B2B Paid Search: Fatal Mistake to Avoid & What to Do

Most of the Google Ads for SaaS accounts I audit are making the exact same mistake with their B2B paid search. They’re optimizing for cost per lead and cost per click. CPL could range from $10-$1,000 and yet they’re ignoring one key thing.

I understand why companies take this approach. It makes sense—the big companies with big budgets are doing it, and lots of marketing agencies suggest it. But it’s not ideal for most medium to small B2B companies.

The thing is you bring in a marketing agency that starts with bottom of the funnel keywords to bring in buyers. Which is great! The intent keywords attract qualified leads and they convert and the agency suggests increasing your spend.

This tactic works great to start, but only for a while because you’re maxing out the bottom of your funnel.

As the agency moves to broader, top of funnel keywords, the bucket gets wider. You attempt to scale the paid search and the keywords become broader. They eat up your budget.

These keywords drive leads to download white papers and take similar action. In my audits, out of the emails to download the white paper, I’m only seeing less than 10% EVEN OPENING the email.

This means that maybe 1-2% of the leads you bring in with yourB B2B paid search are actually driving revenue.

The more you spend, the better the CPL and CPC metrics. But you’re forgetting a key metric. Revenue.

We’ve managed over $25M in paid revenue and 100% of our customers have seen positive ROI to date. Book a discovery call with our founder to see if we’re a fit.

Where’s the Focus on Revenue?

In the quest to drive CPL and CPC, revenue gets lost in the mix.

And the problem with B2B paid search is that it isn’t scalable.

Paid search is best utilized as an intent driven channel that drives demo requests, free trials, and chats and should not be used to drive top of funnel brand awareness.

Agencies find ways to attribute revenue by taking credit for all revenue that has a paid search touch point, but my research has shown that this isn’t actually the case.

Here’s What I Found:

1. Branded made up a majority of the revenue (up to 80%) and yet non-branded searches accounted for 90% of ad spend.

2. The payback period for B2B paid search exceeded 50+ months.

3. The payback period for non-branded search terms exceeded 300+ months in some campaigns.

4. Most of these accounts were structured with the help of Google reps or agencies following “best practices”.

Now, I’m all about planning for long-term success, but 4- 25 years to achieve payback is longer than I’m comfortable with. And it’s longer than you should be okay with, too.

I’ve scaled back paid search budgets from over $100k to $30k a month with no impact in revenue (and better results).

B2B Paid search WILL continue to rise in price and it WILL cost even more in 2022.

You need to update both your strategy and your tactics.

What Can You Do to Maximize Paid Search and Increase Revenue?

There are a few steps you can take to shift this challenge into an opportunity. Let’s look at the paid search for now.

1. Remove all top of funnel and brand awareness keywords.

These are expensive and wasting marketing spend. The leads they bring in aren’t ready to buy, and there are much less expensive and more effective ways to raise brand and product awareness. For that, consider a buyer-led growth strategy.

2. Restructure your account to only focus on bottom of the funnel intent driven keywords and send them to an inbound offer.

The qualified leads that come in that are already bottom of the funnel are ready to buy. Amplify that by deliberately directing them to an offer.

3. Load up your account with observational audiences don’t be afraid to go outside what you think might be relevant.

Use this as a space to learn more about your audience and where they might be coming from.

Once your bottom of the funnel is consistently working, you can expand this and take it even further.

1. Take the observational audiences converting and start creating combined TARGETED audience(s).

2. Start testing broad match top of the funnel keywords with this new audience.

3. Send them to your late stage inbound offer.

4. This will dramatically decrease the amount of traffic you would otherwise get because you’re only showing your ads to buyers in that audience.

As you implement these strategies, you’ll notice your lead volume drop between 50% – 90% depending on how the account is structured. But the fact is, you’re not closing those leads anyways! 

Now, your sellers have more time to focus on the right buyers and you’re moving toward a better and stronger alignment between Sales and Marketing.

If you’re ready to learn more about how to implement effective paid search and shift to a buyer-led growth strategy, book a discovery call today.