Google is one of the best tools to use for capturing demand. However, knowing what kind of demand your business generates is invaluable when it comes to strategizing your ads accounts.
The search engine is powerful when it comes to driving traffic, generating leads, and increasing sales. However, not all businesses are built the same, and the approach to running pay-per-click (PPC) ads for a business-to-business (B2B) Software as a Service (SaaS) product can differ significantly from that of a DTC eCommerce store. In this blog, let’s discuss the similarities between running Google ads for both business types, the differences between them, and the marketing strategies you can use to maximize your return on investment on the platform.
Why should you run Google ads?
Most paid social platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are great for top of funnel, brand awareness campaigns. Unlike those other advertising platforms, Google is a bottom of the funnel platform, made to capture the demand that you’ve already created on other online marketing platforms and social media. Because of this, you’re paying for clicks from new customers who are more likely to convert on your ad, and your target customers are already looking for your product. But, that does also mean that your Google ads campaigns are more expensive (higher CPCs).
Similarities between B2B SaaS and eCommerce Google Ads:
First, let’s talk about the similarities between running Google ads for ecom and B2B SaaS (and any other industry, really).
Choosing relevant keywords
Keyword research is the heart and soul of Google Search ads. You want to bid on the keywords that people are searching for, yet you also want to capture those keywords that show intent in them. For example, a person searching for “hoodies” aren’t as likely to be purchasing something compared to a person searching for “best hoodies for a gift for girlfriend.”
Being strategic and selective with your keywords is important no matter the industry you’re in. You don’t want to waste too much money on keywords that are probably not going to convert anytime soon.
Emphasis on ad quality and relevance
Google gives each keyword that you big on a magic score out of 10. This is known as Quality Score. Quality Score measures how relevant your ads (and landing pages) are to the keyword you’re bidding on. A higher Quality Score means that Google will rank your ads higher on the search engine results, increasing your visibility. You can read more about Quality Score in this article.
With that being said, no matter what you’re advertising on the platform, you need to be aware of your Quality Score, and work towards improving it. The good news is that Google tells you where your ads are lacking.
For the keyword above, we know that the Quality Score is 5 out of 10. We also know that the Expected CTR is rated as “Below average.” This means that we need to write ad copy that speaks more to our target audience, adding things like offers, and unique selling points in the ad copy, or adding ad extensions to the ads.
Utilization of ad extensions
No matter what industry you’re running Google ads in, you should always have ad extensions. There are a few reasons why having ad extensions are a no-brainer, but my favorites are:
- It takes up more real estate in the search results, which makes you more clickable and attractive to searchers.
- You can add more information about your business, without being held back by Headline and Description character limits.
Running a holiday sale or a quick promotion? Add it as an extension. Do you offer a free trial for 30 days? Add it as an extension.
In this Google Search ad, Adidas uses sitelink extensions to take up real estate in the Google search results.
Continuous testing and optimization
The fun part about running a Google ads account is that it’s not a set and forget process. Running a Google ads account is never a set and forget process. It requires constant monitoring and optimization, no matter the industry you’re in.
Optimizations will vary based on variables such as the bidding strategy that you set your campaign on, and the campaign type (Performance Max will need a much lower level of optimization compared to a Search campaign). Assuming that we’re running a search ads campaign on Manual CPC, optimizations can include:
- Testing ad copy variations, landing pages, and bidding strategies
- Optimizing the geo-targeting, device targeting, and ad scheduling, based on your product or service, and based on historical data of your demographic.
Differences in Google ads for B2B SaaS and ecom
Google ads for eCommerce
One huge difference between running Google ads for SaaS versus for eCommerce stores are your potential customers. With eCommerce websites, your target audience is the average consumer. Although you should have an idea of what specific customer would be interested in your product, your audience is B2C (generally).
Optimizing for sales
The main difference between running ads for eCommerce is that you’re optimizing your campaigns for sales. You want to generate the most sales, and therefore generate an associated revenue for each sale. The star metric here would be ROAS, or return on ad spend, which measures how much revenue your ads generate from 1 dollar in ad spend.
