Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned vet, determining if you should use search advertising or display advertising for your marketing campaign is tough.
Use the wrong channel and you potentially ruin the maximum success of your whole campaign.
Thankfully, there are ways to decide which is the best for your business and which will generate the most conversions.
Display advertising is everywhere online. Every website you visit has ads that showcase products for sale. But have you ever noticed you keep seeing the same ads on your social media feeds and the like?
That’s because display advertising tracks a user’s behavior in order to put the right ads in front of the right customers. Display ads are also sometimes known as banner ads, like this one:
In order to properly utilize display advertising, you need to understand its purpose. In short, display ads are great for driving brand awareness because, generally, these types of ads are found in a place a potential customer may be found.
For example, if a customer is on a website for vegetarian recipes, a display ad that may show up would be an advertisement for a health food store. The customer may not be aware of this type of store, but the ad would drive awareness. Marketers generally gather this information by studying customer behaviors, demographics, and previous search histories.
Let’s say a user has visited your website but hasn’t converted. Display ads give you the opportunity to pull those users back in with retargeting. Your display ad reminds the user about your brand; thus improving the chance of them converting. Check out our ‘5 remarketing strategies to prep for Q4‘ to learn more about retargeting as a whole.
Display ads may promote your brand to the right people, but they also have high visibility. When you use display ads, they’re also being shown to customers who may not have thought to look for your products or services (even if they’re not part of your demographic).
Even if you’re not targeting an audience, they’ll still see your business in front of them.
Search advertising, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, is an easy, low-budget way to reach the right audience. You’re able to control who sees the ads with nearly instant results. The PPC ads are shown directly on search engine websites after a keyword or phrase has been searched.
For example, here’s two PPC ads that might show up at the top of a Google search:
A PPC campaign, done effectively, boosts traffic to your website and drives higher conversions. This is because customers are actively searching for keywords that result in seeing your PPC ads, so long as their keywords match your product or service. PPC ad campaigns generally drive higher click-through rates than display ads because of qualified leads.
Google AdWords is not only the place to setup your search advertising campaign, but it makes it easy to track how well your PPC campaign is doing. Simply pull up your AdWords account, choose the Campaigns tab, and choose “Keywords.” This shows you exactly how well customers are responding to your keywords and phrases.
If you’re just starting out or starting your campaign on a lower budget, PPC may be the best bang for your buck. With a PPC campaign, you’re not paying for the ads unless a user has clicked on them—hence their name.
This means, if you’re choosing and bidding on keywords that are relevant to your product or service, the users are most likely qualified leads, resulting in higher conversion rates.
It’s a great way to test what works before moving on to more time-intensive marketing strategies like SEO and content.
Now that you’re aware of the major differences between search and display advertising, consider some of the factors that you should take into account before making a decision.
What are your potential customers searching for? Are they already actively looking for the products you’re selling? Here’s where Google AdWords helps yet again. Use this tool to determine if the keywords you’re using are high volume.
If relevant keywords for your business are showing as high competition keywords, your best bet is to start with a PPC campaign. Here’s an example using the keywords “health foods.”
Brand awareness is another determining factor when deciding. The first question you should be asking: How many people are aware of your brand already? If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, display ads are your best bet. However, a search campaign can also benefit from brand awareness, especially if your campaign focuses on brand-specific keywords.
Type of services or products
Certain ads may not bring you the highest ROI right away depending on the type of product or service you’re offering.
For example, services like towing, locksmiths, and doctors (also known as “urgent” services) are all services that users will specifically look for, and need, quickly. Using a display ad to advertise may not be the most beneficial if your service is something potential customers may need immediately.
However, this doesn’t mean your services wouldn’t benefit from a display ad—it just won’t be as beneficial to the customer in their time of need.
Did you know that almost 60% of searches are done on a mobile device? Typically, search ad campaigns are better equipped at handling mobile searches.
For example, a user may search for a service on their mobile device, which means they won’t be scrolling through a website. They’ll choose the first ad that comes up, and that’s generally going to be a PPC ad.
