Pay per click (PPC) advertising to attract clientsJul 14, 2018 - Marcel Odena
In the previous article we talked about 3 ways to grow a technology startup (although it can also apply to other types of more conventional companies). One of the ways we explained is perhaps the most intuitive: getting more customers, that is, getting more sales, more contracts that entail an increase in recurring income for the company.
And to get more customers what is the main thing that we need? We need to identify potential buyers, companies that can potentially become our clients. Companies to whom we sell our services or products. And how is this done? There are several strategies. In the article “ Strategies to generate leads for B2B companies ” we explained to you 4 differentiated ways of finding those people ( leads or contacts) who are looking for companies like yours or that, even if they are not looking, due to their context can be potential clients.
In this article we focus on the possibilities offered by Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising to get more customers, to generate more business for your company, which is often said to “generate more pipeline “.
Phases in customer acquisition
Pay Per Click advertising is very useful in the following phases of customer acquisition:
- Initial lead generation phase : through PPC advertising, we can easily generate “leads”, that is, contact data of people potentially interested in what we offer. Generating leads for a company that wants to grow is crucial since it allows later to work those leads, from marketing and sales and finally get contracts. Obviously only a small percentage of all the leads that are achieved end up generating sales, so it is important to get many leads to ensure the volume of sales we need to meet the target growth rate of our company.
- Accompaniment phase during the “path” to the sale : As the user interacts with our website we have more information about the pages he has seen, and we can estimate at which point our funnel is. Through PPC advertising we can promote certain informative materials depending on the user’s status within our funnel. So in the awareness phase we could show videos that are very focused on branding, show ebooks on general topics of the sector, etc. And in a more advanced phase we could promote ebooks with the features of our product, or videos with success stories, or invitations to request a demo.
Use of PPC to attract potential customers
Through PPC advertising we can capture with relative ease “leads” , that is, contact data of people potentially interested in what we offer. There are several PPC platforms, each with its virtues when it comes to reaching our audience. They all have one thing in common, they allow us to reach our audience in some way. What we show to that audience, what landing pages we take, what messages we transmit depends on the strategy we follow and the good marketing we do. Below I list some of the main PPC platforms:
- Google Adwords: it is the Google platform for advertising, known by many because it allows to show ads in top positions of Google. But it also has other useful features such as remarketing campaigns, display campaigns for certain cases. And video campaigns on YouTube. Google Adwords has a very unique thing, which is that it manages to capture “demand” traffic, that is, the user goes to Google and types what they are looking for, what they need. In these cases the willingness of the user to buy is very high and the lead ratios at closing sales are usually higher than in other PPC platforms (or in Google Adwords display campaigns).
- Bing Ads: it’s the “Google Adwords” version of Microsoft. If we want to appear in top positions of Bing with ads we have to use this platform. If we go to markets like the USA where the rate of adoption of the Bing search engine is relatively high, it makes a lot of sense to use this platform also together with Google Adwords.
- Linkedin Marketing Solutions : for me the star platform to do B2B marketing, with an unparalleled capacity nowadays to reach our audience of professionals. Through its segmentation methods we can reach the professionals who meet the desired profile. If you want more information, you can consult the article on how Linkedin advertising works .
- Facebook Ads : it has many methods of segmentation, the big handicap you have when doing B2B marketing is that many users have not reported on their Facebook profile professional attributes (what profession they have, in which company they work, etc.), it is logical because it is not a network that is thought for this (as it is the case of Linkedin). So it is difficult to segment to reach people with certain charges, but well, there are other methods that allow to capture broader traffic and then strategies such as remarketing to refine the audience.
- Twitter Ads: Perhaps of all the platforms PPC is the most unknown, or the most forgotten, but for certain advertisers it has functionalities that can go very well. For example, it allows you to show ads to Twitter users who follow a certain Twitter account. Imagine, for example, that your company sells to professionals and they usually follow the official Twitter account of reference in their sector. Well, we could make a campaign to reach those users, with a very personalized message.
