B2B companies often have a lot invested in their websites, but still aren’t effectively using them in the pay-per-click marketplace. The Forrester's Marketing Effectiveness Survey, from Q2 of 2006, reported that only 59% of B2B companies surveyed are using search engine marketing. And while B-to-C marketers use 35 to 60% of their online spend to paid search, B-to-B companies only devote 20 to 45% of their online budget to search ads. Pay per click marketing is an important source of potential leads for business-to-business companies because search engines are the #1 starting place for prospects as they enter their buying process – more so than the a vertical directory or industry portal that you’re so familiar with. For many companies, pay per click search engine marketing allows them to compete against their larger competitors on a much more level playing field. It’s also an essential way to educate, interact, and engage potential customers in a ‘pull’ environment. Take advantage of these tips and tricks to get the most out of your B2B pay per click campaigns. Steps: 1. Start with the best possible offer 2. Send traffic to the right place to increase leads at no extra cost 3. Choose the right source of traffic for your business 4. Focus your ad copy around the offer 5. Select your keywords wisely 6. Don’t forget to measure results Never send traffic to your home page Most B2C marketers have learned this lesson, and there have certainly been enough studies to prove the point, but approximately 75% of B2B companies still send search traffic to their home page instead of a relevant landing page. Start with optimizing your offer So much of the focus these days is on the nitty gritty aspects of PPC management, but we forget that in order for a customer to be willing to provide his or her personal information to your business, you have to provide a pretty good incentive. Common marketing collateral includes white papers, webinars, and demos, with white papers being the preferred reading material of 71% of B2B researchers. Optimize your landing page to increase leads at no extra cost Now that you’ve chosen the right offer, make sure your landing page doesn’t stand in the way of people converting. Keep your registration form as short as possible, since each additional field adds friction to the page. Remove excess navigation, and keep the page focused on a single goal with a prominent call to action. Test short copy vs. long copy. Headlines, images, and color are other top priorities for testing. Choose the right search engines Your campaigns can only be as good as the traffic they solicit. 65% of B2B buyers source off a search engine when they are developing awareness at the beginning of their purchase cycle, so it’s important to appear in these results. Google is the preferred engine for 77% of B2B buyers, so it’s a must have. Yahoo may be a problem because they don’t have as effective of limitations in geography, so you’ll likely be paying for international leads. Focus your ad copy around your offer While flashy copy will entice the searcher to click, don’t forget your goal is to convert that visitor into a lead. Focusing at least one line of your ad copy on the offer will increase the relevancy of your page for those who click through. Doing so with a call to action also helps to prep the prospective customer for the action you want them to take. Don’t forget that the search engines will bold a word in your ad copy if it matches with the search query, so relevancy is key. Other top tips: Numbers help quantify your benefits, don’t hesitate to try out the word ‘free’ in lead gen campaigns, questions as titles create interest in your offer. Select your keywords wisely Keywords in your pay per click campaign, are the equivalent of the demographic selections in your direct marketing lists. They shouldn’t be chosen without giving the task a little forethought. The most common mistake is to use too few keywords, which means your competition (and thus CPC) will be stiff. That’s no place to be if you’re just starting out and not using professional management. There’s no real rule of thumb, but I suggest aiming for a minimum of 500 keywords. Don’t forget to measure your results Yes, it will take you longer to launch if you have to get your IT department involved, but it is essential to have the tracking data from the start. I know you have other priority things on you plate, which is why this gets pushed to the side time and time again. But having statistics for your campaigns will help you make future budgeting decisions. And since PPC is typically a high ROI area of marketing, you can get great stats to back up the program (and your hard work) in the future.