Lead Generation On Steroids: Using Audience Targeting For Max Impact

Pay per click advertising (PPC) is known for being highly targetable and trackable. And yet, with click costs continuing to rise, reaching the right audience in paid search and paid social is more important than ever – posing a challenge for many advertisers. For B2B advertisers using PPC for lead generation, it’s more important than ever to understand how to reach a B2B audience and meet lead generation goals at an acceptable cost.

PPC for B2B lead generation poses different challenges from B2C ecommerce. In lead generation, nothing is sold online. Instead, advertisers are using PPC to drive leads, which will then be nurtured and ultimately passed on to salespeople for follow up. The time from lead to sale varies by industry, but can take as long as 6 months to a year.

Reaching the right audience can also be a challenge. Searchers don’t self-identify as business decision makers looking for solutions. Many search queries are ambiguous, and could come from either a business or a consumer. For example, a search for “Windows software” could come from an individual looking to purchase Windows for their home PC, or from a business with 1,000 laptops needing the software.

In addition, B2B keywords are often much more competitive and expensive than B2C keywords. CPCs of $20-30 are common, with $50-$100 not unheard of.

Businesses, therefore, need to be laser-focused with PPC targeting. That’s why audience targeting is so important for lead generation.

Why Audience Targeting?

Audience targeting really started with paid social. In the early days of paid social, ads on social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn were targeted by audience. The challenge with social PPC in the early days was that it lacked intent. We knew we were targeting the right people, but we didn’t know if they were in the market for our product.

Search PPC, on the other hand, offered clear intent – but no idea who was doing the searching.

Google began to change the game in 2010 when they launched remarketing: a way to target people via the Google Display Network who’d previously visited your site. While remarketing is more targeted than regular Google Display ads, it still lacks the intent of search.

Then, two years ago, Google changed the game with the launch of Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). RLSA combines the power of audience targeting with the power of search intent. Advertisers can serve one search ad to users who’ve never visited their website and another to users who have.

We’ll go into more detail on RLSA later in the post.

How Paid Search Works Well

Paid search has been so successful for a reason. Search is a deliberate activity. People don’t hang out on search engines all day – they go there with a specific task or question in mind. They’re telling us what they need, and as advertisers it’s our job to answer. With search, unlike social, the users tell us what they are looking for.

Many searches are highly commercial in nature. Consider this Google Suggest example:

sample google search
If a user searches for “where can I buy,” they’re ready to purchase. If you’re Cards Against Humanity, the post office, a dry ice vendor, or a drone seller, wouldn’t you want a targeted ad for your product to appear on these searches?

This is the sweet spot for paid search: the ability to use keywords to serve ads at the precise moment a user raises their hand. It’s why so many advertisers love paid search.

Gaps In Paid Search

Ecommerce PPC is fairly straightforward – the advertiser’s job is simply to answer the “where can I buy” question. But for lead generation, many search queries aren’t clear.

Consider the “Windows software” example from earlier. Here’s what the search engine results page looks like for that query:

ambiguous query
The search engine result has everything but the kitchen sink. There are ads for programmers: Microsoft Azure and Nektra. There are shopping results that are clearly geared toward consumers buying one instance of Windows. And there are ads from Softmart and Office Depot that clearly are geared to B2B.

It’s easy to see the challenge for both users and advertisers on an ambiguous query like “Windows software.” Users have to wade through ads that may not be intended for them. And advertisers have to compete with other advertisers who are targeting a totally different audience.

How Paid Social Works Well

Paid social is, in many ways, the opposite of paid search. We know exactly who the user is: their age, where they live and work, their job title, their interests, and so much more. We tell social channels everything about ourselves, and most of that info can be used to target ads. The audience picture is clear.

And people hang out on social media all day, even B2B buyers. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social engines are online gathering places for friends and business associates. Search engines are like a gas station – a place you go for a specific task, and leave as soon as the task is complete. Social media is more like the bar Cheers, where all your friends hang out and everybody knows your name. You hang out for a long time and come back frequently.

