B2B Marketing, Road Rules for Content Advertising

B2B marketing is tough. B2B search marketing? Not for the faint of heart.

The most challenging form of B2B marketing? Without a question: content advertising.

Last week, I provided an example of a content campaign ad group (ads and keyword lists) that demonstrated the "best practices" involving B2C -- direct-to-consumer -- advertising. This week I'll provide tactics for the B2B space -- your own golden compass for learning how to succeed in content advertising.

The goal of B2B PPC (define) advertising is usually different from a B2C advertiser's objectives. While B2C advertisers usually try to persuade people to buy , B2B advertisers often attempt to convince site visitors to take a step forward in the buying process -- usually by submitting a Web form with the potential customer's contact information.

Frequently, B2B advertisers motivate potential customers by offering downloadable whitepapers or free software trials. Submitted leads then enter the sales pipeline, and human salespeople start a process of 1:1 correspondence that will hopefully culminate in a sale.

With this in mind, let's look at an example B2B content campaign ad group. This one involves a fictitious company that sells software for business process re-engineering, aimed at medium- to large-sized businesses. They have particular domain expertise in manufacturing, so we'll set up a separate content ad group for that.

Ad copy: Keeping in mind the ad text needs to distract the site visitor's attention from the site's content, which we've done in the ad below by highlighting a business manager's fear -- that they're losing money without knowing it. The ad offers a free, easy way to quell the fear -- download a free white paper.

Are You Losing Millions?
Find Out in "Top Ten Business
Process Mistakes." Free Download!
www.BPR-Pros.com

Keyword set: Remember, in content campaigns, you're not bidding on individual keywords; the keywords work in aggregate (and in combination with the ad group's ad text) to direct the content matching algorithms to place ads on appropriate/relevant sites. And here's an important point that pertains to any kind of content advertising, whether B2C or B2B: the keywords in a content ad group should be about the sites where you want your ad to appear, not (as much) about your product/service.

This may be a difficult concept to grasp, especially by experienced search advertisers. In search PPC campaigns, the advertiser tries to anticipate (and bid on) all of the search terms that might be used by someone seeking their product/service. In content advertising, the keywords should work to define the kinds of sites and pages where the ads should appear.

So in search advertising, this keyword list would be appropriate for an ad campaign attempting to attract sales leads for business process reengineering software:

  • BPR
  • BPR software
  • business process software
  • business process reengineering software
  • business workflow
  • business workflow software
  • business process improvement

While that may be a good list to anticipate search terms used by potential customers, it's a bad list for content advertising, since it doesn't identify site pages where ads should appear.

Also, remember: the content algorithms (define) try to match your ad group's "theme" to a finite, known list of themes or categories. You can download the list here.

The Google category list shows several possible categories for our ads, but one in particular, "business," includes a sub-category, "management and corporate operations," which has a sub-sub-category called "business process." So a likely keyword list is:

  • business
  • management
  • operations
  • process
  • processes
  • workflow
  • -small business
  • -office
  • -events
  • -training

This list will ensure ads show up on pages that are read by corporate managers interested in operations, process and workflow. Equally important, we've used negative keywords to try to keep ads off pages with content related to small business and less-strategic topics, such as events and training.

I mentioned earlier that this fictional company wants to target manufacturing companies. In order to target sites frequented by upper-level managers of these companies, we'll construct a separate content ad group with a slightly different ad and keyword list:

Are You Losing Millions?
Top Ten Manufacturing Business
Process Mistakes. Free Download!
www.BPR-Pros.com

  • industries
  • manufacturing
  • business
  • management
  • operations
  • process
  • processes
  • workflow
  • -small business
  • -office
  • -events
  • -training

This ad group capitalizes on the fact that Google has defined an explicit category called "industries" and a sub-category called "manufacturing."

I'll be back in a few weeks with a new column with meaty advice on measuring and optimizing the performance of content advertising. Future columns will deal with placement targeted campaigns, non-text content ads (e.g. banners and video), pay-per-action campaigns, and more. We'll even dip our toes into Google's new AdWords-controlled offline advertising -- print, audio, and TV.

In the meantime, I'll be a guest blogger on the Search Engine Watch blog. See you there.

I hope your holidays are restful -- you're going to need a lot of stamina to keep up with content advertising in 2008!