5 Challenges for PPC Lead Generation

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One of the great things about PPC is it can be used for nearly every business: those selling products online via ecommerce, and those trying to drive leads. Each type of marketing has its own challenges. Here are 5 challenges for lead generation PPC.

Nothing is sold.

When people talk about PPC, they often talk about shopping carts, shopping feeds, revenue per sale, and other aspects of ecommerce PPC. These facets are crucial for ecommerce PPC advertisers to understand – and none of them apply to lead generation.

When you’re driving leads, there is no shopping cart. Sure, there are lead forms, but it’s a one-step process. Cart abandons just don’t happen. (You can have form abandons, but that’s not the same thing.) Revenue per sale doesn’t exist either, because you’re not driving sales online.

Of course, lead generation PPC advertisers can and should still focus on metrics like conversion rate and cost per conversion, and back-end metrics like lead-to-close (more on that in a minute). But sometimes it feels as though we’re speaking a different language than that of ecommerce.

Lead generation advertisers can’t use Shopping feeds.

When you’re not selling anything online, you can’t use Google Shopping and all the cool features it offers, like shopping ads, seller ratings, dynamic search ads, and countdowns in ad copy. There are a lot of features, especially in Google, that lead gen advertisers just can’t use. (More on that in a minute too.)

Landing pages can be a challenge.

Successful online stores have tons of landing pages that are already optimized for conversion. When an ecommerce site is ready to start PPC, they usually have many pages that can be used, as is, as landing pages.

Not so for lead generation PPC. Sure, some sites have well-designed landing pages and contact forms, but a surprising number do not. Often, a lead generation PPC launch is delayed while the advertiser creates a landing page that can actually generate a lead. And that’s just one page. Creating multiple landing pages can be a mammoth undertaking for lead gen advertisers.

Only initial responses are visible in the PPC accounts.

Most sophisticated lead generation advertisers have a good back-end system that tracks leads all the way through to the sale. Systems like Salesforce and Bizible help immensely with this. (Salesforce has a great lead-gen optimized landing page, by the way!)

But even the most complex lead tracking system won’t display data in your Adwords or Bing Ads account. You’ll only see the initial form fills (and possibly calls) in your account. You might have a PPC campaign that’s generating lots of initial leads, but few sales – in which case, you should de-prioritize it, not bid it higher as you’d be tempted to do by looking at the initial lead data.

That means that tools like Conversion Optimizer and other bid algorithms are potentially optimizing for the wrong thing. Even if you do get data from your client or boss on what keywords or campaigns ultimately drove sales, it’s usually a manual process to tie that back to the original data and calculate your lead-to-close percentage and cost. It’s not impossible – and it’s important to do – but it’s a challenge for nearly every PPC lead generation advertiser.

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

Recently, I wrote a post titled 3 Signs That Google Hates B2B Advertisers. The gist of the post is that, as I alluded to earlier, many of Google’s features are geared toward ecommerce rather than lead generation. The same is true for Bing, and even Facebook and Twitter, although the social engines have quite a few features for lead generation.

So how do you overcome these challenges? Certainly it doesn’t make sense to abandon PPC, as it can be the largest source of qualified leads for advertisers. Really, you just need to understand all the features and functions, and use them appropriately. There are some features you won’t be able to take advantage of, but that’s ok.

All the best practices of PPC still apply: understand your goals, test, test, and test again; create good campaign structure, and understand your buyer journey. Try to get data from your client on how leads are progressing through the cycle. Optimize your landing pages. And ignore the new stuff that Google introduces for ecommerce advertisers.

I actually enjoy the challenge of generating leads in PPC. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a client’s lead volume increase so much that they tell you to pause PPC while they catch up!

What about you? Have you run into challenges with lead generation PPC? How have you overcome them? Share in the comments!

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  1. Mel – great article. We do a lot of large scale B2B lead gen. It’s fun, exciting and you can generate results across search, display and social channels. But you are right – tracking is insanely frustrating. Deep sales funnels don’t easily sync with digital advertising’s conversion tracking focus (or even the few decent attribution tracking options). Where we are finding success is saddling up the sales funnel/CRM data with remarketing and custom audience activity on display and social. For success metrics tracking micro conversions (did they convert on the new touch point?) and ultimately tracking those leads through sale. I had a great conversation with Steve Hammer on brainstorming ways to track individuals from initial lead through close using the basic tools at our disposal like AdWords conversion codes.

    If it wasn’t clear… this topic gets me all jazzed up. ; )

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Nice! Yes, I love the challenge of figuring out how to tie everything together. I’m also excited about LinkedIn’s Lead Accelerator – that technology looks really cool. I just hope they don’t go all LinkedIn Ads on us and create a crappy, unusable interface. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

    • Great article Melissa and thanks for the Bizible shoutout! I agree, it’s really important to connect PPC to the CRM to optimize for revenue, instead of leads, and make the best optimization decisions.

      I have to say, I too actually enjoy the challenge of generating leads in PPC. It’s definitely hard, but rewarding. Personally my biggest challenge is getting enough targeted volume. I’d spend more in paid search if there was more volume.

  2. You hit the nail on the head. By integrating paid search data with Salesforce, you’re looking at a real gamechanger. One example would be optimizing to Cost per Opportunity instead of Cost per Conversion.

    We’ve used Bizible with a dozen of our clients and it really helps us get results. Two thumbs up for Bizible!!

  3. Great article indeed. And yes that LinkedIn’s Lead Accelerator looks really cool.

  4. Great post.

    We’re a largely B2B technology marketing firm. We use Google Ads from time to time. We face all the issues you’ve described plus a few more challenges that I’ll illustrate with the example of “SAP Mailing List”. This product is a target mailing list of SAP customers worldwide, sold in the format of an Excel XLSX file. The target audience for this product is SAP service providers who want to run email and cold call campaigns to pitch their implementation / upgrade offerings to existing SAP users. The challenges are as follows:

    #1. By its very nature, B2B ads use copy that is tuned more towards the pain area faced by target audience whereas the landing page uses content that is tuned more towards how our product alleviates the pain area. This campaign is no exeption. This results in a lack of 100% fit between ad copy and landing page content. This in turn reduces our Ad Quality Score and, hence, our Ad Position.

    #2. We’re legitimately selling a product that’s exclusively connected with SAP. But we don’t obviously own the SAP trade name. Our ad copy needs to use a third-party trade name, which results in our ads being placed in queue for approval. As a result, our ads get inordinately delayed.

    Much appreciate if you – or other B2B PPC users in this forum – can suggest solutions / workarounds for these problems. Thanks in advance.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Many companies have a trademark approval process for authorized resellers, allowing them to use their name in ads. This also depends on the country in which you’re advertising, as trademark laws/policies vary. If you are an authorized SAP reseller/partner, I recommend contacting them to see if you can get approved to use their name. As for the landing page, agree this is a challenge. You could try using a Q&A format, where you state the pain point (in other words, restate what users are searching for) and then your answer to it. Others may have other ideas.


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