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

Updated June 2022

ppc b2b lead generation

When it comes to PPC B2B lead generation, getting more leads isn’t enough. You need better leads.

The exact definition of a “better” lead can vary by company or marketer, but almost universally, “better leads” are leads you can directly tie to revenue.

The problem is many marketers are still focusing on quantity, not quality.

A recent survey found 33% of marketers are focusing on the total number of leads or inquiries, not the revenue they generate or how many are accepted by sales.

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

What’s the single best way to generate higher-quality PPC leads?

It’s lead qualification. That’s why lead qualification is a core part of any good lead generation program, whether it’s PPC lead generation or any other kind of lead gen.

Lead Qualification is Lead Generation 2.0

This focus on quality over quantity doesn’t change all the B2B lead generation best practices, but it does reshape them.

And it will continue to reshape them as more marketers upgrade their lead qualification strategies. In 2011, only 27% of B2B marketers sent qualified leads over to sales. It’s hard to know exactly what percentage of the leads sent to sales are qualified now, but we’d wager it’s much more than 27%.

PPC lead generation marketers, in particular, need to up their game regarding lead qualification. The average cost per click rises yearly, so to stay profitable, PPC marketers must continuously improve their campaigns.

But it’s not just rising paid ad 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.

If you’re interested in fine-tuning your PPC B2B lead generation and lead qualification strategy, we have a few questions that can help. These questions will also help you achieve the ultimate goal: an ample, affordable stream of super high-quality leads.

3 PPC Lead Generation Questions for Better Qualified Leads

Better qualified leads start with asking the right questions so you can target the right users at the right moment. Here are three questions you need to ask yourself before launching your next PPC lead gen campaign.

1: 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 those basic tactics. Here’s a new one:

Negative personas.

I’ve noticed new fields in lead generation forms lately. In the long pull-down menu where you choose your title or role, many brands have added new options, like “student” and “researcher.”

Adding these options is a quick 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 time following up with students and researchers.

In marketing, people who fit these 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 adjusted your marketing to screen them out early in your lead nurturing cycle, consider doing that now.

But what if we could screen these negative personas out before they get to the lead form or even see your ad?

How to Use Tracking Data to Define Negative Personas

Once you’ve changed your lead gen forms to help negative personas self-identify, you can use that data to see which elements of your advertising tend to attract these negative personas.

Maybe they use certain keywords you should stop advertising for. Maybe 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.

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 select. Or which other options they pick from your form.

This brings us to the second question…

2. What Characteristics Do Your Top 25% Most Valuable Leads Share?

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.

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

If you’ve got a good tracking system set up, you can walk back through the data and figure out a profile of your highest value leads. You’ll see how they tend to fill out a lead generation form. For example, maybe it’s the CFOs driving most of your business, or perhaps its marketing managers.

This principle and apply it one step earlier in the process, too, back to before people click on your ads. Or take it 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 searched.

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, 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 a problem. Rather than more leads, your sales team will have more time to focus on great leads.

3. How Does the Multi-Buyer Nature of the B2B Buying Process Impact Your Messaging?

As B2B marketers, we can’t forget we are selling to a group, not an individual. B2B buying decisions are made by a committee. According to Gartner, the average B2B buying group includes 11 active members and up to 7 occasional participants. (That’s up from just five or six buyers a few years ago!)

This may be why (in part) account-based marketing works so well–the buying committee is central to ABM. But whether you’re doing ABM or not, you need to think about your PPC campaign setup 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 another to have a cohesive view of the buying committee’s user journey.

Your lead generation forms can help you. Just include “Company” on all your forms. That gives you at least one marker to shift through your tracking data with. You might also want to adjust your follow-up messaging to include company names.

ppc b2b lead generation form

3 Places To Ask Questions In Your PPC B2B Lead Generation Process

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

ppc lead generation ad example

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 because 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, and different levels of specificity.

Another tactic is to ask something only your target audience would understand or resonate with. So if you’re trying to attract, say, someone in cybersecurity, you could ask a somewhat technical firewall question or make a joke/question that only a cybersecurity marketer would understand.

All this will drive your click-through rates down, at least until you tighten up your targeting. You may well end up advertising to about 20-30% as large an audience as you used 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 go down once the targeting is dialed in.

  1. Ask Questions on Landing Pages

Have you ever been on an informational product webinar where a marketer 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 presentations. It’s typically given right before or right after the actual price of the course or product is finally revealed.

Informational marketers have been adding “who this course/product is not for” for decades because it works. B2B marketers can borrow some aspects of this tactic,  especially on their landing pages.

The landing page is an excellent opportunity to do the “who this isn’t right for” pitch because you have more room. Super-short PPC text ads don’t allow for long explanations, but on a landing page, you can devote several lines or even a full paragraph to who it isn’t for.

Of course, if you can squeeze some “who this is not for” messaging into your ads (either extended text ads, display ads, or even video ads), then you can 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 hands to hear from you, and they are more engaged now than ever.

Don’t blow that opportunity.

Instead of just sending a simple confirmation email or a link to the asset they’ve requested, ask them a question: A multiple-choice question 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, include copy that speaks directly to the needs of the person who offered the specific answer. 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, such as:

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

These and similar questions can help sales evaluate whether this is a hot lead.

Final Thoughts on Driving Better Leads With PPC

One of the best things about PPC lead generation is the amount of control you have. 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 doesn’t take that much work, and the rewards are there.

See how KoMarketing can help your B2B organization drive quality leads with PPC campaigns, both on search engines and on social media.

“We have a successful online business, and wanted to take the next step. We approached KoMarketing with the notion of leveraging its expertise in building better search rankings. Both in our defined critical areas and across the board, KoMarketing has helped us grow our presence. They were hired to expand our visibility, but took extra steps to provide many useful recommendations for other areas of our online presence that have had positive impacts. Derek and his staff work hard and take extra steps to ensure you succeed. They are an outstanding partner.”

Scott Stone — Scott Stone, Advertising & E-Business Manager, Cisco Eagle

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