Social Media Marketing

Think Creatively About Your Search Ads With These Top Questions


Today’s guest post is from Marlin Gilbert, Industry Head of Advertising and Sales at Google. Marlin manages a team responsible for B2B Technology clients nationally. He holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Our advertising sales teams at Google meet with B2B advertisers on a daily basis to discuss how we can help our clients grow and best leverage the power of digital marketing.  We cover topics such as Lead Quality, Client Content and Market Segmentation.

Let’s cover each of these areas with the sample questions we ask and the best practices and solutions we recommend to help you succeed with your marketing challenges.

Lead Quality

Assess your needs by helping your company stakeholders in sales and marketing agree upon the definition of a lead. Ask these questions :

  • What do you consider a lead?
  • How do you value a lead?
  • What constitutes a valid lead and what is the lead lifecycle?
  • Do you value quality or quantity?
  • What is your estimated lifetime value of a lead?
  • What is your required reporting in terms of cost per lead, return on investment, and other metrics?

Help your sales and marketing constituents come to a common understanding regarding the sales funnel and lead generation process so everyone values leads in a consistent way. Leads need to have a reasonable chance of converting to closed sales, and your pipeline of leads need to be at a sufficient scale to engage the sales teams to drive growth.

The lead quality versus quantity is also an important discussion to have internally.  Lead quality needs to be measured and scored so campaign performance can be assessed relative to lead quality objectives.  Sales and marketing need to collaborate on monitoring lead quality attributes so they reflect the cluster of attributes that have the highest degree of success at converting to closed sales.

At Google, we encourage clients to enable Conversion Tracking so clients can know exactly which keywords are generating clicks and conversions.  Our Search Funnels capability enables advertisers to see the entire search path leading up to a conversion and get a better sense of how early-stage keywords can assist conversions that take place at a later stage in the funnel.  Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding is well suited to clients who want to maximize their number of lead conversions at a given target and maximum CPA.  Conversely, we suggest that advertisers use negative keywords to prevent ads from showing when certain terms are entered in a search query.  Clear ad text that identifies a company’s value proposition and call to action also helps qualify your leads before they ever click on an advertisement.

Client Content

When determining what sort of content you should be creating, ask these questions:

  • What type of content brings in the most leads?
  • What does your content production look like? What type of content do you produce? How often do you produce it? And who is in charge?
  • Do you have different landing pages (gated vs. ungated)?
  • Do you develop unique content for every segment?
  • In the past, how many touch points on average did it take to close a sale?

Content development is both an art and science.  It is hard to know what will be most effective and there is really only one way to find out – try, test, and measure.  Creative teams may have certain design biases and approaches.  Encourage constant experimentation and testing to identify the content formats and styles that have the greatest resonance among your prospects and leads.

Advertising products, such as Google TrueView Video Ads, provide viewers with the choice and control over which ad to watch and when.  As a result, TrueView capabilities provide an ideal forum to test and iterate with varying video content to inform your development efforts.  As you develop engaging content, use Remarketing solutions to hone and refine the pacing and sequencing of your messaging to help move your prospects through your sales funnel.

Market Segmentation

Market segments are meaningful if your marketing, product and sales teams find it helpful to treat those segments differently in terms of market messaging, product capabilities and sales strategy.  Ask these questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • How are you segmenting that audience
  • Do you have different goals for each segment?
  • How have you reached these segments in the past?
  • What is your target cost per lead for this segment?
  • How do you prioritize quality over quantity?

Many fast-growth companies that we work with enjoy success in an initial market segment and then seek to diversify and expand their reach into adjacent segments.  It can be helpful to assume an “invest and benefit” strategy to build momentum in newly entered market segments and establish credibility and critical mass.

At Google, we have expanded our audience targeting capabilities to help B2B advertisers reach relevant prospect groups through inferred demographics and similar user methodologies.  We recommend that advertisers select keyword buckets that reflect customer segments and industries to help target appropriately.  Topic targeting enables advertisers to place ads on website pages that have content related to selected topics that are relevant to the market segments that they wish to reach.

The world of digital marketing provides marketers with the tools and capabilities to finely tune messaging and sequencing to help optimize lead generation performance.  We hope that our brief discussion of Lead Quality, Client Content and Market Segmentation helps inspire you to think creatively about addressing your marketing goals.