B2B Paid Advertising in 2020 with Greg Finn [PODCAST]

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For episode 177 of The Search Engine Journal Show, I had the opportunity to interview Greg Finn, Partner and Digital Marketer at Cypress North.

Finn talks about the top paid search strategies that B2B companies need to focus on in 2020.

B2B Paid Advertising in 2020 with Greg Finn [PODCAST]

How did you get into doing B2B paid search marketing?

Greg Finn (GF): I started back in 2004, 2005 with Overture which was Yahoo system back at the time. Through various travels and positions, [I] ended up trying to figure out what worked the best for each different vertical basically and that led through paid social.

But I think the one thing I love about paid ads – and especially B2B paid ads – is I think there’s a lot of creativity around it.

It’s not just “let’s write an ad.”

  • What is the offer?
  • How are we speaking to this person?
  • Are we mirroring the right message to that persona?
  • Where are they landing?
  • Can we turn them into a marketing qualified lead (MQL) instead of a sales qualified lead (SQL)?
  • What can we do specifically to get them into that funnel and actually convert down the road?

I think it’s like problem-solving 101, which is why I really love it

And again, it’s instant. There’s much more data behind it – like instant data – where many times with SEO, it takes a while for things to work.

I know how many people clicked on this ad version. I know how many people converted. I know what my customer acquisition cost is.

So that’s one of the reasons I love it. I think that there is some creativity behind it.

Brent Csutoras (BC): I think that the creativity of storytelling – even through ads – has become extremely vast and interesting at this point.

GF:  I think it’s a lot easier to be creative on the ad side, B2B-wise. It’s a big ask for some companies to go down, full-on content, inbound or organic route.

But on the paid side, if you set everything up and you’ve got all these workflows and a process in place, there is a lot of creativity in just the way you bring people in.

How do you see B2B being significantly different than B2C?

GF: That’s a great question! For B2B, you almost have to work harder, in general, to:

  • Get the right audience.
  • Get them into your sales pipeline.
  • Nurture them.
  • Turn them into that actual sale.

There are a lot more steps especially for some of the larger dollar conversions.

Another thing I love about B2B is that not a lot of people do it well. And if you have your ducks in a row, you know exactly what’s going on, and you’ve got a great plan, you can really mop up the floor with the competition.

Whereas, I think B2C is a little bit more cutthroat. B2B is a little bit overlooked, but there’s just more precision that’s needed on the B2B side.

How would you describe the scope beyond the simple ad when it comes to valuing these conversions?

GF: I wanted to talk a little bit about attribution… Defining what is success for you:

  • Is it what you see in GA? Last touch?
  • Are you looking at assisted conversions coming up with whatever CRM you’re working with?

It’s critical to define it ahead of time and not just look back because whenever you’re looking back, the numbers can can be flexible in a way.

I think setting that up initially is the way to go to get the most success.

What are the things you need to be focusing on if you’re in B2B advertising today and in the future?

GF: One of my absolute favorite things in 2019 that Google Ads released was the ability to audience target in search.

You can target based off of not just age, gender or household income, but you can also make combinations of that so you can make these custom groups and really target to who you’re looking for.

The one thing that we’ve seen a lot of success with specifically is targeting based off of in-market audiences. You can run search now and say if somebody’s in the market for something business and industrial products, you can take those bids and bid them higher…

Basically, if somebody has been searching for that [product], that can actually go to your Google history. You can actually see what Google thinks you’re in the market for.

BC: You can definitely see a sense of good targeting at this point. I do think that search engines are kind of guided by social. Facebook has the ability to use third-party connections. Is that kind of what drove audience targeting in the search?

GF: A hundred percent. In my opinion, I think Google Ads looked at themselves and said “We’re behind. We’ve got all this money flowing towards interest-based advertising and we’re here we’re still stuck on this keyword level.”

And you see Google moving further from the keyword level. Now, there’s closed variants, phrase match and modified broad match types. There’s no exact match anymore.

In reality, you see them adding these layers on to really compete and give people the ability to target different personas, not just that keyword…

Again, that’s something that I love where you now can juxtapose these in-market audiences… There’s a lot you can do to make sure you’re spending correctly.

Also, you can use similar audiences on Google Ads now and it’s better than expected. The issue is you need to take everything conservatively and bid appropriately.

One of the issues I have with Google Ads, in general, is mobile. Typically for anything that’s not a real one-to-one match underperforms.

So if you’ve got similar audiences, you’re doing other bid adjustments, and you’re being really meticulous especially from B2B, I think that you can see success.

Again, you have to work for it. There’s nothing easy in B2B.

How about audiences on LinkedIn?

GF: LinkedIn is the thought leader in B2B advertising. One thing that we’ve seen a lot of success with over the past year specifically is the Demographic report – seeing all the different job titles, functions and companies that are showing to your ads.

You can now exclude some of those audiences. With the Demographic report, hop in there and take a look at the audiences your ads are shown to.

If you are targeting a specific topic, you might say “I don’t want this job title / function / company,” and so what we did is we put together a big list of it.

LinkedIn does limit the number of exclusions you can make to 175 but it’s a great way to ensure you’re not overspending.

We need to get the audience and we need to not spend on people that aren’t right for us. I love the fact that you can remove those job titles, functions and companies that don’t make sense for you.

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Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

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