As customers have worked from home, B2B marketers and PR specialists have increasingly incorporated digital activities into their traditional strategies. A key tactic used by many is pay-per-click advertising or PPC. This approach is used on search, paid social and even display advertising, ensuring you only pay for traffic to your website.

But there is no point in generating clicks if the visitors aren’t actually interested in your website. So how do you ensure that you are implementing a strategically crafted PPC campaign that can provide traffic, leads and ultimately customers?

Napier recently held a webinar ‘The Secrets to a Successful PPC Campaign‘, which explores what B2B marketers need to consider when implementing a PPC campaign and covers:

  • What is PPC?
  • Benefits of running a PPC campaign vs a display campaign
  • The different PPC platforms you can use
  • How to use PPC with ABM
  • Top tips for programmatic advertising

Register to view our webinar on demand by clicking here, and why not get in touch to let us know if our insights helped you.

Napier Webinar: ‘The Secrets to a Successful PPC Campaign’ Transcript

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Hannah: Hi, and welcome to Napier’s latest webinar, the secrets to a successful Pay Per Click campaign. As a quick introduction, my name is Hannah, and I’m the business development manager at Napier. And I’ll be interviewing Mike, the managing director today, we are taking it in a slightly different format with regard to an interview rather than a presentation, with the aim to really help people who aren’t digital experts get up to speed on pay per click advertising campaigns. So with that in mind, I think the best place to start is to ask Mike, what is pay per click advertising? And how can we use it.

Mike: Hi, Hannah. Thanks so much for running the webinar today. So it’s a great introductory question, what is pay per click advertising? Well, at the most basic level, pay per click is advertising where you pay only when someone clicks on an ad. And not when someone sees an ad. So traditionally, in most publications, when you buy space, you buy on a per impression basis. So you pay when people see the ad. With pay per click, you pay when somebody actually clicks, then reality it’s not quite as simple as that. Because there’s various other models you can use that are all included within that pay per click. So you can actually measure conversions and pay for conversions, for example, but that’s very simply what Pay Per Click is. And typically, you see pay per click in areas such as Google search, or Bing search. So search advertising. You see it on social media platforms. And you also see a lot of pay per click on retargeting and a bit of it on display where you’re not targeting a particular publication. But rather you’re perhaps targeting an audience across a range of publications.

Hannah: That’s a great explanation. Thanks, Mike. So you know, you talk a bit about doing LinkedIn retargeting search, but what I’m really interested in knowing is what are the benefits of running a pay per click campaign? First is a display campaign, for example?

Mike: Well, it’s a great question that gets right to the root of why we’re talking about this. So obviously, the benefit of a pay per click campaign is you’re only paying when somebody takes an action when somebody clicks on your ad. And in theory, what that should mean is that you’re actually paying for valuable traffic to your website, rather than just paying to show the ad to people who may or may not be relevant. Now, of course, it’s not quite that simple. Because once you start running Pay Per Click campaigns, you’ll very quickly find that a lot of people click on ads that they have no interest in, there’s a lot of spam clicks that are happening. And also, you’ll find that there is value in actually showing the ad and changing people’s perception. So it’s not quite as simple as just saying, you know, you pay for results, rather than paying for actually showing the ad. But at a basic level, there’s a lot of truth in that kind of concept.

Hannah: Brilliant. So would you say there’s more? What are the pros and cons for each, you know, they’re more advanced is to pay per click or, you know, more advices to display? Or actually does it depend on the approach and what you’re looking to achieve? I think it does depend on the approach. So if you look at buying display for certain publication, all you’re doing is buying their traffic. So you’re actually saying I want to show ads to people who read this sort of content. And that can be really, really effective. We know that advertising in industrial publications works well. So absolutely, there can be benefits there. However, you might be also advertising to quite a broad audience when what you want to do is target a very focused audience. And so that can be the downside. So if you look at you know, very general title, I mean, I N is a classic industrial title appeals to a very broad range of people.