When you’re starting a new campaign, it’s not always easy to identify which type of advertising to use. Factors such as your budget, your search volume, and your main goal are only some of the things you should consider before choosing one.
Sometimes, it’s in your best interest to utilize both platforms to maximize your ROI. Using both at the same time means you’re reaching customers at different points in the customer journey, which may be a huge payoff for you in the end.
What has worked for you when it comes to search versus display advertising? Let us know your thoughts and your story in the comment section below!
Discover some of the best practices on B2B PPC campaigns that you can use today, including attribution models, ad types, video, and more.
If you work in digital marketing, you might not normally think of B2B PPC (that is, pay-per-click for business-to-business campaigns).
Most digital marketers think of PPC as a B2C (business-to-consumer) discipline for either direct sales (retail, such as apparel or electronics) or for lead generation (identifying and matching potential customers for services, such as consultations for financial services or finding a new healthcare provider).
Your job as a PPC marketer in the consumer space is as you’d expect. You run paid search ads for your product or service that nudge searchers to your landing page and hopefully get them to convert. And as a B2C PPC marketer, you have a relatively short sales cycle.
Why the B2B PPC Conversion Funnel Is Different Than B2C
There are different rules of engagement for marketing toward a business audience than toward consumer audiences.
Let’s go over some of the bigger points of differentiation.
Multiple Decision Makers
While a consumer shopping for a new winter coat probably doesn’t have a lengthy approval process, multiple stakeholders, and a legal department to vet contracts with, your business customers do.
Longer Sales Cycle
One of the immediate effects of having multiple decision-makers in the sales process is a longer sales cycle.
A while back, Salesforce found that the average B2B sales cycle is 84 days long(though they vary wildly, and may be significantly longer for your company).
The longer sales cycle means business customers may take weeks or months to eventually choose to sign up for your subscription service or enterprise-scale product.
Need for Multiple Messaging Points Across the Funnel
Because there are multiple stakeholders involved in B2B purchasing decisions and because the sales cycle tends to be longer overall, it’s far more important to have relevant messages for the appropriate audience at different funnel stages.
Searchers in exploratory mode will respond better to upper-funnel messaging without a strong push to sell. On the other hand, searchers who are deeper in the funnel – reading reviews, comparing costs and individual service or product features – may instead be better served by a stronger call to action that drives them to convert.
The Beginning of the B2B PPC Funnel
The B2B PPC funnel starts out in a different manner than a consumer funnel. You can’t exactly hand out free samples of your enterprise-scale software on a tray at your local shopping mall.
Instead, you’ll likely introduce them to your funnel with a visit to your company’s online presence – if not your main homepage, then most likely a specific landing page on which you’re featuring a virtual offer, such as a webinar, eBook, infographic or another asset.
To procure that asset, visitors will need to sign themselves up for your funnel by filling out a lead capture form.
Once these visitors have become part of your funnel audience, your next task is targeting them properly by way of AdWords Audiences.
Presumably, you’ll also have your own specific qualifiers for types of leads for different stages.
At this point, you’re most likely using a CRM solution (if you have one) to score and qualify leads, after which, these audiences should be moved to deeper-funnel audiences for your PPC ads. Meaning, you don’t want to be showing top-funnel ads to these deeper-funnel leads, but rather, more-appropriate messaging to this warmer audience that will nudge them to the bottom of the funnel.
B2B PPC Tactics: Keywords, Attribution & Ad Types
Now that we’ve given an overview of B2B PPC and how to get prospects into the top of your funnel, let’s go into some actionable tactics you can start using immediately to nudge them through your sales cycle and get them to closed-won status.
1. Branded-Keyword Campaigns
It might not be obvious, but branded keywords are important for mid-funnel prospects in B2B PPC.
Specifically, once prospective customers become aware of you, unless they’re already breaking down your door to buy, they’re likely performing pre-purchase research.
They’re comparing features and price points between you and your competitors, and potentially performing searches either for your brand plus nonbrand terms (“ABC Software Inc. enterprise security”), comparison searches (“What’s the difference between ABC Software Inc. and XYZ Software Inc.”), or simply running repeated brand searches with your name as they go through the steps of their own due diligence.
