What’s new in pay per click?

Trends B2B marketers need to heed
Where have all the prospects gone? B2B marketers know that what used to work to attract customer prospects (print ads, news releases, directory listings and even cold calling) is less effective today. Now your prospects are online, which means pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and SEO are crucial to marketing success.

Navigating the digital landscape takes new skills. That’s why CCC recently sponsored a B2B webinar from Google that revealed three key trends impacting PPC. Knowledge is power, right? So read on to arm yourself with the latest research from Google.

TREND #1: The customer is in the driver’s seat.

Some important changes to understand:

  • Prospects used to connect with salespeople early in the buying process to get product recommendations and specs. Now prospects search online, gather information on their own and only contact your company for a meeting if you’re one of their final candidates. Take-away: Be find-able online and provide the information prospects want.
  • Buyers are conducting searches across several devices. Google says the average buyer conducts 12 searches before buying, and those searches can happen on a mobile phone on the way to work, on a laptop or tablet in an airport or on a desktop back at the office. Take-away: Optimize your site for all device types.
  • Buying decisions aren’t just the province of C suite personnel (chief operations officer, chief engineering officer, etc.). Those outside top management and the C suite make a quarter of the buying decisions, and that’s likely to grow.
    Take-away: Target everyone involved in decision-making.
  • Those involved in buying decisions are getting younger. The boomer generation is retiring, so more millennials (born early 1980s to early 2000s) and gen-z folks (a subset of millennials born after 1993) are making decisions. They are extremely tech-savvy. Take-away: Embrace new communications methods and strategies.

TREND #2: Data is an industry game-changer.

There’s a staggering amount of information out there. The sheer volume can be overwhelming. What should you pay attention to and how should you use it? We recommend:

  • Audience information — Use your site analytics to find out who’s visiting and what they’re interested in. This will help target remarketing campaigns. Look for visitor and usage trends that could steer your marketing. Take-away: Use up-to-date website analytics.
  • Results data — Measure and compare the response generated by each communications program. For PPC that means looking at how various keywords are performing. Tweak programs over time to get the best results. Take-away: We repeat, use up-to-date website analytics.

TREND #3: Machine learning is the next frontier.

Actually, machine learning isn’t part of a pie-in-the-sky future. It’s in our lives now. As part of artificial intelligence, it’s basically algorithms that let a computer see patterns and react appropriately. Machine learning is becoming more important in search, so here’s what we recommend:

  • Rather than typing search parameters using logical computer semantics, people are using voice commands in natural language. Instead of typing “industrial valve suppliers in Minnesota” in a search box, a user might ask their virtual assistant to find “who around here makes industrial valves?” Machine learning lets a computer “understand” these queries and give meaningful search results. Take-away: Think like a buyer to identify how they might be searching for your product.

What now?

How does a B2B marketer make use of information for SEO programs and PPC campaigns? As a start, here’s a recap of the broad recommendations in this blogpost:

  • Make sure your website is easily find-able online and that you provide the information prospects want.
  • Since searches can be conducted anywhere and on different devices, optimize your site for all device types.
  • Select ad venues that target everyone involved in decision-making.
  • Capture younger decision-makers by embracing new communications methods and strategies.
  • Use up-to-date website analytics to gather audience and results information.
  • Think like a buyer to identify how they might be searching for your product.

To take full advantage of these trends in your PPC advertising program, contact your CCC account manager or email me at smcpherson@cccinc.com.

1) “Using Digital as a Strategic Asset,” Google Partners Connect, B2B Webinar, Sept. 20, 2017
2) Forester, “Death of the B2B Salesman.” 2016; “Death of the B2B Salesman II.” 2017