Typically, if you’re running ads on that publication, you might be reaching a lot of people who are never going to be customers, and you’re paying by impressions, you’re paying for those people who see your ad even though they won’t be a customer. Now, if you look at pay per click, that’s very different, because pay per click, then really what you feel you’re doing is you’re paying for the people interact. So the high quality. Now, there are some really important things to remember about pay per click. The first is that almost all pay per click is done on a bidding basis on a real time auction. And literally every time the ad is shown, there’s an auction to decide which ad is shown.

And so what happens is, is that companies like Google are fundamentally looking to optimise the revenue they get. So what they’ll do is they’ll look at your bid how much you’re prepared to spend on the ad. But they’ll also look at your click through rate and the ad performance. So the features around the ad performance and crudely speaking what they’re looking to do is maximise the revenue. And roughly, and this is certainly not a precise number, but very roughly, the value of your ad to Google is your click through rate times your bid per click, because that gives you an idea of how much money they’re gonna make.

So, you may think this is fantastic, I’m advertised to a wide audience, and I’m only going to pay for the clicks, the dangerous, you’ll pay more for the clicks. So I think there’s there’s really lots of subtle differences in terms of, you know, is it better to pay for clicks, is it better to pay for impression, frankly, actually, it’s better to have a really good campaign that targets the audience, you want to reach really well. And I guess that’s where the last thing I’d say about Pay Per Click comes in, is that if you look at the platforms that run pay per click, then perhaps that’s the biggest reason for choosing pay per click. So that might be Google. Now, Google talks a lot about intent. So if somebody searches for a product, so if somebody searches for a motor drive, then the chances are, they’re actually looking to buy that product. So you’re actually reaching someone with an ad at the point when they’re considering that particular product. So the intent has huge value, more value than the fact you’re doing pay per click, rather than pay per impression. It’s all about the intent. And equally, if you look at some of the social platforms, LinkedIn is a great example. You can be very precise in who you target. So with LinkedIn, you can target down to specific companies, specific job titles, specific countries, you can be really, you know, really accurate on who you’re trying to reach. And again, that that really detailed demographics for your targeting can actually be worth more than the factor of doing Pay Per Click rather than pay per impression.

Hannah: That’s a really good point, because you know, you’re talking about lots of different tactics, lots of different areas. But what it comes down to is that you do what makes a good campaign and what’s going to generate results for you.

Mike: Exactly, yeah, it’s all about, you know, starting from what you want to achieve, and working out what the best campaign is, rather than saying, I’m going to do pay per click, because it’s the best advertising approach there is. It’s not necessarily the best advertising approach. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

Hannah: Definitely. So if we take a look at actually designing a pay per click advertising campaign, you know, we’ve got some clients, non-clients listening today, at Napier, we use a unique four step process. Did you just want to walk us a little bit through that and how you would look at designing a campaign?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I love our four step process when we get into things like pay per click, because it works so well. So for people who don’t know, our four step process starts with the determine phase, this is where we’re looking at what the situation is analysing the situation. And we’re also trying to work out how we’re going to outsmart the competition.

The next phase is focus. And that’s about the audience the message and the channels. And clearly, with pay per click, this is where we would decide to run a pay per click campaign, and which channels we choose to use. We then have the deliver stage, which is about getting results. And lastly, we have the enhanced stage. Now the enhanced stage is super important in pay per click, because Pay Per Click is so suited to experimentation, particularly as, generally speaking, you’re running them on a self service platform. So you’re able to deliver the ads that you want to deliver, you’re able to change it so you can test and experiment. So if you’re working through a campaign, that’s going to be pay per click, you start with a determined phase. And here you look at what you’re trying to achieve. Now let’s say for example, you’re trying to achieve, say newsletter signups or datasheet, downloads, you’d recognise that this is what you’re trying to do. And you’re trying to identify what you’re trying to impact. So whether it’s trying to find people who are looking to design or just trying to find people are looking for background information. As you go through the focus stage, you then look at the audience itself. So are you looking for engineers? Are you looking for senior engineers? Are you looking for VPS of engineering? What’s your audience and also you look at the message. And here’s where you start building the ad campaign.

