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1. How Does Lead Generation With Google Ads Work? 

Before you go about creating our Google ad campaign, you have to understand the way online lead generation works. 

For example, you may be wondering: what makes lead generation different from advertising? 

Businesses that sell to other businesses usually take customers through a long process before a transaction is made — such as complex tech solutions, medical, construction, and other professional services, things get a little more complicated. 

You're looking for people who are willing to work together with you. Because of this, you're going to need to find just the right people for you — requiring a different type of advertisement.

"Lead generation" differs from "advertisement" in that it breaks the process into several steps. Your Google Ads (and we will get to them at some point, we promise) will focus on getting customers onto a page on your website known as your "landing page".

From here, your website will take over, showcasing your expertise and getting your customer's information by offering free resources such as ebooks, whitepapers, reports and checklists.

Check out this article if you are interested in what content to create for the different stages of the buyer journey: Paid Content Distribution: Targeting and Buyer Stages

2. The benefits of using Google Ads for B2B lead generation

The key reason for why Google Ads is the best tool for lead generation is because you can choose to only tap into the high commercial intent of the people searching for products and services.

Based on keyword intent you have the possibility to direct any user regardless of where they are in their buyer journey to a page tailored for them. SEM gives you total control over every keyword that is being used in the customer lifecycle.

Research done by Wordstream shows that “clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. In other words, 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy online!”.

3. Landing pages

We promise we'll get to the ads eventually. But for now, you have to understand that if your website isn't in ship-shape, people will be diving overboard before you even leave the shore.  

Your website is your new in-person location. You could have the greatest display in the world, but if people walk into your store and see bees, rats, and bats, they're going to get the heck out. 

The digital equivalent of a rat is a slow and unoptimized landing page. To you, this might just be a minor inconvenience, but to a potential customer, this could be a huge red flag. 

Your whole website is important, but your landing pages are the most important of all. If you're going to have to have bugs, put them on the "privacy policy" page. We're not saying you should have rats in your store, but if you do, confine them to your private office. 

Got bats and rats running around? Check out what you need to do: 10 Steps to a Converting B2B Landing Page

4. Strategy for Lead Generation

4.1 How to structure your campaigns

The easiest way to start structure your campaigns and ad groups are by Themes. Most commonly you can look at your website’s main navigation. 

Maybe you have something like:

“Services” -> “Service 1”, “Service 2” and “Service 3” in a drop-down menu. 

Then “Services” would be a good Campaign name and “Service 1, 2 & 3” the three ad groups within that campaign.

Anything like product ranges, locations, features, markets etc could be the structure of a campaign and it’s ad groups.

4.2 Exploration and Sniping

Cases are that you, when starting out, don't know exactly what keywords to use or what your target audience will search for in detail.

What we want to do here is to find a balance between exploration and narrow targeting (sniping). 

Too much exploration and you will go broke with zero leads, too much narrow targeting and you will not get enough traffic volume.

  • Exploration is achieved by Phrase Match Keywords (PM).
  • Narrow targeting is achieved by Exact Match Keywords (EM).

Since Phrase Match keywords allow a wider range of searches, they will give us a lot of insights into how our target audience is searching, we want to use them smartly.

For starters, what you’re going to need is 2 twin campaigns for one Theme – one “Phrase Match”, and one [Exact Match]. 

They should each be exactly the same and target the exact same keywords, and should even have the same budget as you begin.

Here is an example:

Campaign 1 – Phrase Match Keyword (PM)

Ad group 1: “google ads management”
Ad group 2: “google ads services”

This kind of general PM Campaign serves one important purpose. It acts as R&D for our Exact Match twin Campaign that we want to expand on (we will use the Search term report to mine new keyword candidates).

Campaign 2 – Exact Match Keyword (EM)

Ad group 1: [google ads management stockholm]
Ad group 2: [google ads services sweden]

Exact Match is more or less these exact words (synonyms and different prepositions as well) in that exact order.

