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How to Use Google Ads for Lead Generation in B2B

google ads for b2b

Are your B2B Google Ads earning you enough ROI? One of the best ways to answer this question is to look at the number of leads you’re earning from your ad campaigns. After all, if you’re not using Google Ads for lead generation, what’s the point?

Google Ads earn their highest ROI when they are converting new leads at a high rate. When they do, your pipeline stays full and you can be confident that prospects are moving to the next step in their buyer journey.

The truth is, though, that simply running ad campaigns does not guarantee leads. To truly leverage Google Ads for lead generation (and ultimately to earn more sales) you need to use specific, intentional targeting and conversion tactics.

In this article, we’ll walk through an overview of B2B Google Ads and 4 specific ways you can use yours to generate more leads for your business.

Quick Takeaways

  • Maintaining organized, intentional account organization is essential to successfully use Google Ads for lead generation.
  • Keyword research enables B2B companies to earn a high Quality Score and Ad Rank from Google.
  • Negative keywords are an effective way to increase lead conversion rates by reducing unqualified ad clicks.
  • Google Ad Remarketing keeps your brand top of mind even when prospects are researching other companies.

B2B Google Ads: A Quick Overview

Google Ads are Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising solution. They’re used by more than 80% of businesses worldwide. This is no surprise given that 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, and Google owns 92% of the search engine market share. For companies making PPC part of their digital marketing strategy, investing in Google Ads is a no-brainer.

B2B companies specifically have the complex job of balancing their Google Ads campaigns with a longer sales cycle. While the majority of B2C Google Ads aim to trigger a purchase, B2B Google Ads aim to spark a wider range of actions that keep prospects moving along their buyer journey.

This requires precise targeting enabled by excellent account organization. Typically:

  • Your Google Ad campaigns are organized broadly by topic.
  • Your ad groups will be split by keyword terms and results.
  • Ads levels are separated by different copy, landing pages, and extensions.
Google Ads account organization chart.

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This kind of intentional organization serves as the foundation for every other tactic you use to leverage Google Ads for lead generation. 

4 ways to use B2B Google ads for lead generation

So how exactly do you leverage your Google Ads for lead generation? Doing so requires the alignment of a number of tactics that work together to attract the right prospects and convert them into bonafide leads. We’ll walk through them step by step in the sections below.

Align Google Ads to your sales cycle

We know that the longer B2B sales cycle requires specific consideration as it relates to Google Ads. To understand what that means, let’s look first at the typical B2B sales cycle itself:

The 7 steps in the B2B sales cycle.

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B2B Google Ads must align with the right stages of the sales cycle. That means to use Google Ads to generate leads, you must have Ads campaigns targeted to the beginning of the cycle.

This may seem counterintuitive if you’ve been thinking about Google Ads strictly as a tactic for earning more sales. But in the B2B world, successful marketing and advertising of any kind requires playing the long game. Google Ads will only generate leads if their copy, landing pages, and CTAs ask buyers to take action that matches up with their current intent. 

At this stage, that intent is usually to learn more about an industry, company, or solution — not make a purchase.

Perform extensive keyword research

To understand how keywords fit into your Google Ads strategy, look back at the organization structure from the last section. You can see that your campaigns are built on your ad groups, and your ad groups are built on keywords and specific ads.

This structure is important because when someone performs a search using one of your keywords, Google knows which associated ads to display. It’s Google’s responsibility to get that right — and they do — but it only yields results if you have done accurate keyword research. 

When Google determines your Quality Rank for a particular keyword (a main determiner of your overall Ad Rank), it looks for the relevance of your ad text to its target audience. If it determines your ad to have low relevance, it will appear at the bottom of the search results page. 

Google Ads quality score equation.

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Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that can help you find and group relevant keywords to earn a higher Quality Score and subsequent Ad Rank. When you have a better Ad Rank, you also have a better position on search results pages. Your ad will earn more impressions and a better CTR, generating more leads for your business and increasing your ad’s overall ROI.

Reduce unqualified clicks with negative keywords

Just as you need to discover and target the keywords you do want your ads to rank for, you also need to avoid those you don’t want to be associated with. Unintentionally ranking for the wrong keywords can be seriously detrimental to your Google Ads performance, lowering conversions and skewing your ad impression data.

At first glance, this may run counter to older, traditional advertising strategies in which casting the widest net possible was the goal. After all, an impression is an impression — no matter what kind — right? Not anymore. Digital advertising and marketing has transformed the ability for brands to reach the right audience at the right time. Especially when you’re paying for each click on your ads, it’s about playing smarter, not bigger.

Google Ads categorizes negative keywords three ways:

  • Negative broad match – Your ad won’t show if the search contains all your negative keyword terms.
  • Negative phrase match – Your ad won’t show if the search contains the exact keyword terms in the same order.
  • Negative exact match – Your ad won’t show if the search contains the exact keyword terms, in the same order, without extra words.

Here’s an example from Google itself showing how this works:

Negative keyword match types for Google Ads.

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You can use negative keywords to reduce the number of unqualified leads garnered by your ads and earn more qualified leads that are likely to convert to paying customers.

Have a remarketing strategy

B2B research has found that a whopping 96% of your web visitors are not yet ready to actually make a purchase. It’s for this reason that remarketing, or targeting your advertising to visitors who have bounced from your website, is one of the best ways to generate more leads for your business.

The Google Ads Remarketing feature allows you to target ad campaigns specifically to users who have previously visited your site. Most B2B buyers consider 3-5 potential providers during their research process. Remarketing ensures your brand stays top of mind during this process even when buyers are not actually on your site.

This video provides a deep dive into the different ways you can use Google Ads remarketing to recapture bounced traffic and convert more leads:

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