And let’s say for example, we’ve decided that we’re targeting people who are looking to buy motor drives, again, as I picked earlier, where people are searching for drives, we want to show our ad. And here, you start building an understanding of the audience you want to reach. So we would absolutely always build personas, and customer journeys and work out where the search comes in the customer journey, and why that individual might be searching. At that point. Once we know what the intent is why they’re doing the search what they want, then we can serve an ad that’s relevant to their needs. And at that point, we can also decide the channels if it’s search. Clearly, it probably be running on Google with the biggest searcher, but actually, there are a lot of campaigns that run successfully on Bing. So there are ways to also look beyond Google if you feel your persona is less likely to use Google and obviously, the enhanced stage we would set objectives. So as I said earlier, we might be looking for newsletter signups. Initially, we probably have an idea of how much we value a sign up. So let’s say we’re prepared to pay, for example, $40. For a sign up, we can then measure the performance of our campaign against our target, which is cost per sign up. And that will allow us to optimise and we can run testing as well as we enhanced the campaign to make it run more and more effectively.

Hannah: That’s a great overview. Thanks, Mike. So if we apply this to a more specific scenario, so say we were looking to target the top 20 companies in the semiconductor market? How would you use the approach and the steps you’ve just talked through to really narrow down and get results from this sort of campaign?

Mike: That feels like you’re asking me how to do your job as business development manager for Napier. But it’s a great example. So if we look at what we’re trying to achieve, with our campaign, we’d probably looking to get some engagement with a certain proportion of those top 20 semiconductor manufacturers. So our goal for the campaign or objective might be to get one or two phone calls, that might be the objective. Now, that’s important, because that’s not something that’s directly measurable. When you’re running a pay per click campaign, it’s something you need to add in at the end as to whether you’ve got those calls. And I think that’s really important, always considering your business goal, as well as the numbers you get from whatever platform you’re using to run the ads.

But looking at that, we then say, well, what do we want to do? You know, we want to target these people. Who do we want to target? Well, the people we want to target are probably marketing managers, PR managers, VPS of marketing, CMOS at those companies. So we know their demographics, their job title, we know the company names.

And then we’d look up, well, what are we trying to tell them, we’re probably not trying to target these people, when they they’re looking when they’re searching for a PR agency, because that’s not going to happen very often, it’s pretty infrequent. And frankly, if you’re in marketing, or PR or Communications at top 20 semiconductor company, you probably get a lot of approaches anyway, from PR agencies. So you probably are being approached all the time, you don’t need to search. So clearly, we know the demographics, we know the job titles, you know, the companies, this is pointing us towards using LinkedIn as our channels, our platform. And through the messaging we’d want to do would be focused around how Napier can provide a differentiated service to some of the other agencies that might be used by these companies. So that’s really the process of developing it. But once you’ve got that core campaign, you might decide to add other things. So as example, you might decide to add retargeting, or you might say, Well, actually, I know that this particular agencies got a very high proportion of those top 20 semiconductor companies, I’m actually going to advertise against searches for that agency’s name. Because a lot of people still type in, you know, whatever they’re looking for, rather than the website, it’s just quicker, and then click on the googling. So there may be a way to actually then interject in terms of the search, to interrupt people and get them to think Well, hey, actually, maybe there’s other agencies. But that would be the real process, we’d obviously have our metric of calls. And with the enhanced cam, part of the campaign, we’d be looking at whether we can walk people through steps towards those calls. And obviously, those steps might include, you know, for example, registration or a contact form inquiry, it might include engagement with emails, and then it might be the actual call itself. So there might be several steps after the pay per click measurement that we can look at, and measure and then use that to improve and enhance the performance.

Hannah Yeah, I love that. And I love like how many options there are, you know, bidding against competitors, that sort of thing. Just going back to you know, you mentioned LinkedIn that we could, you know, if they were focusing LinkedIn is going to be our primary tactic. Are we then talking about account based marketing here? Would we perhaps use other platforms such as a direct account based marketing platform such as Nrich? What sort of tactics should we expand outside of the pay per click?

