Your guide to paid search marketing for lead generation

Published on
January 9, 2023

A successful lead generation campaign requires you to harness various components: blogging, email marketing, SEO, social media, and multiple other opportunities which lead to organic lead generation.

While the success of such channels cannot be doubted, they take time to produce results and have a limited reach. In this context, it becomes essential to incorporate paid campaigns in your marketing arsenal to increase the visibility of your offer and/or event.

What is paid search marketing?

Paid search marketing is a form of internet marketing that involves a payment made to search engines to improve your offer's visibility.

Simply put, paid search marketing does it in a few hours, which takes months to achieve via SEO and other organic channels.

Since it involves the outflow of actual money, marketers usually have differing views about adopting this channel. However, if done right, paid search marketing is shown to bring tremendous results.

Type of paid search marketing campaigns

Paid search campaigns are exclusively meant for bottom-of-the-funnel lead generation campaigns. However, you can use paid search marketing to woo your prospects at any stage of the buying funnel.

It depends on your company's goals and at what stage you want to woo your buyers. You could run a campaign to:

-      Increase awareness about the company

-      Increase awareness about a new solution

-      Get more sign-ups for your webinar

-      Increase downloads for your eBook

-      Get registration for events

-      Promote a thought leadership blog post

This is not an exhaustive list. You can use paid search campaigns to increase your other initiatives' visibility.

How to run an effective paid search marketing campaign?

With pay-per-click campaigns, your ad is placed as a “sponsored result” on the top of search engine results, and you pay for each click. Since you are paying for each click, these clicks must be relevant to your business, or it would waste your marketing dollars.

So how do you create a paid search campaign that drives relevant clicks and builds your leads pipeline?

Step 1: Identifying your target audience

You first identify your target audience and deeply understand their challenges, demographics, interests, and goals. This is where creating a buyer persona helps you in getting a deep understanding of your customer.

Some of the information that you should uncover in your buyer persona is:

-      Location of the company

-      Industry

-      Digital literacy of your prospects

-      Challenges faced by the company

-      Stage of the buying process

-      Goals of the company

-      Type of content they consume

This information will give you valuable insight into the keywords you should bid on to bring relevant clicks to your offer.

Step 2: Keyword research

When you start learning about digital marketing, you tend to feel bombarded with all the jargon around it. Keyword research is one of those jargons that you probably know you should be doing but aren’t sure how.

Keywords, in simple terms, are words and phrases that people enter in the search box.

These are terms search engines look for when determining the relevance of a website for your prospect. Hence, it becomes essential to research keywords to understand the behavior of your prospects.

How to build your keyword list?

The first phase of keyword research is to come up with new keyword ideas. The core premise is to understand the keywords your prospects would use when searching for your brand, solution, blogs, etc.

The keywords in your industry can be focused around solution-specific searches like ERP solutions, Linux VM, etc., or they can be focused on the benefits derived from these products, like increased productivity, optimized manufacturing cost, etc.

Keywords in your industry can also be focused on broad industry themes and trends like digital transformation, GST compliance, etc.

Hence, while doing your keyword research, the first step is understanding the broad industry trends, your buyer’s education level, and their stage in the buying journey.

How to understand broad industry trends and your buyer’s education levels?

There are multiple ways to understand the broad industry trends and your buyer’s education level:

a)  Buyer persona: As discussed earlier, creating buyer personas should be the first step before undertaking any marketing activity. This gives you a definitive idea about your buyer's goals and challenges, thereby giving you the intent of the searches buyers would undertake on the search engines.

b)  Competitor research: Your competitors’ data can provide useful information about the keywords used, their rankings around the same, and the amount of traffic they get on those keywords. You can use tools like SEMRush, where you need to enter your competitor's domain name, and it will automatically show you the popular keywords. This can give you an idea about what your customers are looking for.

c)   Related searches: This is a relativelyunderutilized but powerful strategy to build your keyword list. Whenever you search for something on search engines, you get a set of related searches at the bottom of the page. These are popular searches that are done on the search engine. This gives you a great starting point to build your keyword list.

Here is what Google referred to when I searched for “cloud migration challenges.”

d)  Forums and Q&A sites: There are popular forums and sites on the internet, such as Quora, BoardReader, Yahoo answers, etc., which your prospects frequently visit for their queries. You can search these sites to understand the challenges faced by your prospects and their current stage in the buying cycle.

e)  Trends: Since you are operating in the technology domain, it becomes imperative to constantly watch all the latest trends in your industry and identify the type of content your prospects are reading about.

There are many websites through which you can update yourself on trends, such as Buzzsumo, Google trends, CSO Online, CIO, etc.

Buzzsumo’s results when you search for “cloud security challenges.”

Once you have done the hard work and made an exhaustive list of all the words/phrases that you think would be relevant to your industry, it is time to refine the list and come up with a priority list of keywords you would want to target.

This can be done using the Google Keyword Planner.

How to use Google Keyword Planner?

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool by Google that can help you to identify the right set of keywords and plan your keyword strategy.

Once you have compiled the keywords list, you must upload them to Google Keyword Planner. Once you upload those keywords, it gives you a detailed analysis of every keyword, including search volume, amount of competition on those keywords, and related suggestions.

Keyword search results for“Digital transformation, cloud computing, and cloud security challenges”.

Based on the suggestions given by the planner, you can choose exact-match keywords with high search volume and low competition.

Bonus content: Long-tailed and short-tailed keywords

This is one final thing you should remember before finalizing your keywords. There are two types of keywords that you would come across:

Short-tail keywords

These are typically one – two-word keywords with the highest form of search volume and, consequently, high-volume searches. Searches using these keywords might or might not belong to your industry.

