All, Lead Generation, Marketing 101

B2B Paid Media Insights: 5 Mistakes You Might be Making with Google Ads

As a leader of a B2B startup or small business, you may have considered or are running pay-per-click Google Ads for lead generation. In the world of B2B paid media, Google Ads is a very popular choice because they capture search intent and you only pay when someone clicks. However, if you’ve been running Google Ads without significant activity or the desired conversions, it’s time to reassess your strategy. Read on for some of the most common mistakes businesses make when running B2B paid media campaigns through Google Ads—and what to do instead.


Mistake #1: Not understanding the types of leads you’d like to generate

Once you’ve decided that you want to run a Google Ads campaign, the first question to ask yourself is: “what kind of leads do I need to generate?” The approach for top-of-funnel (not ready to buy) leads would be different than bottom-of-funnel (ready for sales). The keywords, ads, landing pages, and follow-up should be aligned with the intent level of your target prospect.

Top-of-funnel (ToF) campaigns may have a broader set of keywords and some kind of downloadable asset as the conversion. For example: checklists, webinars, or whitepapers. They will likely not be ready to talk to your sales team. These leads will have a lower cost-per-lead—maybe $150-$250—but will also need a lot more nurture after generation. Expect very low conversion rates for these leads to turn into meetings.

Bottom-of-funnel campaigns will have a much narrower set of keywords for prospects  who are actively in-market would use and a call-to-action for a demo, free trial, assessment, or discussion with an expert. These types of leads should convert to meetings at a much higher rate, but will also have a higher cost-per-conversion rate. Expect to pay between $500-$900 per lead.

We typically run bottom-of-funnel campaigns for our clients who need to generate meetings for their sales team and see about 50% of the MQLs from paid ads convert into opportunities.


Mistake #2: Your keywords are wrong

Every Google Ads campaign requires that you add keywords so that your ad can be found when people search for them. While keyword research can be fairly complex for Google Ads, there are a number of best practices to keep in mind.

The most important consideration is the quality of your keywords. While this may seem obvious to some, make sure you’re choosing keywords that your target audience is searching for.

First, always consider the searcher’s intent when choosing keywords. Choosing a broad keyword like “security technology” will not only bring in people who are looking to purchase security technologies, but also anyone who wants to learn more about it. Be specific with your keywords and choose something targeted, such as “cloud penetration testing service”, “attack surface management platform”, or “identity management solution”.  This will ensure you’re attracting prospects with the right intent for your offer.

Also, test both broad match and phrase match terms. Place each into their own ad group so you can compare results easily. Be sure to look at the search terms that your ads are showing up for regularly—daily or weekly—to help identify which keywords you should remove or modify. We find that for bottom-of-funnel leads, phrase match delivers best because we’re able to be more targeted to the high-intent audience we’re looking for.

And don’t forget to liberally add negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing up in the wrong searches. Common terms might include careers, salary, jobs, and certifications. Check the “Search Terms” tab, we think you’ll be surprised by what types of searches your terms are showing up for.

Once a prospect clicks on your ad and hits your landing page, seeing the keywords that they searched for increases the likelihood of them engaging further. They are more likely to convert when the content on your landing page closely matches their search intent. The performance of your ads will continue to improve as Google recognizes the alignment between what you’re advertising and what you’re offering on your landing page.


Mistake #3: Your budget is too small

Deciding on the right Google Ads budget is critical to your overall marketing planning, as well as the success of your individual Google Ads campaigns.

When determining your budget, start from a high-level view first. Ask yourself: How much are you willing to spend on these leads based on your offer, and how will this program compare to the cost per lead from your other demand generation programs?

For example, a lead generated from a campaign that offers a demo may be more valuable to you than a lead generated from a campaign that offers a whitepaper. Thinking through the amount of time and resources you put into your leads at each stage of their qualification will help you determine how much you want to spend on  Google Ads.

It’s important not to underfund your campaign—if an ad campaign is worth doing, it’s worth properly funding to get the results you need. Look for industry benchmarks to determine how much you should expect to spend per lead, per MQL, and per opportunity—and then multiply that by how many leads, MQLs, or opportunities you ideally want from paid ads.

That’s not to say you can’t test Google Ads at a lower budget, but be sure to set realistic expectations. If your benchmarks show that you will pay about $1000 per lead, a $500 test campaign isn’t going to give you enough data to see if your program will pay off.


Mistake #4: You’re not tracking the right conversion

You’re probably tracking each form fill as a conversion within Google Ads right now, either by using the native Google Ad conversion pixel or through your integration with GA4.

Google Ads optimizes your conversion campaigns using this data. So if your campaign generates a lot of spam or low-quality conversions, Google is going to optimize your campaigns for the wrong audience.

Instead, use your marketing automation platform – such as HubSpot or Pardot – to deliver the conversion to Google Ads ONLY when that lead reaches a lifecycle status that defines it as a quality lead.

As a HubSpot partner, we set up an “Event” within the Ads section of HubSpot which will deliver a conversion to Google Ads once a lead becomes an MQL. This will help Google to optimize your campaigns for quality leads, not just any old form fill.


Mistake #5: You’re not testing or optimizing your campaigns

Once you’ve set up your Google Ads campaigns, it’s important to A/B test them. Whether you decide to make two separate versions of your ad, your call to action, or your landing page, it won’t take much time to create two nearly identical campaigns and test which is getting better click-through rates and conversions. Once you see which campaign is performing better, you can turn off the poorer-performing campaign and continue testing more variables with your winning campaign.

It’s important to monitor and optimize your campaigns regularly. In the beginning, you’ll want to check them daily. After they begin working well, you can drop that down to once or twice per week. Make it a point to check your campaign’s Optimization Score and keep it as close to 100% as possible. It’s all too common for companies to run Google Ads campaigns indefinitely without monitoring the performance and making tweaks to their ads, keywords, and budget. By keeping an eye on your campaigns, you can ensure that you’ll be getting the most out of your Google Ads dollars.


While Google Ads can be a fairly complex program to run with many aspects consider, following these five best practices will help you see better results with your campaigns and ultimately generate more qualified leads for your company.

Have additional questions about B2B paid media through Google Ads or need help determining if it’s the right program for your business? Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.