Discover more from Marketing Cake
Marketing Recipe: Google Ads
Structure your Google Ads account to 10x your ROAS. Deliver predictable pipeline that generates SALs—without giving all your money to Google.
Is there a right—or wrong—way to “do” Google Ads? The ever-expanding (and constricting) platform offers tailored advertising services across SMB, B2C, B2B and a lot more.
Google Ads is a complicated product. While it is still cemented as a critical part of nearly every company’s customer acquisition strategy, the landscape is changing quickly and Google is always eager to extract more advertising revenue.
So, you need to be smart! Match those mercurial “best practices” with sound ad campaign structure that’s based in revenue fundamentals. Avoid automation traps, align your strategy to your sales targets and take on your competitors with targeted copy to achieve your goals.
In this Marketing Recipe, we’re going to create a Google Ads account structure specific to the enterprise B2B SaaS audience. This is the same recipe I developed and used to drive 10x ROAS and generate $300,000 in weekly qualified pipeline. Ready? This is Marketing Cake’s mise en place for generating pipeline with Google Ads.
Structure Your Google Ads for B2B SaaS
There’s no single best way to structure your Google Ads account, because the platform offers different features for different sales motions. You need to understand your market and the parts of the platform that are made for your use cases. I’ve found the most success when I align my PPC (pay-per-click) strategy to our go-to-market (GTM) strategy through traditional funnel stages.
The structure of your Google Ad campaigns should reflect your funnel stages. For this Marketing Recipe, we’re going to use a broad funnel of top, middle and bottom stages, but feel free to try more granular stages in your campaigns if it makes sense for your business use case. And when we talk about conversions, let’s consider a conversion a new sales accepted lead (SAL).
Top of the Funnel Campaigns
Let’s get to know your brand! The top of the funnel (TOFU) is where prospects land when they’re in the research phase. It’s our job as marketers to build brand awareness for this stage by demonstrating the need for your product and how it differentiates from the competition. TOFU campaigns are essential but they aren’t going to drive the big pipeline numbers right away.
How to TOFU in Google Ads:
No gating! This is a TOFU demand gen fundamental. Don’t ask for any personal information in exchange for the content you’re running for awareness ads.
Run ads on informational longtail keywords, not keywords that convert.
Cap the spend for TOFU at around 20% of your total account budget.
Middle of the Funnel Campaigns
So, we have some attention! Welcome to the mid-funnel (MOFU). Prospects are problem-aware and becoming solution-aware because they’ve moved into the consideration phase. This is also where they try to decide between your offering—and your competitors. This is the time to shine with strong content that proves your value with more in-depth resources.
How to MOFU in Google Ads:
This is where you place your competitor campaigns and align them to their keyword strategies.
Ad variants can include a mix of gated and non-gated resources (to ensure prospects can see how you’re different from the competition).
Cap the spend for MOFU a little higher than TOFU, around 30% of your total budget.
Bottom of the Funnel Campaigns
These are the best, right? Think Get a Demo CTA all day. At the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), prospects are in the decision phase. They’re ready to set up POCs and make buying decisions. That doesn’t mean you can kick back and expect to hit Closed - Won. You still need a strong ad strategy to capture BOFU demand.
How to BOFU in Google Ads:
Know. Your. Keywords. These are the campaigns where you know more than half of conversions will become SALs and move to an opportunity.
Don’t be shy. This is the time to demand prospect contact info—and go bigger than an email that you’ll enrich later. Ask for firmographics to route the lead to the appropriate SDR.
Cap the spend for MOFU as the highest of the three, with at least 50% of your budget.
Align Google Ads to Your GTM Strategy
Know Your High Intent Keywords—And Spend
As you work to match your content to the funnel stages, there’s going to be a lot of keyword research and discovery. Chances are, the market has several names for your product offering and some are more relevant to your ideal customer profile (ICP) than others. The first thing you should do is to run experiments that help you identify the most relevant keywords that consistently produce sales qualified leads (SQLs). There will be an audience that is in-market for exactly what you’re offering—if only they knew what it was called.
Once you hit upon your BOFU keywords, those are the Google Ad campaigns where you can afford to spend. If a campaign is converting SQLs at 80% or higher, who cares if the cost-per-click (CPC) is $80? $150? Obviously it depends on your lifetime customer value, but you’ll demonstrate enough return on ad spend (ROAS) for the conversion cost to be insignificant.
Align Your Campaigns to Sales Territories
Deliver more SALs for your team when you structure your Google Ads campaigns to their geographic territories:
Localization. Speak to people in their native tongue. By creating localized versions of your ad copy, you can adjust your tone, formality or make sure a joke or a pun truly delights.
Compliance. Compliant in different regions? Will your customers need servers in a specific country? If your product solves location-based pain points—and does it better than the competition—you’ll want to call that out in your ad copy.
Budget. Is a certain region looking short of quota? When you structure your ads this way, it only takes a few seconds to boost spend to their campaigns to help drive more SALs.
