PPC Lead Generation: If You Want Better Leads, Start Asking Questions

It’s not enough to just get more leads anymore with ppc lead generation. In 2019, Marketers need better leads.

The definition of exactly what makes a lead “better” may shift from marketer to marketer, but almost universally, “better leads” are leads that can be directly tied to revenue.

A recent survey found that only 14% of B2B marketers are still measured based on the total number of leads or inquiries they bring in. Compare that to the 54% of them who are measured on either MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads), SALs (Sales Accepted Leads), or “Marketing-sourced revenue.”

Most B2B marketers are now focused on getting more high-quality leads, rather than just getting more leads in general.

So B2B lead generation isn’t just about driving more leads. It’s about driving revenue. It’s about giving Sales the type of leads they want.

And so… what’s the single best way to generate higher-quality leads?

It’s lead qualification. And that’s why lead qualification has become a core part of any good lead generation program, whether you’re doing ppc lead generation or any other kind of lead gen.

Lead Qualification is Lead Generation 2.0

This new focus on quality over quantity doesn’t completely sweep away all the best practices that have fueled B2B lead generation in the past. But it does reshape them.

And it will continue to reshape them – more and more marketers are upgrading their lead qualification strategies. Back in 2011, only 27% of B2B marketers were sending qualified leads over to Sales. We don’t know definitively what percentage of the leads being sent to Sales are qualified now, but we’d wager it’s much more than 27%.

PPC lead generation marketers, in particular, may want to up their game when it comes to lead qualification. The average cost per click rises every year, and so to stay profitable, ppc marketers have to always be improving their campaigns.

But it’s not just rising ppc costs that push ppc lead generation marketers to do better. It’s because they have an inherent advantage.

PPC marketing can be controlled and tested and measured at a level other marketing channels can’t achieve. And the inherent structure of ppc marketing makes lead qualification especially easy: Every phase of a click – from audience selection or keyword search, to the ad shown, to the landing page – can be used as a lead qualification filter.

So if you’re interested in fine-tuning your ppc lead generation and lead qualification strategy, we’ve got a few questions that can help with that. These questions will also help you achieve the ultimate goal: An ample, affordable stream of super high-quality leads.

3 PPC Lead Generation Questions To Ask Yourself

Question One: Who do you not want?

You can weed out people you don’t want to advertise to in several ways:

But you’re probably pretty familiar with all those tactics. Here’s a new one:

Negative personas

I’ve noticed something new on a few lead generation forms lately. In the long pull-down menu where you get to choose which title or role most closely fits your job, there are a couple of new options, like “student” and “researcher.”

Adding options like that is a way to qualify leads when prospects complete your form. Students and researchers are unlikely to contribute to revenue – they aren’t downloading a content asset because they are assessing whether or not to buy from your company. We don’t want Salespeople wasting their time by following up with students and researchers.

In marketing, people who fit these sorts of profiles are called “negative personas.”

We all talk a lot about creating personas (and we should), but we don’t talk as much about negative personas: The people we do not want to target.

If you haven’t defined your negative personas, and you haven’t consciously adjusted your marketing to screen them out as early in your lead nurturing cycle as possible, consider doing that now.

But what if we could screen these negative personas out before they get to the lead form –  before they ever click on an ad… or before they ever even see an ad?

How to use tracking data to define negative personas

Once you’ve changed your lead gen forms so they let your negative personas self-identify, and if you’ve got your PPC tracking dialed in (you do, right?), you can use that data to see which elements of your advertising tend to attract these negative personas.

Maybe these negative personas use certain keywords that you should stop advertising for. Or they click on ads with certain phrases, so you can adjust your ad copy to turn them away before they click. Or maybe certain display ad audiences tend to be the source of these low-value leads. Good tracking data can tell you.

You can also take this one step further: Don’t just look at the data about how your negative personas perform. Overlay all the options on your lead generation forms – all those job functions – and figure out which leads are most likely to become clients based on which job function they pick from your form. Or which other options they pick from your form.

Which brings us to the second question…

Question two: What are the characteristics of your top 20% most valuable leads?

In question one, we cut out the least valuable leads you’ve been getting. That’s one way to increase the average value of the leads you get – just chop off the bottom quartile or so.

Another way to increase the quality of your leads is to hone in on the top quartile of your leads: The 25% of leads that become clients.

If you’ve got a good tracking system set up, you can walk back through the data you’ve accrued so far and figure out a profile of your highest value leads. You’ll be able to know how they tend to fill out a lead generation form. For example, maybe it’s the CFOs that are actually driving most of your business. Or perhaps it’s the marketing managers.

You can take this principle and apply it one step earlier in the process too, back to before people click on your ads. Or take it all the way to the beginning of the process when people see your ads (or don’t) based on which audience they fall into or which keywords they’ve searched for.

With good tracking data, and a well-organized ppc campaign and landing page structure, it is absolutely possible to develop an advertising profile of your highest value leads.

Then, if you really want to kick up the quality of your leads… you stop advertising to everybody else and just spend money on the profile of your high-value prospects.

This often means you’ll generate fewer leads. But that’s not actually too much of a problem. Marketers have gotten better at lead generation in the last few years. We’ve all pretty much got the “get more leads!” thing down. It’s time to chase leads that actually drive revenue.

Question 3: How does the multi-buyer nature of the B2B buying process affect your ppc lead generation and its follow-up messaging?

As B2B marketers, we can’t ever forget for a second that we probably are not going to make a sale based on the actions of one person. B2B buying decisions are usually made by committee – on average, 5.4 people will contribute to a buying decision according to the Harvard Business Review.

