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According to a recent study, 93 per cent of B2B buyers begin their purchasing decisions with online research. The research, by eye-tracking specialist Enquiro, also revealed that 95 per cent use a search engine to develop shortlists. Given this, you might expect B2B marketers to be enthusiastic users of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. However, they have lagged some way behind their consumer counterparts in this area.

Most agree with Peter Wilton, MD of marketing agency TDA, who says, "Pay-per-click can be an effective acquisition driver, but it is too expensive and too blunt an instrument to play a significant long-term role in a B2B marketing strategy." Yet this is changing. B2B marketers are beginning to take PPC seriously. Increasing competition for B2B keywords has driven up prices, and many observers expect this to continue into 2008. To some extent this is happening because of several innovations in the world of B2B PPC, and this increased take-up is driving further innovation. Much is changing, but one thing is certain: PPC is an element of marketing no B2B marketer can afford to ignore.

Improved targeting
For B2B marketers the problem with PPC is that it is poorly targeted. You pay for a search term and then anyone in the UK can click on it. Darren Jamieson, content editor at online marketing agency Just Search, believes this is no longer the case. "In the past, lack of knowledge and experience has meant many businesses have wasted their budget by, for example, advertising to the whole of the UK when they can only service their local area. Advances in tracking tools mean PPC campaigns can now be managed actively and with greater efficiency. Marketers can use geo-targeting to ensure only people in their area see their listing."