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According to a recent poll, 95% of B2B marketers are focusing their efforts on SEO, while only 35% are involved in paid search advertising. Based on these findings, it seems like a great time to get a jump on the competition and start building out some B2B-optimized PPC campaigns if you haven’t already.

Creating a successful B2B PPC campaign poses many hurdles for companies. For one, you only have 95 total characters in each ad, which isn’t always enough space to clearly describe your business or product. Also, if your product has a closely-related B2C version, you have to make sure you aren’t attracting the wrong customer. Below are some best practices to consider when creating B2B PPC campaigns and ad copy.

1. Know your competition
Before creating your campaign, do research on your competitors. See what type of messaging they’re using in their ads, and find out what keywords they’re bidding on. In addition to performing your own searches on Google, you can also utilize competitive research tools, including Spyfu and Compete.

Once you know what your competition is doing, start identifying unique qualities about your product or business that you can emphasize in your ad copy. For example, if you offer the lowest price in your industry, make sure to point that out.

2. Know your customers
When putting together a keyword list, consider all of the possible ways your potential customer would search for your product. Think about phrases and key terms that people may use to find your product if they’re not exactly sure what they’re looking for. This will increase your ad exposure and help you capture the most search traffic.

When crafting your ads, make sure to include features that address your customers’ needs. You only have 95 characters to get your message across, so it’s important to emphasize product attributes that your customers will find appealing. Also, when writing ad copy, use only familiar acronyms and short-hand, and avoid abbreviating words just to save space. Here is an example of an ad that addresses a customer’s need – boosting employee loyalty and retention.

3. Load up campaigns with negative keywords
If your product or service has any overlap with a similar B2C product or service, you’ll need to regularly pull search query reports from Google and Bing to identify potential negative keywords. For example, if your company sells high-end laser engravers for industrial use, you’ll want to add several negatives, such as “jewelry”, “photos”, “personalized” and any others that you know don’t apply to your product. This way you can eliminate a lot of unqualified clicks right off the bat, saving hundreds to thousands of dollars in advertising costs.

4. Incorporate business-focused messaging
This is another way to prevent customers looking for B2C versions of your product from clicking on your ads. Including clear, business-focused messaging may result in lower click-through rates, which in turn may lower your quality scores a bit, but the slightly higher CPCs you’ll pay will be much cheaper than spending money on completely unqualified clicks.

Below is an example of a B2B ad for a general, broad match keyword Mobile Advertising. The ad clearly states this is an agency providing services and not a mobile phone provider. It also lists a variety of types of services it provides to capture the correct business audience. This term brings in valuable leads but also finds consumers looking for mobile phones. In the end, you will have a much higher conversion rate by eliminating irrelevant clicks from B2C consumers.

5. Use a clear call-to-action
Including a strong, clear call-to-action is important in both B2B and B2C paid search campaigns. However, you can differentiate your ads even further by including call-to-actions that will resonate best with your potential B2B customer and deter clicks from those looking for a B2C version of your product. For instance, if you sell a high-end product that cannot be purchased online and are mainly concerned about generating leads, you can avoid using call-to-actions like “Shop Now” and “Visit Our Online Store” and focus on phrases like “Request a Price Quote” or “Download More Information”. This will help hone in on the most qualified clicks and contribute to higher conversion rates.

Common B2B Call-To-Actions:
• Request More Info
• Request a Price Quote
• Request a Free Demo
• Download More Info
• Download Product Catalog
• Learn More About…
• Browse Our Products

6. Optimize landing pages and lead forms
If your goal is to generate leads, you’ll want to make sure your landing page includes your lead form or clear ways to navigate to the form. Also make sure the lead form contains enough fields to make it clear that you are selling a B2B product, but not too many to deter potential customers from filling it out. It may also be helpful to display messaging prominently on the landing page or even directly within the lead form that reiterates the fact that your product or service is for business consumers.

Below is an example of a lead form for a company that offers employee recognition programs to businesses. They often have people looking to redeem awards fill out their lead forms, so to prevent this, they’ve added a separate link for them to click on rather than submitting the actual form.

There is a lot of opportunity to generate valuable leads and new business customers from B2B paid search campaigns. Use these tips and other best practices to get optimal results and don’t shy away from search advertising just because you are a B2B business!

If you’re new to affiliate marketing, you may be wondering where to start. If you’re currently running an affiliate program in-house or through a network, you may be wondering if there’s a better fit out there for you. In working with several different retail clients, the Lever Interactive affiliate marketing team has been able to identify a few main points to consider when selecting an affiliate network as well as the strengths and weaknesses of two of the top networks.

