Paid media is a critical component of any marketing strategy and B2B and SaaS companies are no exception. However, they face unique challenges when it comes to paid media, including high cost-per-click (CPC) rates, complex sales cycles, and the need to educate potential customers.
But how do you overcome these challenges whilst still delivering lasting business value?
We delve into the barriers – and solutions – below, including actionable strategies that will help to drive business outcomes.
Paid media challenges for B2B and SaaS companies
B2B and SaaS companies often operate in highly competitive industries, which can lead to high CPCs. According to WordStream, the average CPC for the software industry is $3.80, which we know is often exceeded. This can make it challenging for companies with limited budgets to compete. As we’re in times of economic uncertainty, we recommend that companies do not reactively reduce budgets as this can be a key time for gaining market share.
Complex sales cycles
The sales cycle for B2B and SaaS companies is typically longer and more complex than that of B2C or D2C companies due to the level of investment required by customers. Potential customers will likely go through several stages of the funnel, including education, consideration, and decision-making, before making a purchase with each stage typically much longer – which is why we recommend growing marketing channels to cover all stages of the funnel.
B2B businesses can often underestimate their customers desire for simplicity, good user experience and clear, non-jargon infested language. By ensuring there is ongoing conversion rate optimisation and content strategies, brands can ensure that no matter how long it takes their customer to get to the point of purchase, they are showcasing themselves as a market leader with strong knowledge and ability throughout the path to purchase.
Strong Need to Educate
Linked to the above, B2B and SaaS companies often need to educate potential customers – in depth – about their products and services before they can make a sale. This can require a significant investment in content marketing and lead nurturing, which adds to the overall cost of paid media campaigns. With some B2B products and services, businesses may not even know why they need it or how it will improve their business and paid media can play a vital role in distributing this content. Using social, video and native ad placements can be the first step in showcasing the problem you can fix, this demonstrates the value your business has to offer whilst building market credibility.
Paid Media strategies for B2B and SaaS companies
There are a number of steps to take to ensure your paid media is achieving the best possible results for your business which, if overlooked, can result in convoluted and inefficient campaign structures.
Online and offline conversion tracking
To maximise the effectiveness of paid media campaigns, B2B and SaaS companies need to track conversions across multiple channels and at different stages of the funnel. This not only includes online channels, such as Google Ads and social media, but also offline channels, such as trade shows and events, and offline conversions like calls and emails with sales teams. It’s important to track not only the initial conversion but also the lifetime value (LTV) of each customer. This can help support media optimisation tactics as we look at bidding towards LTV and marginal LTV.
By first tracking key offline events such as lead qualification or transaction to analytics and ad platforms you’re able to increase the volume of qualified leads by optimising towards qualified leads as opposed to all leads and/or calls.
By passing back a predictive lifetime value (PLTV), you’re then able to start optimising towards revenue for the business. This should ideally be highly segmented to provide the algorithms with as accurate data as possible.
Post conversion, an understanding of how LTV changes over time is required. With these optimisation methods in place you can continue to ensure you’re providing your business with more value and less wastage of spend and resource.
Utilise keyword intent
B2B and SaaS companies should use keyword intent to create campaigns that target potential customers at different stages of the funnel. For example, keywords such as “what is” or “how to” can be used to target customers in the education stage, while keywords such as “best” or “reviews” can be used to target customers in the consideration stage.
Create compelling ad copy
Ad copy plays a critical role in the success of a paid media campaign. It’s important to create ad copy that is both compelling and informative. This can include highlighting unique selling propositions (USPs), addressing pain points, and social proof such as customer testimonials. This should all be underpinned by a data-driven approach of testing different variations which can in turn help support on-site and SEO organic listing messaging.
With retargeting increasing ad response by up to 400%, it can be a highly effective way to engage potential customers who have previously visited the website but did not convert. Remarketing is often considered as just for display but a variety of options should be considered based on where a user or account is within the funnel. There is no limitation for online channels that can be used for remarketing including but not limited to Search, Social, Display, Native and Video. The use of search keyword targeting overlaid with remarketing signals can be extremely effective in driving success.
Ensure basic best practices
Before spending budget driving traffic to your site via a paid media campaign, it’s essential to ensure that basic best practices are in place to increase the chances of users converting once they arrive. This includes creating targeted landing pages, optimising ad copy, comprehensive keyword coverage, and ensuring that the website is mobile-friendly. According to Google, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a site if it’s not mobile-friendly and we have seen transformational results through our client work to confirm this. In our experience auditing complex B2B accounts; these often require us to strip them down to their core essentials, ensuring comprehensive keyword coverage and compelling ad copy. Despite the complexity involved, B2B digital media doesn’t have to be convoluted and advanced algorithms have significantly improved the ability to optimise campaigns without having to focus exclusively on narrow niches.
Although an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) media strategy holds merit and remains a valid methodology, it doesn’t always align seamlessly with digital media practices. ABM lacks reach when it comes to search-based advertising due to very small audience sizes and even lower matched audience when using customer data remarketing lists, we always recommend prioritising budget for search based on user intent indicated by the search terms used. On social media platforms, targeting small audiences with ABM can lead to excessively high CPMs (Cost Per Thousand Impressions). That’s why a funnel approach tends to yield better results in most cases.
Explore new channels
To avoid oversaturation and high CPC rates, B2B and SaaS companies should explore new and less-saturated channels, including Reddit, Quora, and podcast advertising. It’s important to continually test and optimise campaigns to find the most effective media mix. Where possible, you should use a data-driven approach with a tried and tested method such as our dynamic media mix.
Test, test, test
Finally, testing is critical to the success of any paid media campaign. This includes testing different ad copy, targeting strategies, and channels. A/B testing can help identify the most effective strategies and optimise campaigns for maximum ROI. A clear testing roadmap is essential to the success of every single account at RocketMill as it provides a high, consistent standard across the agency and ensures clients are clear on the direction we guide them in, to ensure they have the most sophisticated and mature accounts in their niche.
Paid media can be a highly effective way for B2B and SaaS companies to reach potential customers and drive conversions – when a clear strategy informed by industry knowledge is in place. Without this, budget (and time) will be wasted and the channel wrongly written off.