Google AdWords for B2B Organizations: 8 Questions Leadership Should Ask

As I reviewed Salesforce 2015 State of Marketing report, I was encouraged to read that even though search engine marketing took a backseat to more “popular” programs such as social media and mobile marketing, it is still considered a highly valuable and effective component of the marketing mix.

Salesforce 2015 State of Marketing report

As the chart above reveals, SEO and SEM were ranked 4th in popularity and effectiveness, and 31% were piloting or planning an SEO / SEM initiative in 2015. More importantly, 62% of those surveyed indicated they were increasing budget for SEO and SEM in 2015.

Salesforce 2015 State of Marketing report

Even so, there is often confusion from senior leadership with respect to how PPC works and what the organization is getting from their search engine advertising budget. In this post, I will outline eight key questions leadership in B2B organizations needs to ask and have answered from their marketing team, when it pertains to PPC and their Google AdWords strategy.

How Much Am I Spending?

How Much Am I Spending?

All questions should start with the PPC budget. But it’s not only the monthly spend that matters but how that advertising budget is being managed and appropriated. In reality, this question evolves into several more specific tactical discussion points.

Here are some examples based on our own experience working with clients and senior leadership.

  • What is our budget and how does it forecast across the year?
  • Does the budget schedule account for any major releases, promotions, or changes that will occur during the year?
  • Is there an acceleration or deceleration due to any cyclical factors in the business?
  • With respect to third party platforms and vendors, do we pay your search platforms directly or do you run ad spend through an agency?
  • How is the agency compensated? Is it a flat fee or do they take a percentage of spend or combination of both?

As you can see, the question goes much further than a simple weekly budget report. Organizational leaders will need a more holistic view of advertising spend and budget objectives.

Who Is Seeing My Ads?

Google Search Network

There are nearly endless targeting options, social extensions, and platform choices in which to serve PPC ads. Often times, it’s in these settings that a specific ad may (or may not) appear. It’s important to understand where and how your keywords are being leveraged to best reach a target audience.

Some important things to consider:

  • In general, which search engines are my ads being served on? Google / Bing & MSN / Second Tier Engines?
  • Specific to Google AdWords: do we opt into the Google Search Partner Network or do we only appear on
  • Do we utilize any display or banner advertisements in our PPC mix?
  • Do we increase or decrease bids at a specific time or day (reducing spend on the weekend for instance) or do we have opt in or out of specific geographical locations?

What Are The KPI’S?

Ultimate success and failure of the campaign should be determined through an agreed upon list of productivity goals coupled with the overall results of the campaign. While every program has its own set of nuances and challenges, a couple broad themes to consider include:

  • Brand Goals: How many impressions and clicks do my ads generate? What average position do we achieve on our most important keywords?
  • Conversion Goals: How many leads do we create? At what cost? What percentage of them are qualified? What percentage of them become prospects? Won/Lost? etc.

Don’t forget about the efficiency of advertising spend in coordination with budget as well. While we’ve already discussed why cost per click is often not an effective B2B performance factor, efficiency in spend, coupled with ad visibility, still requires the monitoring of this metric.

What Is Our Marketing Message?

What Is Our Marketing Message?

Example of brand-related advertising copy to evaluate

We’re not just talking about how to create ad copy. Its equally important to ensure the organization’s brand is being conveyed appropriately and in coordination with requirements and specifications.

  • Do you include important tag lines, trademarked names or properties?
  • Do your visual ads adhere to brand guidelines?
  • Are you using the right title capitalization, phrase integration, etc?

Because there are specific character and spatial requirements with PPC advertising, it’s not always possible to integrate every brand requirement. That said, the PPC team should be aware and doing their best to adhere to the appropriate brand-specific marketing messages.

What Is Our Call To Action?

What Is Our Call To Action?

Example of landing page experience via PPC ad

Once searchers get to the website or landing page what is the ultimate goal or action we want them to complete?

  • Is it a contact form or request a quote form?
  • Do you want them to watch a video or sign up for a webinar?
  • Are you providing free content or white papers?

Ultimately it’s important to know how you are enticing users to further interact with you, and what value added to drive that future engagement with the user. Most non-ecommerce PPC campaigns involve a landing page, form submission, and the capture of a certain level of user information in exchange for a piece of content.

It is also important to know what type of referral data are we connecting to the action. For example are we utilizing ValueTrack or other methods to isolate leads and prospects all the way down to keyword?

Google ValueTrack

I wrote a post earlier this year which details the use of ValueTrack information for Google AdWords, which I recommend reviewing for more information.

What Are We Doing With Our Leads?

Example of PPC Lead Funnel

Example of PPC Lead Funnel

We make an assumption that the information is in turn stored in a leads database of some kind and scored based on how close that lead is to “sales readiness”. But lead capture opens the door to a myriad of additional possibilities as well.

Once the form is filled out what happens next?

  • Is there a confirmation page with additional information and other important links?
  • Do you have a scheduled email that delivers a piece of content or gives a time frame expectation on when a follow up may occur?
  • Are the user’s credentials placed into a CRM?
  • Do you add users to a DRIP or remarketing campaign?
  • Who or what is responsible for contacting prospects for follow up?

The marketer’s job isn’t done when the form submission comes in, especially in the B2B space. Organizational leaders want to make sure a lead nurturing program is in place to move leads all the way through the sales process.

What Is Our Competitive Strategy?

Example of PPC Brand Competition

Example of PPC Brand Competition

It’s important to understand what other advertisers are vying for our keyword targets – both non-branded and branded – since it has a direct impact on our costs and budgets.

Questions to consider:

  • Do you bid on your competitor’s brands?
  • Do competitors bid on your brand?
  • What types of networks and platforms do your competitors use?
  • What competitive analysis tools are being used to gauge what other player’s in the space are doing?

SEMRush Screenshot

A tool we consistently use for competitive review is SEMRush, which provides insight into various advertisers bidding on our priority keyword targets as well as brand-based information.

How Active Is My Vendor?

Google Change History

You probably (hopefully!) have a suite of review calls, monthly or quarterly check ins, as well as a regular schedule of reports delivered by your vendor. This will largely define how active, responsive, and how high touch your vendor is during account management.

This however, does not necessarily translate to the amount of activity that occurs in the day to day management of your search engine marketing campaigns.

The Google Adwords account history tool gives insight on what type of changes your vendor is making on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis in your adwords account. A healthy account history will have a series of changes on a daily or weekly basis. Bid changes, ad copy changes and negative keyword additions should be the most common and frequent changes.

Interested in Learning More?

My colleagues Derek Edmond and Steven Wells are presenting a variation of this topic, along with an overview of search engine advertising, at a leadership panel in Rhode Island this afternoon.

Here is the Slideshare presentation for this panel:

And if you don’t know any of these answers and want some assistance, please get in touch and learn more about the search engine advertising programs at KoMarketing!

Author Note: KoMarketing is not affiliated or provide services for any of the advertisers listed in this blog post, nor do we have insight into their campaigns and strategies.

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