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PPC Lead Generation Secrets for B2B Revealed (Hint: It’s About Buyer Intent)

8 minute read

PPC lead generation can get complicated, and this is especially true in B2B marketing.

This article reveals some core B2B PPC strategies and lead generation best practices we’ve crystallized over 10 years, thousands of campaigns, dozens of industries, and tens of millions in spend.

You’ll walk away with the top PPC B2B lead generation secrets:

  • Understand the strategic differences between B2B and B2C
  • Lay the groundwork for PPC lead generation success
  • Measure B2B PPC results in an accurate, fair and transparent way
  • Prioritize targeting by buyer intent and allocate budgets accordingly
  • Appeal to multiple buyer personas in various stages of the buying cycle
  • Leverage remarketing to reduce costs and improve PPC lead generation

Let’s get started.

Understanding the Differences Between B2C and B2B PPC Strategy

Some people say that B2B and B2C are no different because “it’s all people-to-people.” But that’s like saying basketball and soccer are the same because they both use a ball.

You’re leaving money on the table by not optimizing for your target audience.

Here are the top differences that distinguish B2B from B2C that you should account for in your PPC strategy:

  • More expensive
  • Longer sales cycles
  • More buyers involved
  • More complicated products and services
  • A handful of sales can make a huge difference
  • You don’t actually hard-sell. The goal of content is to facilitate buying with attention, interest, desire, and action (AIDA)

Laying the Groundwork for PPC Lead Generation Success

B2B lead generation best practices come down to a few principles:

  • Conduct thorough keyword research
  • Maintain a content inventory
  • Facilitate the purchase rather than push it
  • Set up proper tracking for closed-loop reporting

Keyword Research

A core part of an effective PPC strategy is thorough research to identify all possible keywords you can target. Unfortunately, many marketers drop the ball here and fail to uncover worthwhile opportunities.

For that reason, use multiple keyword research tools to cover your bases. Alexa’s competitive analysis tools, such as the Keyword Clusters tool, are a great way to identify high intent buyer keywords and discover your competitor’s keywords.

find keyword opportunities using alexa

Additionally, Alexa’s Audience Overlap tool can help you visualize where your search market share is converging with competitors.

A Content Inventory

Work with your team to identify what content and assets you already have. Based on your results, you can often repurpose content and save tons of time and energy. This also allows you to prioritize and designate your existing theme and future content which you can then use to test for increasing conversions.

Facilitate The Purchase

In B2B, prospects don’t take well to the hard-sell.

Instead, 80% of the work should already be done before the call via the effectiveness of the content you’ve put in front of them. Bonus: woo them further with a structured remarketing strategy (we’ll show you how to do this later). You’ll practically have them drooling by the time you get them on the phone.

And that brings us to tracking, which is so important it deserves its own section…

Measuring B2B PPC Results in an Accurate, Fair and Transparent Way

Data tracking is like building a house. Without a rock-solid foundation, everything is bound to crumble.

Without proper tracking, you’ll never truly know what’s working and what’s wasting money. Thus, you can’t decommission ineffective campaigns and double down on revenue generators.

Data tracking is like building a house. Without a rock-solid foundation, everything will crumble. Click To Tweet

It seems like common sense, but from experience, tracking is often set-up improperly.

If you aren’t skilled at installing and optimizing tracking code, don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert who is. That investment will pay off in the long run – and maybe even in the short run.

Even if you are confident that your reporting is set up properly, make sure you test and double-check on a recurring basis. Proper tracking can break over time as new updates and software roll out.

In addition, when you have closed-loop tracking, meaning you can follow a prospect all the way from that first click to becoming a customer, you are empowered by your data and can iterate constantly.

For example, with proper tracking and reporting, we found that SEO as a medium wasn’t producing conversions for one of our client’s product lines. We were able to prove this with data and re-allocate resources to double-down on PPC for that product line. We also showed that our online marketing efforts translated into 13 highly profitable deals closed.

Unfortunately, many B2B businesses have a big, cloudy question mark when it comes to which marketing efforts are attributable to sales outcomes.

To have perfect tracking, set up an air-tight integration with your CRM that uses proper tagging as prospects move through the funnel.

Not only can you align with the sales team effortlessly, you’ll also easily see the quality of the leads you bring in, which allows you to tweak and iterate your marketing efforts over time to improve results.

Prioritizing Targeting by Buyer Intent and Allocating Budgets Accordingly

Focus your B2B PPC strategy around a single metric that you can quickly iterate, test, and measure.

In B2B, this one big metric ends up being some variation of the number of quality leads obtained.

Here are some examples of this metric as they relate to the marketing funnel:

  • EBook downloads (high or mid-funnel)
  • Webinar attendance (mid or low-funnel)
  • Case study downloads (mid or low-funnel)
  • Contact Us submissions (low-funnel)
  • Appointment requests (low-funnel)

If you want the highest-quality conversions at the lowest cost, optimize PPC campaigns and nurture prospects by buyer intent.

For the highest-quality conversions at the lowest cost, optimize PPC campaigns by buyer intent. Click To Tweet

Spend as much as possible on low-funnel intent first because they convert the best. Then, move up to mid-funnel.

Target high-funnel intent when you have more budget or want to expand campaigns in new directions.

To optimize conversions, understand the differences between intent on each platform and prioritize by effectiveness.

Contrary to popular belief, B2C platforms, like Facebook, are useful in B2B if done right. They can seem costly if not applied with strategic focus, but you can produce a positive ROI if you use effective advertising practices.

Here’s a list of major platforms ordered by effectiveness in B2B. You should prioritize your B2B lead generation strategy accordingly:

  • Remarketing (all platforms can do this)
  • AdWords
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook

The difference in PPC B2B lead generation for these platforms comes down to buyer intent. For example, people are on Facebook to connect with others and entertain themselves rather than to buy.