There’s no audience ambiguity in paid social, so it’s easy to target a B2B audience. Let’s say you sell software, and want to target design engineers. Targeting on Facebook is easy:

FB Audience

LinkedIn targeting is easy too:

LI audience
It’s easy to see how specific advertisers can get with paid social targeting.

Gaps In Paid Social

The challenges with paid social are the opposite of paid search. It’s great to know exactly who the users are. But as an advertiser, you don’t know their intent, or if they’re even in the market for your product. The lack of intent can lead to frustration for advertisers who may get lots of traffic on their paid social ads, but few conversions.

So what’s an advertiser to do? Are we relegated to choosing between dealing with audience ambiguity in search, or lack of intent in social?

This is where custom audiences come in.

Audience-Based Marketing With Customer Match and Custom Audiences

Wouldn’t it be great to combine the power of audience targeting with the power of search? Wouldn’t it be great to narrow down a paid social audience to previous customers or people who’ve interacted with your website before?

Both of these tactics are possible, thanks to audience-based marketing.

Audience-based marketing is exactly what it sounds like: targeting a specific audience with your marketing. Layering audiences onto paid search and paid social helps target the right people and drive ROI.

About 3 years ago, Facebook launched Custom Audiences, a feature that allows advertisers to create a Facebook audience from phone numbers, email addresses, or Facebook user IDs. Custom audiences were a boon for B2B advertisers for whom Facebook’s traditional targeting options left them wanting. Instead of trying to guess about their audience’s interests, B2B advertisers could now upload a list of prospect emails or phone numbers, and use that as their audience.

Twitter soon followed suit with Tailored Audiences, which allows advertisers to create lists based on Twitter handles, email addresses, web visitors (via a website tag), or mobile app users. One of the best ways for B2B advertisers to find success on Twitter is to target users in their field. Many businesses and business influencers are heavy Twitter users, and advertisers can target these users and their followers.

Here’s an example of potential targets for an advertiser in the food manufacturing industry:

twitter audience
For expanded reach, advertisers can choose the “also target users like your followers” option.

What about search? In 2015, Google launched Custom Audiences, a feature that allows advertisers to upload a list of emails to use as an audience for remarketing or RLSA. Custom audiences solve the problem of ambiguous searches by only serving ads to a known audience: existing customers, for example, or a list of sales prospects who’ve signed up for your emails. Custom audiences will take B2B search marketing to the next level.

Which Option Is Right For My Business?

Your individual business goals will help you determine which tactics are right for you. Does your audience tend to hang out on social media like Facebook or Twitter? Or do they eschew social media and stick to search?

The size of your audience is also a factor. Most search and social engines require a minimum audience of 1,000 users, so if you don’t have that many email addresses on file, you won’t be able to take advantage of custom audiences or customer match. If that’s the case, you may want to try other tactics to start building your email list so you can use customer match in the future.

Cost is also a factor in determining what will be most effective. CPCs for B2B keywords on Google and Bing are often in the $20-30+ range. Can you afford to pay $30 for every click?

Social CPCs are much lower, but even within paid social, CPCs vary across engines. While LinkedIn is known for reaching a B2B audience, CPCs there are in the $7-8 range – and they’re even higher if you want to target C-level executives. Remember, conversion rates on paid social are often significantly lower than on paid search (unless you’re using custom audiences), so you may find worse ROI from LinkedIn than from paid search.

CPCs on Facebook and Twitter are lower, in the $1-2 range. Depending on your audience and your business goals, Facebook and Twitter can drive a high volume of qualified traffic.

As with all things paid search, testing and measuring is critical. Try various channels and tactics and measure like crazy to find the pockets that are working for your business.

In Summary

There are more targeting options for B2B lead generation advertisers than ever before. With careful planning and the use of tactics like custom audiences and customer match, B2B advertisers can find laser-focused lead generation from paid search and paid social.

