For businesses selling their products and services to other businesses (known as business-to-business or B2B), paid media strategies that target relevant companies are key to creating successful campaigns.
Workshop Digital’s Paid Media team are experts at customizing and managing B2B paid ads. With a focus on understanding our clients’ industries, business needs, and goals, our team delivers objective recommendations and real results.
We asked our Paid Media analysts to share considerations they bring to B2B clients before launching new digital marketing campaigns.
How to identify audiences for B2B campaigns
Unlike business-to-consumer (B2C), B2B campaigns are challenged to garner attention, conversions, and leads from commercial customers. When marketing to large scale businesses, it’s important that paid campaigns target a variety of audiences.
To narrow down target audiences, Paid Media Team Lead Jenny Williamson starts with a deep dive to understand the client’s industry and industries the client is marketing to. She says:
I create an understanding of the types of businesses the client wants to reach and the types of people within those organizations that are relevant to the client’s offerings.
Along with clear and detailed communication with the client, using in-platform audience tools, like LinkedIn Ads campaign builder, can be useful to drum up potential target audiences. Adding the LinkedIn Ads Pixel to a website can help determine the firmographic makeup of visitors and can inform audience targeting decisions.
Specificity counts when considering who you want your ads to reach. Audiences can be segmented by entire companies, job titles, and job experience. Broad campaigns reaching everyone in a company or industry compared to campaigns targeting key decision makers in marketing and sales departments will likely generate different results.
You typically don't want to spend your budget getting ads in front of entry-level employees. You usually want to target the manager, director, or C-level individuals who will be involved in the decision to purchase your product or service for their business.
Unconventional channels to reach B2B audiences
A crucial element of a paid strategy is not only understanding who your audiences are, but also where they are. Advertising on well known platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and LinkedIn Ads may seem like obvious choices, but it’s worth investigating lesser known, niche options.
Consider online forums like Reddit and Quora, or even industry specific blogs that can be reached via programmatic ads. Platforms with dedicated spaces frequented by commercial consumers are a cost effective way to immediately narrow down audiences.
After helping a client choose appropriate platforms, Paid Media Lead Esther Kwon recommends setting up separate, audience-specific campaigns to track ad spend, engagement, and ultimately determine if selected audiences and platform combinations are converting. If an audience group or platform is not reaching the client’s conversion goals, our team can troubleshoot to identify potential issues and new opportunities.
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How to choose relevant keywords to avoid B2C overlaps
As a B2B business, paid search starts with identifying relevant keywords you want to rank for, while eliminating terms producing retail traffic.
B2B keywords and their relevance can be more nuanced than those common in B2C paid search. Senior Paid Media Manager Preston Pezzaro uses tools like Google Keyword Planner to ballpark potential keyword volumes and exclude irrelevant variants.
Tightening B2B clients’ keywords by adding an extensive list of B2C related negative keywords ensures ads are displayed to users searching on a large scale and not those looking for individual use products or services.
For a highly specialized industrial manufacturing client, Paid Media Lead Jenny Williamson led paid search efforts by targeting brand-specific keywords, all while creating an ever-expanding list of negative long tail keywords to weed out unqualified residential consumers. The team’s strategy to analyze search intent and measure lead quality before isolating optimal search terms is working to increase our client’s leads and sales.
While identifying keywords relevant to the client’s business is necessary, keeping up with competitor keywords is equally important to a successful paid search strategy. Our team uses SEMrush to look at similar B2B competitors’ keywords. When using SEMrush, Senior Paid Media Manager Christine Askew focuses on two competitor-centric questions:
What keywords do the client’s competitors go after?
What keywords do the client’s competitors seem to be avoiding?
Answering these can offer direction for keyword targeting and budgeting. More common keywords indicate higher traffic but may require higher minimum bids to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs), while less common keywords could pose as opportunities to rank for a lower minimum bid.
Stand out with compelling ad copy and custom creative
Just like audiences and keywords, B2B businesses need to avoid copy that overlaps their ads with B2C brands. B2B copy should focus on language to help prospects achieve business success compared to a more B2C approach of achieving a consumer's personal goals. Using the right voice improves ad relevance and, when combined with targeted keywords, helps ads’ search rankings.
Think about how you can customize your paid ads with eye-catching creative assets. Paid Media Lead Allison Donnelly suggests avoiding generic stock photos and opting for images that better represent your business. From the copy to the imagery, paid ads are a reflection and an extension of your brand.
Track each step of the B2B sales cycle
Given that targeted companies rely on multiple decision makers, B2B sales timelines can be long and drawn out. For some of our B2B clients, our team includes conversion lag time for reporting purposes. It may be useful to track free downloadable assets (whitepapers, ebooks, etc.) with product/service information to help guide the user through the sales funnel and give them the information they need to make a purchase.
Tracking every lead type, and understanding their relative values to the business is a way to identify opportunities in the sales process. For a B2B ecommerce retailer, Paid Media Lead Charles Moehnke assigned conversion values to improve the client’s revenue attribution model which led to creating more robust conversion actions and a 138% increase in website revenue. Lead categorization and valuation helps prioritize audience selection, bidding for keywords, and copy and design.
B2B businesses face the challenge of setting themselves apart from B2C brands in paid search. To create successful paid campaigns, our team recommends:
Defining multiple targeted audiences of decision makers
Identifying where your audiences are in the digital space
Creating relevant, visually appealing ads that represent your brand
Are you a B2B marketer in need of paid media expertise? Check out our Pay Per Click Advertising services for more information.