Mike: Well, you’re absolutely right, quite often pay per click is based around account based marketing. And almost always when you’re doing LinkedIn, it’s some form of account based marketing, because you’re typically focusing either on a target customer list, or you’re focusing on particular markets. So there is a huge overlap between pay per click and account based marketing because of the capabilities of a lot of the platforms. So absolutely. When you’re doing this, I think it’s important not to think about Pay Per Click as the goal. It’s not that you’re trying to run a pay per click campaign. You’re trying to achieve a business goals.

So maybe you’re trying to win one of the top 20 semiconductor suppliers as a client for Napier. That means you don’t just run pay per click that might form a big part of your campaign. But I would absolutely be looking at what other tactics might support, that sort of account based marketing approach. And that could be anything from, you know, direct postal mail at one end through to a platform, right, as you say, enrich, which lets you target by IP address to actually reach specific companies. So it’s all about understanding your personas, the people you’re trying to reach? And what would be most impactful for them? What would make the biggest difference?

Hannah: Yeah, love that its about making the biggest difference. That’s definitely the key takeaway, what is it, it’s going to be most effective for your campaign? So if we had a look, if we focus a bit more into the enhanced data, the process, how would you look at measuring a campaign like this?

Mike: Well, the first thing most people do is they’ll go to the platform they’re using, whether it’s Google or LinkedIn, and they’ll probably look at a screen full of numbers, or download a spreadsheet. And I think it’s really important not to be a slave to all these numbers, because they can be very enticing, you know, you get these percentages with two decimal points after it. So you know, four significant figures of information potentially, they’re actually not that accurate, you’ve got to understand randomness. And one of the things we’ve done in Napier is we’ve actually built an A B test calculator, which lets you understand whether differences between ads are due to randomness, or actually likely to be due to a real difference in performance. So very often, we see people actually looking at the numbers, making assumptions and making decisions that really feel good, because they’ve got all these very precise feeling numbers, but actually are not statistically significant. So in reality, you shouldn’t be making those decisions. So I would say the most important thing is, whilst you to use the numbers as a tool, the numbers you get from the platform and not your goal, what your goal is, is the objective you set, when you conducted that determined phases, start what you want to achieve. And it’s all about looking as to how you’re moving prospects oriented, you know, sometimes the pay per click, it might be customers, how you’re moving them towards that end business goal. And so it’s about understanding that, rather than just trying to get the numbers that look good.

Hannah: Definitely, yeah, I agree with that. So if I took give you a slightly different scenario, I know you always like a challenge. We’ve spoken about account based marketing, using pay per click like that. But if we actually were looking to launch a search campaign, targeting people who are planning to use thermal imaging cameras how would we apply our process in this scenario?

Mike: So thermal imaging is a very interesting application, I think this is where, you know, really can start to become quite creative in pay per click. So you might decide, for example, to target people who search for thermal cameras.

That’s an easy thing to do. Probably people searching for that want to buy them. But there’s a wide range of thermal cameras. So perhaps you want to target for example, brand names. So you know, the market leader is FLIR in this market. So perhaps you want to target FLIR or some of their brand names. Or maybe you want to target fluke is number two, and again, target those those brands. So you can start looking at specific products, but that might not be the right way to go about it. Because actually, people typically are not buying a thermal camera, because they’ve been told a thermal camera, you know, is the thing to have, they’re buying a thermal camera to solve a problem. And so quite often we see people, rather than trying to target brands, which quite often can be a little bit late in the process, you know, trying to target a competitor’s brand when someone’s searching for it, they’ve probably made the decision, but you can look at some of the applications. So one example might be people use thermal cameras to detect problems, electrical panels, so high power panels, you can see problems because they show up as hotspots. So you might want to, you know, look for terms around thermal inspection of panels or thermal inspection of electrical panels. And that would be a great way to, you know, put your brand top of mind when somebody starts thinking about buying a thermal camera to solve a particular problem. But you could even go further back and you can say, Well, actually, there might be people who don’t understand the benefits of thermal cameras, when you’re trying to check panels or make sure that they’re working correctly. And so we can advertise around you know, for example, you know, just looking at panels and finding on panels, rather than somebody specifically looking for thermal cameras. And then what you’re doing is really talking about top of the funnel. So they know they’ve got a problem. They don’t actually know the solution. They’re just googling around the problem. You can present content that actually provides a solution and obviously presents your solution in the best possible light.