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Acquisio Blog on April 5, 2016.

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Why SMB Retailers Don’t Do Search

Retail, or online shopping, is an integral part of Google and Bing’s success in PPC. Amazon and eBay are probably the best-known and most ever-present retailers in PPC, but countless others are selling millions of dollars of products via PPC every day. I got my start in search doing in-house PPC for an ecommerce site.

Despite all the activity by huge online retailers, a study released by BIA Kelsey shows that SMB retailers “only spend about $700 annually on paid search.”

$700 annually is nothing in the search world. Why aren’t these SMBs taking advantage of PPC, one of the most effective direct marketing channels out there?

Retail search is hard.

A few years ago, PPC was less complicated. You picked keywords, wrote ad copy, set your bids, and you were off and running. Nowadays, there is more competition in paid search, and limited inventory. There are only so many impressions for “Nike running shoes,” and hundreds of retailers selling them. It takes time, attention, and know-how to be successful in retail PPC.

Website optimization has gone to the next level, too. Tools like Unbounce and Optimizely have made it easy and inexpensive for even novice website owners to run multivariate tests. Ecommerce tools like Magento and Shopify have streamlined the back end of ecommerce, including shopping cart software. While these tools have made some tasks easier, they’ve also leveled the playing field – making small businesses that don’t use these tools look unprofessional.

And anyone who’s ever tried to set up a Google Shopping feed can tell you that feed setup alone is enough to make even seasoned PPC pros give up. Google Shopping is a powerful tool for ecommerce vendors, but it requires different skills and optimization tactics than traditional keyword PPC. It’s nearly impossible for a small mom-and-pop store owner to master both Shopping and keyword search, and SMBs can’t afford to hire agencies to do this for them.

Retail search is time-consuming to manage.

Let’s take 2 examples. If you’re a small hair salon with a website, chances are you have one conversion: booking an appointment. You might bid on keywords that describe the various services you offer in the salon, but those will stay relatively static over time, and the goal is to drive appointments. PPC for this type of small business is straightforward.

Now, let’s say you’re a small women’s clothing retailer. Even though you only sell to women, you probably have multiple items available for sale. And each item comes in different sizes, styles, and colors. You don’t just have women’s sweaters: you have women’s cotton cardigans in sizes 2-16 and a variety of colors; women’s crewneck wool sweaters in sizes 2-18 in navy, gray, and green; women’s cashmere sleeveless sweaters in sizes 2-16 in 5 colors, etc. You probably also sell pants, skirts, blouses, blazers, shoes, and accessories – each in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes. It’s easy to see how running PPC for even a focused small business like this would quickly become a full-time job.

So what do small retailers do for marketing? According to the study, most SMBs in the retail space spend their money on social media.

Social Seems Easier

If you’re a small retailer, you may have an hour a day to spend on marketing (and that’s if you’re lucky). What are you going to do with that hour? Are you going to do keyword research, write ad copy, review bids, set up a shopping feed, look at search query reports, and create reporting dashboards? Or are you going to write a few Facebook posts and schedule them for publication?

Social media, especially Facebook, feels familiar to most people these days. Even our grandparents are on Facebook. For retailers, it’s easy to talk about a product or promotion, add a link, and call it a day – after all, you’re probably in Facebook anyway checking your personal feed. What better way to tell people about your business than by posting photos and links on Facebook?

Even Facebook Ads seem easier than search PPC – and SMB retailers spend 11.2% of their budget on Facebook ads, compared to 2.7% on paid search.

Facebook ads can be targeted locally. While search ads can, too, search ads feel more complicated. And Facebook ads can be targeted by interest. The small women’s clothing retailer in our earlier example can easily run Facebook ads targeting women ages 25-45, within a 20 mile radius of their store, who like fashion, are professionals, etc. For Facebook ads, you just describe your target customer and set that as targeting. No keywords, bids, or other “hard” stuff to worry about.

