Contrary to popular belief, PPC campaigns never make money. It’s marketing. All you do is spend money.
Of course, you spend that money in the hopes that people will see your ads, visit your website or business and actually buy your product or service, but nobody ever says, “Hey, that ad was really nice. Have some money.”
As a result, PPC is always dependent on someone or something else to actually make a sale. For some companies, the sale happens on a landing page or eCommerce site. For others, sales depend on a good ol’ fashioned sales team or a brick-and-mortar establishment.
Regardless of how the final sale happens, PPC is most effective when it is designed from the ground up to facilitate sales. This article discusses several ways to more effectively produce sales, with a particular emphasis on how to produce great leads for sales teams.
Quantity vs. Quality
Since PPC is all about producing sales, we need to address the age-old question: Is it better to have more leads or better qualified leads?
Ask any sales team this question and they’ll tell you they want more leads…but they also want better leads. The PPC account manager, on the other hand, is almost always focused on lead volume. After all, their job is to get people in the door, not to get them to buy.
A great PPC campaign, however, doesn’t generate leads—it generates sales.
To really get the most out of your PPC advertising, you have to determine what the right blend of quantity and quality is for your business. Defining this unifies marketing and sales into the kind of team effort that transforms businesses.
However, there are a lot of factors that go into your marketing “secret sauce.” For example, would you rather have 10 leads at $10 per lead that produces one sale or 1 lead that cost you $100 that turns into a sale?
Taking opportunity cost into account, the $100 lead seems like an obvious choice, but the equation isn’t always that simple. For example, if your marketing team has an effective lead nurturing program, those extra 9 leads could turn into an extra 2-3 sales down the road.
Set Yourself Up For Success
So, how do you turn marketing and sales into a powerhouse combination? Here are few opportunities to consider:
Match Search Intent Everywhere
Sales-focused ads are written to accomplish a very specific goal. That goal may vary depending on where in the sales funnel you are targeting your audience, but every aspect of your ad—from keywords to landing page—needs to be designed with that goal in mind.
For example, the bigger your keyword list, the harder it is to match your ad copy to the intent of the search that triggered your ad. Limiting the keywords to a few search terms and then writing your ad copy to include those terms allows you to see which searches actually produce sales.
That focus should then extend through your ads to your landing page. Again, your landing page should reflect the intent that triggered the ad and earned you the click. Poor landing page message match is effectively the same thing as saying, “Eh, I didn’t really want you to buy. I just wanted the privilege of paying for your click.”
If you happen to be using Unbounce, you can simplify your life by using their dynamic keyword insertion option to change the headline and content of your entire page based on the ad that was clicked. All you have to do is tweak your Final URL in AdWords!
If you are bidding on higher funnel terms, it’s often best to use your ad copy to qualify your customer. You don’t want to pay for a lot of low-intent clicks on more general terms, so if you need the broader exposure, make sure you are writing your ad copy to filter out as many irrelevant clicks as possible.
This strategy can work, but it can also kill your click-through-rate and—by extension—your quality score, so you need to be very deliberate about how and why you use it. For this reason, it almost always works better to keep your keywords, ads and landing pages laser-focused on the intent you are selling to.
Nurture Your Leads
As mentioned previously, lead nurturing can dramatically increase the profitability of your PPC efforts. One of the great things about Unbounce is how easily it integrates with customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Marketo, Salesforce and Infusionsoft.
A friend of mine describes the psychology of online marketing this way, “Companies are extroverts and people are introverts.” Most people take time to warm up to a sale.
For those leads that take their time, simply implementing an email drip campaign can set you up for a lot of extra sales. MailChimp only costs about $10 a month and integrates well with most CRM tools, so there really aren’t any good excuses for not having some sort of lead nurturing program.
Working With Sales Teams
Sales teams add an extra layer of complexity to the sales-marketing dynamic. PPC is a fantastic way to generate leads, but using it effectively requires great communication between marketing and sales.
For example, one of my clients runs a business in the tech industry. They hired us to improve their return-on-investment and—from what we could tell—we were killing it! We had cut their cost-per-lead in half while doubling their lead volume.
Unfortunately, while everything looked great from the PPC side of things, what we were really killing was their lead quality. All the numbers we could see—including the cost-to-revenue ratio—looked good, but what we weren’t seeing was how much time our low-quality leads were costing the sales team.
With so many bad leads to filter through, sales cost went through the roof and marketing’s win crippled profitability.
Once we realized what was happening, it was a relatively easy problem to solve with a couple of changes. First, we implemented a strategy for staying in close contact with sales to prevent another runaway situation. We also introduced a “revenue-per-lead” metric that allows us to evaluate the quality of leads in a more relevant way.
The moral of the story? The better your PPC account manager and salespeople understand each other, the better your results will be. Ideally, sales and marketing should understand and be aligned around these three questions:
1. Where are Leads at in the Buying Cycle?
Different marketing channels produce different types of leads at different costs. For example, paid search leads are usually high intent leads, but they’re also some of the most expensive leads. Other PPC channels—such as paid social ads or display network ads—are higher funnel but lower cost.
The PPC account manager usually knows where the leads are coming from and what they cost; but, if the sales team doesn’t understand how or why they got a lead, it makes it much more difficult for them to respond appropriately.
On the flip side, an educated sales team has the best sense for how likely leads from different sources are to actually close. This information should be a critical part of deciding which ads to run and at what budgets. Additionally, it can provide insight into what ad copy, call-to-action or other elements of the marketing experience produce the best leads and customer experience.
2. How Do We Score Leads?
While crosstalk between the PPC account manager and sales team seems like a straightforward idea, there can be challenges in bridging the two fields. Online marketing performs in the realm of averages and statistics. Sales, on the other hand, is highly individualized.
For this reason, the sales process for leads is often quite subjective and heavily dependent on the specific team or salesperson. This variability and subjectivity can make the data-driven account manager nuts!
To create measurables for the sales team’s efforts that the account manager can use, I strongly recommend developing a purely objective approach to lead scoring. For example, basic qualifications such as call duration, company size or the role of a lead with their organization can easily be tracked and provide an objective framework for lead quality.
Using this approach gives the account manager a proactive way to optimize campaigns based on initial lead quality. It’s not quite as good as a collaborative lead scoring system, but it gives the account manager a meaningful way to assess their efforts and focus on providing more effective sales opportunities.
3. What Lead Volume Does Sales Really Need?
Sales teams are coin-operated by nature. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to understand that your salespeople are primarily motivated by personal gain. As a result, what they want isn’t always what’s best for the company.
For example, most sales teams prefer to be inundated with leads so that they can sort through and pick the best ones. However, the more leads you give to sales, the less incentivized they are to make the difficult sales happen.
Generally speaking, easy leads cost the same as challenging leads, so overfeeding your sales team can waste a lot of expensive leads and cripple your marketing ROI.
Whether you’re producing leads for your sales team or driving traffic to an eCommerce site, the ultimate goal of PPC marketing is to produce sales. If you’re not improving the company’s bottom line, you’re not doing your job.
To set up a sales-optimized campaign, you have to look at marketing and sales as two parts of a cohesive whole. It takes some extra work, but this sort of “click-to-close” marketing approach can turn a mediocre PPC account into a blockbuster.
If you’d like to find out how we can help you turn your PPC campaigns into dynamite lead and sales gen machines, let us know!
You’ve heard my two cents, now it’s your turn.
How do you integrate sales and marketing to maximum effect? Would you add any tips to this list?
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