Guest post from Venkat Nagaswamy.
If ever a platform needed artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, it’s Google AdWords. This is particularly true for B2B marketers hoping to exploit the potential of account-based marketing (ABM).
A lot of ground has already been covered about AdWords, from the jaw-droppingly godawful amounts of waste involved in most AdWords accounts to best practices to follow in mounting an effective AdWords campaign.
Being smart about AdWords is essential. If you’re not, then may we suggest a more efficient ad spend?
- Take about three-quarters of your proposed Adwords budget and convert it into cash money.
- Scrawl your offer, value prop or site URL on each bill.
- Throw them all out the window.There’s a chance you’ll get better results, since the average AdWords account tosses away 75.80% of its budget on ineffective keywords and shotgun targeting.
AdWords stirs in AI (but not for B2B)
Google has already jumped into the AI game for AdWords. For years, it’s offered the Google Prediction API, for example, so advertisers could extract predictive insights from their pay-per-click (PPC) data.
Earlier this year, it announced it was applying machine learning to in-market audiences:
“It analyzes trillions of search queries and activity across millions of websites to help figure out when people are close to buying and surface ads that will be more relevant and interesting to them.”
So you’ll be able to target their specific interests as they’re browsing the Google Display Network and YouTube. Meanwhile Google Attribution will measure data at every point in the customer journey, determining how much a marketing program contributed at each stage.
Whether or not any of these are useful for ABM is a good question.
Google’s AI focus is still devoted to polishing up how B2C marketers identify and engage mass audiences. An offering like Google Attribution might hold value for B2B, since long sales cycles mean multiple touchpoints are involved, so a marketer will want analytics tools to diagnose what works and what doesn’t.
But as MarketingLand points out, to qualify for it, “accounts must have at least 15,000 clicks and a conversion action with at least 600 conversions within 30 days.” That’s a 4% conversion rate; for B2B, that’s pretty steep. As for a typical B2B firm getting 600 conversions in just a month? Dream on.
As for Google AI implementations outside of AdWords, the same story holds. An AI-enhanced product like Google Assistant may offer value for B2C ecommerce providers, but no buying group is going to use Alexa to shortlist their SaaS platform options.
There’s hope, however. For example, social engagement platform MarianaIQ implemented Adwords for ABM and cut CPL by 50% for a prominent tech firm. Here’s their story.
Four Dimensions of a Successful AdWords Campaign
So, 75.8% wasted spend?! What’s the problem with AdWords? Well, it’s not really Google’s fault (mostly). It’s poor preparation on the part of the advertiser.
To understand how to minimize AdWords waste, let’s dive into four key dimensions that make an Adwords campaign successful.
- Keyword selection
With expert tools aiding keyword research (SEM Rush or Ahrefs, to name a couple), you’re in safe hands when it comes to uncovering the most suitable keywords – whether these are short or long-tail. And many marketers do get this right; it just takes a few iterations. Just make sure you’re doing your homework early, before it costs you.
- Snazzy copy and a captivating landing page
With plenty of CRO experts, professional copywriters and creative designers to choose from, you’re sure to find tons of expertise to A/B test and see what maximizes your conversion rates. Don’t ever just send your AdWords traffic to your home page, unless you want to watch your ad budget frittered away: landing pages are a must-do for any PPC campaign.
- Bid the right way
There’s absolutely a right and a wrong way to bid. If you’re spending over $20k/month in ad budget, you should leverage some of the programmatic bidding tools out there to drive down your CPCs. Optimization is key!
- B2B audience targeting (uh, what?)
A typical B2C adwords specialist doesn’t concern himself or herself with this very much…and neither does Google. Sure, you can specify the age group, sex and geographic location – and that’s about it. And that, folks, is precisely why B2B AdWords bleeds. Bleeds your B2B ad spend away uselessly, to be painfully precise.
Targeting men and women over 25 years old in NYC for “cloud solutions” is just as good as, well, not targeting at all. Your ad is going to be seen by every small consulting agency, from junior employees to interns trying to learn about, yeah, “cloud solutions.” None of these qualify as your target audience, and they end up burning your ad budget in no time.
With ABM, you want to run highly targeted campaigns across multiple channels. Are these ABM campaigns even possible with Google AdWords?
There’s AI, and then there’s the right AI
To effectively target the right people within ABM accounts on social channels, you can’t rely on the targeting tools the channels give you. That applies to how they deploy machine learning, too.
As detailed above, even Google’s own AI initiatives aren’t really aligned with B2B marketing needs, let alone with the much more exacting demands of ABM.
AdWords can be very, very viable for ABM, so long as you’re employing the correct AI tool to build your targeting efforts. The points to keep in mind?
- Your AdWords ABM campaign isn’t targeting just an individual – it’s targeting a committee’s worth of individuals at once.
- That calls for personalization of messaging, touchpoints and timing, leveraging orchestrated content that’s relevant to each member of a Buying Group.
- To achieve such personalization, an ABM campaign must develop 360º profiles of accounts and prospective buyers.
- That mandates collecting and analyzing huge amounts of variegated data from multiple sources to identify and define precisely who the people are you need to engage annd deliver actionable insights on how to engage them.
- The data that Google makes available to AdWords users isn’t sufficient for that level of analysis, so you need access to troves of B2B audience information.
- Only a purpose-built artificial intelligence platform, designed expressly for ABM, can sort through those mountains of data to generate those 360º profiles.
- From there, you’ll be able to create hyper-targeted AdWords campaigns, reaching a higher number of more qualified leads at lower cost.
Curious about your options? Click here to arrange a demo of the MarianaIQ ABM for Adwords platform.
As co-founder and CEO of MarianaIQ, Venkat Nagaswamy brings a long and diverse background in high technology to bear on applying artificial intelligence and Deep Learning to help marketers make account-based marketing (ABM) an at-scale reality. “Big Kat,” as he was nicknamed by friends and colleagues, has led teams in creating analytics, technology and business development solutions at McKinsey, Juniper Networks and GE Plastics, among others.