Still, less than 30% of SMB retailers are using Facebook ads. Most of them are just doing organic Facebook posts. And who sees those? Current customers and a few of their friends, maybe?

SMB Retailers Focused on Current Customers

According to the study, “retail SMBs are more invested in customer lists than SMBs in other verticals”. Marketing to current customers, especially in retail consumable goods, is smart. It’s easier to woo a returning customer than to acquire a new one. SMB retailers are also using mobile marketing such as mobile coupons and text messages.

It’s great to see that SMBs are taking advantage of mobile marketing, and paying attention to current customers. Many larger businesses could learn from them.

But there needs to be a balance between marketing to current customers and acquiring the customers in the first place. Search is probably one of the most efficient ways to attract new customers – but only if you know what you’re doing. The knowledge gap is why most retailers don’t use search.

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on The SEM Post on July 16, 2015.

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Why Context Matters In PPC Case Studies

I read a great article today called 6 Surprising B2B Facebook Marketing Case Studies. It talked about Facebook ads, and how well they can work for B2B.

I totally agree – we’ve seen the same thing for our clients. Everyone thinks LinkedIn is the best place for B2B, but we’ve found that the audience there is small, and CPCs are high; plus the interface is clunky at best. LinkedIn does work, but Facebook works just as well if not better.

But this post isn’t about Facebook vs. LinkedIn. It’s about context in PPC case studies.

The “surprising” case studies in the article mentioned above leave a lot to be desired. They all lack context and statistical significance.

Now before someone starts throwing virtual darts at me, let me say a few things. I thought the point of the article was well-taken, and I agreed with it. I’m sure the goal was to write a brief, punchy article with “snackable” talking points (and don’t get me started on how much I hate the word “snackable”). But I’m not a fan of numbers being bandied about without context. Thus, this post.

OK. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the case studies.

case 1

On the surface, this is a great example of why paid social (and paid search) is effective for attorneys. I used to have an attorney client, with similar success metrics. They only needed 1-2 cases per year to make PPC pay for itself.

But the attorney in the case study got one case, which does not a case study make. He could conceivably spend another $100,000 in a short time on Facebook and never get another case. The one case could totally have been luck. Or, his next case might be for $500 instead of $100,000. Does Facebook look so great in that instance?

The point is, one case isn’t statistically significant.

Now let’s look at cases 2, 4, 5, and 6.

case 3-6

The issue with all these examples is the same: there’s no context. Each case study mentions a cost per lead. If you’ve ever done lead generation, these CPL’s sound decent.

Decent compared to what?

We have no context for whether these numbers are good or bad for the clients in question. What’s the cost per lead for other channels? For case 6, what if paid search was driving leads and demos at $10 per signup? Facebook doesn’t look so hot in that case. Same thing goes for all the examples here.

For case 4, there’s enough data to back into some numbers. The industry event advertiser spent $21,758 to generate 305 registrations. That’s not a small investment for social PPC. The conversion rate was just over 1%, which isn’t bad for Facebook, but is pretty low compared with other channels (or is it? We don’t know since there’s no baseline included). CPC was $1.20, which is definitely lower than LinkedIn and probably lower than search, but what about display or remarketing? In my experience, $1.20 is high for both of those channels, even for B2B. And what’s the average cost per registration for this organization? Did the organization make money on a $71 cost per registration, or did they pay $71 for an event that cost $50 to register? I’m guessing registration cost more than $71, but again, we don’t know. So it’s hard to know whether Facebook was the right choice or not.

The cases aren’t all bad, though. Let’s look at #3.

case 3

This is actually valuable insight that a lot of advertisers and PPC pros don’t think about. Every PPC campaign is a test at the beginning – you’re taking a risk that it won’t perform. And every new business venture is certainly a risk. This business learned very cheaply that no one needed their product, by conducting market research on Facebook. Spending a few hundred dollars to save tens of thousands is pretty compelling. I’m actually thinking of recommending this tactic to clients who are thinking about launching new products or services – it’s a great way to test the waters.

