Google Ads for B2B Marketing: Top Strategies & Targeting
If you want to connect with a wide audience of potential customers and use the popularity of Google to your advantage, Google Ads is one of the best tools to use for any B2B company.
You can maximize your exposure online and effectively supplement other advertising campaigns to maximize sales and ROI.
In this article, I will explain the best strategies, targeting tactics, and much more.
- What is Google Ads
- B2B Marketing in 2022
- B2B vs. B2C Advertising on Google Ads
- Top Strategies for B2B Marketing on Google Ads
What Exactly Is Google Ads?
Google Ads is a program that allows users to create online ads that target audiences based on what they’re looking for while performing Google searches, browsing the web, or watching videos on YouTube. Unlike organic search engine optimization (SEO), Google Ads uses a pay-per-click (PPC) platform that requires users to pay whenever a visitor clicks on an ad.
Google has become the primary hub for many internet users when searching around a specific topic. In fact, Google sees as many as 63,000 searches every second of every day, and the average person conducts around three to four searches per day.
It’s guaranteed that many of the people using Google on a daily basis are searching for topics regarding certain problems that your business works to solve.
With Google Ads, your business can be the first result that people see when looking for specific solutions.
B2B Marekting in 2022
Companies around the globe have had to shift course in their marketing efforts due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
This means fewer in-person events and meetings, leaving digital the most reliable and, at times, viable path forward.
In B2B, this is a challenge, as face-to-face interactions can be critical to nurturing leads and closing new business.
If your business is behind in the digital world, there’s no better time to get up to speed and Google Ads could potentially be a strong marketing channel for your business.
I have written extensively on digital marketing strategy for manufacturers and much of that content applies to other B2B niches as well.
B2B vs. B2C Advertising on Google Ads
Some B2B organizations are hesitant to use Google Ads to market their product or service because they don’t have a purchasable item online or a physical location that customers would visit for their product offering.
Google Ads is used for far more than an immediate purchase or decision-making marketing platform.
It’s a great way to pull in users to your website who might not otherwise have heard about you and might become a client either today or a year from now.
Maybe you’re already working on your SEO and finding it difficult to climb the rankings for your target keywords. The great news with Google Ads is that you can skip the line and get your site straight to the top of the search engine result page.
Google Ads can be used for brand awareness, remarketing, driving phone calls or form completions, and more.
As you read this article, think about how your company could benefit from showing up on the top of Google for your most important keywords.
Top Strategies for B2B Marketing on Google Ads
Now that you understand what Google Ads is and how it could impact your B2B company, let’s take a look at specific strategies and tactics to help you succeed in 2022 and beyond.
Optimize your website
Driving new traffic and leads to your website could be significantly less valuable if your website isn’t ready for it.
If your company is still sporting its 2005 Joomla-built brochure-style website – it’s time to bite the bullet and make a major update.
There are multiple important reasons to do so:
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Conversion Tracking
- Quality Score
- Brand Impression
Your website experience is the backbone to the success of your campaigns. If your website isn’t set up to convert or track conversions – you’ll find little success on Google Ads.
Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO is the process of improving your chances to convert a lead. There are extensive studies and strategies on how to build landing pages that convert. Making sure your website is modern, fast, and up to date is step 1.
Google also takes landing page experience into consideration when assessing Quality Score.
“This score is measured on a scale from 1-10 and available at the keyword level. A higher Quality Score means that your ad and landing page are more relevant and useful to someone searching for your keyword, compared to other advertisers.”
Low-Quality Scores can result in a higher CPC (Cost Per Click) – which means you’ll end up spender more money per click, in part because of your poor website.
If your website is outdated, chances are it could reflect poorly on your brand. When leads are scouting for companies to work with, they’ll be looking for an organization that looks professional and current.
Improve your brand
Your new website is step 1 in your foundation for running a successful campaign. Hand-in-hand with that is your company branding.
In the same way that your outdated website can convey negative emotions to a visitor, so can your brand. A new website with old branding can communicate mixed messages.
