PPC Advertising for Industrials
For many industrial companies, the thought of online advertising may be uncomfortable or concerning. There is an old saying that half of marketing dollars go to waste… the challenge is figuring out which half! The good news is the online advertising we are going to construct in this book is measurable. With the right approach and the right technology stack in place, it is possible to follow a lead through your system to the point-of-sale. Where companies are selling through distribution and are unable to achieve visibility to the point-of-sale, or where technology is a limiting factor, we can still build a set of KPIs and have some visibility into the performance of the campaigns and quantify the leads they are generating.
Ultimately we want to know what portion of our opportunity pipeline is attributable to marketing activities.
Paid media programs leverage the great content of your organizations and push your messages out to your target customers. Well-executed campaigns get your messages in front of your ideal target customers, pulling them into your fold with compelling messages and offers of value. Then, with marketing automation, we will nurture and build relationships with these individuals until they are ready to buy.
While there are many types and variations of campaigns, in this blog I will explain one type that industrial companies are using to successfully grow their businesses: Search campaigns.
Search campaigns are Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising campaigns that are run on Google or other search engines. Since Google has approximately 90% market share for search in the U.S., we will focus on them.
The reason we start with search campaigns is that we can target customers who are searching for keywords that indicate they are in buying mode. Focusing on high-intent keywords is typically the fastest way to bring in new business opportunities.
This blog will cover the basics of setting up a Google Ads campaign; however, recognize that this is a technical process that requires specialized knowledge and skill. I recommend that you assess your company’s internal capabilities and consider outsourcing the management of your campaigns to an agency or certified and experienced contractor if you do not have the skill in-house.
Some Basic Terminology
Let’s take a moment to understand some basic definitions.
- Keywords: These are the words or phrases that people type into Google Search which trigger your ad to appear. When setting up an ad campaign, you’ll pick a list of keywords that you think people might search for when they want what you have to offer.
- Bid: This is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad. (Since, with Google Ads, you don’t pay to show up — only when someone clicks on your ad to visit your site or call you.)
- Quality Score: This metric tells you how relevant your keywords are to your ad — and to your landing page (i.e. the webpage where people will be taken when they click your ad). A good Quality Score can lower your bid costs and improve your ad rank in the search results.
- Ad Rank: This metric helps determine where your ad will show up, relative to other ads, when it's triggered to appear on Google. Your rank is determined using your bid, your Quality Score, and other factors.
- CPC (cost-per-click): The actual amount you pay when someone clicks on your ad. (You don’t necessarily pay your entire bid price for every click — that just sets up a range of possible costs-per-click you might pay.)
- Conversion: A conversion takes place when someone who has clicked your ad goes on to take another action you’ve designated as important — like making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or calling you.
Organize Your Account
Start by organizing your products and services into categories and basing your ads account structure on those.
There are two levels of organization within a Google Ads account: campaigns (the higher level) and ad groups (the lower level). Campaigns can represent divisions or product groups, while ad groups can represent specific products or offers.
Set Your Budget
With Google Ads, there are two ways that you control how much you spend: your daily budget and your bids.
Your daily budget is the amount you want to spend on each campaign per day. Your bid is the amount you're willing to spend on a keyword if someone searches for that term and then clicks your ad. Note that your Google Ads manager will most likely use an automated bidding strategy, which will allow Google’s machine learning algorithms to select your optimal bid for each keyword, within the constraint of your budget.
Pick Your Keywords & Set Match Types
For keyword selection, I recommend starting with the questions from your customer buying journey (refer to Step 1). Select questions from later stages in the journey and build your keyword list based on those questions.
Next, use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to identify additional keywords and determine search volume for each. The Keyword Planner will also help your ads manager to estimate how much to bid on a particular keyword if they are starting the campaign with a manual bidding strategy.
“Match type” is a setting in Google Ads that lets you further refine when your ad will show up on a Google search. There are now three options: Broad, Phrase, and Exact. Your Google ads manager will most likely start with Exact match and then loosen the setting over time once your campaign is optimized and performing well.
Set Your Landing Pages
Your landing page is where potential customers arrive after clicking on your ad. It is important that your landing pages are congruent with your ads and optimized for conversion. You will want to make sure that your ads manager has set up conversion tracking on your landing pages so that Google can optimize ad delivery and so that you can measure the performance of your ads.
Your landing pages must also be integrated with your CRM, marketing automation software, and your analytics engine. There is an art and a science to landing page design, and it is a critical success factor in any campaign.
Build Your Ads
Your ad may be the first impression some people will have of your business, so make sure it reflects well on your brand.
Best practices for ads include:
- Clear language that grabs attention
- Highlight what makes you unique
- Use keywords in your ad copy
- Use a compelling call-to-action
I also recommend keeping an eye on what similar companies in your space are doing. For this, there are a few good tools to check out.
Connect Your Account to Google Analytics & Install Tracking Code
This last step is technical and important, and so you will want to use an appropriately experienced individual. If you don’t have someone in-house, hiring an agency or a certified contractor is a must. Without tracking and analytics your ads will not optimize, and you will be flying blind.
Google has a plethora of free resources to help you in this process, which we have drawn from to help us build this guide. You can find a comprehensive checklist directly from Google to help you in this process here! They also offer free training on building your ads, which you can access here.
These are the basic elements of a Google PPC search campaign. For industrial companies that have an online storefront or have distributors or channel partners who are willing to participate in a PPC campaign, then PPC can be a great way to generate new business quickly.
Industrial B2B buyers are conducting more of their own research and are consuming content early in their buying process. Therefore, if your company is only running Google search ads to potential customers who are in the final stages of the buying process, you are missing an opportunity to grow your funnel and influence potential customers early.
Suggested Reading: The New Fundamentals of Industrial Marketing.
This blog is an excerpt from from my book, The New Fundamentals of Industrial Marketing. For more in-depth look at industrial advertising strategies to build your opportunity pipeline, grab your copy here.