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7 Ways to Increase B2B Lead Generation With SEM

By: Andrea Panno

If you’re unfamiliar with search engine marketing (SEM), it’s a technique that refers to using paid advertising to market your business in search engine results pages, also known as SERPs. SEM empowers you to advertise within search results, increase website traffic, drive leads, and generate new sales.

As digital marketing continues its ever-evolving journey, reviewing your current strategies is important to ensure relevant searches lead to your company’s content. Discover seven ways to increase B2B lead generation and have better ad performance with SEM in today’s marketing world. 

How to Increase Your B2B Lead Generation with SEM

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1. Know Your Target Audience

It might seem obvious, but B2B companies often develop ads for products and services without having a clear idea of who they’re talking to. Knowing and fully understanding your target audience is essential to developing accurate personas that serve as reference points for all your messaging.

Creating effective buyer personas can be broken down into five steps:

  1. Understand your sales cycle and all the people involved in the decision-making process
  2. Distill your focus to 2–5 stakeholders who are typically involved in your buyer’s journey
  3. Determine buckets for your stakeholders: Finance, Technology, Executive, Project Management, etc.
  4. Find an existing customer in each bucket who would be willing to talk with you
  5. Research each bucket using LinkedIn or job sites to understand their key roles and responsibilities

With well-developed personas to represent your target audience, you can create more accurate and compelling ads. As your products and services evolve, so should your personas, so be sure to revisit them often to consider any adjustments or modernizations.

2. Look at Your Competition

If you search for your ads and get inundated with content from your competitors, you have a problem to solve: how can you differentiate yourself and get your ads to have top billing? Competitor research should help you uncover some of your competitors’ top strategies so you can find ways to use similar tactics or beat them with your own.

You’ll also find missed opportunities in your own marketing plan by looking at what your competitors are marketing to what is likely a similar set of potential leads, especially regarding their keywords and other SEM tactics. Make sure you’re positioning your business competitively compared to similar companies.

3. Use Best Practices for Ads

While it’s tempting and easy to get flashy in digital marketing, you must keep your target market in mind. In B2B, you’re likely advertising to mid-to-high-level decision makers, buyers, managers, and business owners who respond best to a relatively conservative, professional look and feel.

Best practices that ensure digital B2B ads are consistent and focused include:

  • Rely on personas to guide your language and messaging
  • Set up compelling landing pages for readers to take the next step (more on this later!)
  • Analyze your keyword options and being selective with your choices
  • Communicate with your sales team to help inform the discovery process
  • Ensure keywords make sense for buyers—both at the start and end of the sales funnel

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4. A/B Testing Your Ads

A great way to fine-tune your ads is to make changes based on real audience feedback. Simply put, A/B testing leverages two or more versions of an ad, gathering and analyzing data on what’s working vs. what’s not to help you make the campaign more impactful.

Dissect elements of your ads and identify what could be easily changed, such as a CTA, special offer, or imagery. Adjust one component at a time—otherwise, you risk not knowing which changes led to the different response. Then analyze the results and use that knowledge in the next iteration of your ad campaign to shuffle leads in the right direction.

5. Create Compelling Content

Your content should tell a story and intrigue readers from beginning to end. Most importantly, it should drive your audience to engage with you, fill out contact forms, download and share your content, and become customers.

Again, creating high-quality content depends entirely on your reference personas. Who are you talking to, what are their pain points, and how do you solve their problems? The more accurately you can fully understand and reiterate your readers’ issues, the more likely your content will resonate with your audience and drive engagement.

Types of content and CTAs that will help move prospects along their buyer’s journey include:

  • Videos
  • Guides
  • Software demos
  • Limited time offers
  • Free consultations

6. Optimize Landing Pages for Conversions

When readers click your ad, they’re taken to a landing page separate from your website’s navigation. In this case, we mostly create gated content landing pages and pay-per-click (PPC) landing pages. Ensure the content on those pages aligns with the expectations set by the ad itself.

Some of the most effective ways to optimize your landing pages are:

  • Adjust CTAs based on previous research and A/B testing
  • Refine copy to better address the needs of your personas
  • Keep the most important information front and center
  • Pair the right imagery to send the right messages to the right audience
  • Analyze user heat maps to optimize the user experience

7. Perform Keyword Research Consistently

No matter how much work you put into ads and landing pages, you must maximize your audience by putting the right keywords in your copy. Even with paid ads, Google is less likely to show content if keywords don’t align with search criteria.

Luckily, there are ways to ensure readers can engage with your ads. With digital research, you can discover the most effective keywords and keyword groupings and use those in your ad content to further boost visibility. Consider using platforms like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and others to maximize the impact of your keyword research.

Time to Put Your Ad Plan in Action

Looking for further guidance and faster results for generating leads? Sagefrog can help. Talk with us about your current B2B SEM strategy today. We’ll work with you to define and refine your target audience and develop dynamic, impactful ads and content that drive clicks and generate leads for your business.