Along with the visual appeal of your brand, this is a great time to nail down your brand voice, tone, and characteristics. This can call carry over into your advertising campaigns and overall marketing strategy.
We highly suggest adopting the StoryBrand Marketing framework. The core concept is positioning your client as the hero. Rather than your messaging being a sales pitch for your services, you speak to your customers’ struggle and how you can help them win as their guide.
Define your sales plan & objective
Launching any new marketing channel serves little purpose without a plan and clear objectives.
Ask yourself and your colleagues:
- What do we want to sell or offer?
- Once we get leads, where does their information go?
- Is our sales team prepared to handle an influx of new inbound leads?
- Are we prepared to not only launch but scale this channel as it shows its value?
- What are we expecting to accomplish with marketing on Google Ads?
- How does this get us closer to our quarterly or yearly company goals?
- How long will it take us to convert a lead and how does that impact our assessment of the success of our ad campaigns?
Overall, make sure you understand what you’re trying to achieve and if you have the right pieces in place to sustain and grow your Google Ads marketing.
Optimize your sales team
Your sales team is critical to the success of your campaigns. You can drive all the traffic and leads to your site but if your sales team can’t convert them, the effort is lost.
If you’re driving phone calls, having leads complete forms, or make purchases directly on the site you’ll need to ensure, you have a sales team who is prepared to handle new leads.
With a successful Google Ads campaign, you’ll likely see a significant increase in new potential business. Audit your sales team and communicate with them to see what a 2-3x increase in workload would require. It may be that you need to hire new team members in anticipation of or during the scaling of your Google Ads marketing.
Balance budget with target size
One of the most common questions businesses ask before launching a Google Ads campaign is, “what should our budget be?”
This is multifaceted and highly dependent on variables that will be different from company to company.
A frequent mistake is an imbalance of your target audience vs. the amount of money you’re willing to spend on the campaign.
If you want to target the entirety of North America but you’re only prepared to dish out $500 per month – you’ll be seriously disappointed with the results.
The average Cost Per Click (CPC) for B2B is $3.33. That means at $16.67 per day, you can afford about 5 clicks.
5 Clicks for all of North America! That’s an absolutely minuscule pool of users and you’ll blow your entire budget for the day within hours.
Tack on the average Conversion rate of 3.04% and you’re looking at maybe 4 Conversions per month. Those aren’t guaranteed clients or even leads, depending on what you count as a Conversion (i.e. – phone call, form completion, file download, etc.).
If you’re going to go national with your advertising, you need a national-sized advertising budget.
The same holds true for the number of campaigns you’re running. You don’t want to run a test-sized budget on a fully-fledged account build with dozens of campaigns.
What happens is your budget gets spread thin and you end up with very few results and not enough data to make informed decisions.
We’ll go deeper into where to start and how to scale later in this article. Just keep this in mind when deciding your starting budget.
Implement conversion tracking
A major mistake when launching Google Ads campaigns is not having a way to track the success of your campaigns.
Conversion tracking allows you to map your leads back to your campaigns and credit them with the new business.
This is a critical step in measuring the impact of Google Ads on your business.
Tracking Conversions gives you the information you need to make decisions about scaling your campaigns and budget.
As if it weren’t already important enough, Conversion tracking is necessary for powerful automated bidding strategies within Google Ads like Maximize Conversions, which relies on advanced machine learning to optimize your campaigns.
When setting up your Conversions, you’ll want to identify what qualifies as a lead or new business for you.
This could be a phone call, form completion, event sign-up, or an actual purchase of a product or service directly on your website.
For many B2B organizations, the final sales process takes place outside of the scope of your website in transactions potentially months or even years removed from the initial customer interaction.
In this case, your Conversions wont be actual closed sales but rather leads. With a robust and integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, you’ll be able to track those leads and attribute the closed sales back to your campaigns at the finality of the sales cycle.
Integrate your CRM
If you aren’t already using a CRM for tracking and organizing your sales, you should absolutely adopt one before launching your Google Ads campaigns.
A powerful CRM has the ability to track leads through the sales cycle so that you can better understand and stay on top of potential customers.
