B2B and B2C companies have come to more closely resemble one another in the past several years. As a result of that mirroring process, the marketing strategies they use have also grown closer together.

B2B brands are more often relying on traditionally B2C tactics, such as social media engagement and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Because of the highly refined targeting options available through ad platforms, including Google and Facebook, PPC ads have become a powerful means of lead generation for B2B businesses. In fact, PPC advertising has become one of the primary sources of quality leads for such businesses in recent years.

However, not all lead generation PPC campaigns are created equal. To successfully pull in qualified leads, advertisers must understand the key principles of earning B2B leads via PPC—six of which are outlined in this article.

1. Be specific with keywords

Most successful PPC campaigns are predicated on a great keyword strategy. Keywords are the backbone of PPC campaigns; they determine just about everything—what searches surface an ad, which terms block ads from showing, what direction to take with ad copy, which landing page to link to.

When you're using PPC to enhance the quality of leads generated for a B2B organization, keywords are critical to reaching the right audience. The two primary categories of keywords are short-tail and long-tail.

Short-tail keywords (general terms containing one or two words) tend to generate tons of traffic; however, because of their broad nature, they are far less revealing of a user's intent. For instance, if someone searches "CRM software," he or she could be trying to find out what CRM software is, which solutions are available, the general sentiment of the public, or any number of other things.

To generate more qualified leads, B2B companies should target more specific keywords that speak to the searcher's intent. That is where long-tail keywords come into play.

Long-tail keywords (specific phrases that consist of three or more words) are better for marketers to target because they tend to reach people who are further along in the sales journey. Prospects might search "small business CRM pricing," which likely indicates they are much closer to making a purchase. Therefore, when generating leads through PPC ads, long-tail keywords are your best option.

2. Refine your match types

Match types, too, play a significant role in determining the quality of a lead. When using different match types to optimize campaigns, exact and phrase matches provide advertisers with more control. Conversely, broad-match keywords pull in more, but lesser-quality, leads.

To avoid poor matching strategies, promoters should use one of two approaches:

  1. Limit the use of broad-match keywords.
  2. Be diligent in analyzing search queries and implementing negative keywords.

Although neither approach is perfect, advertisers can adjust and optimize campaigns over time to zero in on their ideal buyers. However, depending on the company's ability to experiment, it might be wise to procure a skilled paid advertising team to aid in the optimization process, which will save money in the long run.

3. Connect to concentrated landing pages

For PPC ads that aim to generate qualified leads for B2B brands, the destination landing page is a critical component to success. To generate landing pages that increase conversion rates, focus your destinations on capturing email addresses and contact info instead of selling the end product.

The reason is that the research phase for B2B customers is much lengthier than their B2C counterparts'. B2B shoppers are often looking to enter into a long-term relationship with a company; therefore, they want to ensure they make the right decision.

To that end, B2B customers will likely want to first obtain more information about the company and its offerings, check out a free trial, or speak with a sales representative. Accordingly, craft streamlined landing pages that allow your visitors to quickly and easily fill out contact forms to learn more.

4. Create committable contact forms

A guaranteed way to scare off window-shoppers and looky-loos is to ask them for more information.

If marketers notice that their landing pages and contact forms are pulling in lots of low-quality leads, then it would be wise to increase the information requested in the contact form. For instance, if you are using Facebook lead ads to reach prospects, you might want to increase the number of questions asked or elevate the specificity of the items.

Consider the information that is important for the sales team when they follow up with a potential buyer, such as...

  • Industry
  • Job title
  • Annual revenue
  • Number of employees
  • Business goals
  • Pain points

Pay attention to not only the amount but also the type of data collected. There is a considerable difference between asking for an email address and asking for a work email address, for example. To ensure the quality of leads generated, ask for the exact information the company wants to have when following up with potential buyers.

5. Craft clear and compelling copy

Ad copy can make the difference between a buyer's clicking on a promotion or passing it by.

For B2B PPC ad copy:

  • Be specific: Create detailed copy for what you're offering.
  • Highlight value: Point out how a product or service solves a consumer's problem and benefits their situation.
  • Display credibility: Has the product won any awards? It is a "best-seller?" Point out distinguishing elements that lend credence to the business and its offerings.

You must keep the target audience in mind and speak in the voice or tone of the end-customer. Companies that feature copy aligning with the type of person targeted will end up generating a greater number of qualified leads than those that don't.

6. Deploy different ad types

It can certainly be beneficial to put out text ads via Google and video ads on Facebook, but the most important thing about creating different ad types is to use the more advanced features supplied by each platform.

For example, companies running ads on social media might opt to set up Facebook retargeting ads to reach those who have previously visited their website. The same idea holds true for Google Ads users: By retargeting customers through Google, B2B businesses can reach prospects through not only Google but also a multitude of third-party websites and other locations.

Retargeting is a powerful means of generating sales for B2C brands, but B2B businesses, too, can use retargeting—to move potential buyers deeper into the sales funnel.

For instance, if a visitor reads a blog post on the company's website that points out the value of one of its products or services, that person can then be entered into a retargeting campaign built around downloading a whitepaper or booking a call with a sales rep.

When customers engage with a retargeting campaign, the leads are arguably of higher quality, since those people are more familiar with the brand and clearly interested in what it offers.

Companies can also use audience matching features provided by PPC platforms to reach higher-quality leads. Facebook's Lookalike Audiences helps businesses connect with those who think and act like the company's customers, and Similar Audience on Google Ads serves a similar function.

* * *

To generate quality B2B leads via PPC advertising, businesses have to learn to stomach the concept of turning people away. The goal is not to create the most leads possible but to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and find the most profitable prospects.

Implement the B2B PPC strategies listed above to develop more sophisticated and refined paid campaigns and, as a result, find the most qualified customers for your company's products or services.

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B2B PPC Tactics: Six Ways to Bring in Higher-Quality Leads

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image of Ronald Dod

Ronald Dod is the CEO and a co-founder at ReaLift.

LinkedIn: Ronald Dod