Why PPC for B2B Is Still Alive

A guest post by Stacy Cyr from BuyerZone’s PPC team

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There is no question that Google controls the PPC landscape with an estimated 60+% of the market. That said, if you plan to have a B2B business with any online presence, I believe that advertising on Google Search through PPC is a must.

There is, however, a difference between having a presence and overreliance.

PPC Problems

The problem with relying on Google PPC to sustain your B2B business is that they have, at least twice in the past few years, rolled out algorithm changes (more than just the black and white animals) that have threatened to cripple stable and profitable businesses.

So, if marketers can’t rely solely on Google Search, what is the next step?

An article posted on Search Engine Watch in October 2012 reviewed the effectiveness of PPC as a marketing channel. The article, ‘Why Paid Search for B2B Companies is Dead (or Dying)’, states the following:

  • More than 50% of B2B marketers surveyed spent negligible time on PPC
  • Less than 5% spent more than 15 hours per week on PPC advertising.
  • 25% of B2B marketers owned up to having “limited to no knowledge in PPC.”

The article then reveals that between 2011 and 2012, PPC trended downward on questions related to PPC effectiveness and upward on the likelihood of their PPC marketing to be discontinued or decreased within the year.

In a vacuum, it would seem that B2B is heading away from PPC. In reality, B2B companies are simply diversifying away from Google PPC, and are choosing to spend more of their marketing dollars on mobile, display, and social media.

This is actually not all that surprising.

As the industry changes and new technologies emerge, marketers need to evolve. Although I believe that marketers should jump in with both feet and continue to test new channels, it’s difficult to do without a stable foundation of revenue, which can be generated from ‘old-school’ online marketing channels such as PPC.

Yes, the Google landscape has become more competitive with higher CPCs for head terms (the nuts and bolts of any B2B PPC campaign) but there are other engines that should not be overlooked.

The Alternatives

The Search Alliance, comprised of BING and Yahoo, should be a next step if Google has become too expensive or simply isn’t working. Not only has the Search Alliance created an advertising experience that makes transitioning Google accounts simple, but advertisers will find options here that do not exist on Google.

Yes, you read that correctly!

Advertising on BING and Yahoo not only allows advertisers to target a whole different demographic (let’s be honest, BING and Yahoo users are different than Google users), but CPCs tend to be lower, conversion rates higher, and the volume and quality of traffic to be consistent (the caveat being that volume is significantly lower).

When looking for a stable revenue channel though, consistency is priority.

One of my favorite consistency-driving features offered by the Search Alliance (and not by Google) is the ability to split BING and Yahoo site-specific traffic from their paid partners. This may sound insignificant but when you have a second, pull a report in Adwords adding in a segment for partner traffic. There will be a significant difference in performance between the two. In many cases, the partner traffic and conversions are substantial enough that advertisers cannot afford to stop advertising on this segment of the market.

On the other hand, is the conversion rate and cost worth it? Using the Search Alliance, advertisers have the option to split the traffic. These are only a few of the great options that the Search Alliance has to offer.

There is no question that the dollars spent on PPC advertising, as a percentage of overall spend, has decreased and that PPC is no longer the “it” form of marketing. As a PPC professional, I am comfortable with this though. As social media and mobile become the ‘must haves’ of online marketing, and new channels continue to emerge, I am almost 100% sure that Paid Per Click advertising on Google, BING and Yahoo are not going anywhere.

Diversification does not mean death.

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Sylvia Rosen

About Sylvia Rosen

As an Online Marketing Analyst and Writer, Sylvia uses her journalism background to connect with industry professionals to write on the latest industry trends.

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