Q4 PPC Planning: SMB B2B Tactics

The pandemic has been disproportionately hard on small to medium-sized businesses. The World Economic forum reported that as of just a few months ago 34% of America’s small businesses were still closed due to COVID-19. As the pandemic persists, chances are you may be working with a different sized budget than usual heading into Q4, depending on how 2021 has been panning out for your business.

I hope some of the tips below can help spur on some creative ideas for how you can leverage PPC efforts to help you reach those goals as you round out the year.

Let Historical Performance Influence Your Budget

Last year’s performance might have been atypical for your business, but you should take the time to dive into previous Q4s to have a better grasp of performance trends. For example:

  • Do you tend to see higher CPLs in Facebook vs Google? Then shift more budget to Google in this last quarter, or just cut back on Facebook.
  • Do you typically see higher-quality leads come through in LinkedIn in this quarter than other channels? Then capitalize on this time to shift more budget here and even consider some new testing (for audiences, ad types, etc) since you know these leads are usually of higher quality.
  • How do your campaigns tend to perform around the holidays? If performance isn’t great, consider pausing and preserving that spend for Q1 or consider reallocating to less traditional tests (more on this below!).

Push Remarketing: Nurture those Leads

While you might need to pull back on spending for prospecting in Q4, this is a great time to work on nurturing users who have already engaged with your business in some way.

Consider your content

Do you have great content, case studies, etc you can use as a middle touchpoint to help entice users who have engaged a bit? These could be non-converting: site visitors, social engagers, webinar signups, blog visitors, lead gen form openers, video viewers, users who visited an Event page, the list goes on. You can even work to get these campaigns going now so that you can funnel those users through to a stronger CTA in Q4 and work on closing that loop before the year ends.

Leverage promotions

The holidays aren’t just for e-com businesses to go crazy with. Everybody loves a deal. Do you have special offers or incentives you can leverage to get leads to sign on? There are lots of ways to incorporate these in a PPC effort. One way is through Broad match RLSA. While this might not be an effective always-on strategy for your business, you can use Q4 to go after these further-reaching, higher funnel keywords that your prospects are searching for and entice them with special promotions and offers.

Incorporate testimonials

If you’re not already doing this, now is the time! Your existing customers love you — let their words speak for the quality of your business. Social campaigns are a great place to leverage testimonials, whether in copy, on creative (for shorter quotes) or through video. Testimonials from existing customers can certainly help hook those who are on the fence. Social proof, recommendations, and trust are more important than ever for consumers.

Push Remarketing: Retain Existing Customers

The last quarter is also a great time to work on improving customer retention. Remember that many of your customers are planning for the new year in Q4; oftentimes the new year can mean big changes for their providers. What can you offer to the customers you already have to keep them in the fold when the new year hits? This post offers tons of great B2B Loyalty Program ideas, like discounts on large orders, freebies and VIP experiences.

Try Lower-Budget, Less Traditional Tests

During the course of the pandemic, many SMBs have had to innovate and pivot their traditional strategies and offerings to survive. Additionally, a lot of the most popular PPC channels tend to see large increases in cost during Q4 and heading into the holiday season. As such, this final quarter can be a great time to try some less traditional marketing routes, like brand partnerships with influencers. As we learned after chatting with our friends at Hey Wanderer, it’s even better if you’ve run a few campaigns with those influencers throughout the year so that by years’ end their audiences have already been introduced to your brand and products or services and may be more likely to purchase in the last quarter.

Although these partnerships can be effective, it’s clear that the adoption rate of influencer marketing for B2B businesses is still low: 74% of marketers who took part in this survey said that they believe influencer marketing (IM) improves customer experience with a brand, and yet only 19% were running consistent influencer partnership campaigns. Lee Odden, the report author, makes a good case for why B2B companies need to be participating:

With the pandemic causing a loss of in-person B2B tactics—field marketing, in-person trade shows, and experiential marketing efforts, for example—much of where buyers focus for information are digital channels. This is exactly where influencers provide valuable and trusted perspectives. Trust, reach and engagement are always challenges for B2B brands, and collaborating with trusted industry experts that have the attention and respect of buyer audiences has proven to be an effective solution.

If you’re new to the idea of IM, this post offers some great tips for B2B businesses.

There are lots of ways you can tie your IM efforts into your PPC efforts, such as boosting your organic posts, including influencer perspective/quotes in your social ads, and more.

Look for Beta Opportunities

This is a good idea any time of year but can be especially helpful going into Q4 when many SMBs tend to taper off their spending and preserve budget for the new year. There’s always a level of risk associated with trying a new campaign or ad type or a new feature of some kind, but it can also pay off, particularly if you’re an early adopter.

Circle Up with Sales

You can glean valuable insights about your customers, market trends, and what did and did not work well for your business over the course of the year just by talking with your sales team. If you’ve spent time in Q3 discussing these items with your sales team, it could give you some innovative and crucial ideas to try in Q4 to end the year strong and give you a leg up going into the new year.

Don’t miss our other posts in this series:

Q4 PPC Planning: eCommerce Search/Display/Shopping Tactics

Q4 PPC Planning: B2B Search & Display Tactics

Q4 PPC Planning: Creating an Ecomm Facebook Ad Plan

Q4 PPC Planning – Series Introduction + General Organizational Tips

[Clix Shares] Biggest Misconceptions Around Q4 Planning