Now, I’m sure there is more to the story for each of these case studies. I’d bet that the author has PowerPoint decks for each case with additional detail that he chose to leave out for the purpose of brevity.

Adding context wouldn’t have been difficult here, though; and it wouldn’t have taken away from the brevity of the article. Adding one sentence to Case 6 saying “The SaaS company’s average cost per demo was $150,” for instance, would stave off any questions or doubts in the reader’s mind.

I caution anyone who puts numbers out there to include context. It doesn’t take much space, and it makes your case even more powerful.

How do you present data in case studies when you’re talking to clients or prospects? Share in the comments!

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The Many Layers of LinkedIn PPC

Note from Melissa: Robert Brady of Clix Marketing is here with another guest post on LinkedIn PPC!

Since LinkedIn launched in May of 2003 it has grown to become the de facto virtual resume for professionals. Want someone to know your job history and accomplishments with each position? Put it on LinkedIn. Want someone to know your education, skills, recommendations, awards and many other professional bullet points? Put it on LinkedIn.

This detailed information, provided by the users themselves, makes LinkedIn a gold mine for any marketer that can define their target customer (often called a persona) in work-related detail. For many B2B marketers this is easy.

LinkedIn Targeting 101

Many advertisers start with very rudimentary targeting. Here are the most popular options, which LinkedIn shows by default as someone creates a new campaign:

•    Location
•    Company Name
•    Company Size
•    Industry
•    Job Title
•    Job Function
•    Seniority

LinkedIn Targeting 101

By itself, this would be a powerful set of options to choose from. For example, let’s imagine that we’re putting on an education conference for California teachers.  Here are some ideas of how we could reach those people:

Location: California – 13.3 million LinkedIn users

Industry: Primary/Secondary Education – 58K LinkedIn users in California

•    California Department of Education – 1015 LinkedIn users in California
•    Los Angeles Unified School District – 29K LinkedIn users in California

Job Title: Teacher – 149K LinkedIn users in California

Job Function: Education – 623K LinkedIn users in California

Any of those would be a great place to start, but you could run into a couple problems. First, you might not get enough traffic. Second, you may want to be a little more specific with some of these. Let’s talk about how we can solve each problem.

Targeting For More Volume

To start off you’re going to want to click that blue “More targeting options” link you see in the image above. That will open a lot of new options for us to explore. It will look like this:

LinkedIn Targeting Volume

Now let’s look at some other ideas for this education conference:

•    Teaching – 347K LinkedIn users in California
•    Educational Technology – 42K LinkedIn users in California

•    National Education Association – 1091 LinkedIn users in California
•    Teacher’s Lounge – 9K LinkedIn users in California
•    Elementary group for teachers – 3K LinkedIn users in California

•    Bachelor of Education – 3K LinkedIn users in California
•    Master of Education – 18K LinkedIn users in California

As you can see, this allows you to target in even more ways to reach your potential audience because now you’re looking at them beyond just their job title and industry. Now you’re looking at groups they’ve identified with. You’re looking at skills that other people have endorsed them for. You’re looking at their actual degree (because LinkedIn is a digital resume, people put this information as well).

Targeting For Highly Qualified Traffic

Disclaimer: While “highly qualified traffic” sounds perfect you need to keep in mind that this is effectively display advertising. The placements are a little 3-pack of ads on the right side or a sponsored update that gets slipped into a user’s feed. These people didn’t go looking for you so the click-through rate (CTR) will be low and you need fairly large audiences. LinkedIn won’t let you advertise to an audience unless it has at least 1,000 people, but you’ll find that any audience under about 5K will struggle for clicks.

That said, how do you get this awesomely qualified traffic? Layering & exclusions.

