While doing a Google search for lists of common characteristics in highly effective PPC specialists, I noticed there is one trait in particular that often gets overlooked, which should be considered foundational. This is curiosity for human behavior.
While your campaigns should be proactive, decisive, and organized, remember that data comes from real interactions and being able to make sense of it is a big part of the job.
B2C vs B2B: Product or Audience?
Let’s start off with differences between selling to businesses and selling to consumers. For one, B2B experiences a much longer sales cycle because decisions have to go through a whole chain of executives, who then rationalize the purchase rather than a more emotional trigger that results in a consumer purchase.
This difference should reflect on how B2B and B2C marketers strategize campaigns. For example, knowing that B2B users have an elongated journey and require more in-depth information, it is better to provide them with top-of-funnel resources. These can be content pieces in the form of reports or guides during their research phase.
Meanwhile, B2C consumers require a more straightforward approach and clear-cut messaging. They want to know all the benefits of the product at hand, making them more emotional buyers.
In short, B2B marketing strategies require you to know much more about your audience while B2C strategies are more product-focused.
The Offer Matters
Let’s take a minute to paint up a scenario.
An enterprise employee, Susie, has just been given the task of finding the best available HR software in the market. Susie, knowing nothing about HR software, does a Google search for “best enterprise HR software” and of course, there are multiple ads on the results page. She may click the first few ads or maybe just the ones that catch her attention.
Most of these ads offer free trials but wait, there’s one that offered a buyer’s guide. Which form do you think Susie will fill out first?
With the buyer’s guide, not only are you more likely to capture Susie as a lead but you are also providing her with exactly what she needed, a helpful guide to navigate her through a big market.
You now have her as a quality lead in your system (because you know those who download the guide are in the market) and you’ve improved your brand affinity.
At Directive, we’ve also found that using demo videos as an offer in our PPC strategy has worked extremely well for our B2B audience. A demo video has MUCH less friction than a free trial or a live demo because often, people may not have time to speak with a sales rep.
Unconvinced? After adding a “Watch Demo Video” CTA to one of our core pages, organic traffic experienced a 122.45% increase in conversions!
Additionally, if they are landing on your page through the search network, chances are they’ve never heard of you before. This means they are less likely to commit to a free trial, especially on search terms such as “best” or “top.” However, this does change with more bottom-of-funnel or long- tail searches such as “hr software with payroll.” If they are looking for something specific, there is a higher chance that they will go through with a demo or free trial.
Sure, some may be wary of lead quality through top-of-funnel offers but you can certainly bring these users further down the funnel by placing the “free trial” on the confirmation page (also known as the conversion snowball effect), through remarketing, email, and any other lead nurturing tactics.
Social vs Search: Awareness or Intent?
You shouldn’t treat users on social the same as you do within search. Why? You guessed it. User behavior from one channel to another is also vastly different and why I enjoy attributing channels to the user journey in B2B.
Users go on social platforms to consume content, no matter if they are in the market for your product or not, and those who arrive at your page via search network are searching for something specific.
It just makes sense when you consider the difference in your audience pool between these platforms. On social, you’re targeting users by their interests or job titles, in the case of LinkedIn.
On search, your visibility is dependent on keywords. It should now be apparent why offering an educational resource is better than a demo on social. Ultimately, you should only enter social with the goal of building awareness rather than driving quality leads.
However, don’t think social platforms as low priority in your playbook! You need to build awareness to get your audience searching for you later on.
We’ve finally arrived at this familiar and popular PPC strategy known as “remarketing.”
You’ve gotten someone to land on your page, they browse around (or maybe not), but exit without converting. Since they’ve shown a slight interest, of course, you want to bring them back onto your page because everyone deserves second chances, right?
I know what you’re thinking. Sounds very similar to dating. But let’s say you bring them back a second, maybe even third time, yet they STILL don’t convert. What’s going on?
The answer is that you’re most likely using the same offer every single time. If they didn’t convert the first, time, there is a slim chance that they will convert through remarketing ads if they’re brought back to the same page or offer.
Now take it even further. You can cut the wasted spend and lower risk of remarketing to users who aren’t in the market. Only target those who have visited your demo page more than once.
Similarly, you can bid higher for those who had started filling out the form but ended up leaving because they had changed their mind.
Additionally, you can separate your audience by where they are in their buying journey. For example, you can target users who have not watched the demo video with a demo ad meanwhile targeting users who HAVE watched it with a free trial ad. This is another useful tactic to bring users down the funnel.
