Mastering paid search is essential for B2B businesses looking to scale rapidly. Unlike the more straightforward B2C market, B2B encompasses a rich tapestry of diverse segments, each with its unique set of needs, behaviors, and decision-making processes.
This complexity is further amplified by the varied nature of products and services offered, which significantly influences marketing strategies.
In this exploration of B2B paid search strategy, we delve into the nuances that differentiate Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) from large-scale Enterprises, along with the unique demands of different industries, organizational structures, and geographic locations.
Join us as we explore these key differences and offer insights into crafting tailored paid search strategies that resonate with each business segment.
The B2B sector is marked by a diverse range of segments, each with its unique needs and behaviors. This diversity is not just limited to the distinction between SMBs and Enterprises, but extends to various industries, company sizes, and geographic locations.
Additionally, what a business sells – be it products, services, or solutions – significantly influences these dynamics. Complex, high-value products like industrial machinery require a different approach compared to software as a service (SaaS) solutions.
All these elements should be factored into the paid search strategy. From keyword research, to campaign objectives and success metrics, the multi-facted elements of B2B marketing is the guiding light to B2B paid search strategy.
Around 97.3% of all businesses in Australia are SMBs (0-19 Employees). It’s even higher in the U.S. with 99.9% of all US businesses defined as small business. Small business account for the majority of B2B businesses and this data is reflected on Google Search.
Naturally, SMB search volume is a lot higher than enterprise and closely mimics B2C volumes. A well-crafted paid search strategy for SMBs not only considers budget limitations but also leverages the agility and decision-making speed typical of smaller businesses.
1. SMB decision makers wear multiple hats which is reflected in search intent. For instance, a plumbing business owner may search for payroll keywords to deal with employee payroll and then jump onto searches for plumbing products. This also plays into knowledge expertise since the decision maker may not be an expert in the industry the business operates in.
2. Direct Response can be the foundation of paid search strategy. SMBs typically have shorter approval processes or campaigns directly engage with the sole decision makers. As a result, paid search campaigns can effectively leverage direct call to actions such as “Call Us” or “Download Now”.
3. The buying process is relatively more linear paving way for revenue optimisations. Offline conversions and direct import of CRM data can work quite effectively for businesses that target SMBs as attribution and tracking is streamlined.
SMB paid search strategies place heavy emphasis on direct response while leaving a % of budget for campaigns that generate demand from SMB decision makers.
Look for keyword opportunities outside of the operating industry such keywords from IT, Legal, HR, Accounting and Marketing.
Lead generation campaign objectives can form the foundation and test revenue objectives once sufficient data is collected. It’s important to move towards revenue optimisations as SMB budgets are limited which in turn impacts customer acquisition cost (CAC).
Enterprises often face intricate purchasing processes involving multiple stakeholders, requiring a paid search strategy that can effectively address these layers of complexity.
Working in tandem with sales teams is crucial for aligning marketing efforts with sales objectives and ensuring seamless lead transfer and nurturing.
Moreover, businesses that target enterprises must focus on tracking a range of metrics beyond the usual click-through rates and conversions. This may include measuring engagement, buyer journey progress, and long-term ROI, which are vital for understanding the effectiveness of paid search campaigns in a sophisticated enterprise environment.
1. Enterprise decision makers form a buying committees. In addition to decision makers, there are influencers that impact the decision making process but may drop in and out of the buying process. As a result, search intent across the organisation will vary greatly.
2. Direct response will account for a low percentage of conversions. After all, a low % percentage of enterprises are ready to “buy” at any given time. Even then, they may not even be in the buying phase and could still take considerable time to convert.
3. The buying process is not linear. The organisation will dip in and out of research, budgets get moved around, decision makers leave jobs and new ones start.
Enterprise paid search strategies should navigate all the complexities enterprise buying offers.
Search for keywords that are used by subject matter experts. For instance, if a business offers legal services, it’s unlikely that a listicle such as “Top 10 Tips for Legal Services” will appeal to expert decision-makers responsible for securing specialized solutions. These professionals are typically well-versed in the field and are seeking more sophisticated, in-depth content that addresses their specific needs and challenges.
Campaign goals must centre on capturing attention. Indeed, while attention might not be a traditional targeting metric, it should be the primary aim of paid search efforts. The critical factor isn’t necessarily the immediate action taken by a user, but rather ensuring that a brand’s message is conveyed and noticed by the audience.
In today’s market, B2B buyers are remarkably self-reliant and well-informed, initiating their purchasing journey online more frequently than ever. This evolution calls for an advanced search strategy that transcends simple keyword targeting.
As competition intensifies, especially in category-specific keywords, B2B marketers are facing escalating costs. Consequently, innovative and targeted strategies are essential to achieve significant growth in this environment.
Whether the focus is on SMBs or large enterprises, it’s crucial for B2B marketers not just to produce content that resonates with various stages of the buyer’s journey, but also to utilize paid search effectively as a tool for distributing this content.
This dual approach ensures that valuable content reaches the right audience at the right time, enhancing the overall impact of the marketing efforts.