While search engine optimization is still one of the most important disciplines to master, pay-per-click advertising is equally essential as a skill.
No matter if a brand is looking to attract B2B or B2C prospects, PPC is one of the most effective means of achieving this goal. That said, there is a vast chasm that separates the tactics employed for optimizing each type of campaign.
Understanding these differences, as well as the necessary PPC audience targeting strategies, is what will enable sellers to reach the right consumers.
To help delineate the necessary knowledge around the differences in B2B and B2C advertisements, today, we will explore the disparities, similarities and relevant tactics for using PPC ads to connect with buyers on both ends of the spectrum.
When initiating an advertising campaign, one of the primary considerations is how to reach the right consumers. After all, if a brand is selling homeowner’s insurance, targeting those in the 18-24 age bracket is likely to produce paltry results.
Take a look at the targeting categories in Google Ads:
Speaking to B2B advertisers, a prime tactic for ensuring that the right individuals are reached is to use social media ads to target by company position. Instead of targeting users by their age or interests as a B2C campaign might, a better route would be to target users based on their job title or industry via LinkedIn or Facebook.
However, where some overlap exists is that utilizing features like Lookalike Audiences can help both B2B and B2C brands find new users who are potentially interested in what the company offers.
No matter if targeting the average consumer or business leaders, brands should create buyer personas to better understand who they are trying to reach.
Here is an example buyer persona from Buffer:
Consider the clock
Another of the main differences in B2B and B2C advertising is that B2C sellers are trying to gain purchases as quickly as possible. However, with B2B, advertisers are attempting to generate business leads and ensure their product is considered in the prolonged purchase cycle.
To achieve this goal, brands must consider the timing of their ads.
In B2B advertising, businesses are trying to reach the key players within a company, those who make decisions or are closely connected to those with such power. This means that running ads within the nine-to-five timeframe is critical as this is when these individuals are actively engaged and show the highest intent to click-through.
While B2C consumers can potentially be targeted around the clock, the same is not true for B2B prospects. Instead, ads intended to reach business prospects should only run during business hours, not only for the aforementioned reason but also because this will help to conserve the business’s PPC budget.
Given this framework, brands should employ ad scheduling and bid modifications to alter bids for certain days of the week (Monday through Friday) and times of the day. For example, if advertisers notice that they receive the highest amount of click-throughs on Tuesday mornings, it is wise to increase the cost-per-click during this window.
To do this in Google Ads simply go to Ad schedule and click Bid adjustment for whichever time frame you want to increase or decrease:
While some sellers might feel equipped to manage such tasks, most will see more benefit from partnering with an e-commerce PPC management firm that can maximize potential impressions, clicks and conversions.
Much like targeting and timing, there are substantial differences in how advertisers will speak to B2B and B2C audiences.
The fact is that B2B buyers want to engage with brands that have evident expertise and knowledge of a given industry. This means that advertisers must showcase their acumen through relevant terminology, awareness of processes and similar traits that prospects will be interested in seeing.
For instance, if a CRM software provider is looking to reel in new users, but utilizes fluffy, emotionally-driven copy to do so, there is a significant chance that they will not engage the folks they are truly after. Instead, it is necessary to build confidence in potential users with more formal, fact-based messaging that has clear implications of how a product can improve business performance.
Take a look at how Intel communicates with its audience:
However, the exact inverse is true for B2C ads. When targeting average consumers, brands are wise to employ the most relatable voice possible by utilizing straightforward language that mirrors the audience. There is little to no place for jargon in B2C advertising.
Contrary to Intel, Gerber Childrenwear’s audience of mainly parents would appreciate copy like this:
Moreover, B2C ads should trigger emotions in consumers. Neil Patel speaks to this point, writing: “An analysis of 1,400 successful ad campaign case studies found that campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31 percent vs. 16 percent) as those with only rational content.”
This is a crucial dichotomy to recognize when producing B2B and B2C ads.
Negative keyword distinctions
In addition to targeting the audience on their proper characteristics, both B2C and B2B advertisers must understand what elements to exclude in order to reach the most relevant consumers.
The fact is that negative keywords are extremely helpful in weeding out irrelevant searches that eat up advertisers’ budgets. Naturally, the keywords and negative keywords that sellers employ are highly dependent on their specific industry and niche; however, there are some through lines that can be established for both B2B and B2C advertising efforts.
For instance, B2B brands offering a technological solution might want to exclude phrases that are commonly paired with the term “technology” such as:
Similarly, B2C retailers who sell new products can also immediately disqualify specific words and phrases that are not applicable to their efforts, such as:
To do this in Google Ads go to Keywords and click Negative Keywords
However, to get to the core of which terms a business should add to their negative keyword lists, it is best to consult Google’s search term report to uncover phrases that drive impressions and clicks but are wholly irrelevant or fail to convert.
Despite all the differences between B2B and B2C advertising methodologies, there are some commonalities that the two marketing efforts share.
While B2B and B2C ads can be quite different, there are some core components to each that remain the same.
For instance, no matter which type of audience is the target, it is necessary for advertisers to conduct in-depth keyword research to understand which terms and phrases will reach their customers.
Similarly, when advertising through Google, relevance is a significant component of campaign success. Therefore, utilizing compelling landing pages that closely match the ad’s offer is necessary for both B2B and B2C spaces. When there is congruence between an ad and its destination, campaigns will earn a higher quality score.
Moreover, given that consumers are prone to shopping cart abandonment and that B2B customers require a more extended courting period than other types of consumers, developing a retargeting strategy is also a fundamental aspect of campaign success shared across B2B and B2C efforts.
Bagsy decided to utilize Facebook for their retargeting efforts:
While there are plenty of differences between targeting everyday consumers and business prospects, when it comes right down to it, PPC best practices remain intact no matter who is being targeted.
No matter if ads are used in the B2B or B2C realm, it is vital for advertisers to understand the audiences to which they speak. This means that developing buyer personas and conducting market research are key elements for promoting the awareness needed to employ the right language, messaging, targeting tactics and other vital PPC campaign components.
Once this crucial piece of information has been procured, use the strategies outlined above to help your ad campaign reach and resonate with its respective buyers.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Ronald Dod is the chief marketing officer and co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end e-commerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.