April 7, 2021
As of late, more and more B2B companies are turning to Paid Search as a lead-gen strategy, and with increased competition on the SERPs comes increased CPCs. As a result, marketers are constantly having to come up with new ways to stay ahead of the curve and grab a bigger slice of the pie.
Whilst Covid-19 didn’t remove the need for the majority of B2B services, the general feeling of business and economic uncertainty did have an impact on customer willingness to commit to long-term contracts and investments.
With this in mind, here are 5 tips to elevate your PPC strategy to attract and nurture those all-important high-quality leads in 2021.
Securing annual contracts brings predictability to a business, but getting new long-term contracts signed during economic recessions is easier said than done.
There are many factors that determine contract lengths such as the age of the business, type of product/ service and pricing, but if it is commercially viable then reducing the length of time that a customer is tied into their contract can help to ease anxieties they have around signing on the dotted line.
Elastic pricing models can also ease these anxieties, with many businesses adopting a ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing model after industry saturation and economic uncertainty seen in 2020/21.
If, as a marketing team, you are unsure of what contract terms to offer, Paid Search can be a great tool to test out the various options. Try running an experiment campaign to A/B test ads offering two different contract terms directing to two different landing pages. You can then decipher which offer is generating higher lead volume and overall revenue.
It isn’t always possible to reduce contract terms, but there are many other means of convincing potential customers that your product or service is worth parting with their budget for.
Free trials and freemium offerings provide a low-friction entry point for customers to familiarise themselves with your offering and the value it can bring before committing to a contract. Offering a free trial or demo within your ads and on-site will also make it infinitely easier to spark engagement and begin conversations that lead to a sale.
During the first lockdown there was a spike in search queries containing the phrase ‘free trial’, reflecting the increase in demand for trial periods. Search volumes have not yet returned to pre-Covid levels.
TOP TIP: Companies that do not ask for credit card info when signing up users for a free trial generate 2x as many paying customers (DevSquad).
Free trial messaging within Search and Display campaigns in addition to just on-site messaging will give advantage above many competitors, and is particularly effective within Remarketing Display campaigns to nurture those users further down the funnel who have visited the site but not yet purchased or made an enquiry.
Even if free trials aren’t available, there are other ways in which to work the sales funnel through Paid Search.
B2B offerings can be complex to grasp, so it’s likely that your business has a wealth of resources dedicated to helping potential customers visualise its value.
Utilising blog, webinar and whitepaper material within Google Ads Display or LinkedIn campaigns is an effective way to get users on site to build up your remarketing audience to target with bottom-of-funnel brand ads in future.
You can take it one step further and gate content being promoted so that users exchange their contact details in exchange.
You can use Google Analytics Goal Tracking to monitor where in the sales funnel particular contacts are. Create multiple remarketing campaigns to promote content which is relevant to the stage of the funnel they’re in.
Got a site visitor remarketing list? Hit them with lead-gen gated content.
Got existing leads? Hit them with product-focused ads, free trials and demos.
Sprout Social provides an excellent example of this tailored display strategy, utilising direct straight to “free trial” ads alongside lead-gen ads that offer a relevant guide to becoming a successful social media manager.
As with tailoring ad content based on your audience segment, the same goes tailoring ads based on the strength of intent of your search keywords.
The average B2B company setting out to promote their product generally starts with super-product focused, ‘I’m ready to buy!’ keywords. As these keywords are highly desirable due to their bottom-of-funnel nature, cost-per-clicks (CPCs) on these terms are generally the highest meaning the cost-per-lead (CPL) is generally higher.
This means that targeting a free trial or gated content on these high-intent terms is unlikely to lead to profitable results, whereas targeting lower-intent, low competition terms with lower CPCs will be a more cost-effective way to engage users and enter them into the sales cycle.
A Blueclaw client who’s core offering is Atlassian Software saw excellent results promoting gated webinar content via Google Ads Display using content (keyword) targeting and remarketing.
These Webinar Display campaigns produced 100+ leads at £92 cost-per-lead in 2020 ( an 18% lower cost-per -lead than Search campaigns).
These higher-funnel contacts were used to initiate conversations and convert opportunities to sales.
During periods of economic uncertainty it is more important than ever to keep tabs on the profitability of every marketing effort.
A CRM like Salesforce or Hubspot can be integrated with ad platforms so that marketing intelligence can go beyond just knowing the value of channels, campaigns and keywords from a lead perspective. Integration can push CRM revenue data back into Google Ads so that you can stay informed of the revenue generated from each and every keyword.
A particular Paid Search campaign may be generating plentiful leads, but are they actually converting to sales?
Having campaign revenue data is always valuable, but it is even more vital during periods of change. As shifts in demand for certain services occur, having revenue instantly matched to your campaigns will mean quicker reactions and detection of emerging trends.
Major events such as a global pandemic naturally cause major shifts in consumer demand, and the increasing use of technology to work, play, and stay connected have shaped new digital habits.
Although Britain’s economy experienced its biggest annual decline in 300 years in 2020, it hasn’t been all bad. Changes in the macroenvironment as a result of the pandemic saw demand for some services skyrocket. The increasing use of technology to work, play, and stay connected have shaped new digital habits. Zoom is a prime example.
Detecting changing trends early on is pivotal to maximising sales and revenue. We recommend keeping tabs on changes to search volume for each of your software product headterms on a monthly basis using Google Search Trends. Staying on top of these trends will lead to smarter budget planning.
Or perhaps external factors have caused a boom for a service that the business does not currently offer. Is there any reason why you couldn’t expand to offer it? Businesses that quickly adapt to the changing environment are those most likely to thrive.
If transitioning product offerings is not realistic for your business, strategy adjustments don’t necessarily need to be this drastic to increase lead and revenue flow.
Testing new customer verticals via new keyword expansion can be a great way to generate additional revenue.
It’s likely that not all your keywords have a brand name in. Its common to have related generic terms. Have a brainstorm, would any other business verticals value the software?
If so, are there differences in the Google searches this new audience would be making related to the product or service compared to your existing target audiences? If there are, create a new campaign with this new set of generic keywords and tailor your ads so that they speak directly to this audience.
Although economic uncertainty can mean it is more difficult to close deals with potential customers, we have seen that opportunity also arises from shifts in the macroenvironment. If businesses can capitalise on these changes by adapting their Paid Search keyword set and wider marketing strategy, opportunities for increased revenue can arise.
Making the move towards shorter-term contracts and flexible payment plans, with the option of free trials can also make an impact on lead to sale conversion rates. Effective use of the sales funnel also plays a part, so ensure audiences are segmented based on where they are in the funnel and are targeted with relevant content via Display.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact our senior team today to book in a non-obligatory 1-to-1 session.