Hannah: And so you’ve mentioned in the previous campaigns retargeting is retargeting something that would be effective with this as well.

Mike: Absolutely, it’s, it’s always very interesting. And I think maybe less. So for LinkedIn, people can understand the value of retargeting. But in search, you know, the whole point about searches that it’s all about intent, people are trying to find something at a particular time. But incredibly, you get a lot of people who don’t convert, if you retarget, those people, they will come back, and they will convert on seeing your subsequent ads. So they’re actually converting at a time when, theoretically, we don’t know they have intent. We know they had intent in the past, but we don’t know they need the product. Now. It is interesting. And I think this is really down to the fact that most decisions in b2b tech, they actually take quite a long time to make, you know, I mean, we’re not the sort of people who, you know, going out and buying, you know, I use the drives example, but buying drives on Amazon, without even, you know, paying any attention to it or doing analysis. So, quite often, the intent phase is where people are actually analysing what products to buy, they’re doing selection. And so what the retargeting does is keeps you top of mind and keeps you in front of that customer, all the way through from from that initial start of selection all the way through to the actual purchase. And so retargeting absolutely can have a big effect, and a very surprisingly positive impact on search ads, as well as things like LinkedIn, and other social media platform ads.

Hannah: I’d have to agree because it is, you know, b2b tech, we do have long sales cycles, and retargeting I almost feel as underestimated at times of impact it can have on the results and getting people from awareness to opportunity.

Mike: Totally agree. Totally agree. You’re absolutely right. And you know, retargeting, of course typically is another form of pay per click, depends on how you’re running it. But almost all retargeting is run as pay per click. So it’s absolutely something that quite often is undervalued.

Hannah: So what is the biggest mistakes you’ve seen? This is a question I’ve been looking forward to asking what are the biggest mistakes you see when it comes to developing and deploying campaigns such as Pay Per Click?

Mike: This is this is a great question because the mistakes cover such a huge range of different areas. So one end, we see people making some, you know, what feel like fairly basic mistakes, but are made incredibly frequently. So for example, we’ll see companies that are targeting ads globally. And they might only sell in a couple of countries, I’ve seen companies where the top 10 countries for clicks. So the top 10 countries where they’re spending money are actually 10 countries where they’ve never sold a product. So, you know, understanding the platform and configuring it correctly, not making mistakes is really important.

And then I think it comes down to you know, not really being driven by just the platform, but actually putting some thought into it yourself. So really trying to think and understand. And that’s particularly important when it comes to things like numbers I said earlier, you know, don’t don’t be a slave to the numbers from the platform, think beyond the platform and the click through rates, because they’re not always the full story, try and get a much broader, a much wider picture. So you know that those are two areas, I guess, you know, firstly, it’s absolutely started, you know, with the right configuration. And then once things are running, make sure you’re looking at, you know, the right numbers, the right figures, so optimise your campaign. I mean, there’s lots of other, you know, individual mistakes that can be made. One of the ones that is surprisingly common actually is breaking the rules. So all of these platforms will have rules about what you can and can’t do. And quite often, companies will run ads that will break the rules. So for example, we talked about targeting competitors, you can absolutely target competitors and search for example, even if that search is a trademark, you can target the search, but you can’t use the trademark in your ad. According to Google’s rules. We also see issues with some, I would say inconsistent interpretation of the rules as well. So you know, there are always situations where people are running ads that you know, should be allowed to Google disallows them or vice versa and that margin, there are quite often problems. So lots and lots of things you could do I mean, really, I guess the ultimate thing, if you don’t mind me pitching a bit is people should come to agencies that know and understand pay per click, because they can help you avoid all the problems that do occur.

