Need More B2B Leads? Answer NOT PPC

It’s been a while since my last post on event effectiveness, which given the engagement from the audience, turned out to be a very hot topic and close to many hearts. I hope it helped many of you marketing leaders set the right expectations, processes and start looking at your event strategy more holistically from the get go. Just like events where every B2B marketer runs through the gamut of participating and a year later worrying about the return on the investment, Google SEM for driving leads follows a similar storyline.

SEM

In a typical small to mid-size corporate scenario where every sales head wants more leads and pipeline, the solution at a board meeting by most CEOs and board members is to focus on 3 magic words – SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING. And why not? We are continuously connected on desktops, tablets or smart phones and bombarded with ads and messages wherever we may be – researching, shopping, reading, emailing, gaming and so on. And those ads do look interesting when we focus on them and think ‘Why is my Company not doing this?’ I can be drowning in leads too. Problem Solved.

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Just like everything else there are corner cases and short term strategies or campaigns that work effectively on search, however, a search engine marketing program should not be engaged in till one or more apply:

  1. you have a transactional product with a negligible sales cycle (typically <5K ARR). If you are B2C these are a no-brainer.
  2. a CTA that drives to a free demo or free trial (higher value, lower in the funnel CTA is key.)
  3. third party reports that validate your offering as another example of high value CTA
  4. CPL less than $60-$70 (depending on the CTA, your brand depth, you may have margins around the CPL)
  5. a strong brand that is searchable by name
  6. dedicated resourcing to keep a close EYE on your SEM investment
  7. defined KPIs that go beyond lead volume and ROI of those

If you do not fit in the above bucket then Do Not Engage in a SEM program. Do not pay heed to your CEO or board that may have seen a competitor ad when browsing, a messaging that tickled their fancy. In most cases your board and your CEO is not the buyer of your offering. And more importantly at the time of viewing they are not asking you the second question, which they will ask pretty soon, where are my marketing dollars going!

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Google SEM while having a lot of branding value especially in regional markets, needs to be thought through strategically. It is not a good channel for building out top of the funnel leads especially when you look at the cost and ROI. Unmanaged and unfiltered programs can just run through your investment dollars faster than you can say Google. Remarketing and building out complex audience streams and nurture paths are similarly overkills and a nice to have but are not nirvana.

The KPIs that you assign to your google investment needs more thinking and ROI from leads should be just one of them. 

So in conclusion, if Google is your go to for getting more leads only – Rethink. Don’t start randomly because someone told you to. If you do, watch it closely and as a team set and manage to realistic expectations. At the end of the day we wouldn’t want to be in the group of 75% of the companies that end up like so. Would we?

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