially PPC advertising is naturally more catered towards shorter buyer journeys such as in the e-commerce world, but it can still be used effectively for enterprise B2B companies if done properly.

The unfortunate reality is that the B2B buyer journey for large enterprises that are selling more complex and let’s face it, more expensive solutions and services is long one. The process usually involves multiple stakeholders and in a lot of cases, further down the buying funnel, it’s solely reliant on enterprise sales experts to push through the final conversion. So how does a paid strategy fit into this process? Read on and we’ll outline a few of the strategies we use when implementing paid strategies for enterprise B2B companies.

Build awareness with display advertising

Before someone can start to consider your services, they need to be aware of you. This is the first step in any business decision making process, finding the supplier in the first place.

Utilising a combination of Google’s Display Network and ad placements on industry publications you can start to build awareness of your company and its services. Here the goal is to increase the number of ‘impressions’ or the amount of times you advert is displayed on someone’s screen. 

It’s important to remember that this type of digital advertising campaign is not aimed at driving leads, this is the mistake many marketers make, but it’s often hard to justify these campaigns to other business stakeholders if they can’t see direct results in terms of leads generated (at least not in the short-term).

The aim of this campaign is to get your company’s name in front of as many eyeballs as possible, and the right ones at that. There are a couple of ways to target your display ads, you can base it on keywords or audiences or a combination of both. We would usually recommend a combination of the two so that your targeting is too broad or too narrow.

There’s a whole art to audience building using custom lists, affinity audience, lookalike audiences etc that we won’t cover here but Google have some good information on the different types of audiences you can reach in their support articles.

Use Remarketing to stay top of mind during consideration & decision making processes

As mentioned at the start, the B2B buyer journey can be long and complex, in some cases it can last years, that’s why staying in touch and in front of your leads is as important as getting to them in the first place, this is where remarketing comes in.

At the point somebody has visited your website they can be tracked (as long as you have the right tracking code installed on your site). This is when remarketing comes in. Remarketing basically means showing relevant adverts to your past website visitors based on what they viewed or any actions they took. It can be seen as a form of lead nurturing in a way.

It’s true, remarketing ads (often called retargeting ads) are those annoying adverts that follow you around the internet. As annoying as they are, they do work and they are usually charged based on impressions rather than clicks which makes them relatively cheap in advertising terms, so it’s a bit of a ‘no-brainer’ as they say.

How to use remarketing ads for B2B marketing

E-commerce marketers have it easy when it comes to remarketing (IMO), all you have to do is set up some dynamic remarketing ads based on the products viewed in a store and there you go, the user browsing Facebook will get ads showing products they looked at on the online shop, it can get pretty granular – but because of the shorter buying cycles in B2C remarketing is pretty straightforward, it’s basically “here’s the product you nearly bought….again…and…again”.

For B2B marketers it doesn’t really help just serving up an ad saying “yo, here we are again…by the way…” – you should ideally be pointing your past website visitors towards a useful piece of content or piece of information they didn’t consume the first time around, which is ideally moving them further down the buyer funnel.

This means running different remarketing campaigns based on the stage the person is at on their buyer journey and based on what they did on your website. We’ve jotted down a few examples below.

Remarketing to general website visitors

For someone who has visited your website, viewed a couple of pages (say 2) and then left, you may want to serve up a remarketing ad pointing them towards a piece of useful content to download, therefore encouraging top of funnel lead generation. You can even suggest specific downloadable content based on the pages that were viewed.

Remarketing based on downloadable content

For someone who has already downloaded a piece of gated content from your website (such as a whitepaper or report) but hasn’t got in touch you may want to serve adverts for another piece of relevant content or an opportunity to get in touch with you, again, depending on the content that was downloaded you could recommend another piece of related content to the first.

This is similar to email drip campaigns, except you’re not confined to someone’s inbox, you can reach them on the social media channels they are browsing too.

Utilise social media channels

Your potential buyers and hopefully website visitors will use a variety of social media platforms, in fact they are probably spending more time on Facebook and Instagram than they are on LinkedIn – which underlines the importance of ensuring your remarketing campaigns are fed across a number of channels rather than just using the Google Display Network.

Target transactional keywords with Google text ads at the consideration & decision stages

Paid search typically involves targeting keywords that a user types into a search engine like Google or Bing. Google Text Ads are probably the most popular type of paid search campaigns run by B2B marketers, but they are also one of the most mis-used strategies.

Transactional search terms or keywords as they are often called are terms that indicate a certain level of intent to ‘buy’ or get in touch at least. Typically these search queries end with words like “solutions”, “software” and “company”.  For example, the search intent for the term “email marketing” is different from someone searching for “email marketing software”, or to use another example, someone searching for “recycling” and someone searching for “recycling companies”.

These transactional search terms are one the ones you want to be targeting with text ads on platforms such as Google Ads. This is because there is a higher level of intent baked into these searches that implies someone is looking for a solution rather than just a broad topical search.

The mistake a lot of companies make is being too broad with their keyword targeting in a bid to spend budgets and increase clicks, but the volume of searches for these terms is often low so don’t worry if you’re not spending your budget.

Patience is key

When it comes to running these campaigns, patience is key. Because of the nature of enterprise B2B services, people are generally more in research mode than – let’s get in touch straight away mode. This is why keeping conversion windows on your ad campaigns open for longer is important, this means if someone goes away and comes back and converts later you’ll capture the conversion if your conversion window is open for a  longer period of time.

Informational keywords should be targeted by content and SEO

The broader search terms that are not targeted by your text ads should be addressed by your website’s content pillars, usually located within your blog or resource hub. These broader more informational searches require educational content, not a landing page asking them to get in touch. This is when a content-led SEO strategy should come into play.

You could, if you wanted to, also target these broader keywords with an awareness campaign such as the one mentioned at the beginning of this article but unless you are providing the actual content to address the searchers’ needs in the ad it is always better to approach those keywords from an SEO angle.

Focus on the overall ROI of spend vs pipeline

Don’t get caught up too much in analysing cost per clicks (CPC) or how little impressions some of your ads are getting. Although there is always room for improvement, if you have set up your campaigns correctly you should measure the overall investment vs the value of the leads added to your pipeline.

It may be that you spend £5,000 on 1 lead that’s worth £40k, or even £10k on 1 lead that is worth £1million. These can be extreme examples but the principle is to look at your paid B2B strategy as a holistic thing. Measure your overall investment in it vs the value of the leads you get out and assess it from there..

As mentioned at the start, the B2B buyer journey is often long. It can take time to see revenue being attributed to your paid campaigns but once you do you’ll probably cover your costs pretty quickly so don’t make any knee jerk decisions!

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