Your eCommerce landing page will be one of three things, generally. It’ll either be the dedicated product page, where the product that you’re advertising lives, or it’ll be the collection page, where all the different variations of your products live, or it’ll be a dedicated landing page (or home page for branded search terms). The dedicated landing page would highlight all the different unique selling points of your product, acting as a more advanced product page, with a lot of conversion rate optimization tests.
Here is an example of the Google Ads landing page that Nuzest.ae uses. The first thing you see is an attractive offer for their product.
Strategy: Products, deals, promos, urgency tactics
With eCommerce stores, you want to be highlighting the different products you have, the different variations you have, and the deals and promotions. You also should use tactics for the headlines and descriptions of your ad campaigns, like “sale ends soon” or “while supplies last,” to create a sense of urgency and to get your customer to purchase faster.
The bulk of your Google ads, when running ads for an ecom store, will be your shopping campaigns. With that comes your Google Merchant Center. Optimizing your merchant feed is super important when it comes to running ads for stores as the titles and descriptions that you use in your feed will show up on the ads.
Dynamic display campaigns
Another great technique that you can use when running ads for an eCommerce store is having dynamic display campaigns. Dynamic display campaigns save the product that your user viewed and then shows them the same product when they’re on other Google-partnered websites. This is a great way to remind your customers about the products that they’re most interested in after they’ve clicked out of your website.
Performance Max campaigns
Performance Max campaigns work best for eCommerce stores. It gathers all of Google’s campaign types, including Search, YouTube, Display, and Shopping, and shows your ads across all the platforms without needing to create separate campaigns for each channel. With that, since ecom ads are optimizing for sales, Performance Max will look for those searchers and Google users who are most likely to convert from your ads. If you’ve used Smart Shopping campaigns in the past, PMax is the newer, upgraded version, and works really well for eCommerce stores. It’s also quite hands-off (thanks, automation!).
Google ads for B2B SaaS
For B2B SaaS, your target audience is other business owners. Whether you’re a Shopify app or a graphic design app, you’re most likely targeting other business owners. You have to convince these business owners that your software will save them time and increase their revenue.
Optimizing for leads
With software, it’s not likely that your Google ads will be optimized towards installs. The sales cycle for software is (generally) longer unless you’re inexpensive or free. Your ads will be set to book demos, and then you, or someone on your team, will have to close the customer. The good news is that B2B SaaS has a higher LTV than most eCommerce stores since it’s subscription-based. So although Google ads can be more expensive, you’ll be getting more revenue per person who installs, evening out the costs over time.
Your landing page for your SaaS product will prompt users to book a demo. If it’s a relatively easy product to learn, then you can even prompt them to start a free trial, unless you’re a higher ticket software. For the more expensive products, it’ll take a lot more convincing from B2B businesses to install your software, so it’s unlikely they’ll install without a demo.
Here’s an example from LeadIQ, an outbound sales software. Their Google ads lead to the demo page, so business owners can immediately sign up for a demo, without getting distracted on their website.
Display campaigns are very popular for SaaS companies, especially as remarketing campaigns. Unlike eCommerce stores, which usually have more than one product, your SaaS product is your sole product. So, you don’t have to worry about running dynamic ads and making sure that your audience sees the products that they just clicked on. That being said, it’s more straightforward for SaaS companies to run display ads than it is for eCommerce companies to.
A lot of SaaS success is based on strong awareness. That’s where YouTube prevails. Softwares like Clickcease (a PPC click-fraud prevention software) regularly use YouTube ads to advertise their software. Since search campaigns for SaaS are quite expensive, YouTube video ads tend to be cheaper (and a great alternative if you’re a startup).
Performance Max campaigns
Performance Max campaigns don’t work as efficiently for generating leads as it does for generating sales. Since it works to find you the customers that are most likely to fill out your form, it’s notorious for finding spammy leads. Be wary of this if you decide to continue with Performance Max for your SaaS (or any leads campaign).
To be successful on the advertising platform, Google Ads strategies require an understanding of the nuances between SaaS and eCommerce businesses. While there are similarities in terms of keyword research, ad quality, and the need for continuous testing and optimization, advertising for each product is inherently different in its strategies, and in the type of audience that responds to it.