Skydiving looks very simple when somebody else does it. Beautiful skies. Amazing views. Adrenaline rushing! So cool!
...Until you get up there. Then things change. All of the sudden the skies don't look as friendly. The landscape below can be deadly. Every detail matters a lot.
The reality is that it never gets easy, especially when there may be an ambush waiting for you when you land.
PPC looks simple as well, at least from the surface. Load up the keywords, come up with an ad copy and a landing page, define your bids, and leads should be pouring in!
The reality is very different though. Results are often disappointing. Time is wasted. Budgets are spent. Bids are placed. Yet there is no meaningful amount of leads.
What's wrong with this picture?
Complexity. Google Adwords have become an incredibly difficult platform loaded with an incredible amount of features. Anything from defining the types of matches for your keywords to figuring out the right grouping for the best results and quality scores to what kind of words to use in the ad copy to what day and time to advertise, which geographies, and many other factors.
Competition. A crowded market is like a battlefield. It is likely that your competitors have dedicated at least as many resources and funds for Adwords as you have. Plus they may have a decent agency.
This makes a huge difference because a really good agency has best practices, specialized resources, and a privileged access to Google. It would be almost impossible to win the game without similar resources.
Funds. CPC increases every month in many competitive industries. With more players and more money spent by each vendor, the cost of conversion goes up. Even more importantly, the entry barrier goes up significantly. This means that even with $10K per month you may not get meaningful results. You may need a significantly larger budget and a rock star agency plus a great in-house resource to succeed.
Lead Costs . Even then, the cost of each lead may prove to not be worth the investment.
This is a dark, yet a realistic picture I painted to instill reality into inexperienced marketers itching to try this solo and to help marketing professionals ground overly eager executives itching to see their company name and specific messages on the page 1 of Google search engine quickly.
Bringing a parallel to military, it is the same as sending amateurs to fight a Special Forces unit and expecting amazing results.
9 Best PPC Practices
Yet, PPC programs do work. Below are 9 recommendations on building a successful PPC program in B2B space.
1. Define Your Goals. What are your goals? Are you you looking to generate leads, increase brand awareness, or both? It's critical to have a clear set of goals start. Set realistic expectations for the initial success and growth afterwards.
2. Define Your Target Lead Types. This is one of the most critical steps. Define what kind of leads are you expecting to generate. If you skip this step and start getting lower quality leads, your conversion economics may not work and you may end up spending a fortune on acquiring traffic that doesn't convert. Check out recent research on this topic from Industry View (see the chart below).
3. Reality / Economics. Find out what are the CPCs for your target keywords. Multiply by the conversation rates to calculate the expected cost of acquisition. Add 10-15% for agency fees. Is this number feasible for you? If not, PPC may not be the right channel for you. If it is, define the max amount you are willing to spend on each lead. Calculate the delta you are willing to pay for the brand awareness.
4. Find a good agency.
This is a tough one. There are lots of OK agencies and terrible ones. Things to look for is experience in your space, ability to assign an experienced resource, desire to spend enough time with your account, willingness to start with a smaller investment, an ability to show early results, and willingness to work with you if the initial results are not there. Expect and be ready to go through several bad agencies till you find a good one.
5. Internal Resource. You should expect to have an internal resource focused and later maybe even dedicated to this program, because an external agency is never going to be as knowledgeable in your space as somebody from your organization. To be effective, this has to be a joint internal/agency effort.
6. Start small.
Start as small as it is feasible. In some industries that may not be possible. Work with your agency to see what's the minimal investment that can yield meaningful results. Then add a delta for experimenting. In some cases this can be as high as 60%.
7. Time and resource expectations.
Budget time for experimenting with keywords, ad copies, landing pages, etc -- until you start seeing a steady flow of leads. It may take anywhere from a week to a few months. It is a common mistake to expect an immediate impact. There are at least 20-30 parameters that can impact the results. It will take time to identify these, fix them (sometimes multiple times), A/B test, and start seeing the impact.
8. Expand. Expand into new keywords, geographies, PPC programs, etc. This will help you find the most optimal channels and bring down conversion costs.
9. Ramp up organic programs.
At the end of the day, you can't win a battle with just a single type of a weapon.
PPC is just one way to generate leads. It is expensive. It's complicated. As a result, very often it is not a scaleable way to generate leads.
While you can sometimes make PPC economics work for you, you can get significantly better results when you apply the knowledge and expertise gained from PPC to your organic efforts, like SEO, content marketing, and social marketing.
In our case, only 25% of our highest quality leads comes from PPC. The rest come from organic efforts, like content marketing, social / community marketing, SEO, etc.
Best of luck in your lead generation efforts!