Things to Consider:

  1. Network start-up costs

Most affiliate networks charge an initial one-time setup fee ranging from about $500 to over $2,000. This includes the technical set-up of the account and getting new advertisers educated about the network.

Some of the smaller affiliate networks, including LinkConnector, don’t charge a setup fee, but keep in mind that the number and quality of affiliates within the network will most likely be low compared to those in the more expensive networks.

  1. Monthly minimun

All affiliate networks charge a transaction fee, which is just a small percentage of the commission paid out to each affiliate for each sale. What you need to look out for is the monthly minimum, which is the amount in transaction fees an affiliate network requires each month. So if the monthly minimum is $100, and you only pay the network $75 in transaction fees, you will owe an additional $25 at the end of the billing cycle.

This varies widely from network to network, so depending on the volume of sales and revenue you expect to come through affiliates, you will want to choose a network with a suitable monthly minimum.

  1. Span of affiliate network

If you have certain affiliates in mind, you’ll want to make sure they’re in the network you plan on joining. You can either look them up within each network, or you can contact them directly to find out. However, if you’re new to affiliate marketing, you’ll probably need a network that provides a large affiliate base from which to choose. As mentioned earlier, this could mean higher setup costs and monthly minimums, but it may be worth it in the long run.

  1. Ease of communication

Ongoing communication with affiliates is essential to maintaining a successful relationship. You’ll need to send out regular newsletters with tantalizing incentives to ensure you stay top-of-mind within the affiliate community. Read about each network’s messaging capabilities ahead of time so you know what to expect. Make sure there are no costs involved and that the process of formatting and sending out the emails is simple and not time-consuming.

Affiliate Newsletter Schedule Example

  1. Tracking & reporting capabilities

The nice thing about using a network to manage your affiliate program is that they provide tracking and reporting for you. In addition to basic transaction reports, each network has their own unique reporting features, including performance by link type and affiliate first sale reports. Choose a network that will provide you with the type of reporting that best suits your company’s needs.

Affiliate Network Reporting Example

  1. Customer support

If you’re used to running things on your own, this may not be as important, but if you’re new to affiliate marketing, you may have a lot of questions at the beginning. Read up on reviews and ask others in your industry about the customer support they’ve received on their affiliate networks.

Affiliate Network Customer Support

  1. Multiple networks

If you have the time and money, you can join multiple networks, widening your pool of potential affiliates. However, many of the bigger “super affiliates” are actually members of a variety of networks themselves, meaning you can find them on almost any network you select. Therefore, when managing affiliate programs on multiple networks, you face the issue of duplicate (and sometimes triplicate) transactions. So at the end of the month, there is the extra step of determining which network and which affiliate should receive the commissions and voiding the sales on the other network(s).

Reviewing Two of the Top Affiliate Networks:

Commission Junction

Pros:

  • Large number of affiliates within network
  • Detailed reporting
  • No extra cost for sending newsletters to existing affiliates
  • Ability to search for new affiliates within interface
  • Ability to auto-approve/auto-decline affiliates based on certain criteria
  • New PayPerCall feature offers an additional way to increase sales
  • Responsive customer support representatives

Cons:

  • High network setup fee
  • High monthly minimum ($500 in transaction fees)
  • Higher than average transaction fee (30% of commission)
  • Historical reports can only be accessed for up to one year
  • Cost to implement product fees

ShareASale

Pros:

  • Reasonable setup fee ($550)
  • Low monthly minimum ($25 in transaction fees)
  • Low transaction fee (20% of commission)
  • Detailed reporting
  • No extra cost for setting up product feed
  • Responsive customer support representatives

Cons:

  • Smaller number of affiliates within network
  • Cannot easily search for new affiliates within interface
  • Reports must be exported as pipe-delimited files

One of the basics of Search Engine Optimization is builidng links to your web site.  The more reputable links seen by the search engines can correlate to a higher ranking.  Yes, there are things to consider when evaluating a link exchange request; relevancy, the reputation of the other web site, etc.  But, when your customers, users, or re-sellers want to simply place a link to your web site from their own web site, and they are not asking for a recipricol link, why are so many major corporations still requiring “permission” to do so?

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One of the more difficult measurements for online marketers is the contribution of online campaigns to phone sales. Often times retailers promote considered purchases, with consumers needing the security of talking to a “live” person before purchasing. In the case of service organizations or B2B companies, the phone is the easiest and often the only/best way to complete a sale. Yet, with the performance-based nature of search marketing, paid search return is often only calculated on transactions that can be directly derived from that transaction occurring on the site (i.e. customer conducts and completes a sale online). What is often ignored is how search plays into driving inbound sales calls. Even though the transaction is ultimately closed offline, it may have started with a click on a search ad. These sales (or at least a portion of) should be attributed paid search.

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