•    Layering – This is quite simply combining 2 or more of the above targeting ideas. For example, “teaching” as a skill seems a little broad. Layer on top of that an Education job function and you’ve got someone with teaching skills that works in education. Much more qualified.
•    Exclusions – You’ll notice below each targeting option you can add targeting to exclude. Looking at our teaching skill target, you might use it but exclude “Biblical teaching” (it’s really in there). If the conference is for K-12 then you might exclude “College teaching” and “University teaching” as well.


As you can see LinkedIn offers a variety of ways to target your potential audience. You can stick to the basic location, company & job title areas, but I would recommend you also get into the additional “hidden” targeting options as well. Layer them together, exclude poor targets and you’ll find that you can reach highly qualified prospects with your advertising.

Robert Brady is Senior Manager: Software, SMB, Strategy for Clix Marketing. He has worked on PPC accounts of all sizes across many industries and has a soft spot for helping small businesses succeed with paid search. Robert  loves to share his expertise with others by blogging regularly on PPC topics on the Clix Marketing blog, Search Engine People & his personal blog, Righteous Marketing. You’ll also find his posts on SmallBizTrends.com, PPC Hero, FBPPC.com and the Trafficado blog among others. He is also an active participant in #PPCchat on Twitter.

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Social PPC For B2B: Who Does It Best?

Earlier this week, I read a thought-provoking article over at FBPPC, written by Robert Brady. In a nutshell, he says that while everyone thinks of LinkedIn as the place to run social PPC for B2B, it doesn’t perform as well as Facebook – which is traditionally thought of as the place for teens to hang out and for college kids to post drunk photos, not to reach B2B decision makers.

Robert ran an analysis of platform features, and found that Facebook’s targeting was as good as LinkedIn’s for most categories, and better than LinkedIn for age and gender targeting.

Additionally, anyone who’s tried to use LinkedIn’s PPC interface has no doubt been frustrated by its lack of sophistication and usability. It still shocks me that LinkedIn’s interface is so terrible. For the CPCs they charge, you’d think they could fix their ads UI.

And performance on LinkedIn PPC has been pretty sad lately, too. Here are actual figures for one of our B2B clients from last month:

social PPC performance

LinkedIn is at the bottom of every category: fewest clicks, fewest new followers, and highest cost per engagement. Not a resounding endorsement for the power of LinkedIn to reach the B2B audience.

And look at Facebook. Way more clicks, more new followers even than Twitter, where we ran a “grow followers” campaign. And a cost per engagement that’s well below both Twitter and LinkedIn. We’ve started putting more money toward Facebook in this case, since it’s kicking everyone else’s butt.

An article a few months ago on the Econsultancy blog agrees. Their analysis shows why Facebook is superior to LinkedIn in several categories, including reach, audiences, and mobile.

There was a time that I wouldn’t even consider using Facebook Ads for B2B. But they’ve really stepped up their game, leaving LinkedIn in the dust.

What do you think? Is Facebook the king of B2B social PPC, or is there hope for LinkedIn? Share in the comments!

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Top Tips for Social PPC Success From the Experts

Social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are here to stay – and they all have PPC ad platforms. More and more advertisers are including social PPC in their search marketing mix.

While there are many similarities between social PPC and search PPC, there are some key differences. In many ways, social PPC acts more like display than search – but it doesn’t really act like display, either. Social PPC has its own set of best practices for success.

If you’re like a lot of PPC pros, you’re probably struggling to get your head around the whole social PPC universe. So, I asked some of the top experts in social PPC to share their top tips for social PPC success.

Facebook Audience Tips

The power of social PPC is its targeting abilities. With search, you’re targeting keywords; with social, you’re creating personas. Accurate targeting is a great feature of social PPC, so it’s crucial to get it right.

“Create and manage audiences in Facebook Power Editor to run and test ads with specific messaging for specific demographic groups,” said James Svoboda of Web Ranking. “This will help control ad spend on new campaigns and helps speed up creation of new ads by having established audiences.”

If you aren’t using Facebook’s Power Editor, bookmark this article to read later and go get started. It only works on Chrome and acts a lot like AdWords Editor for Facebook.

