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Paid search is an integral tactic in a well-rounded B2B marketing strategy. For more than 60% of B2B buyers, web search is one of the first three resources they leverage to learn about a product or solution. Whether you’ve had experience running paid search ads in the past or you’re a total newbie, it can be difficult to know when to launch a PPC campaign for your company or initiative.

If you launch your paid search ads before you’re ready, you’ll likely be disappointed with the lackluster results. But the good news is that completing some pre-launch preparation can help you get the most from this critical digital marketing tactic.

In this post, we’ll review how the right timing can help B2B marketers get better results from paid search ads.

Short-term vs. long-term goals

Before we get to the business of when to launch PPC ads, it’s important to address the question of why you want to run ads in the first place. This basically comes down to establishing goals – either short or long term.

For B2B companies, this usually goes beyond generating brand awareness or driving traffic to your website. Goals are almost always tied to specific key performance indicators (KPI’s)–leads, sales, new clients.

Most companies already have overarching business goals, but with paid search, it’s important to be as specific as possible. It’s not enough to say, “I want to grow my business” because that’s not something you can measure from an ad click.

Here are some examples of KPIs you can track with a paid search campaign.

  • Leads
  • Event Signups
  • Paid or Trial Subscriptions
  • Free Demos
  • Contact Form Submissions
  • Sales (though typically B2B companies have complex products that aren’t easily sold via a website, this isn’t always the case)

For the KPIs that don’t have an obvious incentive (e.g., a free trial or demo), it’s important to create a piece of collateral that serves as an incentive for visitors to fill out your contact form. Examples of incentives include free trials, whitepapers, infographics, and case studies.

So, there’s really a 2-step process you need to go through before you’re ready to launch your paid search campaign.

  1.     Establish the KPI(s) you want to track
  2.     Provide an incentive that’s compelling enough to get people to fill out a form

Now we’ll get into the specifics of using paid search to help reach each of the goals listed above.

Paid search for lead generation

Lead generation is the top reason that businesses launch paid media with the most common online tactics being email marketing, event marketing, and content marketing. Why isn’t paid search one of the top three? Because it can be difficult to get good quality leads from paid search.

Paid search can generate lots of traffic, but it can also present a challenge for B2B companies because of a few inherent issues. First of all, many B2B products and services have a long sales cycle. In fact, the B2B sales cycle takes about 22% longer today than it did five years ago, which can make measuring the success of your campaign difficult, if not impossible.

Keyword targeting presents another challenge for B2B marketers because keywords are often highly technical or specific, and thus very low volume. The flip side of this is when keywords are too broad or consumer-oriented, attracting a larger (and less qualified) audience.

This is why it’s really important to establish very clear goals for your search campaign.

Once you have goals set up and collateral, such as white papers created, you can write ad copy and create custom landing pages to help reduce unqualified leads.

Paid search and event promotion

Most digital media tactics can be implemented swiftly because campaigns can be turned on and off with the click of a button. You’re not tied to a specific spend either (as with traditional media or more robust ad buys). Google is the leader in this kind of self-serve marketing and which makes paid search ads perfect to promote events such as webinars, live streams, and group demos.

You can leverage paid search ads to get more event participants by creating campaigns specifically for the event, using the keywords that are relevant to the event content and by crafting ads and landing pages focused on funneling people to the event signup page.

Paid search for email list building

Don’t discount the power of paid search to help build your internal email list. Over 70% of B2B buyers share useful information via email, so building a robust list of qualified leads is an extremely effective strategy.

Paid search ads can link directly to email signup pages that are designed to get new signups to your internal list. The traffic from paid search can also help incrementally build your email list simply by directing people to your site (one way to capture new signups is to have a signup request pop up when visitors leave your site).

Tracking – the final piece of the puzzle

Part of getting the timing right for a paid search campaign launch involves making sure you have tracking set up before your ads are live.

This often means installing an analytics tool such as Google Analytics which enables you to monitor the source of your website’s traffic and set up goals.

You can also set up call tracking to monitor phone leads. There are many tools that let you do this and even enable you to track leads at the keyword level.

Most call tracking tools also allow you to listen to calls so you can monitor lead quality and get a better understanding of why people are calling.

It’s not difficult to complete some pre-launch preparation for your paid search campaigns and once in place, tracking will give you important insight about campaign performance and lead quality. Tracking also allows you to optimize and refine your campaign in real time.

Conclusion

One final thought on timing. Before you launch paid search (or any paid media), Make sure your website is up to date (and mobile ready), your blog (if you have one) is up-to-date and your social media profiles are current. It’s also important to dedicate an internal resource to help follow up with leads and questions. Once that’s in place, you’re truly ready to launch!

Need help creating your next PPC campaign? Elevation can help!