But those impressions “ad” up, and we’ve developed many ROI-positive campaigns for B2B clients on Facebook.

Conversely, when prospects are on Google, they can express red-hot intent with their searches, using buying keywords, and you can target them directly with ads.

AdWords Lead Generation

AdWords is extremely powerful for many B2B industries because unlike Facebook, where the user intent is lower and difficult to segment, you can access prospects who are definitely looking to buy.

To optimize results and see clear data in your reporting, organize the keywords you target into groups by buyer intent.

Start out with three large buckets: high-funnel, mid-funnel, and low-funnel buyer intent keywords.

If a lead is high-funnel, they are still in the research phase of their journey.

They are browsing around, and their buyer intent is low. They could be just looking for information and search a phrase like, “How can I improve team communication?” or “How can I see competitors’ PPC keywords?”

They’re not necessarily interested in a paid solution yet.

A mid-funnel user demonstrates higher buyer intent with searches like, “Email marketing tools price comparison.”

A low-funnel user has shown clear signs that they are getting ready to buy.

In B2C, this is indicated by a search like, “Where to buy red Nike Air Jordans.” In B2B, the intent isn’t as immediate because of the price tag, so it may be phrases like, “call tracking software” or “get a quote for email analytics software.”

As you get more advanced, group keywords by specific branded queries around your company’s name and services versus non-branded topics and location.

Usually low-funnel gets the lion’s share of budget in B2B search marketing, but this isn’t always the case.

Low funnel keywords tend to have the highest competition, which means they are also the most expensive.

Consequently, you may get more yield by going after mid-funnel keywords.

One huge mistake digital marketers often make with PPC lead generation is overemphasizing the conversion rate. However, what most companies ultimately care most about is getting the highest volume of quality leads at the lowest cost.

This is why mid-funnel keywords can be a sweet spot. Although conversion rates can be much lower, search volume is higher and CPC is lower. You can afford to compete, and you end up delivering more leads.

We can easily write entire articles about LinkedIn and Facebook ads. But to keep it concise, we will touch on the most important B2B lead generation strategies for each. These platforms are harder to generate a return on investment, so start with AdWords.

LinkedIn Lead Generation

This is the social media platform for B2B. Every day, tons of high-level professionals congregate there. Moreover, you are able to segment your targeting by business demographic data, including industry, company size, job title, and years of experience.

This makes it a gold-mine for B2B. But if your efforts aren’t based on timeless marketing principles, you may be disappointed with the results…

Despite LinkedIn’s robust targeting, its industry CTR is lower than other platforms. Increasing the conversion rate can be just as difficult because the audience tends to be far more discerning.

As a result, your CPC and CPL will be higher than what you see on other platforms because you’re paying for higher quality leads.

It is possible to turn a profitable ROI on LinkedIn, so persevere through the sticker shock.

The core ways to improve response on LinkedIn include effective hyper-targeting, personalized messages, compelling creative, irresistible offers, and retargeting.

Alexa’s Audience Overlap tool is a great way to identify related businesses you weren’t aware of which you can use to target your ads. This gets you a wider audience without compromising the quality of your targeting approach.

alexa audience overlap tool

Facebook Lead Generation

Some people claim that Facebook ads are a waste of time for B2B because of it’s consumer focus. But the truth is that almost the entire world has a Facebook account. And guess what?

Many of those consumers chatting up friends and family also need to buy stuff at work. Without testing Facebook, you are probably leaving a pile of money on the table.

Facebook tends to have a CTR at 2% if you have a good ad. You can aim for this benchmark to start.

With Facebook, a common mistake is to target too broadly. Most marketers don’t put in that extra work to learn more about their industry and are unaware of many prime Facebook pages they could target. Going after audiences of specific pages is a great way to infer demographics and interests that are aligned with your ideal customer profile.

In addition to strategic targeting, we recommend creating and testing engaging imagery and landing pages that drive the click and woo prospects to opt-in with a no-brainer offer.

Go beyond the standard “Get a free quote/appointment” offer you often see.

Appealing to Multiple Buyer Personas in Various Stages of the Buying Cycle

It’s critical that you understand the three key B2B buying personas and speak differently to each.

These personas are:

  • The economic buyer, the person who releases the budget
  • The user-buyer, the person who uses the product or service
  • The technical buyer, the person in charge of vetting solutions against user requirements

By taking extra time to understand the personas, industries, influencers, and interests of your ideal prospect, you can optimize targeting and messaging by channel and increase the quality and responsiveness of the audience reached.

Leveraging Remarketing to Reduce Costs and Improve PPC Lead Generation

Remarketing, also known as retargeting, is the process of targeting someone with ads who has already shown interest in your site with a visit or interaction.

When it comes to PPC, remarketing is certainly the highest ROI activity you can implement for your business. Think about it…

Prospects have already shown that they’re familiar with your brand and expressed some degree of buyer intent by visiting your site, especially if they hit service or product pages. A lot of the work has already been done by your prospects who are actually showing you what they want.

Whether you have a small or giant budget, we recommend spending as much as you can on remarketing first. But make sure you do so in a productive and responsible way. Show prospects your ads, but don’t annoy them by showing these ads excessively.

Today, you can retarget based on a prospect’s Google search, number of pageviews, or specific interactions on your site. You can also retarget with a YouTube or Facebook video ad or a display ad.

If you’re not retargeting yet (and lots of marketers aren’t), start simple with basic AdWords display retargeting to site visitors. Effective retargeting can transform your business.

So that wraps it up when it comes to our secrets for optimizing your B2B strategy for PPC lead generation.

Start building a better PPC lead generation strategy today.

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PPC Lead Generation Secrets for B2B Revealed (Hint: It’s About Buyer Intent)