Time for B2B Marketers to Rename AdWords
I think Google Adwords should cease to exist.
And any B2B marketing organisation using it should stop immediately. It’s not Google AdWords you need to be using: it’s (insert your company name here) AdWords.
I’m no Google detractor (I’ve always accepted the Green Park pub incident wasn’t their fault) so don’t abandon the platform, just make sure you carefully and thoughtfully customize their factory settings.
It might only be a daily drip of money down the drain, but it soon adds up if the wrong traffic takes a trip to your site every day and leaves without a single commercial thought. Let’s look at the typical issues we uncover at clients who had been running the out the box settings for some time.
Usually it’s best to avoid going for broad match keyphrases unless it’s part of a carefully controlled experiment. You need to adapt match types to get the focused traffic typical of B2B organisations. If you want a prospective customer then go for “phrase” matching or, at least, set up your negative keyphrases. If, for example, you’re an Notting Hill interior designer you don’t want traffic for an Ealing graphic designer.
Make sure you don’t advertise outside your target market. You need to customize your markets or end up wasting most of your impressions. And don’t be tempted to launch English language ads on the world without customizing the content. A blank box might do more good.
Don’t sign up to the Display Network unless you are carefully customizing your list. Under no circumstances should you go for automatic placements – it’s tantamount to chucking your daily budget out the window. If you’re working in a B2B technology business then you’re almost certainly in a niche. And a niche can be managed.
We used to have doubts over the mobile network. We’ve softened as browsing experience grows. If you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing then look at your site’s analytics to understand your users’ choice of technology.
Bidding and Budget
Start low and grow only if you see success in what you’re doing. You can, however, consider higher bids for the right phrases as you tighten your control.
Generally you want to bid for the top. Focus your budget on beating the competition on focused searches using the budget you’ve saved from irrelevant Display Network and broad match traffic.
You don’t really need to worry about this too much. It’s more useful for small businesses of the butcher, baker and candlestick maker variety (and I’d include Green Park publicans in that list). Put it on when you think of a reason.
If you do business in the UK probably best to restrict your adverts to working hours. Anyone searching on the internet at 3am is unlikely to be looking for ERP systems.
You probably do want to rotate our top performing adverts but you should also manage the process manually through your own tests.
If you do decide to test elements of the Display Network you should use this to ensure you keep control of the test. Your AdWords, your rules.
Conversions are attractive. If you achieve enough conversions we can move from a CPC to a goals based CPA charging model. You can then pay for users who complete goals rather than click through traffic that delivers no value. Set it up and consider customizing goals that are realistic for your traffic.
This list should get you started on settings. Google AdWords is a great tool but if you’re paying for it, you need to be customizing it.
SEO Dan | February 14th, 2011
Very good tips Neil.
I have tried everthing you mentioned in the article, the Display Network is a big no, no when it comes to marketing B2B services.
It blew a lot of money, with no conversions what so ever, so stopped immediately after two weeks.
Also i totally agree with the CPA budget for a certain campaign, it sure gives you some control over what you pay but the main problem for a campaign in order to go CPA is to get those monthly 15 conversions in order to qualify.
And in highly competitive B2B software niches it’s difficult for a new comer to get that amount of conversion. For instance i am running campaigns for my company in the US for “live chat software” and “live customer support software” kw, my budget is medium and i have a good quality score around 6-7. But my ads still get displayed on the 6th or 7th position, on related queries and i get very few clicks. Also Google is telling me that the main problem is my Ad Quality Score, which is to low.
So i am guessing that my competitors have around 8-10 quality score, if this is the case. Plus i am sure they have a larger budget than me.
My point is, that for a newcomer in a B2B software niche, with a limited budget it’s better to try something else than Adwords because you blow some serious money which could be spent more wisely.
Thumbs up for the post. 🙂
Neil Stoneman | February 14th, 2011
It’s true about CPA. It’s a real test to get conversions right: make them too easy and it’s not worth much to the business, make them too hard and you can’t reach your threshold.
Getting the conversion balance is an issue on AdWords and beyond for every B2B marketer.
It’s always hard to tell whether you’re being outbid or outperformed. The suggestion is usually the latter but with a decent score it’s quite possibly the former.
And you’re right – AdWords is not for everyone. Have you tried LinkedIn? We did an experiment that you might be interested in – http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/6953-b2b-test-linkedin-directads
The targeting element may suit…
SEO Dan | February 14th, 2011
Thanks for the tip.
Found some nice insights in the article and in the comments will try them out, if i manage somehow to convince my HIPPO.
Proposed this method several months ago, when i started with the company but it didn’t get approved. Now that i have some
reliable data will try again.
The cost per conversion is certainly atractive, i knew it would pay off to follow your blog. 🙂