Without this tool, you could easily lose touch with leads or be unable to attribute a closed deal back to your advertising efforts.
Connect to Google Analytics
Before your start your campaigns, one very helpful integration with Google Ads is Google Analytics.
By linking your Google Analytics account to Google Ads, you can assess user behavior performance for your campaigns, ad groups, ads, and keywords directly inside of Google Ads.
Getting clicks on your ads is great but how are those users spending their time on your website?
This can help significantly in understanding if you’re reaching the right audience.
If your ads have a low average session duration time, for example, 10 seconds per user, then you know something isn’t resonating with the way that ad is communicating to your target audience versus what they are experiencing on your website.
Your Google Ads account is the entity that houses your campaigns. Your campaigns house your ad groups that have ads and keywords within them. Each of the ads has a landing page that directs users to your landing page.
Campaign structure is not only important for organizing your account but it can actually impact your Quality Score.
Well, if every single one of your keywords and ads are within the same ad group and campaign, you’ll be sending seriously mixed signals to Google.
Google rewards specificity in this way.
That’s why you’ll want to have an intentional and logical structure to your account.
A few common ways of approaching structure are by products or location.
If you have a set of core products and service you’ll be driving traffic to, you can create campaigns for each of them, with ad groups containing more specific niches within these campaigns.
If your business relies on driving traffic to specific physical locations, it may make more sense to structure your campaigns by city.
To start out, we recommend launching with 1-3 campaigns, targeting your strongest product or service (Based on both business metrics and keyword research). You may want to include a brand campaign, which targets your brand name specifically.
Brand campaigns can protect your company from losing business to competitors that are bidding on your keywords and it also provides additional brand visibility for your website on Google Search.
Types of campaigns and understanding the funnel
Google Ads aren’t all about driving sales or leads directly. There are other tactics you can use to benefit your business. Here are some different campaign types and when and why you should use them:
Search: Traditional search campaigns are likely the most common type of campaign across the board but they can be tricky to understand for B2B companies.
Especially for very specific or technical niches you might be thinking, “is my user looking for my product or service on Google?”
That’s where keyword research comes in and we’ll cover that more in detail later. With keyword research, you can check and make sure people are searching for what you’re offering.
Think about how your target audience would look for your product and where in the buying process you’d like them to find your ad.
You could run a very high funnel campaign, with users searching for answers – for example, you could target “should I hire a marketing agency?” This would get you in front of your audience very early in the decision-making process. But the chances that user becomes a customer are low.
With a low-funnel campaign, you could target the keyword, “get commercial building insurance”. This shows the customer intent is much closer to the point of purchase rather than simply researching how it works.
Dynamic Search: Dynamic search campaigns are more open-ended and reliant on AI but they can produce excellent CTR’s.
With Dynamic Search ads, you simply provide the description text and Google does the rest of the work.
Because the headlines are automatically generated based on your landing page and/or the user’s search query, the ads can become very relevant and clickable to the searcher.
In a dynamic search campaign, Google also takes care of the keywords.
For some marketers, this can seem unnerving, since you’re essentially surrendering control over bidding and fine-tuning.
So where do the keywords come from?
Google will analyze your website and decide which queries your ad should show up for. You can input specific pages or the entire site. There’s a lot you can do with Dynamic Search campaigns, take a look here to learn more:
Display: Display Ads use visual advertisements and interruption marketing to catch your target user’s attention at (hopefully) the right moment. Display ads are shown on websites across the internet, as opposed to Search ads which (mostly) show only on Google Search.
A word of caution: Be extremely vigilant about where your ads are showing. You can see a list of placements for your ad has been shown and if you haven’t tightened down the targeting significantly, you could be wasting hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Display Remarketing: Display ads are generally used as high funnel brand awareness campaigns however you can also run highly effective remarketing campaigns with Google Ads display.
If you’ve ever seen a product ‘follow’ you around the internet, display on the sides or at the top of other websites you visit, it’s likely you are in a display remarketing campaign powered by cookie tracking.
