Paid Search is a necessary component to a growth mix for B2B marketers. It should prove to be a source of solid cost/MQL and cost/opportunity leads, and one that helps reach Google search audiences in an important way to compliment organic/inbound efforts.
Let’s be very clear on one thing though - paid search is tough.
Unlike a well-executed organic search program, which over time can drive exponential growth and significantly reduced cost per lead metrics, the ‘natural course’ of a paid search program is increasing cost per lead.
Why? Two reasons:
First off, Google is always looking to make more money. Google is always going to be acting in Google’s best interest, which means looking for ways to siphon off more dollars from advertisers. This past year it’s been hiking up branded search rates.
And secondly, successful terms are likely to get more and more spend from competitors. Meaning what’s working for you today, is likely to cost more money to work for you tomorrow.
So how do you get this Paid Search beast to work for you? Here’s a four-step plan to get payoff:
#1 - Ensure you have the right measurement in place (HINT: Google AdWords is not enough).
Optimizing a paid search program for form-fills alone is a surefire way to drive a high number of ‘conversions’ (leads) that have a high noise level for sales, and low pipeline return.
A proper measurement framework is critical to success. Specifically here's what to do:
- Setup SalesForce campaigns for each AdWords campaign to enable tracking opportunity and pipeline return
- Pass a Google click ID (GCLID) into marketing automation/CRM systems and pass opportunity values back to AdWords. This will allow for cost/opportunity and pipeline $/investment to be calculated at the keyword level – crucial for the optimization needed to drive success
- Setup ‘stacked cookies’ so that latent conversions can also be measured and attributed back to the paid search investment – to give you a full picture of the impact of your investments
#2 – Target long tail, use case driven keywords
Driving profitable pipeline from PPC investment is a numbers game – and as I mentioned above it gets harder and harder. So eeking out every efficiency is vital.
Long tail, use case driven keywords are vital to this. Rather than investing in broad category based searches which will be expensive, and tend to be more ‘top of funnel’ research terms – the searches that will drive returns are going to be more long tail (both longer search phrases, and lower volume) which are more likely to signify "intent." and lead to action -- both conversion and follow-on engagement with sales rep. This will be lower cost, lost volume and higher converting terms.
Your job as a paid search marketer looking to optimize pipeline return is to identify more and more of these terms, and invest in those.
#3 - Tailor landing pages for these use cases
Back to the point of eeking out every efficiency, as you identify these terms, build landing pages tailored for these terms. Landing page conversion rates will go up based on having more relevant, tailored content which align ads to the specific search phrase and landing pages.
This payoff of this work will be higher conversion rates, which therefore lead to a lower cost per lead and cost per opportunity. There will also be a double positive hit as more relevance will increase your Google quality scores and help to further reduce cost per lead.
#4 - Optimize, optimize, optimize
The above framework will give you a framework for success. Then the key is optimize, optimize, optimize.
Watch the results every single day, and align with sales on what’s working and what’s not working.
Optimize for pipeline $ and opportunities created, leveraging the reporting capabilities on #1. Constantly work #2 and #3 above to identify the right terms and take all the steps possible to minimize costs per opportunity while driving quality.
As you identify low performers, either get rid of them or work to improve them.
As you identify high performers, invest fully in those, and look to spin off other ideas from those performers that could lead to new potential winners.
The “Google PPC pill” is a tough one to swallow – when you realize the size of the check you’re writing to Google each month – but it’s much easier to do so when you know you are running the program in a way that is driving profitable return. Because then at least, it’s a win for Google and a win for the Marketer.