In this blog, Kostas Giannoukaris, PPC Director at The B2B Marketing Lab, shares his advice on pay-per-click advertising - including several tips, tricks and things to avoid.
For many organisations, pay-per-click (PPC) is their main method of lead generation, but while these businesses all want (and need) to generate leads, how they go about doing so differs.
First and foremost: lead generation, does not mean the same thing for every business and PPC does not work the same for every industry. Just because someone has been shouting about how “PPC has solved all their lead generation issues", that doesn’t mean it will do the same for you and your company.
For the purposes of this article, when we talk about leads and lead generation we are talking about people submitting a form on your website (which is a conversion). Whether any of these leads become Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) or Opportunities etc, is a different matter as that has more to do with lead nurturing and workflows than lead generation.
Since 2014, I have planned, drafted, implemented and optimised hundreds of PPC campaigns – the vast majority of which were lead generation campaigns. So in this article, I’m going to share with you my expertise and some tips to follow when using PPC for your lead generation campaigns.
1. Use landing pages for lead generation
When running a PPC campaign – always (without fail) direct people to your website’s landing pages.
But why? Well it’s because landing pages are the best way to capture leads: they’re free of distractions, offer something of value to the visitor and include a form for the visitor to submit and convert on.
Your landing pages should have:
- a prominent call to action,
- clearly state what’s on offer,
- have no navigation or links to move the visitor off the page,
- and explain how the visitor can benefit from the offer by filling in and submitting the form on the page.
Here’s what you shouldn’t do:
Don’t use your contact us page, don’t use your services pages, don’t use your solutions pages, don’t use your product pages and never – EVER – use your homepage. The only exceptions to these rules are online retailers as they will use PPC to send visitors to product pages (however, this is not lead generation but ecommerce where sales cycles are shorter).
Sending people to anything other than a landing page and hoping for conversions is like playing roulette and always betting on one number: you’ll win occasionally, but you won’t maximise your chances of success.
2. Use the right PPC channel for your audience
To some this might be obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how often people run lead generation campaigns on every channel possible.
The result? Lower overall conversion rates and higher costs per lead. This is because while leads can come from every channel, the amount of money required per channel per lead can vary significantly. It is not necessarily wrong to run lead gen campaigns on all channels possible but only if you have deep pockets and money to waste.
Sometimes it’s easy to work out which channel will offer you the best cost per lead but if not, ask the agency/consultancy responsible for your PPC or lead generation. If they don’t know the answer, they will definitely have a way to find it or help you find it.
In some cases, trying different things is probably the only way to find the right channel for your business. However, be prepared to spend a fair amount of money until you find the right one.
3. Don’t forget to use remarketing
Remarketing is available on most of the main paid media platforms. Set up your remarketing tags from day one and setup your audiences. It’s a really cost-effective way to receive some extra clicks which, if used correctly, might even offer a higher probability of conversion.
Remarketing can even be used as an addition to an awareness campaign where people who have visited your website after seeing an awareness ad, will be shown a lead generation ad from remarketing that will take them to a lead gen form.
4. Make sure you target specific keyword terms – not broad ones
Most of the clients I have worked with want their ads to appear for some broad search terms.
However, broad search terms have several negatives which make them poor for lead generation purposes. Some of these are:
- High search volumes,
- Lots of competition,
- No way to identify the intent of the searcher
These issues make broad keyword terms quite expensive if the goal is lead generation.
For example, let’s say I’m promoting a white paper on “office network security” and the white paper is available on a client’s website (they provide cybersecurity services). I’m not going to bid for the keyword “cybersecurity”. My client might want to rank for cybersecurity, which is ok, but when someone searches for the word “cybersecurity” it’s really difficult to decipher their intent. Do they want to buy my client’s solution or just find out the definition of the word? Most likely the latter.
And if that wasn’t problematic enough, the word has more than 22,000 searches per month in the UK alone, a lot of competition, and I would (probably) need to bid at least £4 for this keyword. You could easily spend a month’s budget on this keyword alone without getting a single conversion for the white paper.
These broad keywords might be highly effective for awareness campaigns if all you want to achieve is to rank high and receive traffic, but they make the worst keywords for lead generation.
5. Don’t use PPC for just bottom-of-the-funnel content
PPC campaigns can create a huge amount of leads if used correctly but as explained before, leads are different to MQLs and SQLs which – you guessed it – also differ from one organisation to another.
The thing is BOFU content assets have a low conversion rate due to the nature of the buying cycle in B2B. You have to nurture contacts to a point of purchase (though you will have people who purchase your services right away without having visited your website – but they’re few and far between). It’ll also cost you a lot of money to drive these conversions. Not practical at all.
So rather than using PPC to only promote BOFU content assets – content assets which indicate someone is ready to buy from you – consider creating content for all of the funnel stages. Promote your TOFU, MOFU and BOFU content together, as this will improve your PPC campaigns and give you a higher conversion rate. You can even use remarketing to push someone who has converted on a TOFU piece of content and get them to move further down the funnel.
It’s important to understand that PPC is not the solution to lead generation problems.
Sure, PPC can help you to find a way to effectively target a high-quality audience (one which would otherwise be very difficult or even impossible to reach with other means of promotion) but it requires lots of preparation and planning in order to achieve results that will help your business.
Despite this, there are companies out there that add a couple of keywords into Google Ads, launch ads that drive people to their homepages and then wonder why they get no leads from PPC.
PRO TIP: PPC for lead generation can be very expensive if used incorrectly, so if you do not have the time or resources to do the research and preparation required, my tip would be to find experienced professionals that know how to make a PPC lead generation campaign work.