Video Ads: Video ads are served on YouTube, the world’s second-largest search engine. Similar to Google Ads Search, you can target your audience using demographics, interests, intents, keywords, and topics. There are five different formats you can use: Skippable in-stream ads, non-skippable in-stream ads, video discovery ads, bumper ads, and outstream ads.
Search Ads & Ad Copy
We’ll be focusing on Google Ads Search for the remainder of the article but many of the same concepts and strategies can be carried over to other campaign types as well.
Search ads have the power to make or break your campaigns. Make sure they are dialed in and optimized before launching.
What makes an ad clickable?
Relevancy & completeness are key when it comes to making an ad clickable. Make your as relevant to your ad group as possible so that the keywords align with what your ad is saying. You also want to complete every field possible to catch the users’ attention but also improve your Quality Score. This includes Extensions which we will cover in greater detail later.
Recently, Google announced that Expanded Text Ads, the traditional ad type of Google Ads, will no longer be supported starting June 30th, 2022. This means that Responsive Search ads will take over as the primary ad type.
Responsive Text Ads use a combination of user input and artificial intelligence to display a relevant ad to users on search.
RTA’s can have up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, along with a landing page and 2 display paths.
Of the descriptions and headlines, ultimately only 2-3 headlines and 1-2 descriptions will display. This combination is chosen by Google at the time of the auction.
We recommend using 3 Responsive Search Ads per ad group – giving Google a lot to work with to display an effective ad in front of users.
Make sure to use every headline, description, and display path provided and shoot for an Ad strength of ‘Excellent’.
Quality Score implications
Ads affect your Quality Score in two ways: Expected Clickthrough Rate and Ad Relevance. If you don’t excel in one or both of these, your Quality Score may suffer. To score highly here you’ll want to think about what a user would expect to see in an advertisement for any given query that could come through your ad group.
Here are a few more quick tips to help you win at Google Ads:
- Use first letter capitals to make your ad stand out
- Use your brand name in at least one headline
- Use your target location in at least one headline (if relevant, i.e. – ‘Corporate Lawyer Boston’)
- Use location and keyword insertion to make your ads super relevant
- Two of your descriptions should contain a call to action with an exclamation point at the end
- Around half of your headlines per ad should be keywords directly from your ad group keyword list (i.e. ‘Event Center Dallas’)
- Around half of your headlines per ad can be variations or key features of your service/product (i.e. – ‘20,000 Sq. Ft. Facility’)
Keywords & Competitor Research
Keywords are the beating heart of your Google Ads campaign. This is likely where you’ll spend the most time optimizing and tweaking on a daily and weekly basis.
Starting out, your campaigns might have a temptation to add hundreds or thousands of keywords to your ad groups.
This is not the correct strategy.
When you’re starting out with Google Ads, it’s better to be more conservative with keywords and scale, rather than opening the floodgates right off the bat.
Google Ads can quickly get out of control, especially if you’re only using broad match keywords.
Match types are one way you can control what specific keywords your ads show up for.
The three match types are:
-Broad match: Orlando IT Consultants
-Phrase match “Orlando IT Consultants”
-Exact match [Orlando IT Consultants]
Here’s a super helpful graphic that helps break down each of them.
One way to “soft launch” your ads is to use only phrase and exact match. Excluding broad match reduces the chance that your ad will show up on irrelevant searches.
At all costs avoid using 1-word broad match keywords. This is a sure-fire way to waste ad spend. Stick to keywords that are 2-5 words long.
As you get data back from your campaigns, you’ll be able to see what keywords are working and what aren’t. Once you’re confident a keyword can produce results, then you might test a broad match version of the same keyword.
Slowly add broad match keywords over time and observe the results.
So, where do you find keywords?
There are many ways to find keywords for Google Ads. The first place you should start isn’t a platform or a tool – it’s your own brain.
Relying on tools to produce keywords can often lead to missed opportunities. First, think about your product or service and what people would type to find what you sell.
Write those ideas down as a foundation.
Next take a look at Google Search Console. What are people actually typing to find your website? What keywords are they using in their content that you would want to bid on?
Sort the queries by Impressions to see what your website is ranking for but maybe not getting much traffic for. These may be great opportunities to run an ad and show up at the top of the results page.
