Written by Sam Yadegar on Oct 20 , 2021

When it comes to running a successful business, customer acquisition is built into the foundation. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • What makes B2B customer acquisition unique
  • How Google plays a key role in customer acquisition
  • Winning PPC strategies for B2B brands
  • Questions to ask yourself when building your strategy

Having a solid strategy for attracting new customers helps keep your business running, growing, and sustaining — even when the unexpected arises.

But customer acquisition isn’t one size fits all. What works for a B2C brand might not work for B2B. 

Not only that, but B2B sales cycles are reportedly getting longer. In 2009, less than half of B2B sales cycles were longer than three months. That number has grown to 75% today.

It’s not just about attracting swaths of leads — it’s about garnering quality traffic and improving conversions.

To connect with potential customers, it’s key for B2B companies to have a cost-effective customer acquisition bidding strategy. So, how do you know your strategy is working? One way is by determining your cost per acquisition (CPA), but that’s not the whole story. 

Here’s how B2B brands can streamline their customer acquisition.

customer-acquisition

While customer acquisition is key, don’t forget about retention. (Image via Unsplash)

Customer acquisition strategies

The strategy that will work best for your business depends on your target audience, among other factors. Basic customer acquisition strategies include:

  • Content (things like blogs, e-books, templates, and guides)
  • Social media (organic and paid, to build engagement)
  • Email marketing
  • Referral marketing
  • Search engine marketing, or SEM (paid ads on search engines)

These are methods that attract potential buyers to your brand or website. From there, it’s up to you to engage them, educate them, and make them want to know more. 

No matter which avenues you choose, having a strategy that’s relevant to your audience, scalable with growth, and customized to speak to each stage of the buying funnel will help set you up to succeed.

Pro tip: While acquisition is key, don’t forget about retention. As Salesforce explains, customer retention is often much more cost-effective and produces valuable, long-term, loyal customers who, in turn, refer new ones.   

Leveraging Google Ads for B2B

The chief avenue for B2B advertising dollars, not surprisingly, is Google Ads (“Google AdWords” until mid-2018). Worldwide, Google accounts for over 85% of desktop search traffic and significantly more mobile search traffic.

While many have heard that almost half of all Google searches are linked to something local, that number hasn’t been updated in a while. Considering that the pandemic has caused a 1,000% to 3,000% rise in various local search terms (think “near me” or “curbside pickup”), it’s definitely much higher now. 

The likelihood of local intent is part of the reason why the biggest domains don’t dominate — just one in eight Google clicks go to the top 100 domains.

You want as many of those searchers as possible to click on your offering. To get that visibility, your options are to:

  • Work toward “organic” search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Use the Google Ads system to bid for the strategic placement you seek

Most marketers do both. Organic SEO is a long-term process with gradual results. It can be significant, but it also must be sustained by a regular investment of effort. 

Google Ads gives you immediate placement for a “price” (in money and other factors that Google Ads uses to rank your particular ad).

Focusing on your B2B ROI

With plenty of digital marketing avenues to go down — and they become increasingly complex with new technology and growth of your business — measurement of your return on investment (ROI) becomes crucial. 

It helps you determine what’s working and what’s not when it comes to your bottom line. Research shows that the cost of acquiring new B2B customers increased by nearly 70% within the last several years. 

You can calculate ROI by comparing the cost of your advertising to the revenue it earned for your company. That basic formula, of course, is only part of the big picture. 

Once you know where you stand, you can analyze the success of your ads and campaigns, including the role played by content, placement, timing, and much more.

How to achieve B2B success with PPC

Let’s take a closer look at a few questions you can ask yourself in the Google Ads process that tend to determine the ROI of your investments when it comes to pay per click (PPC) or paid search ads. 

What is your ad goal?

Potential goals for your ad could be to:

  • Drive searchers from your ad to your website
  • Increase visits to your online shop
  • Motivate calls to your business
  • Get searchers to sign up for your emails
  • Take some other particular action on your website

The more you can narrow your focus, the easier it’ll be to get your visitor to take the desired action. 

Searchers give you only seconds (at best) to persuade them your ad satisfies their search. The message must be clear and unambiguous — almost instantly.

Need more help with your B2B paid search initiatives? Let’s chat.

Where are your customers?

Do you want to advertise locally? The Google Ads system is extensively organized to accommodate local searchers, which represents a huge percentage of the total. 

If you want to advertise globally, think about areas of concentration and other parameters around language, demographics, or interests. This way, you’re not being too general, which can lead to quickly blowing through your budget.

Customer Acquisition Bidding: What Every B2B Company Should Know

Speak in your audience’s language, address their pain points, and do so as quickly as possible. (Image via Unsplash)

What is your message?

In most Google ads, you get about three short sentences to make an impact (although you can also create a banner ad with text and images). Those sentences must seize interest, provide essential contact or next-step information, and, above all, motivate the searcher.

This is another reason why knowing your target audience is key. Speak in their language, address their pain points, and do so as quickly as possible.

Key features of an effective message include:

  • Creativity
  • Audience targeting
  • Knowledge of your service or product
  • Writing ability

It’s also worth noting that the brevity required of ads paired with the psychology of internet searching (which can be restless, fast-moving, and demanding) can provide an additional challenge.

What is your budget?

What do you want to spend on this advertisement, and when? Essentially, for Google, what will you “pay per click” — and what is your cap (usually monthly)? How many clicks are you willing to pay for?

This is where timely, accurate, analytical reporting on your ad results becomes relevant in ascertaining your ROI. 

Google will provide considerable data and other feedback, but your marketing department or digital marketing agency will translate that into ROI terms most relevant for your decision-making.

Pro tip: Don’t let your online marketing strategy become stagnant. Rotating your advertisements and updating your keywords is a great way to keep your content refreshed and without spending more on bids. 

Additional B2B marketing factors to consider

When you submit your advertising copy to Google with your monetary bid for placement corresponding to specific keyword searches, Google will rank your advertisement among competing ads for the same spot. 

Not only the size of your bid, but also Google’s assessment of the relevance of your ad and website landing page to searchers, will determine whether your ad is accepted at all, and where your ad will rank (top place, second place, and so on).

Pro tip: Google isn’t the only way to bring in leads. HubSpot makes a compelling case for why using Facebook Ads can be better depending on goals and circumstances. For most businesses, using a mix of both is a worthwhile strategy to explore.

The takeaway

A big aim of most digital marketing initiatives is to grow your business through customer acquisition.

With the proper mix of inbound and outbound strategies outlined above, which includes leveraging Google Ads, you can take all the knowledge you’ve gleaned about your industry and B2B customers, then turn those efforts into closed business.

This article has been updated and was originally published in September 2014.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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