WARNING: After you extract these search terms from your “Phrase Match” campaign it’s important you negative them out before adding them into your [Exact Match] campaign. The same goes for Ad Groups 

As you shift over your high value search terms into your [Exact Match] campaign you’ll also start to shift over your budget gradually. 

4.3 Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs)

I know you've heard about them.

Google will favor ads that give users what they are looking for – and by keeping the connection between search query, ad copy and landing page content as close to a 1:1:1 relationship as possible you will be on Google’s good side.

To create SKAGS you should keep creating more Exact Match Ad Groups in your Exact Match sniping Campaign as you gain data on what works and what doesn't from the Exploration Phrase Match Campaign.

And remember to work frequently (a.k.a adding negative keywords) with the search term reports from Phrase Campaign Ad Groups to make sure it performs as good as possible while it also supplies you with new ideas.

The key with SKAGs is that the keyword and the ad copy should match, so that your CTR and Ad Rank will increase.

To summarize, all Ad Groups in both the Exploration and Sniping campaign should be SKAGs.

4.4 Traffic Sculpting

When you set up your Campaigns and Ad Groups you have to make sure they do not cannibalize on each other. This is crucial.

If Ad group 1 has the keyword “bicycle”, and Ad Group 2 has the keyword “red bicycle”. You should then add the negative Phrase Match keyword “red” to Ad Group 1. 

The easiest way to do this is to add negative keyword directly on Ad Group level, save the Negative Keyword lists for the Campaign levels.

5. Keywords

When it comes to Google, how people search for things is equally important than what they're searching for. You can rest assured that people will be looking for your products (unless you're in a very obscure business). 

However, you need to find the specific terms people are using to search for your business. Language is hyper-important. A search term is a phrase (often several words wrong, go figure...) that your customers employ when searching for your product. 

Usually, you want to stay away from generality when using keywords. If you're in the insurance industry the keyword "insurance" is probably a lost cause. 

Think of how you would want people to search for your specific product as opposed to others in your industry? Are you the cheap insurance guy? Then make use of the search keyword "cheap insurance near me". 

5.1 Finding long tails with Keyword Research

For the sake of this example, we use the Campaign “Google Ads management” which should be targeting companies that want to outsource their Google Ads Management to an agency or consultant. 

These people will most likely start off by searching for something broad like this: 

Google search intent research
Google search intent research

We quickly realize that some suggestions here are relevant and that some are not relevant at all for our business. 

If I am an agency in Sweden I might not want my ads to show up for searches mentioning “Brisbane” or “India”, or “tool” for that matter. 

However, “agency” and “company” might be interesting to explore further. 

5.2 The importance of Negative Keywords

You might think that negative keywords are a waste of time, but they're actually an absolute must-have in your Google Ads setup. These are terms that you tell Google to exclude from your search as a way of making sure you're not wasting your money.

The main idea is to preemptively reduce the number of irrelevant searches your ads show up for. As your account gets more mature over time you will gradually fill out this list to become longer and longer, making your traffic more and more relevant.

The best way to manage Negative Keywords is to create a Negative Keyword List under "Tools & Settings" -> "Negative Keyword Lists".

After you have Saved the list you can apply it to all of your campaigns, or just some of them.

Negative keyword lists - your savior

6. Ads types

There are a lot of different ads and ad variations that you can use today in Google Ads, and it can be confusing to know how and when each type should be used for optimal results.

Since we are focusing on B2B lead generation we are mostly interested in Text Ads, Display Ads and Video Ads. 

Each of these serve an important role in the buyer journey and lead generation funnel.

6.1 Responsive Search Ads (RSA)

When we do a Google search we will find 1 to 4 Text Ads above the organic search results, and sometimes 1 to 3 Text Ads below the organic search results. 

The 1st spot is referred to as “Absolute top of page” and 2 to 4 as “Top of page”. 

This is important to keep track of when we optimize our keywords for visibility (search impressions) on the SERP.

An RSA ad can have 15 Headlines (30 characters each) and 4 Descriptions (90 characters each). 

