PPC campaigns can be a major driver of traffic and conversions for B2B brands, but carry a different set of challenges than their B2C counterparts. At the recent brightonSEO conference, Swydo CEO Jeroen Maljers presented B2B PPC tips and tactics, and was asked to further explore the topic with an international spin by webcertain.tv. See what he had to say by checking out the video below, or reading through the accompanying transcript.
Gemma: Welcome back to webcertain.tv. I’m Gemma Houghton. Today I’m joined by Jeroen Maljers. He is the CEO of Swydo, a PPC reporting tool. And today we’re gonna be discussing international paid search campaigns. So, hi, Jeroen, thank you for being here.
Jeroen: Thank you for the introduction.
B2B PPC Challenges
Gemma: Pleasure. So international B2B businesses running paid search campaigns. What do you think are the biggest pitfalls or the biggest mistakes that they make?
Jeroen: Well, these campaigns can become quite complicated in the end. When (you get started), you have to think really carefully how the structure of the campaign should be because once you’re a year busy or two years busy and you want to restructure, that’s a lot of work. So better think before and (determine) what is the major dimension that you want to focus on. Is that the geography, maybe it’s the problem that you’re solving, maybe it’s the product that you’re selling, but you have to think about what is a good structure and there’s not one solution for all.
But you have to think of a good structure for your campaigns in the future. Otherwise, if you want to rebuild it again or you have to change it, that’s a lot of work. And most of the time for international campaigns, sort of country structural or regional structure is the best option.
Gemma: Yes. Because of course you need to make variances between the different countries, so it enables you to do that a lot more easily.
Jeroen: Yeah, sure. And also some technology differences because for instance, in Google AdWords some settings are on a campaign level and not on a group level. So on a campaign level you have to make some decisions. Most of the time it is advisable to choose a structural campaign as region.
Gemma: Yeah, makes sense. And how do B2B campaigns differ, do you think, from B2C campaigns when it comes to running paid search? What are the main things that are different you need to think about?
Jeroen: In B2B campaigns it is very, very important not to have too much waste in clicks of course. So it’s very important and it’s quite a difficult task to choose the right keywords so that the consumers don’t click on your ads.
Jeroen: And also choose the right negative keywords, that exclude the impressions. It’s very important to regularly check the searches that you showed up on and exclude them, exclude them, exclude them. That’s very important.
If you have an international campaign, the cultural differences can have an impact on your language, on your keywords, maybe on the ad copy that you will use, so indeed it can be complicated and quite a harsh task.
International B2B Marketing
Gemma: And from actually B2B perspective, there is often people that say, “Well, actually that’s more similar across markets because people talk in business language, they talk a little bit more often in English maybe most communications.” Do you find that to be the case or do you think that the cultural factors, the language factors, are important in B2B?
Jeroen: Yes, it is the case. You’re right. Even if you for instance target the English market, you can maybe have the same campaign for England and for the United States, that’s true. Some differences maybe are there.
But there are instances in Europe, the German market and the French market are totally different. Even there you have to manage the cultural aspects and maybe even the call to action for somebody from Germany is different than somebody from the Netherlands or the UK. To our understanding German people want to (directly) speak to somebody, for instance, and won’t buy as fast maybe as somebody from the Netherlands.
Impact Of AdWords Changes
Gemma: Paid search ads have changed quite a lot over the past few years. It’s been a lot of expansion, expanded text ads, site links. There are so many different features now. What do you think are maybe some of the most interesting features to take advantage of, which are the ones that can have the biggest impact on campaigns?
Jeroen: It’s very important because you have so many different options there to keep it really focused, but you don’t get in, for instance, the contradiction in the extensions when your ads are shown. If you have extensions on a campaign level, on an ad group level, and you think, okay let’s combine those, maybe on a more granular level, and once the ad is shown, the system picks the ads that have the most chance of winning. Sometimes the ads can be cluttered and that does not give the result you are looking for. And it’s very good also to be conscious with that and to use those site links or ad extensions that really work together, to have a more powerful message.
Gemma: But don’t just use every possible feature available just to fill the space.