2. AdWords Attribution
If you ask Google, the only attribution you need is data-driven attribution, which uses the publisher’s machine learning algorithms to precisely calculate and assign partial “credit” to different touchpoints in your funnel.
While the publisher will tell you that this black box algorithm is the only way to go, it should be noted that there are rather high volume requirements – 15,000 clicks and 600 conversions in the past 30 days (and subsequently, 10,000 clicks and 400 conversions per month).
For those businesses that don’t necessarily meet this threshold, alternatives such as time-decay attribution and position-based (U-shaped) may make more sense.
Position-based attribution assigns 40 percent of the “credit” for a conversion to the top of the funnel and 40 percent to the bottom, with the remaining 20 percent going to mid-funnel. This heavily weights top-funnel and bottom-funnel interactions and may make sense for businesses that strongly emphasize initial leads and closed deals only, such as commercial real estate, in which finding qualified buyers and sellers can be almost as important as closing on a property.
The time decay attribution model assigns “credit” to various touchpoints throughout the conversion journey, weighting the most recent more heavily and the older touchpoints less so.
This attribution model may make sense for highly competitive B2B spaces in which initial leads are less emphasized and closed-won deals are of paramount importance.
This attribution model may also be useful for testing purposes when comparing conversion journeys – if Conversion Journey A, which has a certain set of touchpoints and marketing content, consistently drives closed-won deals three months faster than Conversion Journey B, it may be time to more strongly emphasize the touchpoints in Conversion Journey A and do some retooling (or retiring) of the touchpoints in Conversion Journey B.
3. Remarketing & Retargeting – RLSA & GDN
Once your prospects have entered your conversion funnel, it becomes more important to serve them messaging and landing pages that are relevant to their specific needs and mindset in the current stage of their conversion journey.
In other words, it’s important to avoid inundating these prospects with top-funnel messages that no longer apply to them.
If you continue to serve these prospects ads to sign up the webinar they already watched two weeks ago, you won’t only annoy and confuse them, but you’ll also miss out on the opportunity to target them with a more-relevant, mid-funnel message.
This is what Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) is for – these search ads help you provide varied messaging for these mid-funnel prospects.
The same can be said for targeting via Google Display Network (GDN). Remarketing via GDN should offer varied but targeted ad experiences that tie together your lower-funnel website offers, such as customer success stories, budget calculators, free audits/assessments and similar.
It may also be useful to experiment with the new Display Responsive Ad feature, which pairs a text ad with a Facebook-size image and seems to work well for mid-funnel display campaigns.
4. YouTube Video Ads & Bumpers
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is… well, it’s a lot easier to digest than yet another 5,000-word white paper.
Keep in mind that video ads, at present, aren’t necessarily the strongest channel to drive final conversions – you should go in with appropriate expectations here.
That said, due to the way certain video types are counted, YouTube videos may help you drive a great deal of awareness and keep your brand top-of-mind for mid-funnel prospects in a cost-effective way.
YouTube video ads most commonly take the form of a skippable pre-roll that loads before a standard video. Fortunately for you, if viewers don’t get to the 30-second mark in your pre-roll ad, YouTube classifies that interaction as an impression rather than a paid view, and such impressions are served free of charge.
Because you can serve an unlimited number of impressions for free so long as viewers don’t make it past 30 seconds, YouTube video ads potentially offer a very cost-effective branding opportunity.
Then again, given that video watchers are more impatient than ever, we don’t recommend videos that go much further than 30 seconds in length. In fact, YouTube’s 6-second bumper videos can also provide quick reminders of your brand and your products and services to mid-funnel prospects without being overly obtrusive.
These tips should hopefully help point you in the right direction for B2B PPC.
As mentioned, B2B PPC is a different beast with different properties and in many cases, significantly longer conversion/sales cycles.
Due to these relatively longer sales cycles, along with having more stakeholders involved and more proof points required, I recommend taking a holistic view of your B2B firm’s entire conversion journey, preferably collating all relevant data for every touchpoint to help you craft the best campaigns and drive more final conversions and sales.