- Adroll: PPC platform that mainly offers remarketing functionality. That is, create campaigns to show ads to users who have had a certain behavior on our website. It’s very similar to what Google Adwords can do with its remarketing campaigns, in some way, but it addresses it with its own technology, in some cases more effective than Adwords.
There are many more PPC platforms, but to give you an idea I think that is enough.
Use of PPC for lead nurturing strategy
The processes of sale Business to Business (B2B) tend to be longer and more complex than the process of selling to a final consumer.
Imagine a company that offers a Software As A Service (SaaS) related to finance. Its star buyer persona is the financial director of large companies, ideally of more than 200 workers. Well, in these cases the sale is rarely done in a “compulsive” way . It is not even likely that the sale will be closed with a simple call. The adoption of such software usually involves several people in the company ( stakeholders ), the financial director, the technology director, the CEO, etc. And in many cases the potential buyer has already solved “in its own way” the need or part of the problem that solves the software we want to sell, so we must also consider how the transition is made.
Therefore, in these processes it is usually necessary to “educate” the user , this could be done with:
- Show the advantages of our software through an ebook.
- Do a webinar to deal with a current problem of finances and at the end of the webinar explain how, with this software, this problem is solved, etc.
All this accompanying strategy during the path to the sale usually involves generating documentation (ebooks, whitepapers, generating webinars, reports, etc.) to explain this in an informative way. Let’s suppose that our marketing department and/or product has generated excellent documentation. Now we have to put this documentation in the eyes of our potential buyer , of all those leads that we have generate.
Email as a channel to educate the buyer in the B2B world
What many companies do is use email to send messages to the user (lead) with these materials, within a lead nurturing strategy . And this makes a lot of sense for many cases, but the problem is that over the years promotional emails have been multiplied and it is increasingly difficult to capture the user’s attention among so many offers. On the other hand, we must take into account that many companies use mail system such as Google Apps or similar that organize emails by category, and in many cases the emails that we send with marketing automation tools go to “Promotions”, making it harder for the user to see them. Here’s an example of how emails are organized in a company email account with Google Apps:
The inbox is what you usually look at, and the “promotions” box is looked at from time to time, but when you enter maybe you have 16 new emails, with which it is easy for you to not see the emails of that company that has Software As A Service of finance.
In your case, do you have time to see all the emails you receive? And above all, promotional emails?
PPC advertising as a channel to educate the buyer in the B2B world.
What not many companies do is use the PPC advertising platforms to promote the entire arsenal of content that the company has prepared to facilitate the sales process. And here there is a great opportunity to use PPC to help generate business (pipe).
Through remarketing strategies we can accompany the user on their way from discovering your company (awareness phase) to the last phase of purchase.
As Jason Miller (Head of Content Strategy at Linkedin Marketing Solutions) said in one of he episodes of “The Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast” , one of the main roles of the marketing director (of the CMO) is position our product or service in the “short list” of the potential buyer . This concept, which applies both to mass consumer marketing and traditional advertising, applies in the same way to b2b marketing. When a financial director asks, what softwares are there to manage company expenses? we want our software to appear in your mind, in the first option if possible or at least among the first 3 options. And how is this achieved? In the mass market, it has been done with “traditional” advertising, advertisements on TV. What brands of toothpaste come to your mind? Colgate, Fluor and … here is where all toothpaste manufacturers want to be. And in the b2b world? What I recommend is good marketing and backed largely by PPC advertising, because it allows you to reach your target audience and impact with ads, with several messages. And as I was saying, since the digital world is very analytical, we can know at what point of the funnel the user is quite accurately, so that we can change the messages of the ads as the user progresses through our funnel.
Advantages of pay-per-click advertising to attract customers.
Before finishing the article I would like to summarize the virtues that I think PPC advertising has to contribute to make good b2b marketing and second to boost the growth of a company .
1) PPC allows you to segment
One of the great virtues of PPC for B2B marketing is that it allows you to segment users according to the professional criteria that our buyer persona has. Of all the PPC platforms to date today the one that allows to better segment by professional profile is Linkedin Marketing Solutions . And this functionality is critical to be able to do good B2B marketing.
