It is a common theory in business — and even in marketing — that “you get what you pay for.” A company will often purchase B2B services that are priced the highest (but still within the budget) since alternatives with extremely-low costs are viewed subconsciously as inferior — as in, “they must be new,” or “they must not know what they are doing.”
In the marketing of consumer products, the high price of diamonds — which are essentially useless pieces of shiny rocks — has always been intentional among sellers and distributors in order to build the perception that they are more valuable (and better) than, say, quartz or emeralds. There are many examples.
This element of human nature can play a role — and usually it is a negative one — in B2B pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Companies with little experience in B2B online marketing often log-in to Google AdWords for the first time and are flooded with hundreds of potential keywords at various competition levels, prices, and positions within advertising units and search results.
When faced with such a limitless amount of data, someone who is new to B2B Internet marketing can easily become confused — and this is natural. It takes time for anyone to learn anything that is new and complex. The Internet has indeed created an efficient and cost-effecting medium through which businesses can gain traffic and sales leads — but only if the digital revolution is harnessed well. It is important to know that an expensive keyword is not always the best one.
So, with this in mind, it is important to understand how to use — and how NOT to use — B2B PPC advertising.
General keywords are your enemy. For example, say that your B2B business offers external or outsourced human-resource services. It would tempting to purchase the keyword “human resources.” But the keyword is so broad that the vast majority of people searching for that keyword are not specifically looking in Google for outsourcing services to manage their personnel needs. Searchers may be trying to find business-school courses in human resources, strategies for human-resource managers, or essays on the drawbacks (or benefits) of having a human-resources department at all.
Therefore, it would be a waste of time and money to focus on this specific keyword. Not only will most people not click on your ad — those who do will cost you money even though they will likely be uninterested in your service and leave your website quickly. It would be better to go through the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and find niche, specific keywords that pertain exactly to your product or service. In this example, something like “human-resources outsourcing” or “human-resources solutions” would be much better.
Many vague keywords are expensive because many B2B marketers — who should know better — like the fact that these search terms have extremely-high levels of traffic and are seemingly valuable because they tend to cost a lot. But remember: ten good leads out of 50 clicks in a week is better than three leads out of 1,000 clicks. And it is far cheaper. Cost and value are two different things. Long-tail keywords have more value (usually) at a lower cost.
Some data is less relevant as well. Google, to its credit, wants to provide as much information to potential B2B PPC advertisers as possible. It’s a matter of transparency. But some information is either less important or even unnecessary.
The Adsense Keyword Tool includes competition and traffic levels, and the Traffic Estimator Tool provides the estimated cost-per-click (CPC), the average number of clicks per day, and an ad’s usual position within a single advertising unit (for example, 1 to 3 based on whether the advertisement will appear first, second, or third in a block of ads).
The most-important data is traffic and PPC cost. Competition is slightly-less important in a PPC context (but still very important in an organic-search one) since it tells how many competitors want to place for that keyword — and so whether the price will tend to rise over time. But the number of clicks and ad position can usually be ignored.
First, the number of clicks is based on an almost-infinite number of variables — not just the keyword itself. Whether someone clicks on an advertisement can depend on items including — just to name a few — the quality of the headline, the descriptive text, and the layout of the website carrying the advertisement. As long as a B2B online advertisement has an attention-grabbing headline and a professionally-written subtext, the clicks will come. Keywords that Google reports to have a high number of clicks tend to be more expensive, and this is another instance when the price does not reflect the value. Focus on the data that is more important than the reported number of clicks.
Second, the ad position in a block of PPC advertisements rarely matters — whether it is inside Google search-results or within a third-party website. When a native English-speaker, for example, quick views a section of ads, his eyes scan over every listing within a fraction of a second. And if he sees an advertisement that piques his interest, he will click no matter whether it is placed first, third, or whatever. But, of course, the keywords that tend to be listed first are often more expensive even though they rarely have little additional value.
In nearly all B2B PPC-marketing strategies, the keyword, traffic, and PPC cost will be the most-important considerations. When niche keywords with high traffic and low costs are targeted, any business can maximize the resulting sales-leads at a fraction of the cost paid by the competition because, in various contexts, they are mistaking cost for value.