B2B Lead Generation with Google Ads

By Aldwin Neekon

You’ve tried to generate B2B leads with Google Ads. And it probably hasn’t gone as well as you’d like.

You are not alone. I mean it’s really easy to set up a Google Ad campaign. You get a credit card, a few keywords, some ad copy and you’re off to the races.

But why are the leads you’re getting either too expensive or just plain garbage? (No offense.)

The reason is because Google makes it just as easy to set up your campaign to waste money.

I’m going to share some of what I’ve learned in setting up B2B lead generation campaigns with Google Ads for my clients and for my own business .

EDIT: OK, this one has gotten a bit out of hand. It’s a long post and I think I’m going to keep adding to it over time. So if you’re wondering why I didn’t cover campaign types, or shared budgets, or whatever else you’re rightly wondering about, just drop me a line letting me know what you’re interested in.

Before you carry on, you really should go get yourself Google Search Ads certified, or at least go through the lessons and videos. A lot of what I’ve written here will be familiar to you (and you’ll maybe find reasons to disagree with my takes) if you invest a bit of time there first.

And if you just want to have a chat about your B2B lead generation campaigns in general, even beyond Google Ads, just let me know.

Understand your B2B Customers

I’m going to assume that you already know a lot about your customers.

(If you don’t, you can start by looking into getting some new customer insights or doing some peer to peer customer research.)

I always like to start with the same questions I would when I’m starting any kind of marketing project:

  • Who do we sell to?
  • What titles do they hold?
  • In which industries do they work?
  • What jobs are they trying to get done?
  • What are they frustrated with?
  • How do we help them get from where they are (frustrated) to where they need to be (delighted, fulfilled, promoted, etc.)?
  • and so on….

You probably have sketches of your ideal customer profile (ICP) and have mapped out your target markets.

Just like any marketing project, start out by getting really clear about this.

The next thing you’re going to do is unique to Google Search Ads, and that’s asking what would they search for if they searched for a solution to their problem?

Keyword Research

Keyword research is at the heart of Google Search Ads.

(There are rumours and tell-tale signs that over time Google will remove search keywords as a way for advertisers to control who their ads get served to. “Trust the Algorithm” I guess. But until then, trust your keyword research.)

Two Questions to Uncover Your Customers’ Google Search Keywords

What I find has worked with my clients is asking a few questions like:

  • If your customers are aware of the problem, would they search Google for a solution?
  • If they’re aware of the solution, would they search Google for solutions by category name? Or by brand name?

If they’re not likely to search for a problem or solution on Google, then you’re probably not going to get far with a Google Search Ad. You could try display ads, or Youtube ads, or go beyond Google to the LinkedIn ad network. But those are topics I’ll cover in a future post.

Is there Enough Traffic for those Keywords?

OK, you’ve got the keywords you think your future customers will search for when they’re trying to solve the problem you solve. But are they?

You can pay for a lot of different tools to do this, but in my experience with my clients, I’ve found it easier and just as useful to go straight to the source: Google Ads Keyword Planner.

B2B lead generation with Google Search Ads - Keyword Planner

For this you want to go into Google Ads, then click on Tools, then Keyword Planner, then Get Search Volume and Forecasts. Type in your keywords and click Get Started.

You’ll get Google’s estimates on how much traffic those keywords have gotten in the last 12 months.

More isn’t better, but more than zero is better than zero.

You also want to check the average cost per click, and your ability to serve ads, but those can get proven out pretty quickly and for not much spend by just launching your campaign.

But before you say I’m being too cavalier about just YOLOing an ad campaign, let me get back into the details.

And the next detail is having good ad copy.

Sidebar: Will Google Even Show Your Ads?

Before we get into what great ad copy is, let’s take a sidebar to look at what Google Ads wants when they’re considering serving up your ads.

That’s right. It’s possible to launch an ad campaign and have Google straight up refuse to show it to anybody.

There can be a lot of reasons for this. For example, maybe you breached one of the Google Search Ads policies by including someone else’s brand terms in your ads.

But even if you manage to avoid any policy breaches, Google might still decide not to show your ads as much as you’d like them to if they think 4 things are not in place:

  1. Ad relevance
  2. Expected click-through rate
  3. Landing page experience
  4. Bid and budget

If your keywords are about, say CRM systems, but your ads are all about accounting software, there’s no relevance there. They won’t want to show accounting software ads to people searching for CRM systems.

