SMX Overtime: How to manage and optimize B2B accounts

In the “How to Manage and Optimize B2B Accounts” session at SMX West, attendees asked questions about the effectiveness of specific channels for a B2B audience, new market strategies and what types of assets to focus on by channel. In this article, I’ll answer these questions to provide some guidance for those wanting to build a better B2B strategy.

How has Quora compared to other PPC channels in terms of performance? Where does it fit in your paid media marketing agency mix?

While the volume is lower than other major PPC channels, Quora audiences tend to be highly engaged in “real” conversations, often for highly niche topics with many related to B2B markets. For instance, you’ll find several discussions around software comparisons for various markets.

Personally, I’ve had the most success with Quora for generating top-of-funnel visitors to later retarget cross-platform with lower-funnel assets. When promoting blog content, I’ve found Quora visitors tend to show a higher average session duration and pages/session than other channels. However, there are several options for reaching people further along in the buying process, through features like retargeting and customer list targeting.

If you haven’t tested Quora Ads yet, I’d recommend:

  • Setting up the pixel on your site and beginning to build a retargeting audience you can test.
  • Searching topics/questions for discussions related to your industry, your brand name, and competitor brand names. You can then try topic targeting (higher volume but can be hit or miss how specific you can get based on the industry) or questions targeting/retargeting (more specific but tougher to get volume) to get a feel for how people respond. 
  • Segmenting Quora traffic in retargeting audiences for other platforms (using UTM parameters) to test how these individuals perform elsewhere.

We are creating a new market with a new engineering service that no competing company offers in the same way. What recommendations do you have for audience and keyword targeting given few folks know about our new service?

This can be a tough situation. First of all, think through the persona of the person you’re selling to. Are there factors such as job title, industry, etc. where you can narrow down your target audience?

Next, develop a story around the problem you’re solving. People may not be aware of your service, but if you can present a problem in a way they can identify with, chances are they’ll also be interested in hearing about the solution you have to offer.

Try social channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook to target the audience personas you’ve set up with the messaging about the product. They may not be searching yet, but you can get in front of them in other ways. You may even come up with different targeting “buckets” to test, possibly broken out by industry or job role, and then measure responses based on each audience.

You could also test display ads targeting specific placements that people in your target market are reading. For instance, you might be able to identify engineering publications that allow ads via the Google Display Network. In addition, trying a custom intent audience built with URLs for these publications may help widen reach.

On the search front, there may not be much activity, but be sure to have campaigns in place preemptively for any related terms before you start promoting yourself on social media. In addition, make sure you have brand campaigns in place to capitalize on anyone who searches for your brand after hearing about it.

Is content a good tactic for all channels? Or is this channel-specific?

Promoting a piece of content such as a buyer’s guide can work well particularly in a social media context, where people are likely to be less receptive to an immediate “sales” message but may be open to reading a resource they find valuable. Display ads can also be effective for promoting content pieces.

Search is often a different context, where people are indicating direct intent and are actively looking for a solution. However, for expensive B2B products with a long buying cycle, offering people a content resource from an upper/middle-funnel search query can still be relevant.

More so than thinking about the effectiveness by channel, I’d focus on the user’s buying stage. For ads where either the audience targeting or keywords indicate higher funnel intent, a content resource is often a softer sell than immediately pushing a demo/trial. For retargeting lower in the funnel or high buying intent keywords, people may be more ready to buy, and you’re better often pushing a sales-focused CTA.

Can you give any examples of B2B brands advertising effectively in a more “fun” and personal format vs. the typical sterile ads?

Zoom capitalized on everyone’s annoyance with conference calls to produce this video about a Video Conference Call in Real Life. It’s funny, but anyone who’s participated in conference calls can identify with the pain points brought up in the video. Seeing the sponsorship by Zoom might make people take a second look at how Zoom can help solve those pain points.

If a B2B marketer has tried all the channels you mentioned and still hasn’t seen success, what should they try next?

No PPC channel in and of itself is the end-all solution for B2B marketing agency. If you haven’t been successful after extensive testing of channels, you may want to take a step back and revisit how your brand presents itself to users.

Does your messaging clearly present what problems you can solve for customers? Are you using wording that customers can relate to, or do you stick with corporate jargon? How user-friendly is your website? Interviewing your current customers can help give you more launching points into areas you can investigate.

Do you have a clear methodology for explaining your product? A simple explainer video can go a long way in providing an overview of a complex product.

Once you’ve worked through your branding, your creative, and your messaging, you may then end up coming up with enough ideas to revamp how your brand is presented from the ground up. Then you can follow that process up with refreshed campaigns across channels.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Tim Jensen is a campaign manager at Clix marketing agency. With over 8 years of experience in the digital marketing agency industry, Tim has worked with both B2B and B2C accounts in a wide variety of industries. While comfortable managing ads across all major platforms, he’s particularly intrigued with the crossover between analytics and PPC.

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