The Forrester Research Interactive Marketing Forecast indicates that B2B brands spend more on Paid Search than SEO, Email and Social, by more than 10 to 1. With more empowered and knowledgeable customers increasingly doing more category, company and product research on their own, it is critical for B2B brands (in the technology sector in particular) to find ways to drown out the noise on the search engine results page and capture their customer’s attention, then initiate an action.
I recently conducted an analysis of about 20 top B2B hardware and software providers to see how well they are doing in their paid media efforts and one of the glaring differences between good and mediocre strategies was how compelling the ads were.
Here are a couple of very simple and actionable key takeaways:
Use ‘Ad-Ons’ to maximize the information and use of real estate on your ad. There are many “ad-ons” that search engines offer, which allow you to expand your ad. These allow you to take up a larger portion of the results page, become more of a focal point to customers and offer a deeper view of your product and brand offering.
Below you can see good examples from WebEx using standard sitelinks and Dell using expanded sitelinks to provide a rich and deep user experience to their consumers. Using an extension like sitelinks can help differentiate from other ads, give the customer a more comprehensive view into your business and help the customer launch directly into the page that makes the most sense for them. By reducing the number of clicks to an important site action (like a free trial opt-in), it helps attribute compelling metrics to paid search programs.
There are numerous other ad extensions that the engines offer, including call and location extensions. Some of these are still in beta and require an opt-in approval, while some are considered standard enhancements and available to all advertisers. The common theme among all is that they allow you to customize your ad in order to provide your desired customers with the most relevant experience.
Build on-site content that will support strong paid search calls-to-action. Ads that are not completely clear are more likely to result in clicks that are not particularly qualified, wasting valuable ad budget on users who were probably just trying to figure out exactly what your company offers, since it wasn’t clear in the ad itself. One way to avoid this and to attract more qualified buyers is through very targeted ad copy promoting a specific piece of content—like a “how to” white paper or a “starter kit” like the one in the Citrix ad below. Another benefit to this approach is that once someone clicks on the ad, it is likely they will complete a form and become a “known” lead that can be attributed to the paid search channel.
Test everything to ensure your paid search goals align with your actual program results. Because paid search program goals can range from initial awareness to re-targeted ads meant to drive engagement metrics, it is critical to test headlines, product details, CTAs and all other elements of an ad. Experiment to understand what optimal ads look like for each of the objectives, and avoid trying to “backfill” in results that don’t map to your initial planned goals.
You can view my full presentation of findings and recommendations called “How B2B Tech Brands Use Paid Media” on Slideshare or embedded below.