They also won’t show your stuff if nobody ever clicks on it. Because that’s how they get paid, and also because that’s a strong indicator of whether or not your ads are interesting.

If people hit the x to close your landing page as soon as it loads up, they’re not having a good time. And I guess Google reasons that next time they’ll just go straight to Reddit. Which is bad for Google. So they won’t show your ad.

Finally, you’ve got to have a competitive bid and budget although the highest bid doesn’t always win. But it does have to be competitive

Ad Copy

OK, back to B2B lead generation with Google Ads copy!

When you create an ad you’ll be asked to enter 15 headlines and 4 descriptions.

The headlines should be punch and relevant to the main keywords you’re trying to have your ad shown for. Catch their attention. Focus on them and their problems.

If you have a unique point of view, or unique value proposition, get it out there in the headline. Highlight the benefit to the customer. Call out the pain they’re feeling. Put in some strong offers and calls to action.

Google will mix and match them to figure out which combinations are most likely to motor your B2B lead generation for you.

The descriptions are longer and you can provide more colour about how you’re about to change their world.

Again Google will mix and match the descriptions and headlines together to find the best combination to maximize your B2B lead generation or whatever goal you’ve set for the campaign.

There are a lot of guides about writing great ad copy. You can try Dan Nelken’s short little book about the process of writing headlines. Or try the classics like Ogilvy’s book on advertising.

But whatever you do, try to do it in the language of your customer, with the customer as the hero.

Ad Extensions Tailored to Your B2B Customers

Ad extensions are little bells and whistles that call out things that your customers care about and give Google more combinations to experiment with.

Things like call-out extensions that highlight key features or structured snippets that show off things like industry-specific offers, or lead gen forms that can get thrown into the mix to optimize your b2b lead generation.

Beyond the basics: Slightly more advanced strategies for B2B lead generation with Google Search Ads

A/B Testing

A personal note here. My first ever Google Ad client was a B2B company looking to generate leads where nothing had worked before. They’d spent obscene amounts of money with wave after wave of external agencies and internal staff to zero effect.

I had them generating sales – not leads, but sales! – within 1 month at a ridiculously low ad spend budget that was a tiny fraction of what they’d been spending.

How? One approach I used was taking A/B testing with a grain of salt.

If you’re a low traffic account like my first client was, you can be waiting months to find out if your A/B test worked or not.

So I’m going to recommend something from my own experience that may really get some people angry: don’t wait for statistical significance.

Low traffic ad campaigns can’t afford it.

Just get run the experiment to see which way it’s going, use your best judgement and understanding of your customer, and make the bet sooner.

You’ll eventually know if you were wrong. But when your traffic is low, and you insist on all your A/B tests providing statistical certainty, you might actually wind up in a worse place: never knowing.

The difference between conversions and leads

A lot of people new to Google Ads think that conversions and leads are the same thing. This isn’t true. A conversion is more or less whatever you tell Google it is.

In fact, that’s a great way to mess up your campaign.

A common mistake is to set up visits to the landing page as a conversion instead of visits to the thank you page that loads after the form on the landing page has been submitted.

Do that, and every single click on your ad becomes a conversion.

Obviously this isn’t what you want.

So the first thing you want to do is make sure you’ve set up your conversions correctly. If you want a conversion to be the same as a lead, set it up that way.

Hint: You probably won’t want to do that forever.

Setting up conversion tracking

You set up conversion track through the Goals menu in the new Google Ads interface and through the Tools section in the old interface.

B2B lead generation with Google Search Ads - Conversions

There are a few ways to do this, involving installing the tag on your thank you page, or going through Google Tag Manager, or even using Google Analytics (which I don’t like to do) and I’ll find some space in another post to describe those, but in the meantime, you know who does really helpful videos about this stuff? The folks at solutions8.com who are in no way affiliated with me.

Feeding great B2B leads back into Google Ads

Remember earlier when I said your B2B lead generation campaign can generate leads that are different than generating conversions?

Here’s why you’ll want to do that.

As I’ve said elsewhere, Google Ads is like a puppy you need to train.

You throw a stick, and it comes back with a soggy shoe. Don’t yell at it. Throw another stick, and when it comes back with the stick, praise it profusely!

Enough analogy?

OK. You can easily tell Google when it’s given you a great lead.

One way is to generate an offline conversion and load it back into Google.

It will count as two conversions for that lead, which will give Google twice the nudge to get you more leads like that.

