Three ways we failed at B2B PPC in 2015

Nobody’s perfect and heck, let’s be real, B2B PPC can sometimes be even more challenging and have even more gray areas than B2C.

Last year, I shared with you three ways we failed at B2B PPC in 2014. This year, I’m continuing the tradition to show you when we just didn’t get it right in 2015, and the lessons learned so you can avoid the same mistakes in 2016.

1. Lead nurturing, botched!

What happens when clients want conversions beyond the click, but just aren’t set up to properly nurture those leads? Guess who sometimes gets the blame? Yep, the PPC manager. And I suppose that’s rightly so if you’re tasked with bringing in new clients, but haven’t properly evaluated the sales process on their end.

If you’re like my agency, working with a mix of both small and enterprise businesses can sometimes make us forget that the smaller companies may not have their processes as streamlined as the bigger ones.

In this case, we were testing the basic conversion process by filling out the form to make sure everything looked good. And everything did until we got an ugly auto-generated email that looked like a generic support ticket from a robot.

autogenerated-message

Thinking it was a mistake, we forwarded the email to the client and suggested writing something a bit more personal and relevant to those who contact the company via the form.

But the client didn’t entirely welcome the suggestion. In fact, I think they said something to the effect of “you bring us leads and let us worry about what happens after.”

Except some time later, the client did begin worrying about what happened after.

They complained they weren’t able to close any new business from PPC. The volume of the leads were there, but they weren’t seeing the results they wanted. So again, we had to revisit the post-click process.

What you can learn from our mistake:

Evaluate not just the pre-click, but also the post-click process.

If the bottom line is important to you and your clients, make sure you know how your B2B clients handle leads coming from PPC, and discuss the importance of post-click conversions to evaluate true ROI.

If you don’t think the client is set up properly on the outset, and they aren’t open to suggestions, you might consider recommending they come back to you when they are ready to handle the influx of leads.

2. Great expectations, not so great results

Sometimes, against all your better judgments, you defer to what the client wants because they’ve affixed the following sentence to their request: “Let’s just give it a try and see what happens.”

A consultancy in the fashion industry traditionally got a lot of their business from a huge email list that they gathered and nurtured really well over time. This built trust between the brand and its audience.

They also met the bulk of their clients face to face, but enjoyed a handful of virtual clients that didn’t require travel, and hoped PPC would bring more of this type of business.

PPC was great at bringing in leads, but the leads weren’t ready to sign a deal just yet; those that were ready to buy were a pretty hard sell, and weren’t interested in the virtual service, either – they wanted face time.

It didn’t take long for the consultancy to see that the PPC leads that were coming in weren’t an ideal fit for a direct sale, and that putting those leads on the email list instead would probably be a better way to first engage with them.

What you can learn from our mistake:

Set expectations about what PPC can do in a B2B environment – especially exploring the buyer’s mindset.

But before that, make sure the client isn’t trying to test a new service model while also testing PPC for the first time. In the end, you both want those leads to be viable, and it can save you time and the client money if you evaluate the fit upfront.

3. Ad spend shocker

You send client reports faithfully every month. You even summarize the results in a brief email in case they never actually open up those reports. Months and months go by and no one on the client side has said a peep. Then one day, you get the phone call.

Having clients be surprised about their ad spend is never a fun conversation. What’s worse is that your team has spent hours upon hours collating and analyzing reports that seem to have gone unnoticed over the year until now.

Ad spend can creep. And sometimes it’s so minimal each month, it can be hard to notice. On top of that, when you have clients that have an “unlimited” budget, you usually carry on (as long as the ROI is there) without thinking you need to always alert the client of ad spend changes. But, that’s not always the case.

So this one is simple, and it boils down to making every effort to ensure you and the client are simpatico at all times.

What you can learn from our mistake:

Communicate better, if nothing else than to cover your buns.

Sure, it can take a little extra effort, but taking steps to ensure the client has acknowledged the performance data can make a difference. Oh, and even when a client says they have unlimited budget, that rarely means it’s actually unlimited and they don’t care about spend. So establish expectations with the client on what “unlimited” *really* looks like.

Onward and upward in 2016

If we don’t fail from time to time, we don’t grow as professionals and as businesses. If our 2015 ‘fails’ teach us anything, it’s to trust our professional recommendations a little more, set boundaries and always make sure both you and the client are on the same page. With that, I hope you have a productive and successful 2016!

Pauline Jakober is CEO of Group Twenty Seven and a contributor to Search Engine Watch. You can follow Pauline on Twitter.

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