There are many segmentation options, each PPC platform has several segmentation options. For example, through the Google Adwords platform we can do search campaigns to appear in top positions of Google when a user types something that tells us they are looking for our product or service (and in some way by search, it also tells us the kind of “buyer persona” that is). In the previous financial example, we could create a campaign to show an ad above all of Google when someone types in Google “business finance software for companies”.
Through Google Adwords display campaigns we can also segment the users according to their interests or thematic of the websites they visit, although in my experience it has to be said that the segmentation accuracy is lower and more limited than in Linkedin. However, Adwords has many other segmentation options and allows incredible things like users with certain behavior on our website after we show them videos of our company when they are on YouTube.
Remarketing is crucial for both the lead generation phase and the nutation phase (via PPC). And luckily it is a functionality of online advertising that most PPC platforms have. For example, Google Adwords, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Adroll, etc. allow you to create remarketing lists to group users (cookies) according to the behavior that we have defined (who have seen such pages, who have reached the end of a certain page, who have seen such a video, etc.).
2) PPC allows you to scale
The word “scale” is easy to see or hear in the world of startups. Due to the nature of many startups that receive rounds of investment, they are forced to grow at very high rates. And this implies getting many sales in a very short time . And this implies at the same time getting many leads from potential buyers and accompany them during the “journey” until the purchase . It usually happens that the startup or company wants to expand to other countries. And the big question one asks is how do we do to sell from Spain to the United States? It obviously depends on the type of service provided, the way the user buys it, etc. If the user can sign up for our online service simply putting the VISA is one thing. With services/products with some human interaction at the time of initial hiring I have seen startups grow by selling telematically. Nowadays the distances are shortened, and with the current tools of email, telephone, videoconference, signing of online contracts, etc. you can do the whole process (although a good meeting in person will always be unmatched 😉
Well, with PPC advertising we can easily scale, specifically:
- Scale in country coverage : we can configure several campaigns in each PPC platform to target users from several countries. So if we want to reach the US market we can create campaigns geographically oriented to USA, campaigns in Google Adwords, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.
- Scale in the audiences we’re going to : The reach of pay-per-click advertising to reach our audience is very high. If you imagine the audience you are targeting as a “round-type chart”, with PPC we can get a piece of this audience, half of this audience or a very high percentage of the whole house. If the user uses Linkedin (very likely) we will surely reach him through the campaigns on Linkedin, with a segmentation or another that we have created. If the user does a search in one of the most common search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo …) surely we will also appear with an ad very relevant to his search. If the user uses Facebook or Twitter we could also reach him through other methods of segmentation. If the user visits certain blogs or online thematic magazines, we will surely reach him or her through display advertising.
- Scale in the intensity with which we advertise : We can invest 3,000 euros per month in PPC or we can invest 100,000 euros per month, depending on the market we want to cover and the investment capacity of the advertiser. But the good thing is that PPC platforms allow for escalation in investment and this translates to escalate in reach, how many people we can reach and with what intensity (how many impacts per person we make). In Linkedin, if we create a campaign with a daily budget of 12 euros, the ads will be shown less times than if we assign 50 euros a day. In Google Adwords for example, we created a campaign with certain keywords and assigned a daily budget to that campaign. It is quite usual that after a day the campaign warns you that the budget allocated is insufficient to go on Google all day (or the scheduled hours). When the system reaches the assigned budget it stops showing the ads. Well, if we have more investment capacity we can raise the budgets per campaign and announce ourselves every day, without losing opportunity. On the other hand, it is usual to create several campaigns with certain keywords. Imagine that we have created 5 campaigns and consume 150 euros a day. With this we cover all the cases in which our audience can search us? Probably not. If we have more investment capacity we can create more campaigns working other keywords. For example, the user could search for “financial management software for companies” in Google and with a campaign with certain keywords we could appear. But what if the user searches for something like “alternatives to excel for finance”? Or if the user search for “ERPs for finance”? Do we also want to go out in first positions? If we want we will have to create more campaigns, configuring the keywords that allow us to activate the ads under these searches, and this will imply that we will have to invest more money per day with these campaigns.
