If you’re a B2B company, concern yourself with two types of digital ads:
- Pay-per-click (PPC) ads: PPC ads, a.k.a. search ads are an affordable way to get in font of the right buyer at the right time. PPC ads are a budget-friendly medium that deliver qualified leads and measurable data.
- Digital display ads: These ads display on websites throughout the Internet based on your interests and website visit history. These high-volume ads allow retargeting outside of social media and can help build brand awareness.
In both cases, these ads allow you to drive website traffic and stay top-of mind throughout a buyers journey through the funnel. But, some B2B technology companies claim they aren’t worth the investment because they see little ROI — especially display.
So that begs the question…is the issue with B2B ad conversions industry-wide, or the content of advertisement itself the problem? Here’s some food for thought.
I once read a stat that said: “you’re more likely to get bitten by a shark than click on a display ad.”
It might seem extreme, but, think about it — when is the last time you actually clicked an ad while you…
Checked the weather:
Or, watched a video on YouTube:
Or, researched content for a blog post:
Data shows that you probably never have. You’re too busy with your own agenda and browsing experience (and honestly, just a little too savvy) to click on one of them. So then why do display ads account for 80% of U.S. display spending? They help you reach the masses, retarget and build brand awareness for a fairly low cost. Even if someone does not click, you’re still getting your brand in front of them.
But in search, it’s a whole different story. Pay-per-click ads are actually extremely “clickable” — especially when you take into consideration that about two-thirds of consumers can’t tell the difference between a paid and organic search result. But, just because someone clicks on an ad doesn’t mean they’re going to convert.
While display ads and PPC ads are slightly different in execution, they have the same goal: to earn conversions. And, if your ads are not performing to your expectations (or your boss’), here are the 6 most likely culprits:
1. You’re Just Noise
In the case of weather.com, forbes.com, and youtube.com, you’ll find that many display ads are just noise. Unfortunately, only using display ads as a form of digital ad will lead to very low clickthrough rates and even fewer conversions.
To get the most out of your digital ads, invest in retargeting — which allows you to follow website visitors from website to website with content they’ve expressed interest in. You’re more likely to earn a conversion from a prospect who is already familiar with your brand — and even more familiar with a particular product, than someone who is seeing your brand for the first time while checking out the 10-day forecast.
2. You're Bidding On Your Own Company Name
Bidding on your company’s own name may seem like a good idea, but it can actually lead to lower conversions and higher spend.
Consider this ad from Emma email marketing:
You’ll see that the PPC ad appears directly above the organic search result. And because the majority of website visitors can’t tell the difference between an ad and an organic result, they’re likely to click whatever is number one.
However, if someone is searching for your company’s name in search, they’re already familiar with your company’s brand and product, or may be a customer. In either case, they’re likely seeking out a specific piece of information — and that piece of information might not end in a conversion.
In short, bidding on your own name can lead to a lot of clicks but not a lot of conversions. Sometimes, bidding on your brand name is unavoidable, since your competition may very well be bidding on it too. What important is to have an understanding of the competitive search landscape, so that you can know where best to spend your advertising dollars.
3. Your Landing Page Doesn’t Have a Form
How can you earn a conversion without a form? Your landing pages for PPC and display ads should send website visitors to a landing page that assures them they’ve come to the right place, and provides them with an easy way to make the next step.
In a simple Google search for “fundraising software,” an ad for “Donor Perfect” came up #1 in search as an ad.
The ad sends visitors to a landing page that explains their differentiators and gives prospects a way to learn more via a short form:
And for those individuals who don’t want to fill out the form, there’s a direct line they can call, too.
On the flipside, we can take a look at Zendesk, whose landing page doesn’t have a form — and even the pages they link to don’t have a form. Where do conversions happen?
4. You’re Sending Clickers To Your Homepage
What’s even worse than sending individuals who click on an ad to a landing page without a form is sending them to your homepage. Asking website visitors to spend time navigating your website from a paid ad is asking a lot — and can lead to a lack of conversions.
Additionally, by sending them to your homepage, you’re likely not appealing to the exact pain point, question, or product they were searching for in the first place. Creating a landing page allows you to control the message and journey, which can lead to more conversions because the message better resonates with the searchers intent. You're creating a hole in your marketing funnel.
By sending searchers to your homepage, you’re not appealing to the exact pain point, question, or product they were searching for in the first place.
5. Your Landing Page Form is Too Long
There’s plenty of research that supports the fact that short forms get more conversions than long forms. This is especially true on digital ads. Try shortening the form on your landing pages to 5-7 form fields. Remember, you can always get more information later on in the process! The goal is to first get the conversion.
Zoho, a project management software, only asks for three pieces of information up front to get started:
And their PPC rival, Workfront, only asks for four:
6. You’re Sending Clickers Directly to Sales
You can’t always assume that a prospect is ready to begin a conversation. When prospects are earlier on in their journey, particularly the research phase, they are looking for helpful content, not necessarily people.
If your PPC ads aren’t performing well, you may not be totally understanding your searchers' intent. For example, a search for “best cybersecurity software” is likely to yield up two competitors dueling it out at the top of search. Someone searching for a general term like this is still early on in their journey, and you could benefit by offering them a downloadable “buyer’s guide,” or “tips for selecting cyber security software.”
You can always have a secondary call-to-action to request a demo or contact sales. Or even better, use marketing automation to nurture form submitters until they are sales-ready!
Digital ads are an essential component of any B2B inbound marketing campaign. They drive new and returning qualified traffic to your website. Ensure you’re making the biggest impact. The key to a successful digital ad campaign is to control the messaging, the journey, and to make it as easy as possible to convert.