Let’s do a little paid traffic marketing review, starting with the basics: Google Ads (a.k.a. Google AdWords, Pay-Per-Click programs) are designed to drive traffic to commercial websites to help sell their products and services. To do this, a significant portion of that traffic needs to land on pertinent and engaging content that’s been optimized to convert paid leads into sales. That’s the main idea, complemented by a little brand recognition that hopefully drives brand searches somewhere down the line. But many industrial marketers who have decided to include Google Ads campaigns in their marketing budgets are frustrated with their programs because they seem to be more work and expense than they’re worth. Brand recognition is vital but can be difficult to measure, and lead conversion can be similarly hard to define. With this in mind, let’s look at a simple tweak we can make to our existing campaigns that could make a big difference in terms of direct conversions.
Many websites in the B2B industrial markets have been designed to tell and explain with perhaps a little sales punch mixed in for good measure. Few are organized to accept users who demand that their ad clicks lead to direct matches for their search terms. This is not a small point. Search engines and data marketing on social media platforms have further conditioned us to expect precise recompense for our time investment. We want what we want and we don’t want to waste our time figuring out how a web page satisfies our needs. But optimizing all or a large portion of a company’s website for multiple ads can be costly and time-consuming. And nothing kills marketing initiatives faster than dragging revisions, which is why landing pages were invented.
Landing pages that are optimized to respond to traffic from specific ad groups are an added expense but can easily pay for themselves if done correctly and monitored carefully. However, some companies don’t sell their products directly, opting to work through distributors. Sales happen, but it’s difficult to determine ROI on your Google Ads expenditures without pausing and restarting campaigns to test the drop in traffic and subsequent sales numbers – a radical practice that isn’t recommended as it can hurt revenue and customer confidence. So how can a company without 1) a budget for multiple landing pages, 2) a shopping cart feature, and/or 3) a website that’s freshly optimized for Google Ads campaigns still use them to improve sales?
One of the answers is by selecting keywords and generating ad copy that focuses on your products applications rather than just its identifiers and benefits. Users who are searching for solutions because they’re not sure what product(s) they need are really doing “research”. That’s a mindset that is prepared to take the time to learn and perhaps seek an expert who can help them decide on which product is right for their specific application. A quick – albeit oversimplified – example would be a company starting a campaign to sell “hammers”, but instead of bidding for that keyword and words like “stainless steel” or “comfortable grip” bid for the application-focused (and likely less expensive) “nail drivers”. Of course, just about everyone knows they need a hammer to drive a nail, but not everyone knows the latest and best way to, say, vent volatile gases from a storage tank safely or extract blood samples without contaminating the organic material.
This shift to a more content marketing perspective – from B2C benefits mode to the more complex B2B research mode – can create softer landings on our websites. This isn’t to say we should neglect optimizing them to be as user-friendly as possible or ignore elements that drive quotes. Industrial B2B websites should always be closing the sale but they should do so in response to their unique demographics which are often plant and product line managers seeking new and efficient solutions that will match their innovations, improve plant safety, and enrich their bottom lines. If they land on a web page that offers well-organized and simple product solutions to their often disorganized and complex problems, their lives got that much easier. And don’t worry about a lower amount of impressions. What you want are qualified impressions, so try not to stare too hard at low search volumes.
Google Ads feels primarily designed for B2C brands to sell products to consumers – which is why they focus on lots of impressions to reach a wider demographic – but it could be for everyone, even companies with websites that are light on shopping carts and heavy on industrial content aimed at tighter, B2B audiences. And while varied applications for a single product can spread the offense around a wide array of markets, we may still want to establish more effective user expectations by employing an applications focused, content marketing approach to the tools at our disposal.
– S. Norton