Last but not least, remarketing on social works extremely well, and this will tie back to behavioral differences in social. If the user bounced after arriving at your page through search, they may just convert via social because of one simple reason: time. If a user is scrolling through their feed, they will most likely have the time to finally download your ebook or watch your demo video if given a gentle reminder via remarketing.
Dominating the SERP: Does it really work?
There was a study done by Advanced Web Rankings where they had looked at the differences in CTR between ad positions on the SERP. This is where it gets tricky because success will really depend on a few things: budget, conversion value, industry, competition, LTV, geotarget, and more.
For certain markets, it may be beneficial to bid higher to rank above organic listings for your bottom-of-funnel keywords but for others, especially more competitive B2B markets, ROI starts to decrease after a certain point. This is where it is up to you to figure out the balance for your specific market.
For example, paying a high price for a saturated market like auto insurance may not be profitable when considering how users shop for insurance. Similar to B2B, they like to shop around because they want something that’s affordable but also has the coverage they need. For this reason, the user will end up on your page no matter if you’re first, third, or even fifth on the page.
Sure, your CTR may be higher but if conversion rates stay stagnant between positions and you’re paying a heftier price per click, this is your cue to abort.
What other advantages are there to being high in the search results?
Even if you’re a start-up but have the budget to rank first, this will truly give users the perception that you’re a leader in your space. Dominating the SERP through third-party directories is also a powerful tactic for B2B, especially SaaS.
As I had mentioned in the very beginning, B2B users like to do their research. Sometimes, they won’t even click on ad results because unfortunately, they’ve filtered out all the ad noise.
So what do they look at?
As powerful as advertising can be, we as humans make most decisions based on trust and nothing screams trust more than high-ranking comparison sites.
Take a look at the first organic listings for “best marketing software.” If you can just bid within the top positions for at least one directory with the most traffic, most likely Software Advice in this example, you would already be ahead of your competitors who aren’t already present.
Furthermore, this drives higher quality leads than search because users who submit a form via directories are those who are deep in their research phase and are giving off obvious signs that they are indeed in the market.
Post-Click Optimizations: Landing pages, duh!
Great PPC strategy doesn’t just stop at getting users to click. What happens after the click is crucial, especially since you’ve now paid a price for it.
Understanding how your users are absorbing content through heatmaps or analytics data and running tests based on user pain points are just some strategies that will make your conversion rates skyrocket.
Let’s again look at an example from one of our clients who are in the auto insurance industry. All insurance companies say they offer a “quick and easy quote.” What we noticed was that our pages were missing the HOW.
Moving forward, we added in the number of steps it takes users to get a quote from us. Can you guess which variant won in this A/B test? By physically seeing the few steps it takes to get to a quote, users converted 24.65% more than those who did not!
For another client, we asked them what kind of content their users look at most before becoming a paying customer. We were able to get our hands on that data and by simply taking the top 6 most searched topics and including it on our landing page as a benefits and features section, we were able to significantly raise conversion rates.
Another notable optimization is using dedicated landing pages. Let’s say you’re in the data software market and users can either come across your ad by either “data analysis” or “data integration” searches.
You can show both audiences the same general landing page OR you can tailor the landing page based on their search. This could be as simple as using a dynamic headline based on the search term to an entire content swap.
If you were searching for a data software to help you analyze large sets of data and you land on a landing page listing out how the software helps you do just that, wouldn’t you be more inclined to learn more versus landing on a page that primarily talks about the product as a whole?
Users want relevant information as fast as possible and the longer they have to search for it, the lower your conversion rate falls.
The chart below shows the conversion rate difference seen after we had launched a tailored landing page for one of our campaigns.
Audience vs Keywords
New this year, focusing more on the audience over keywords is becoming more and more essential. I hope by now, you can see why this is. But, how exactly do we distinguish our audiences in search?
Enter the beauty of in-market audiences for search, which was introduced just recently. With this new capability, you’re able to add and observe audiences within your search campaigns and adjust the bid on low-performing audiences.
Below, you can see that for my auto insurance client, I’ve placed a bid decrease on two low-converting audiences in order to push that spend towards those that are more likely to convert. As you can guess, this yielded great results as I was no longer wasting that spend.
Take Your PPC Strategy and Use It Wisely!
Overall, I’ve only scratched the surface with how online user behavior is crucial for effective PPC strategy. As paid search marketers, we know changes are inevitable and technology forces us to be adaptive.
At the end of the day, there is one thing that will never die out. That is the value of paying closer attention to those on the other side. Know your audience better, and you’ll find success a little easier.
Also read: PPC Geotargeting Best Practices Guide