5 Challenges for PPC Lead Generation In 2016

Share with:

In 2015, I wrote a post detailing 5 challenges for PPC lead generation. Lead generation in PPC, especially in Google, continues to be a struggle for many B2B advertisers. Here’s why the reasons outlined in my 2015 post are still true this year.

Nothing is sold.

Google loves to talk about all the great ways to sell products via AdWords. You can set up a shopping feed, which has been enhanced recently; you can use mobile ads to direct shoppers to your local store, and you can even track store visits to measure foot traffic from PPC ads.

All of this is great for ecommerce advertisers – and useless for most B2B advertisers who use PPC. Lead generation advertisers don’t sell products through a shopping cart or a brick-and-mortar storefront. These advertisers are national or even international companies who, at best, have a local sales force that calls on businesses. No one is going to buy a $1,000,000 enterprise software package through an online shopping cart with a credit card. So none of these lovely features apply to B2B.

Lead generation advertisers can’t use Shopping feeds.

As mentioned above, Shopping is a non-event for B2B. And in February, Google removed all the ads in the right rail, relegating them to the top and bottom of the SERPs. The only thing that appears in the right rail now is shopping ads. Lead generation advertisers can’t use shopping. So we’re locked out of that prime real estate.

Landing pages can be a challenge.

Yes, even in the 2016 world of PPC, lead generation landing pages can be a challenge. Testing landing pages is an even bigger challenge.

Lately, Google has been pushing dynamic features like dynamic search ads and dynamic sitelinks. These features are a big timesaver for ecommerce advertisers who are selling hundreds of products – I wish we’d had them when I was doing in-house ecommerce PPC!

But for lead generation advertisers, dynamic ads and extensions are a nightmare. Frequently, we have a few specific pages we want to send search visitors to, and they’re often built on a CMS like Marketo or Eloqua. The main client site usually isn’t optimized for lead gen, so we don’t want to send people there. We don’t want Google crawling the site and creating dynamic stuff out of it. So we don’t use dynamic search ads, and we opt out of dynamic sitelinks.

Only initial responses are visible in the PPC accounts.

This is generally still true and is still a problem. It’s very difficult to mash together CRM data and initial conversion data and optimize based on it. Even phone call conversion data, if you’re using 3rd party call tracking, is hard to match up with PPC data, unless you’re using a bid management platform like Acquisio.

That said, there are a few companies out there who’ve created CRM integration with AdWords. And AdWords just launched a Salesforce import of AdWords data – one of the first innovations strictly for PPC lead generation that I can remember.

PPC tools and features are often at odds with lead generation.

A while ago, I wrote a post titled 3 Signs That Google Hates B2B Advertisers. It’s still true, and Julie Friedman Bacchini did a good job of outlining how Google ignored B2B in their recent set of announcements.

I’m thrilled with the fact that we will be able to bid separately for tablets again. Tablets perform universally badly for lead generation. And expanded text ads will be a boon to lead generation advertisers. Just this week, I struggled with describing B2B services, many of which use long words, in only 70 characters.

All that said, I’m particularly frustrated by the focus on local and mobile. I get that mobile is huge and can’t be ignored. Even our B2B clients see a lot of mobile traffic. But voice search continues to pose problems. And none of our clients have physical locations that customers can visit. People aren’t searching for “enterprise software sellers near me.” All the focus on “near me” is, frankly, annoying.

I still hold out hope that Google will finally show some love to PPC lead generation advertisers. But I’m not holding my breath.

What do you think? Will Google ever consider lead gen? Or will they continue to focus on pizza parlors? Share in the comments!

Related Posts:


  1. Pizza parlors only. Just joking. There’s a lot of scope for improvement in Google Ads for B2B but I must concede that, for the sixth year in a row, I’ve used only Google Ads for one of my hardcore B2B products and I’ve always got an ROMI of > 2, with some years going up to 3.5 (http://www.gtm360.com/customers.php#c112). I know those figures pale into insignificance when compared to (allegedly) double-digit ROMIs for B2C but as long as I get my money back, life goes on with Google Ads.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Oh for sure – we also get good returns from PPC for B2B. It’s just frustrating that there aren’t more new features being offered for this segment – especially when we’re paying higher CPCs than many other types of advertisers.

  2. Thanks for sharing these tips, loved the post!!

  3. Thanks for sharing the news about our being blessed with tablet bid modifiers. I’ve been waiting to hear that for years and despite my reminding my Google reps at every chance, none of them seemed to think it was important enough to tell me. Since this comes on the heels of the right-side ad removal, I can’t help but wonder if they feel the added revenue from that self-serving move allows them to take a hit on tablet revenue…?

    Anyway, I thought Google tried working with users for lead gen? Wasn’t there something like that in the past? If there was I think what happened was they realized that having that much responsibility tied to actual results made it hard to make much money. They were spoiled by getting PPC money no matter what it does for customer ROI. To this day they still continue to talk about “clicks” and ignore conversions are the best measurement for non-branding campaigns. I got an email last week for one of my client accounts. It seemed like they were going to provide some helpful information based n what they saw in the account. When I called them it was clear right away I was talking to some first or second year googler that didn’t have a clue about the account. During the 15 minute call I received a few good suggestions (like continue to add more neg KW) and mostly suggestions like boosting bids for geo locations that get more clicks. When I pointed out that I was already getting clicks from those locations and why would I want to pay more for something that was working, I didn’t really get an answer. That also happen when I asked why she was not talking to me about conversions in the account. To me, this is an ongoing joke. But for those poor business owners that really don’t understand what’s going on and what’s important, it’s just sickening. Hey, I know! I don’t know if you heard about the new law (DOL fiduciary rule) that will make all financial advisors “fiduciaries”? Maybe we can get a law that does the same for PPC search engines? Oh well, I can dream.

    • I’ve experienced the same type of calls with Google LOL! As for holding Google / PPC responsible for conversion or whatever, eventually enjoying a good career is what matters to a student. Other things that matter anachronologically during the journey towards that end goal include campus placement jobs, grades, preparedness for exams, understanding of subject, exposure to subject, and so on. Given the blockbuster success of Google Adwords, advertisers are happy treating Google as the equivalent of the bookstore that sells the book to provide the student with exposure to subject. Let’s see if competition forces Google to become more than that.

  4. Maybe Google knows these B2B customers normally don’t really know whats going on conversion tracking wise and they find it harder to optimize for it all considering so few are willing to use Googles Offline Conversion Tracking feature. None of my clients ever want to cooperate and do this, so I assume many others do not as well.

  5. Melanie vitto says

    Great work. Love your blog (I am a ppc nerd). Would like to be included into your newsletter. THank you for the great content.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      You’re welcome! I don’t have a newsletter, but thank you for your kind comment!

      • I get an email from “Beyond The Paid” every Friday with the text of your latest blog post in the body of the email. That’s how I’m alerted to your new post. I read most of your posts inside the email. It’s only when I have something to comment that I click the “Comment” button at the end of the email and visit this website. Purists may call this email something else – e.g. “RSS feed”, “blog subscribers”, etc. – but I do think of it as your newsletter! Maybe it’s only me!!


  1. […] 5 Challenges for PPC Lead Generation In 2016: Are lead gen businesses being left in the dust by Google? Check out this post for more. […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.