You can also use value bidding strategies to increase that signal multi-fold but again this post is getting long enough as it is. I’ll get into it more later or give me a call if you’re a client and I’ll show you how to do it if I haven’t already.

Geo-targeting strategies for B2B Lead Generation

You can also target your ads to go out to specific regions. Make sure you set this up if you’re not actually going after the whole world.

Even if you are going after the whole world, chances are the ads that are going to resonate in Georgia won’t be the same ones that resonate in the other Georgia. So set up geographic targets to improve relevance.

As your ads show you where your audience is reaching you, consider tightening this even further. If a particular state is really going after a specific keyword, create a new campaign to serve that keyword to that state with much more focused ads. And then exclude that state from the more generic version of the campaign.

Audience Segmentation Techniques for B2B Lead Generation

By using audience segmentation techniques like creating custom audiences based on previous interactions or demographics like company size, you can deliver more personalized ads that speak directly to each segment’s unique needs and preferences.

I mean, you sort of can. You don’t get the same kind of targeting you’d get on LinkedIn, but you can always blend the two. Set up a LinkedIn ad that is hyper-targeted to people in your niche, have them come to a landing page that gives away useful un-gated content, and then re-market to that audience on Google Search Ads.

Personalizing Your B2B Lead Generation Headlines

I’ll keep this short. Use dynamic keyword insertion to get their search term into your headline. Don’t do it for every headline, but at least give Google something to test.

Maximizing B2B Lead Generation ROI through Data Analysis and Optimization

One quick tip here. Obviously you’re going to look at your Overview and Campaign views to track your impressions, clicks, and conversions. And you’ll keep an eye on your lead generation costs.

Here’s the quick tip: You’re probably most concerned about how many leads you get per impression.

The built-in metric “conversion rate” is a percentage of the people who clicked on your ad. A 50% conversion rate would mean half the people who clicked on your ad filled out the form. But maybe only 1% of the people who viewed your ad clicked on it. So really you’d have to multiply those out to get 0.5% of people who say your ad converted.

Instead, set that up as a Conversion per Impression custom metric. It will look like this:

B2B lead generation with Google Search Ads - Custom Columns - Conversions per Impression

Do Google Ads work for small business?

Are Google Ads worth it for a small business? Maybe.

The bad news is that depending on which industry you’re in and what keywords your customers are searching for to find someone like you, Google Ads can cost more than your budget allows for.

For example, let’s say the keywords your customers search for cost $5 per click. And it takes 10 clicks to get a lead. And it takes 4 leads to get a really good targeted lead. Multiply that out and it means you need to be prepared to spend $200 to get a targeted lead. If you’re looking for 10 leads a month, you should expect to spend $2000. If your budget is a lot smaller than that, you might need to consider ways to reach your customers through cheaper keywords or maybe even on other platforms.

On the other hand, if you can structure your campaigns to be efficient with your money, to reach your customers through high intent and lower cost keywords, and you have the budget to support it, Google Ads can deliver amazing results for small business.

I’ve used Google Ads to generate revenue at SMBs for years.

How much do small businesses pay for Google Ads?

I would recommend budgeting at least $20 a day in most cases and scaling from there.

The good news is that you can start your Google Ads experiment with whatever budget you have. Unlike other platforms that have large minimum spends (I’m looking at you, programmatic), you can start a Google Ads campaign with $5 a day.

How much do small businesses pay for Google Ads?

Think about the ROI. If the ad spend is more than covered by the revenue it brings in, and your cashflow allows for the budget, spend the money on Google Ads.

For example, if you need 100 clicks to get a new customer and clicks cost $5 on average, your cost of acquisition is $500. That sounds like a lot.

But if each customer’s lifetime value is large enough to leave you a profit after you subtract the $500 cost of acquisition plus other delivery and overhead costs, you should consider continuing to invest in Google Ads.

Finding the Right B2B Lead Generation Coach for Your Team

You might not work in an industry where I specialize. But all I do is B2B lead generation. I work a lot in Google Ads, but also LinkedIn ads, and various organic outreach wherever my clients’ customers hang out.

And I’ve got a lot of practice as a coach, first with sports teams, and then with marketing teams.

I can coach your B2B lead generation teams to better results.

If you’re interested in having a chat to see if I have an opening to help your marketing team tighten up your B2B lead gen campaigns, just drop me a line. I’ll be happy to hear from you.

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