B2B Ad Targeting: How to Find Your Audience

by Paul Honey Strange

Paul Honey, Managing Director at Strange, explains how to connect with your target audience.

When it comes to reaching your audience online, search engines and social media platforms are dominated by consumers. This means that digital giants like Google and Facebook are constantly creating new innovations and products which make it ever easier to facilitate B2C relationships on their ad platforms.

So what can you do if you’re looking to connect directly with other businesses, and want to promote your services and products to a professional audience? Fortunately, there are a few ways you can make sure your campaigns are B2B focused, and will find the right kind of users for your business.

Here are five key areas to focus on when building your B2B ad campaigns:

Choose keywords that reflect the language your B2B customers would use

Paid search campaigns on ad platforms like Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising are a great way to connect with users searching for professional services. That being said, the majority of ad traffic running through these platforms will still be from consumers, so it’s essential to filter out irrelevant traffic where possible.

Perhaps the most effective way to do this is to ensure that the keywords you’re bidding on are qualified with terms that indicate B2B intent. For example, if your business is a tyre manufacturer selling merchandise to auto parts traders, there’s a big difference between bidding on something like “car tyres” compared with “car tyre manufacturer” – the latter is much more likely to bring in qualified traffic.

A great way of finding additional qualified keywords for your search campaigns is to talk to your sales team. As the front line between you and your customers, they’re likely to have the best knowledge of the kinds of terms that customers are using to find your business. This is often a great basis for building campaigns which reflect the real-world terms that your target audience is going to be using.

Write ad copy with a professional audience in mind

When it comes to writing effective ad copy for a B2B audience, try to focus on relevance rather than superficial performance. With most ad copy, you’ll optimise your ads to get the highest CTRs and traffic, and use these metrics as an indicator of success. Instead, take a slightly more nuanced approach when writing ads in a professional context, and ensure (principally) that you use language that will resonate with a B2B audience.

Let’s take our tyre manufacturer example again, and look at a couple of sample search ads:

Ad A

Ad B

Ad A may well generate a higher CTR and deliver more traffic than Ad B, but it’s not clear whether it’s a B2C or B2B service. As a result, it’s much more likely to generate a high bounce rate and wasted ad spend. Ad B is clearly written to appeal to other businesses, and though click-throughs may be lower, writing your ad copy in this way is a really effective means of filtering out irrelevant traffic.

Ultimately it’s a trade-off between ad performance metrics and relevance, but creating copy tailored to a professional audience will help to bring high quality traffic through to your site.

Optimise landing pages to get the most out of your campaigns

Landing pages form a crucial part of virtually all digital marketing campaigns, and are vitally important in helping you generate leads and sales. When designing B2B landing pages, there are several key differences compared with their B2C counterparts. With much less emphasis on emotional impulse, there are a few best practices that you can apply to your landing pages which will ensure you get the most out of your ad campaigns.

Make sure that all content is presented in a style and language suited for a professional audience to make it clear that your service is not aimed at consumers. Further to this, get your message across quickly and concisely. Much more so than consumers, B2B users will expect you to get to the point – they want to know what you provide, and how you’re going to deliver it.

All associated content such as supporting imagery and hero sections should feature appropriate assets. The types of images you might find on a consumer-facing landing page may not be appropriate in a professional context, and the right assets will create visual signals that your business is appealing to fellow professionals. It goes without saying that all assets should be created with speed and responsiveness in mind!

Make it easy. Another key to creating a successful landing page is including clear CTAs, and making sure that your forms are lean and don’t contain any friction points that’ll stop people converting. Trust signals such as customer reviews or industry certifications can also help to improve conversion rates once users land on your page.

Find efficiencies by tweaking campaign targeting and schedules

Something often overlooked when running ad campaigns for B2B audiences is that you can find great efficiencies by tweaking your ad’s targeting and schedules. The key here is to only show your ads when and where they’re going to have the most impact.

The conversion opportunity is predominantly going to be during office hours, when your customers are in work and searching for services like yours. On the macro level, seasonality is a key consideration, so dialling down your campaigns during public holidays can help to eliminate wasted spend when your audience isn’t there to convert. On the micro level, consider only running your campaigns during a typical weekly work schedule – Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 – and monitor results for spend efficiency.

As for geotargeting in B2B campaigns, if often pays to avoid a blanket approach. Try to focus your efforts on urbanised areas, or areas that you know will provide qualified traffic and leads. On the flip side, make sure to apply exclusions to any areas you know will provide poor conversion prospects or locations that, from analysis, offer a poor return on investment. 

Limit your ads to the demographics most relevant to your business

Smart demographic targeting is crucial to B2B ad campaign success. Virtually all ad platforms will have some option of demographic targeting or give you the ability to set bid adjustments accordingly so that you can maximise your ad spend.

One basic example of how you might employ this would be to exclude or reduce your bids on age demographics who will be less interested in your proposition. For many in the B2B sphere, this will be those who are out of work, such as students (18-24) or those coming up to retirement age (65+).

You’ll also have the ability to control other demographic targeting levers such as gender, interests, and even things like household income. Before making radical changes to your own campaigns, though, do as much research into your customers as you can. If the information you have is limited, one step you might want to take is installing web analytics in the customer area of your site. From here, you’ll not only be able to find out useful information you can use to inform your campaign targeting, but you’ll also be able to exclude current customers from your prospecting campaigns and eliminate wasted spend.

If you’d like to read more about Strange’s B2B marketing services click here.

Key takeaways

  • Learn the difference between qualified and non-qualified keywords, and how bidding intelligently can improve campaign performance.
  • Write your ad copy in a way that appeals to a B2B audience, and dissuades consumers from clicking on your ads and costing you money.
  • Implement landing page best practices to get the most out of your marketing budgets and increase conversion rates.
  • Don’t neglect your ad schedules and geotargeting. Concentrate your efforts in areas where you’ll get the most return.
  • Limit your demographic targeting to those who are going to be most interested in your business. Consider installing analytics in the customer area of your website.

Paul will be at our B2B Spotlight event on 12 March 2020 to discuss this topic further.