Q4 PPC Planning: B2B Search & Display Tactics

Q4 can be stressful for everyone. For eCommerce advertisers, there is pressure to hit, or even exceed, goals during the holiday season. For many, there is planned time out of office, gifts to purchase and during non-COVID times, gatherings to attend. TLDR: It’s a busy time!

In the B2B world, it’s often a quieter and slower time of year. Just because it’s not the same hustle-bustle as our eComm friends are seeing doesn’t mean B2B advertisers shouldn’t have a plan.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to find success during Q4 with B2B Search and Display campaigns.

Review Previous Performance & Establish KPIs

Since 2020 was so unprecedented, it’s likely your trends may be all over the place. This year especially, it’s important to review not only 2020 performance, but 2019 as well.

While 2021 has proven to be better for some industries, creating averages between 2020 and 2019 can identify KPIs and trends that you might see in 2021.

For example, if you’re wondering how brand campaigns tend to perform for you in Q4, download campaign-level performance for 2019 and 2020. Using these numbers and recent trends for your campaigns, you can likely make an educated guess on what an acceptable CPA and conversion rate will be for your brand campaigns. Marrying up 2021 trends with 2019 and 2020 data will hopefully allow for more context.

If your campaigns don’t have 2 years or more of historical data, I would ask for the Holy Grail of lead information: Information straight from the CRM. I would also ask how many deals usually close in December and what other marketing and/or sales outreach is being done during Q4? How many new leads do they typically see? Are things slower in late Q4 vs earlier? Using this information you can piece together an idea of what CPA to expect. Try using some of these ideas for developing PPC projections.

Plan for Q1

One of the best things you can do during Q4 is make a killer strategy to hit the ground running in Q1.

A few things I like to do for Q1 planning:

  • Create a content calendar and outline campaigns by channel for as much of the year as possible.
  • Planning your content can also mean planning your budget.
  • Review ad creative over the last year and identify elements that did and did not work well for the audience. Establish what elements will be tested in Q1.
  • Audit keyword performance at the year-level. It’s easy to get into the cycle of only reviewing keyword performance at the 30 or 60-day level. If possible, marry this data up with CRM data to see what is actually producing sales long-term.
  • If time allows, I’d recommend running at least a few, if not all, of these 8 year-to-date analyses. All of these tasks will give you useful insight into your audience(s) and what needs adjusting for 2022!
  • Consider how you might want to expand into new channels in the coming year. These posts on when to expand into new PPC ad channels and how to go about this in a successful way.
  • Take a look at where there are opportunities for expansion in existing campaigns, new geographies and/or languages and consider testing new campaign types like Video or Discovery.
  • Get started on an annual review for 2021. Use these five tips to make it your most successful annual review yet!

Close Deals

Q4 can be a great time to continue Remarketing to established MQLs, SQLs, and Opportunities in your pipeline. Since Q4 can be such an expensive time, I like to go after only the folks who are already aware of my brand and are worth slightly higher CPCs.

I recommend utilizing late-stage CRM lists in Google (customer lists here are called Customer Match) to target these high-value contacts. You can utilize Zapier to assist with integrating your CRM.

This is a great time to offer an exclusive deal to your retargeting lists. I would suggest an offer you’re not currently offering to other audiences. For example, if you’re offering a 30-day free trial in existing campaigns, a 90-day free trial or 10% off for signing by December 31st could be lucrative to someone who is on the fence.

Lookalike Targeting

One of my favorite ways to reach net-new targets is using Lookalike targeting.

If you have uploaded a Customer Match list, you can utilize Google’s similar audiences. They’re available for Search, YouTube, and Display campaigns. As long as your list meets Google’s minimum eligibility criteria, these audiences are created automatically in the Audiences section of Google Ads. You can layer these into campaigns as an observation audience or utilize them in more of a Remarketing capacity.

Save Funds

When things stop performing in Q4 for my B2B clients, I tend to act very quickly rather than using more of a ‘wait and see’ method. I would personally rather pause and save budget for Q1 when folks are more focused on business priorities after the holidays.


Hopefully these tactics are helpful to you in planning for your B2B account’s Search and Display campaigns later this year!

Don’t miss our other posts in this series:

Q4 PPC Planning: Creating an Ecomm Facebook Ad Plan

[Clix Shares] Biggest Misconceptions Around Q4 Planning

Q4 PPC Planning – Series Introduction + General Organizational Tips