The best b2b ppc lead generation campaigns take into account that most b2b purchases are made by buying committees, not individuals.

This may be why (in part) Account-Based Marketing works so well… the idea of the buying committee is central to ABM. But whether you’re doing ABM or not, you need to think about your ppc campaign set up and all the messaging that follows it up in the context of the buying committee.

It’s challenging, sure. But the buying committee is one of the key differences between B2B and B2C marketing. And your tracking data (once again) should be able to give you clues about which roles and “digital body language” tend to happen before a buying committee makes a purchase.

This one mind shift may end up being marketing analytics 2.0 for B2B marketers: It’s one thing to have a coherent view of the user journey. It’s quite another thing to have a coherent view of the buying committee’s user journey.

Your lead generation forms can help you here. Just include “Company” on all your forms. That gives you at least one marker to shift through your tracking data with. You may also want to adjust your follow-up messaging so you weave in a few places to mention prospects’ company names.

3 Places To Ask Questions In Your PPC Lead Generation

When we think about lead qualification questions, we often think only of the opt-in form. That’s not a bad thing – forms are where a lot of the magic happens.

But a ppc lead generation marketer should be thinking more about the phases a prospect goes through before they ever get to that form. As outlined above, there are several steps you can use. Think of them as lead filters if you want:

  • The audiences or keyword searches you choose to have your ads triggered by.
  • The ads themselves.
  • The landing page messaging.
  • The landing page form.
  • What happens immediately after the form is submitted.
  • The lead nurturing and lead qualification process after that initial contact.

There are several places in that sequence where you can ask your prospects lead qualification questions.

  1. Ask Questions In Ads.

Remember the classic “Got milk?” campaign? It’s an excellent example of the power of asking a question in an ad. Questions are effective copywriting devices – they tend to stop people in their tracks.

The traditional “problem” with question ads is that if the buyer can answer the question with a “no,” then you’ve lost them. So question ads work great if you’re targeting a specific person, but they tend to turn everyone else away.

Which is exactly what we want to do.

So try testing some question ads in your pay per click text and display ads. Play around with different questions, different blends of humor, different levels of specificity.

Another tactic for questions is to ask something only your target audience would understand or resonate with. So if you’re trying to attract, say, CPAs, you could try asking a somewhat technical tax filing question… or make a joke/question that only a CPA would understand.

All this will, of course, drive your click-through rates down… at least until you tighten up your campaigns’ targeting. You may well end up advertising to about 20-30% as large an audience as you used to advertise to. But you’ll be getting better leads, and the tighter targeting can preserve click-through rates. So eventually the ppc advertising platform won’t punish you for having irrelevant ads. Your cost per click prices should actually go down once you’ve got the targeting dialed in.

  1. Ask Questions on Landing Pages.

Have you ever been on an information product webinar where a marketer or guru is selling a training program, and they go into their spiel about “who this course is not for?” It’s a standard part of those types of marketing/sales presentations. It’s typically given right before or right after the actual price of the course or product is finally revealed.

Information marketers have been adding that “who this course/product is not for” for decades. They do it because it works. B2B marketers might want to borrow some aspects of this tactic… especially on their landing pages.

The landing page is a nice opportunity to do the “who this isn’t right for” pitch because you’ve got enough room there to do it. Super-short ppc text ads don’t allow for long explanations. On a landing page, you could devote several paragraphs about who your product is not for.

Of course, if you can squeeze some “who this is not for” messaging into your ads (either extended text ads or display ads… or even into video ads), then you might be able to avoid paying for the click in the first place.

  1. Ask Questions in Your Very First Follow-up Email.

The very first follow-up email you send – the email prospects get as soon as they submit the lead generation form – is a fantastic opportunity. These people just raised their hand to hear from you. They are more engaged now than they may ever be in the process.

Don’t blow that opportunity.

Instead of just sending them a simple confirmation email, or sending them a link to the asset they’ve requested, ask them a question: A multiple-choice question that’s embedded in the email.

With even the simplest email tracking system, you can embed a link in each of the possible answers to that multiple-choice question. Each one of those links can have a tracking tag on it. So when the prospect clicks, say, answer #2, you can tag their record / id with that answer. And then you can send them tailored follow-up information from then on.

Want to take this one step further? Create landing pages for each possible answer from that multiple-choice question. On each landing page, have some copy that speaks directly to the needs of the sort of person who would have answered your multiple-choice question that way. On each landing page, include some customized content for them. Ideally, offer content that’s text, image, and video-based, too.

This can be an excellent way to speed up the early phases of the buyer’s journey. Why make people wait to hear from you if they’re really interested and want to learn more?

You can also embed more questions in that follow-up content. Optional questions like…

  • “What’s your budget?”
  • “When do you plan to get started?”
  • “Who’s approval do you need to move forward on this?

…and similar questions can really help Sales evaluate if this is a hot lead or not.

Closing thoughts

One of the best things about ppc lead generation is how much control we have over it. In the era of murky ROIs and dark social and omnichannel marketing, it’s nice to be able to track every single click.

So use your powers. It may take more work to qualify leads, but it actually doesn’t take that much work, and the rewards are absolutely there.

“The KoMarketing team took our PPC and SEM marketing efforts to the next level. They are a team of thoughtful, creative, and smart people, and they get downright scientific when it comes to measurement and attribution. A true pleasure to work with.”

Will Bernholz — Will Bernholz, Vice President, Marketing, Dropsource

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