3) PPC allows you to accelerate
I sense that nothing makes a CEO more nervous that to be told that he has to be patient to see results. In this crazy world everything goes at lightning speed. A startup gets several million euros in an investment round and from one day to the next, we have to start redoubling our efforts to grow. The good thing about PPC advertising is that you always have the accelerator pedal pointed , step on (create campaigns) and in a matter of days we are showing our ads. Say that technology allows you to do it as I explain it, although I also tell you that to make good b2b marketing, to build a brand while generating leads, you need to define a good marketing strategy, prepare materials (ebooks, webinars), build landing pages, creatives (banners), etc. and this usually takes several weeks. But once you have all the above, creating campaigns is relatively fast, and once the campaigns are created, the ads begin to show after a few hours and you start to receive clicks, traffic, leads.
And this sense of control , to know that we invest € 30,000 and has a short-term effect is usually liked because in many cases it is required to achieve short-term results.
There are other marketing strategies, such as inbound marketing, very powerful and with many virtues, but in this aspect they do not have so “reprise”. Therefore, in companies that have bet a lot on Inbound Marketing strategies, they could consider using PPC as a complement to benefit from the advantages exposed in this article.
4) PPC allows you to measure the ROI
Measuring the return on investment in PPC campaigns is more than possible. Gone are those days in which it was said that it was difficult to measure the impact of marketing at the time of generating business (pipe). Nowadays, the technology allows a lead tracking from the acquisition to the very complete purchase. It is not a fine tracking with 100% accuracy because there are still fringes, but the level of precision is high enough to know if a sale comes from a lead captured through Google Adwords, Linkedin PPC, organic traffic, etc. Or, as usual, a sale was closed because a set of channels worked as a team (PPC, SEO, Outbound, email marketing, etc.).
When measuring the ROI of PPC, and by extension, of the strategies that marketing leads, it is usually measured:
- Generated business that comes from leads generated by marketing . The sales department has closed a sale with a client and originally the lead was captured from marketing.
- Generated business influenced by marketing . It is usual for the sales department to upload several contacts to work in the system (CRM), whether they are lists of contacts they buy, contacts that they themselves search manually in Linkedin, etc. (you can see more ideas of how sales get contacts in this article ). Well, it is usual for some of these leads to end up interacting with a marketing campaign, for example, the user sees an advertisement for a webinar, clicks on the banner and registers. Or watch a video on YouTube, either by ppc or another way, of the functionalities of our software. Well, in these cases the sale is counted to the sales department but a part is also counted to marketing ( Marketing-influenced Sales Pipeline ).
If, for your role, you are not very involved with the most technical part of marketing-sales, believe me when I tell you that you can do the tracking. Much of the success is using very competitive lead management tools (such as the Hubspot-Salesforce star binomial) and then a lead tracking implementation based on the UTMs (Urchin Tracking Module), a de facto standard for tagging URLs based on where the click comes from, and which basically allows the lead to be traced according to the channel from which it comes. If you want more information about this aspect you can consult article on how to track the origin of leads .
Let’s PPC !
I hope this article has helped you to better understand how pay per click advertising works and see how you can contribute significantly when it comes to getting customers for your company.
- 3 ways to grow a technology startup : get more customers, that is, more sales, increase the billing of existing customers (upselling, cross-selling) and reduce the rate of customer abandonment (churn rate). In this article we explain the 3 ways to grow a startup. Read article .
- Basic concepts about generating leads for companies : what is a lead, how is the cost of a lead calculated, what is lead scoring, what is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), what is a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL), what techniques are used to get leads for companies, etc. . Read article .
- How advertising works on Linkedin : discover how advertising works on Linkedin, from the types of ads, the segmentation methods, how much it costs and what results you can get. Read article .
- Basic concepts about Google Adwords : Learn the basics of Google Adwords that will help you optimize your campaigns and prepare the fundamentals exam of Google Adwords. Read article.
- What is Pay Per Click advertising?