Create Google Ads Content That Converts
Copy: Write Ads That Outshine the Competition
Copy Your Competitor’s Copy
SaaS companies love to change their branding and messaging. But hey, that’s what makes this such a fun industry, right? Never content for long, there’s always a new way to position yourself or an emerging category where you product can compete. When you’re writing ads that go head-to-head, you can’t afford to fall behind.
To keep your PPC strategy relevant, monitor your competitors and look out for any messaging changes. Tools like Hexowatch make it easy to get alerts each time something changes on their website. And use SpyFu to keep track of ad copy. Bonus: Hexowatch lets you get alerts for specific keywords which can also help cross-reference their advertising strategy.
Craft Copy for Your Personas
Ads copy is more than just keyword stuffing to try to improve a CTR. Ad copy is one of the most difficult things to write, because it must be highly relevant and extremely brief. It’s also one of my favorite types of copy to write, because of the challenge.
Don’t dismiss ad copy as irrelevant. Take the time to make ad copywriting a proper task in your project. Ad copy is at least as important as homepage copy and needs to be treated as such. So, who’s your persona? Who is this for?
If I’m writing ad copy for a marketing platform, I’m going to be funny, snarky and use those clever tricks marketers use and adore when they see them in the wild. If it’s a more technical audience, you absolutely should address programming languages, compliance and other critical pieces of information that will stop a buyer from even investigating your solution.
Ad Groups: How to Mix Content, CTAs + Funnel Stages
Align Content and CTAs to Intent-Based Ad Groups
How to set up each ad group is a matter of preference, experience and blind ignorance of Google’s algorithms. The SKAG trend (single keyword ad group) smartly gave way to the IBAGS (intent-based ad groups) and it’s in this area that we’re going to look at getting the right content mix in your campaigns.
To maximize your ROAS in the B2B SaaS world, we’re going to continue bringing the TOFU, MOFU and BOFU throughout the process, from campaigns down to the ad group level. I structure my ad groups to have three rotating ads that offer three strategically different CTAs.
TOFU Ad Groups: 3 Content Types + CTAs for Informational Keywords
Ad A: Promote your free tool + Try It Now (ungated)
Ad B: Technical blog post + Learn More (ungated)
Ad C: Original research + Read Instantly (ungated)
MOFU Ad Groups: 3 Content Types + CTAs for Investigative Keywords
Ad A: Industry / consultancy research + Read Instantly (ungated)
Ad B: Upcoming virtual summit + Register Now (gated)
Ad C: Product landing page + Free Trial (gated)
BOFU Ad Groups: 3 Content Types + CTAs for Transactional Keywords
Ad A: Direct competitor landing page + Get a Demo (gated)
Ad B: Free enterprise trial + Get Started (gated)
Ad C: Product demo webinar + Watch Now (gated)
Measure Your Google Ads ROAS for B2B SaaS
The best thing I ever did was to manually track every single prospect down the funnel to understand their entire journey. Not only does this give you the complete understanding you need in order to evaluate your demand generation efforts effectively, but it shows you where your definition of a conversion differs from Google’s.
It’s one thing to optimize a Google Ads account to get high CTR at low CPC. It’s entirely another to understand Google Ads as part of a series of touchpoints in a long buying cycle and modify your ads strategy based on your results. You simply can’t feed this data back into Google Ads from your CRM. So here’s how you get it done anyway.
Measuring Gated PPC Campaigns
With gated ads, you require the user to exchange their identifiable information for the value-add. In attribution software, it’s easy to tie together that conversion with a unique individual, and then see their entire buying journey before they converted using a platform like Mixpanel. This is reflected fairly well in Google Ads, although if you look closely, you’ll often notice discrepancies.
Now, just because you’re watching the number of conversions tick up on Google Ads and your cost per conversion come down doesn’t mean the job is done. Follow those new MQLs to see how many end up as SQLs and SALs. Know what percentage of MQLs on your decision phase campaigns are becoming SALs (ideally 70%) to adjust ad campaign spend accordingly.
Measuring Ungated PPC Campaigns
By contrast, with your ungated campaigns, there is no user to tie to a conversion. So how do you know if your ads are worthwhile? The easiest way I’ve found is to run ungated informational content ads on longtail keywords for one month that are directly related to your offering. Then, the next month, keep your gated ads the same but pause the ungated ones. If you observe a statistically significant decrease in SALs, you’ll know those top of the funnel, discovery campaigns have a huge impact on generating more leads.
So, How’s It Taste?
Google Ads is a quagmire of a product with famously half of all venture capital going to the platform (along with Meta). Ideally, before you start, you’ll gather your ingredients and make smart campaign structural decisions. Come up with a plan based on your competitors, buyer personas, keywords and existing content. Align that to your funnel stages, sales territories and use localization to craft a truly spectacular marketing recipe that generates pipeline.