One of the great features is audience creation. You can create an audience in Power Editor and apply the audience to any or all of your ads. You can also create new ads and apply the saved audience to them.

Reaching your target audience in Facebook can be challenging, especially for B2B advertisers. My coworker Jessi Link recommends that advertisers “get creative with targeting. Since most of our clients are B2B, and job title targeting can be lacking on Facebook in particular, I’ve found it helpful to reach these audiences by targeting fans of industry publications, conferences, and companies that serve that audience exclusively.”

Targeting competitors is another popular tactic.

“Targeting people who like/follow your competitors is one of my favorites,” said Julie Bacchini of Neptune Moon.

Joe Drury of WebTrends agreed, saying users of all social PPC platforms should target competitors.

Drury also recommends using Facebook custom audiences. Custom audiences let advertisers target Facebook users by email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs, or app user IDs.

LinkedIn Audience Tips

Many of the Facebook audience tips are great for LinkedIn as well. Of course, LinkedIn has its own unique opportunities for audience targeting.

Drury said that “on Linkedin, groups are king.” Using and targeting groups, as well as job titles and interests, is highly effective.

Robert Brady of Righteous Marketing recommends that LinkedIn advertisers “overlay targeting for increased relevance. Industry + Seniority + Job Function is a good one to try.” I’ve had success using this method myself.

Bonus Audience Tips

I love the tip I got from social PPC guru John Lee of Clix Marketing. He suggested that advertisers “use the ‘back door’ – target LinkedIn and Facebook with the Google Display Network, layered with contextual keywords.” Both LinkedIn and Facebook use the GDN to backfill their display inventory, so if you want to dip your toe in the water using a platform you’re more familiar with, here’s your chance.

Here’s another tip from yours truly. If possible, prioritize your audience and create campaigns by priority.

For example, you may have a “hot prospects” list and a “cooler prospects” list. Create separate LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter campaigns for each audience. This allows you to use different messaging, bids, and budgets for each audience much more easily than if you lump them all into one.

Social PPC Ad Optimization

Ad burnout in high-impression social PPC networks is a real problem. It’s imperative to keep ads fresh while still generating a good CTR. Ian Mackie of PointIt offers this simple, yet profound tip: “Use dark/old posts in Facebook to quickly A/B test images, headlines, and creative.” Why reinvent the wheel?

Images in social PPC ads create a whole new level of complexity for advertisers used to dealing with 95 characters of text. Finding effective images is a perpetual challenge for advertisers trying to combat ad fatigue.

Getting attention in Facebook ads, in particular, can be tricky.

“Images of pretty, smiling women get clicks,” said Justin Freid of CMI Media. “They may not be the right clicks, but you get clicks.”

Jesse Semchuck adds that it “also helps if the woman is looking at your call to action button/copy.”

While these ideas may sound frivolous, they’re legitimate. People are drawn to people – it’s instinctive. Our eyes follow another person’s eyes. And pretty or suggestive images get attention.

Even in the more businesslike LinkedIn environment, images can make or break an ad. Choose them carefully, and test them relentlessly.

Images may have other editorial challenges, as well. Facebook limits text in an image to no more than 20 percent of the image. But there is a workaround.

“If you’re getting hit with the 20 percent text rule and have to use a particular image, target your ads just to right hand side,” said Timothy Jensen of Overit.

Twitter Ads pose a different optimization challenge, because most of their promotion options focus on promoting tweets, hashtags, or handles. Carefully crafted tweets work well, but there isn’t a good way to split-test them in the ad environment.

That’s where Twitter Lead Generation Cards come in. Lead gen cards are sort of an “ad within a tweet.” You’ll set up a lead gen card, and then send promoted tweets to it. Lead gen cards are effective for driving email signups, white paper downloads, and other common lead gen activities.

As Drury put it: “Lead gen cards rock for B2B!”