A search ad can have up to three Headlines displaying at the same time, but usually you see only 2, separated with a pipe “|” or dash “-” (Google is experimenting with both). 

With that in mind, I usually set up 5 Headlines that are product centered, 5 Headlines that are value centered and 5 Headlines that are call-to-actions – then Google will mix and match based on it’s algorithm. 

Abs. Top of page vs. Top of page

6.2 Responsive Display Ads and Image Ads

Display Ads come in two different versions, Responsive Display Ads and Image Ads. 

As the name suggests Responsive Display ads can be shown in more places, with different layouts depending on the device and website, and with different copy variations for headlines and descriptions. 

Responsive Display Ad on a website

Image Ads, which is the older traditional static image ad without dynamic text elements. It comes in different sizes for various placements on websites. 

Based on my own experimentations, Responsive Display ads have higher CTRs and deliver better lead generation results. 

However, if the goal is Brand Awareness, you have more creative freedom when using Display Ads where there are no dynamic text elements.

Personally I think the good old Display Ads looks better, but hey Google is the boss. So try out booth and see what works for you.

Display Image Ads Example

6.3 Youtube Video Ads

Video Ads show up on Youtube, before a video, during a video with a CTA button to your landing page (opens up in a new tab). I like these and I have seen many good examples on how to make them work if you add a touch of creativity.

I find them great for Brand Awareness with In-market segments and Retargeting.

Remember to disable the “Video partners on the Display Network” in the campaign settings so that your ads don’t show up on weird websites.

Youtube ads placements

6.4 Lead form extensions

Google lead form extensions show beneath your search ad on mobile and tablet devices. The lead form allows a user to provide their contact information directly through your ad on the SERP. This removes the need of a high converting landing page. 

If the searcher is signed into their Google account, they’ll reach the lead form already pre-populated with their contact details such as email and name and can immediately convert with one click.

The ways to access the leads are either to download your leads as a CSV or through a webhook integration to your CRM.

Lead Form Extension - image source

7. Ad Copy

7.1 Search term in ad copy

Every time a person conducts a search, their query holds a degree of specificity. It’s important that you match their specificity as much as possible. 

Google will bold and highlight your search term with the matching keyword in the ad copy of the ad making the user feel that you are addressing what they searched for. 

7.2 What is the searcher's end goal?

Sometimes we lose sight of what our customers are truly looking for. What people ultimately want to accomplish with the help of your product or service.

Someone ran this test, specifically for a car buyer, pitting “Need To Sell Your Car?” (control) versus “We’ll Buy Your Car Today” (variation).

This simple headline tweak resulted in a 30% increase in conversions.

Also, find opportunities where you can include the word “you” in your headline or first description line.

7.3 Matching search terms on Landing Pages

Using search keywords in the headlines, above the fold, of your landing pages (Hero module) tells the visitor, “You’ve come to the right place. ”

Look at your search term data and pick out the most highly searched variants of your keywords, and turn them into headlines.

7.4 Always Include a Call To Action

Always put a call to action in the headline, whether it is “download the checklist” or “call us today” you need to tell people what the desired outcome is by clicking on the ad.

8. Conclusion

I'm going to be honest, this is very complicated stuff. Sure, anyone can buy an ad and slap a few keywords on, but it takes experience to study the behavior of customers and make sure the setup is just right. Because Google is like a kid on Halloween who wants all your candy (read cash).

If you don't know exactly what you are doing I recommend hiring an experienced Google Ads expert to do this for you. This will give you one less thing to worry about, and allow you to focus on what you should be focused on — running your business. 

Author

Alex Rangevik

I am Alex Rangevik and I help marketing leaders in B2B companies with digitizing their sales funnels and develop an effective system for generating leads. I have been building converting lead funnels since 2013 full time for hyper growth startups and established enterprises.

If you want me to help you with your funnel setup, check out my Growth Marketing Services or sign up for my Growth Marketing email series Lead Gen Zone.

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