How to Get Profitable Return on your Paid Search Program - A Four-Step Framework

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.

Why I’m Thrilled that Webinar Attendance Is Down – And What To Do About It (Part 2 – A Framework for Delivering On-Demand Content)

In part 1 of this post I discussed areas to work on to improve webinar attendance. In this post I’ll outline an approach to use to compliment your webinar strategy and take advantage of the growing preference for on-demand content vs. live content.

To explain this will go back to a marketing classic – AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

And to set this up you’ll need a framework that will serve as the underpinning for this program:

  • Identify the most severe pain/problem/issue that an aspect of your solution addresses
  • Create five best practices or insights that advise a prospect on how to address this pain – these insights CANNOT mention your product or service in any way
  • Align each of those best practices to a specific differentiator in your product (doesn’t necessarily need to be a competitor differentiator, could just be a differentiator vs. the status quo)

And with this, we create a on-demand program framework:

  • Attention - Outreach via multiple channels pinging against the pain or issue (e.g. marketing emails, sales emails, social media posts, influencer mentions, text ads, banner ads, website promotion) – links to Landing Page
  • Interest - The landing page starts by stating the Problem or Issue, and then shares the five best practices as insights one can follow to address the problem. There is a Call to Action – a content download (e.g. eGuide) to cover the topic in more depth… there is also a “fast track” conversion e.g. Speak to a Specialist to move the prospect directly to Sales.
  • Desire - After registering for this content, the prospect will receive a series of nurture emails. These emails will take 1-2 of the best practices and map them to how the solution delivers on that best practice -- looking to cement the connection in the prospect’s mind for how this product/service will help them address that core issue.  
  • Action – The emails will offer up to reply and/or a landing page to schedule a conversation with a specialist and/or evaluate the product depending on the preferred buying process.

Unlike a point-in-time webinar, this model is  an “always-on”, evergreen program that you can invest more or less in over time depending on the success that it drives and the relevance of the pain/topic. You can setup multiple programs like this pinging on different pains and see which performs better.

The framework of the pain - best practice / insight - mapped to solution will also make an impactful visual infographic to supplement the program. 

And this story around best practices to address the problem/issue can also be delivered as a live webinar, just without putting all of your eggs in that live webinar basket like you may have in the past. And so we go full circle because to make the most of that live webinar, check out Part 1 of this post if you haven’t already.