With B2B eCommerce sharply rising since the coronavirus pandemic, businesses can capitalise on increased demand with these PPC strategies.
According to The B2B Future Shopper Report 2020, 46% of all B2B purchases in the UK are now completed online. B2B eCommerce is the natural progression in today’s digital world but, like most industries, the coronavirus pandemic has forced more businesses to buy online – a 24% increase since last year and an 87% increase for medium-sized businesses.
In this article, we look at five PPC strategies B2B eCommerce companies can use to take advantage of online demand.
Although this rule applies to all PPC strategies, targeting B2B eCommerce buyers on Google Ads can be trickier than B2C consumers. You have to go all-in on audience and keyword research to find out exactly what your target customers are searching for when they try to find your products.
Keep in mind that it’s not always easy for businesses to find what they’re looking for on Google.
For example, let’s say you sell building supplies to construction firms and one of your biggest sellers is large batches of red bricks. It can be challenging to use Google to find bulk products and expand your keywords beyond “red bricks”.
This is especially important if you sell items that are also commonly sold to consumers or in smaller numbers.
Basically, you need to prevent your ads from showing for people who aren’t going to meet your conversion targets. Our imaginary construction supplier doesn’t want to sell the odd brick or pack of nails to a homeowner repairing a wall and replacing a couple of roof tiles.
They want to sell bulk orders in the hundreds and thousands to construction companies working on large projects and they don’t want to be paying for clicks from users looking for anything less.
Keep in mind that business owners and buyers can have a difficult time separating B2B and B2C listings on Google, too. They have to work harder to find bulk items, industry-grade machinery or specialist parts. This is where your biggest keyword opportunities are and you need a good understanding of how your target users are specifying their queries to pinpoint the orders they need.
You can reinforce this with negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing to users typing in queries that might trigger your ads, even though they’re not going to buy from you. For example, you could add small weights, sizes and quantities as negative keywords or certain specs, materials or gradings that suggest these are consumer queries, not B2B buyers.
It’s also worth experimenting with exact match keyword types (even if they’re not as exact as they used to be) to reduce the number of variations Google will show your ads for.
B2B eCommerce buyers are normally more informed that regular consumers. They know their industry and what their business needs and they’re looking for the products and the right seller to buy from.
Going back to the idea of keywords, the easiest way to find specific products on Google is to type in specifications along with the product name itself.
When users are being this specific, you want your products with the same specs to appear and want users to instantly see that your listing can deliver what they’re looking for.
Product specifications are crucial for B2B eCommerce PPC campaigns.
The problem with Google Shopping is you can’t target keywords in the same way as Search campaigns (you can still add negative keywords).
Instead, Google looks at the data in your product feed to match up listings to search queries so make sure you include the key specs of each product in the title. Do this for different variations of the same product, too, so that Google and users can differentiate – for example, include the different weights or sizes in your product titles.
Also, make sure you include the full specification on your product pages with a description including all of the information buyers might need to make the purchase decision.
We touched on the lack of keyword targeting in Google Shopping during the previous section and another issue with this is that you can’t use keywords to optimise bids for individual products or product ranges.
However, you can do this by adding custom labels in your shopping feed to set bids for specific items and any group of products you want.
This allows you to increase bids on your highest-profit products, best-selling items and priority campaigns – for example, holiday promotions, end of season stock or any other temporary campaign.
You can also use custom labels to adapt your bids in relation to sales trends throughout the year. For example, if you’re selling to a volatile industry, such as automotive manufacturing, or companies that rely on a good summer (eg: a marquee manufacturer), then you may want to adapt your bids for certain products throughout the year, depending on how external factors play out.
Even if bulk orders are your primary goal, new B2B customers aren’t likely to spend thousands on a large order with a seller they know nothing about. So target smaller orders as well and treat this as a mid-funnel lead generation strategy where your goal is to turn these customers into bulk buyers.
As long as you’re generating more revenue than you’re spending on campaigns, smaller purchases are still adding to your bottom line and building towards a better overall PPC performance (Google wants to see CTRs, conversions, etc.).
Run remarketing campaigns for first-time buyers to keep your brand in their consciousness and showcase your bulk/wholesale prices, as well as any deals or other incentives you’re offering on their first big order.
The aim here is to tempt buyers with the potential to become regular customers who come straight to your site when they need something. Your initial goal is to turn that first purchase into a second one and incentivise new customers with savings for ongoing purchases, such as reduced rates and account credit. Once new customers are on board, you want to make it easy for them to continue purchasing by allowing them to create an account, set up repeat orders and manage orders through your website or app.
These accounts also give you access to invaluable data, allowing you to monitor engagement, identify potential user problems and even recommend products and personalise the experience for individual buyers.
Now, your focus is customer retention to keep businesses buying from you, maximise customer lifetime value and gain insights that you can use to minimise churn rate and nurture future leads more effectively.
According to research carried out by Forrester, up to 90% of the B2B customer journey is complete by the time prospects land on a company’s website. This is because, as we mentioned earlier, B2B buyers are typically informed and ready to buy with confidence when they find the right offer.
Optimising for on-site conversions is one of your top priorities and the usual average conversion rates you see published online often mean nothing. You should be achieving significantly higher conversion rates from your ads than most industries – way more than the 2%-3% commonly suggested.
One thing you’ll find as a B2B eCommerce brand is that there isn’t a great deal of information online about this niche and the common statistics about conversion rates, device usage, ad budgets and best practices aren’t much help to you.
For example, we know that more than half of all traffic comes from mobile but multiple studies show us that most B2B research still takes place on desktop.
Yet, previous reports have told us that more than 60% of B2B buyers say mobile played a significant role in the purchase of a product or service.
The point is: collect your own data and solve the conversion problems your customers face when they’re trying to order a tonne of goods from a construction site or they want to tap that handy reorder button from your mobile app.
If you’re not seeing conversions on mobile, ask whether this is because your customers prefer to buy on desktop devices or the experience on your mobile site is pushing them to visit your desktop site instead.
As always, loading times are crucially important (for all device types) and you should experiment with on-page lead generation tools, such as email capture campaigns, live chat widgets and personalised messages to maximise conversions.
If your PPC campaigns aren’t achieving the performance they should, you can speak to our paid advertising experts by calling 02392 830281.
Callum is a PPC Specialist and joined Vertical Leap in early 2019 with core specialisms in eCommerce and Google Shopping campaigns. When he’s not working, he enjoys long distance running, reading and craft brewing.
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