How to Specifically Target Business Customers with Pay Per Click

One of the main challenges of managing SEM for B2B companies in particular is targeting business customers when there is a large volume of consumer or retail traffic searching similar keywords. You can end up squandering your budget on the wrong type of traffic, inundating your sales team with low quality leads, and destroying your account's Quality Score.

Some companies are blessed with industry-specific and commonly known terminology that only a business customer would be searching. Those lucky few can quickly knock out a keyword list and be comfortable knowing that anybody searching for those keywords is a business customer looking for products or services they offer. It’s much more challenging for companies that serve business customers in a market that has a large retail or consumer component.


Here are a few tips you can use to specifically target business customers with your next PPC campaign.

Tip 1: Get Specific

In many cases you will need to skip the general, high volume keywords all together and focus your keyword list solely on the mid and long tail. You will be sacrificing traffic volume but you’ll likely improve the quality of traffic and attract users that are more likely to convert.

Consider the most general keywords a potential business customer might use when beginning to look for your products or services. If the search results they will get include a wide range of offerings for consumers and businesses at a wide range of price points, the first thing they are going to do is modify their search to something more specific. They’ll try again.

Now think about what those second or third searches are likely to bb — because those are the keywords that will drive high quality traffic. Build keyword lists with modifying words like industrial, commercial, supplier, distributor, large, etc. Better still are keywords with specific industry terminology included. These kinds of keyword modifiers can often distinguish the knowledgeable, valuable business customer from the consumer masses.

As a simple example, consider a specialty commercial vacuum equipment company. They may be able to drive a lot of traffic (and generate a lot of cost) with the keyword vacuums, but they are far more likely to generate a sale from a user that searched silica dust vacuum. Including only these mid and long tail keywords may mean that you cannot attract as much traffic as you would in a perfect world, but that traffic will be high quality and worth paying for.

Tip 2: Adjust Your Ad Scheduling

Another method to improve the likelihood of attracting business customers is to adjust your ad scheduling or set bid modifiers by time-of-day and day-of-week so you are more aggressive during business hours.

Business categories with little or no consumer overlap will likely see volume decrease during non-business hours but conversion rates will often stay the same. The thinking goes that if someone is searching for your products or services on a weekend then clearly they are interested during that timeframe—so make yourself available. In those cases, no adjustment is necessary.

However, where consumer overlap is a challenge, many of the high quality business customers will vanish during non-business hours and the search volume that remains will largely be low value retail consumers. Monitor your conversion rates and the quality of the leads that you generate in business versus non-business hours. You may find that it makes sense to bid less aggressively or to pause some campaigns completely during certain time periods.

Tip 3: Make it clear

Try making it explicitly clear in your ad copy that you exclusively serve business customers. The goal is to actively deter consumer and retail users from clicking your ad. It can be counterintuitive that you would include language intended to ward off potential site traffic. But in PPC you are paying by the click, so you’re better off if the users that are unlikely to be good customers avoid your ads in the first place.

In some cases you may find that these ads have too low of a click through rate, which can hurt your Quality Score — and that shouldn’t be ignored. I would suggest the remedy for that is narrowing your keyword list to prevent those impressions from happening in the first place rather than trying to rewrite your ads to make them more appealing to consumer traffic that will probably never offer you profitable sales growth.

These are just a few of the ways we try to seek out the high quality business customers hiding in a sea of consumer searches.

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