Social PPC Campaign Optimization

Most social PPC channels offer both CPC and CPM bidding options. On Twitter, you pay per engagement: click, retweet, or reply. Facebook and LinkedIn both offer CPC and CPM.

Facebook also offers Optimized CPM. oCPM is an advanced bidding option for users of the Facebook API. It allows advertisers to set a value for actions, reach, clicks, or social impressions. Once the values are set, Facebook optimizes ad serving against them.

Several social PPC experts recommended oCPM. Terry Whalen‏ of CPC Search suggested “using custom objectives with oCPM for Facebook bidding” as a way to improve performance.

Mackie is also a fan of oCPM. He said he always starts with CPC bidding and then moves to oCPM to optimize for whatever the goal is.

I owe a big thanks to Mackie for my final two campaign optimization tips:

  • Facebook’s attribution window is set to “1 day after viewing an ad or 28 days after clicking.” Depending on your sales cycle, you can adjust this for reporting purposes to be whatever combination of 1, 7 & 28 (days) makes sense.
  • Qwaya is by far the most inexpensive Facebook Ads tool on the market today.

I’ll be honest – I wasn’t aware of either of these, and I’m now seriously checking them out.

A huge thank you to all of the experts who contributed tips – I know I’ll be using all of them in my social PPC campaigns!

Got a tip of your own? Share in the comments!

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at Search Engine Watch on November 12, 2013.

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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Social PPC

Looking to dip your toes into the social PPC waters, but aren’t sure how to get started? You’re not alone. Social PPC is similar to keyword PPC, and yet different enough to confuse those who are new to the game.

Luckily, you can follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before you.

Elizabeth Marsten wrote a great post for ClickZ called The Definitive Guide to Social PPC. Check it out.

For tips from top PPC experts on social PPC, check out this post over at Search Engine Watch.

I recently spoke at SES Atlanta about social PPC, and I wrote an article on it for Search Engine Watch. In the article, you’ll find detailed tips to succeed with social PPC.

To boil it all down, I created the ultimate cheat sheet for social PPC. Too many advertisers just decide they “need a presence in Facebook Ads” or another social platform, without thinking through any strategy or keys to success. Use this cheat sheet when you’re creating the strategy for your next social PPC campaign. Thinking about these factors prior to launch will set you up for a profitable campaign, instead of a money drain.

social ppc cheat sheet

You can download the sheet in Excel, too.

What are your favorite paid social tips? Share in the comments!

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Social PPC: A Guide To Getting Started

Thinking about dipping your toes into social PPC, but aren’t sure how to get started? You’re not alone. Social PPC is very different from keyword search. With keyword search, people tell you what they want by typing keywords into a search engine. With social PPC, the focus is on the audience rather than the keyword. It can be tough to get your head around.

Fortunately, there are a lot of online resources to help you out. Of course, you can and should read the Help files for each of the major social PPC platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. But it’s not unusual for help files to be, well, less than helpful.

Here are a few posts that will really help you get started in each platform, step by step. Disclaimer: I wrote a few of these. I wanted to make sure that all of my blog readers have a chance to take advantage of the power of social PPC, so I’ve pulled them all together in one post for you.

A Step by Step Guide to Getting Started with Facebook Advertising to Grow Your Community by Michelle Carville. Michelle provides an overview to launching Facebook PPC, complete with screen shots and explanations.

Getting Started with LinkedIn Ads by yours truly. This is a step by step guide, too. LinkedIn Ads are particularly useful for reaching business influencers.

Getting Started with Twitter Ads. Another of my posts on Web Marketing Today with an overview of the types of ads available on Twitter, and how to take advantage of them. We’ve had good success with Twitter ads, both for growing followers and driving leads.

YouTube Video Ads: Getting Started. Some people don’t think of YouTube ads as social, partly because they’re part of Google Adwords. But video ads are nothing like search ads, really. Learn how to harness the power of video and the reach of YouTube in this post.

Are you using social PPC? Have you had good results, or has it been less than successful? Got any good tips or resources? Share in the comments!

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