Finally, go ahead and actually Google some of your target keywords and take a look at these 5 things:
- As you’re typing, what does the auto-suggest show?
- Are there competitor ads, what keywords are used in them?
- Are there SERP features that might take away click traffic from your ads? i.e. Product ads, videos, etc.
- Click through to the competitor websites, are they relevant to what you’re selling or offering?
- What keywords are on their landing pages and could you use them for your keywords or ads?
After this preliminary work is done, it’s time to find a keyword research tool. While we recommend using SEMRush, Google Ads has their own built-in Keyword Planner.
Keyword Planner works as a basic tool to get started, but ultimately you’ll want something like SEMRush to take your research to the next level.
With the keyword research tool, you can input a relevant keyword and find related words that may be valuable to you to bid on.
You can also spy on what your competitors are bidding on and snipe their traffic.
While keywords are what make your ads show up on Google Search, negative keywords are what tell Google to not show your ad for.
For example, if you are a corporate lawyer, you might decide to add “domestic”, “cheap”, or “civil” as negative keywords since those keywords might indicate an audience that isn’t what you’re looking for.
When inputting negative keywords, keep in mind that match type still applies. If you use broad match for negative keywords, you are potentially blocking your ads from relevant searches.
We recommend in most cases using phrase match for negative keywords and isolating the specific word you don’t want to show up for, regardless of what other words are around it. By doing this, you eliminate all queries possibilities containing that specific word.
Negative keywords can be tricky to stay on top of and keep in mind the searches your ads show up for may never truly be 100% relevant all the time. Especially if you’re using broad match for your keywords, eventually your ad will show up on a search that you don’t want to show up on.
Tend to negative keywords daily if possible to continually improve your campaigns.
Demographic targeting, ad schedule (and more)
Google Ads has powerful fine-tuning capabilities that you should absolutely take advantage of.
Demographics: Before you launch your campaigns, exclude any age groups, gender, or household income levels that are not relevant to your business.
Devices: Device bid adjustments are the only bid adjustments that apply (at -100%) when using automated bidding strategies like Maximize Conversions.
Here you can either eliminate or adjust bidding on Desktop, Mobile, and Tablet. For B2B we would almost always recommend excluding Tablet completely and in some cases, Mobile as well.
Ad Schedule: Your ad schedule is dependent on your campaign goals and your business. With a brand awareness campaign, you could run ads 24/7 but do keep in mind the hours of the day that makes sense for your target audience to be searching for your product or service.
With campaigns that are Conversion based, you may be better off running your ads during tighter windows of time. Keep in mind that when using an automated bidding strategy, Google will optimize for the times when your ads perform best anyway, so starting with a wider window of time at first may allow for more data collection and optimization.
Locations: Locations can also be excluded or specifically targeted. When you’re setting up your campaigns, make sure you expand the ‘Location options’ and select the relevant option under ‘Target’.
If you are looking to target people in a specific place and nowhere else, you’ll want to select ‘Presence’. Even then, it’s possible to get clicks from outside of the target location, so you may need to specifically exclude locations where you do not want your ads to show.
In location targeting, we recommend using radius targeting, rather than the city function, since the actual city boundaries can cut off key target areas.
Google Ads bidding used to largely be a manual practice however over the years, automated strategies have begun to dominate and Google continues to push further for automation.
And for good reason. While manual bidding gives the ultimate control over how much you spend and where you spend it, the process can be extremely tedious and challenging.
For B2B we highly recommend using automated bidding strategies like Maximize Clicks and Maximize Conversions.
By using Maximize Clicks at the start of your campaigns, you’ll get the most traffic for your dollar to your site. This will allow you to quickly start gathering data and get some Conversions flowing in.
We recommend switching to Maximize Conversions, only once you have about 30 Conversions per month flowing in.
Google needs data to ‘maximize your Conversions’ – so if you start right away with that bidding strategy, there won’t be anything for Google to work with.