Jeroen: Exactly. Yes. And maybe that’s what people did the last one or two years. “Oh, a new ad extension. Let’s use it.” It’s a good idea, but test with it and just look at the ad, at the end result and see if that message is what we want to send out to our target group. And make sure there is one call to action in there, maybe it’s download an ebook and another is to start a free trial. Okay, but what do you want based on the keyword that people type in?
Gemma: Yes, and don’t have too many different options for people and one ad, because that…
Jeroen: They get confused.
Gemma: Yes. And go somewhere else where it’s…
Jeroen: Maybe you’ll give them some stress. What do you want me to do? So it’s very important to have really focused ad groups with sitelink extensions that really strengthen your message.
B2B Campaign Tactics
Gemma: So for B2B very often it’s a lead gen campaign that they’ll be running, it’s download a paper or sign up for something. So what are the things that you should be considering when you’re writing ads specific to lead gen campaign?
Jeroen: Yes, I would say in B2B it’s very important to focus on the problem that you’re solving. So try to envision that person who has that problem. Maybe they need a new warehouse or they need something else and they have a problem and they’re searching for a solution. And when you have that basic thought, then your copy more or less flows out of itself and you have that copy.
And the next step you have to be very careful. Is that person already in a buyer mode in the funnel or is it in the early in the funnel? And for instance you can also use search retargeting to to get people to search again. What’s your goal in the B2B space, that you don’t make the decision the first time, so you search again and maybe again and again.
Of course, it (search retargeting) is also very good research tool, because let’s say that you have your first search lead marketing campaign and you run it, so people have visited your site before, they visit again, check the search terms, and you say okay, hey, they’re searching for an alternative or they’re searching for a lower price or they’re searching for a certain feature that I don’t have. So it’s a really good marketing information system to do search retargeting.
Gemma: Yes, actually by doing it, yes, you kind of understand the process they’re going down after they’ve been in…
Jeroen: Yes, exactly.
Gemma: …and that can help you change your initial offering and also provide further info.
Jeroen: Yes, and maybe then change your ad copy based on that. Oh, they changed the search for a lower price. Maybe we have a discount or we have something else that we’ll talk to our sales people about, a special offer or something like that. And then you come back to them using Google AdWords and the search terms with a better ad copy.
Gemma: Yes. And that of course is making it a more targeted, more personalized approach.
Gemma: And how do you find that that works on an international scale? Do the same approaches…does that work? Obviously you have to tailor for that country, but with the same kind of approach do people behave in the same way? Does retargeting have the same impact across all markets?
Jeroen: I don’t see real big differences there. I think also that the technology that these big companies have overdosed us on like Google and Facebook etc., people more or less search in the same way, use the same possibilities and of course, people get used to it, people travel more, etc. So I think that it will be uniform, but the basic cultural differences, those will stay, of course. You cannot eliminate those with technology.
B2B And Social Media Advertising
Gemma: We’ve been talking specifically here about PPC campaigns and your Google AdWords and search, but what about social, because obviously, you know, paid social has really grown in the past few years, it’s becoming a really important channel for most businesses. How does that play in the B2B space and which are the platforms that particularly have an impact?
Jeroen: To my knowledge LinkedIn can be very successful for the B2B campaigns. So LinkedIn advertising can be very, very powerful for sponsoring your updates, but also just plain old advertising because in LinkedIn you can choose your audience, the companies, etc. and of course, it’s a B2B network. So I think LinkedIn is powerful. Of course, Facebook, Twitter offer possibilities. It depends also a little bit in which space you are in.
Gemma: Yes. So, worth investigating them with.
Gemma: So what would be your final kind top tip, one thing that you would say to an international B2B business running AdWords campaigns? What is the main tip you would give?
Jeroen: The main tip is when you’re in-house, you know your product and your service, so have a good start, think about it, don’t go into action immediately. And for agencies who have B2B customers a main tip is talk to their clients, talk to their people. If they go to a warehouse and talk to people, “How do you use this product?” go to trade exhibitions, and talk to different people, of course you need a lot of information before you really understand the product and the service and then start with the campaigns. First do your homework.
Gemma: Yes. Don’t get carried away, but put the time in and the results come.
Jeroen: Yes. To prepare and to really understand what the problem is.
Gemma: Great. Well, thank you very much for sharing all your insights with us today.
Jeroen: Thank you for having me.
Gemma: Pleasure. Thanks.
Jeroen: Thank you.