Hannah: I think it’s such a great point. You know, I love that concept of Don’t be a slave to the numbers. And as you’ve just explained, there’s so many more factors to consider than just the numbers you see on the screen.

Mike: Absolutely, yeah.

Hannah: So I’d say my last question to end, you know, end on a bit of a positive note. But it’d be great if you could share a couple of tips of how to deliver a successful pay per click advertising campaign.

Mike: Absolutely. And here, I’m going to talk specifically about b2b because I think it’s important to understand that we have some specific needs. So you know, the first thing you’ve got to do is understand the audience pick the right channel for the campaign. So, you know, if you’re offering deeply complex, white papers, then maybe tik tok is not the right platform to offer offer it on, perhaps you want to offer it on something more professional like LinkedIn. But if you’re offering retargeting and just trying to keep Top of Mind, then maybe you know, go ahead, try Tick tock, try Facebook, and see if that works. So understand the audience choose the right channel.

And then the next thing is don’t rely on the channels to optimise for you. Now. Now, there are lots of optimizations that can be incredibly helpful. But if you just switch everything to Super auto, I think the thing you’ll find is that you will end up with a very broad audience and when be very focused, and Google is particularly good at this, you know, trying to get you to spend 234 times what you’re spending before. By widening the audience, sometimes you know exactly who you want to target. And you want to target those people, you don’t want to target anybody else, or you want to target very specific searches, you don’t want broad match and broad match can be extremely dangerous in b2b, because you can go from a term that has, you know, only a few searches, but absolutely identifies the audience, you want to reach to a term that has many, many searches from people who are never going to be customers. So use the tools. But don’t let them create the campaign or driver campaign. We’ve talked about tests and optimise. That’s really important. Keep testing, keep optimising I mean, Napier, we often run a B tests, we’ll have, you know, little informal bets about which ad is going to win. And quite often we’re wrong. You know, quite often we’ll see an ad winning for reasons that we never expected. So I think, you know, trust the numbers, when it comes to testing, and make sure you you think about it from the audience’s side, not from your personal opinion.

And I always say use negatives. So I mean, excluding companies and LinkedIn campaigns is really important. For example, if you’re looking for customer acquisition, you want to exclude all the companies that are already customers, because you probably want different messages for companies already customers, but particularly on search as well, negative keywords are incredibly powerful. So use those negatives to rule out the people who aren’t relevant. And I guess Lastly, you know, and this comes back to, to what I think I’ve said several times during this this discussion, track what matters. So make sure that you’re tracking, you know, conversions, if you can track things electronically with conversions, or if not track it manually with business goals, whether that’s customer acquisition, whether it’s meetings, whether it’s, you know, opportunities to quote, all of that track what matters and try and link that back to what you’re actually doing in the campaign. Because the closer you get to the business result, the more impact you’re going to get from your campaign.

Hannah: This is some really insightful tips. Thanks, Mike. I have to say I’ve fallen victim to you know, the automate automations within the platforms before so it’s definitely something to learn as you go through.

Mike: Absolutely, yeah, I mean, I think most people have in recently, over the last quarter or So Google has actually turned on some automations automatically, that have broadened out campaigns. And it’s very easy to miss Google making those changes. So totally agree it’s really important to do that.

Hannah: Definitely. So I’m just gonna see if we got any questions from the audience. We haven’t got any at the moment. So I would ask what’s the best way for anyone to get in touch with you, Mike, if they’ve got any follow up questions from this webinar?

Mike: Well, hopefully clients know how to get in touch with me, anyone who’s not a client, they can obviously contact me through LinkedIn. They can go to the Napier website and pick the phone up or get our contact details, or just send an email. My email address is But you’d have probably guessed that anyway.

Hannah: Brilliant. Well, thank you all so much for your time, and we’ll end up ended here, shall we, Mike? Absolutely.

Mike: Thanks so much. It’s been a great discussion.

Hannah: Thanks, Mike.