That being said, be very cautious when using Maximize Conversions. Unlike Maximize Clicks, you do not have the ability to set a Max. CPC. Google is basically going to do whatever it takes to get your a Conversion with your given budget. It can get expensive for a single click, so tread lightly and watch your CPC’s.
There is A LOT more information to digest regarding bidding strategies, and it can get pretty complex. Take a look at this video to learn more:
Extensions are extra pieces of information that improve your Quality Score, Ad Rank, and get clicks to your website.
We highly recommend using all of the Extensions available to you especially Call, Image, and Sitelink.
A/B Testing & Experimenting
As your campaign data starts to come in you might want to consider A/B testing. Google does have built-in A/B testing (Experiments) but do bear in mind that it will split the budget of your given campaign by half. This means your resources will be spread thin.
For A/B testing ads, it may be better to simply duplicate the ad, change the text and run the ad within the same campaign to see how it performs.
Ultimately you will absolutely want to experiment with your campaigns, keywords, ads, etc. but that doesn’t mean you need to run an official Experiment.
For any tests you do run, make sure to give them enough time to return sufficient results before you change anything back.
Optimize and Scale
Once you’ve created your campaigns, and run them for a minimum of two weeks – it’s time to start optimizing. Of course, you can make small tweaks prior to that as needed but we recommend this time frame before making major changes.
Optimization on any given day or week can look different depending on results and data.
Daily tasks: Adding negative keywords, tweaking bid adjustments, adjusting ads, adding new keywords, pausing existing keywords.
Weekly tasks: Pausing existing ads, adding new ads, pausing existing extensions, adding new extensions.
Monthly tasks: Pausing existing campaigns or ad groups, adding new campaigns or ad groups, changing or updating bid strategies, changing or updating target locations, improving or changing landing pages.
Now that you have a few successful campaigns running, where do you go from here?
Well, if you soft-launched into Google Ads with a test budget and campaign structure, it may be time to scale.
Deciding to scale is largely a business decision with a lot of moving parts but within Google Ads, you’ll want to take a look at your Conversion Rates, Return On Ad Spend (if possible), and Cost Per Conversion metrics to help develop your next action.
Scaling can be done slowly or quickly, dependent on your budget, ability to handle new business, and your company goals.
Scaling will typically look like adding one or more new campaigns for products or services or new campaign types (Display, Video, Display Remarketing, etc.) along with an increased budget.
Scaling campaigns without increasing budget isn’t really scaling at all, since you’re taking budget away from other campaigns and potentially spreading your ad dollars thin. Make sure your budget supports the increase in campaign size.
We recommend running your initial Google Ads account set up for 3 months before making any major decisions to scale up or pull back.
Rules & Scripts
Optimization can take a lot of time day-to-day. Thankfully, Google has built-in ways of managing that automatically.
With Rules you can set actions to happen when certain variables’ conditions are met. For example, if you don’t want your keywords to go below a 2% CTR for any given 7-day window, you can set those keywords to pause if that happens.
We find that rules are only necessary if you are unable to monitor your account activity at least on a weekly basis.
Scripts are similar to Rules but they have the capability to perform much more advanced tasks and run bulk actions very quickly. We don’t recommend using scripts unless you have advanced knowledge of Google Ads and want learn more to take advantage of this powerful tool.
Here is more information on Scripts:
Google Ads Recommendations (optimization score)
Google Ads Recommendations are exactly what they sound like – recommendations from Google on how to optimize your campaigns.
In our experience, these recommendations can be hit or miss. Carefully analyze what it’s telling you to do and if this is something you really want to update on your account.
The recommendations are not an absolute guarantee of better results, so use your discernment to decide for yourself.
It’s not a must but a suggestion of, “you may want to look at this.”
Make sure to check your Auto-Apply settings as these can make some significant changes if you have certain items checked. Here are our recommendations: Bid more efficiently with Maximize conversions, Bid more efficiently with Maximize clicks, Remove redundant keywords, Remove non-serving keywords, and Use optimized ad rotation
Now you’re prepared to win at Google Ads for B2B. If you need help with your B2B campaigns, reach out to our marketing team to set up a strategy meeting today!
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