Example: Consider a keyword like “Data Visualization.” This keyword might have multiple search intents. It could be a student trying to understand “Data Visualization” or your prospect looking for a solution.

Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are particular keywords generally containing more than 2 words. They are particular keywords that would belong to a specific industry. They have quite a low number of searches and, consequently, low competition.

Example: Consider a keyword like “ERP solution for manufacturing.” Here the buyer's intent is clear, and you can safely say they are looking for a solution.

Which type of keywords should you choose?

Ideally, you should focus on both the long-tail and the short-tail keywords. However, since you are operating in a niche domain, focusing more on the long-tail keywords and building your website and content strategy around them rather than short-tail ones is advisable.

Step 3: Identifying the search engine

You can choose between Google, Bing, or Yahoo. While Google dominates the search volume, Bing also has roughly 6 Billion searches every month and contributes 30% of the traffic. It has also shown increased conversion rates and better marketing dollar returns.

It all comes down to where your buyer is. You can try out multiple search engines and optimize your campaign basis the conversion rate of each.

Step 4: Running the campaign

Once you have thoroughly researched your buyers and have an idea about the keywords and the search engine, it is time to run your campaigns.

Mechanics of paid search marketing

Part 1: Bidding strategy

Once you identify the keyword, you need to place the maximum amount you can bid on.

You can bid in multiple ways:

-  Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM) – You would be charged for every 1000 times an ad appears on the Search

-  Cost per Click (CPC) – You would be charged every time someone clicks on the ad

-  Cost per Acquisition (CPA) – You would be charged every time the user takes a specific action on your website

Since it is tough to track CPM and the budget usually exceeds CPA, it is advisable to choose the CPC model.

Once you select this model, you will have to bid the maximum amount you would be ready to pay for each click on your ad. The amount you would be paying would be lower than your maximum bid.

The Cost per Click is calculated using this formula: Competitor Ad Rank/ Quality Score + 0.1 = Actual CPC

Therefore, selecting keywords with low to medium competition is essential when targeting your customers. Not only does it increase the conversion rate, but it also saves you money.

The better your conversion rate, the better would be your quality score. So, you will realize that with time as your conversion rate increases, your CPC goes down.

Your CPC can go down by 50% if your Quality Score is good. Similarly, it can easily increase by 400% if your quality score goes down.

In this wake, you must define your budget and the maximum CPC you can afford. It all depends on what your goals are.

For Example:

Your budget is$1000

Your Goal is to complete 100 activities on your landing page (conversions / sign-ups /visitors) in 1 month.

You would want at least 500 clicks in 1 month (Conversion rate in B2B is around 20%)

For that, your average CPC should be $2.

Taking this example, you should put all your money on one keyword. You should select multiple keywords and place your bets on them. Once you do that, you can group them to track the conversion rates in the group or track them individually too.

This group of keywords is called the Ad Group.

Usually, while each campaign has one Ad Group, you can create different Ad Groups for even 1 campaign to track which type of keywords/ad copies are working.

Part 2: Content strategy

This is the creative part of the campaign where you would focus on your ads' messaging.

Ad Copy

While there are multiple types of Ad Copies, our focus would be restricted to “TextAd Copies”. In a Text Ad Copy, you have four things to focus on:

-  Headline 1 – 30 characters

-  Headline 2 – 30 characters

-  Description– 80 characters

-  Path 2, i.e., your URL apart from the domain name – 15 characters (The rest of the characters are hidden)

Essentially, you have 140 characters to play with. You need to convert a visitor using these 140 characters.

Tips for writing an Ad Copy: -

-  Focus on the benefit rather than the solution. For example: Instead of writing “Cloud Security Solution”, you should write“Increase security on the cloud by 99%”.

-  Be Specific – Your Ads should communicate the value the Landing Page holds for the visitor.

-  Use Numbers – Again, being specific with your offering is important.

-  Use Keywords – Do not forget to use your keywords because that is what your prospect is looking for.

Ad extensions

You can have these extensions in your ads if they are relevant to your business. Following are the ad extensions available to you:

-  Location,i.e., the address of your establishment

-  Sitelinks, i.e., a place to link to deeper and more relevant content

-  PhoneNumber of your establishment

-  Google+Button for social connection

-  MobileApp Link

There is no compulsion to include everything. You should only include them if they are relevant to the Ad Copy.

Step 5: Optimizing the campaign

Once you have built your campaign and started it, it is time to test the hypothesis and assumptions you have made above.

Remember, with each passing day, your marketing dollars are wasted if you are not optimizing your campaign. Hence, it would be best if you track your campaigns periodically while at the same time giving them sufficient time to perform and show results.

Various metrics that you should track are:

-  Click Rate – This suggests the efficacy of your ad copy. If it is not showing you the defined results, try changing it a bit and tracking their metrics.

-  Conversion Rate – The conversion rate suggests how effective your landing page is. B2B industry trends indicate that the ideal conversion rate is around 20%.

Apart from that, you should also keep on changing the audience that you are targeting. If you are not achieving the desired results, you can change the audience based on language, location, device, and time of the day.

Split Testing

SearchEngines also provide you an option of split testing your ads. This is an excellent tool in your arsenal that you can use to check which ad copy is working and which is not. You can then bet more money on the keywords, which gives you a better open rate.


Paid search campaigns, if done well, can give a significant return on investments. The key to any campaign is to get the basics right, i.e., understand your customer's needs. Once we have identified that, everything else is optimizing and refining the process and learning on the way.

Ready to generate more leads with paid search marketing? Explore our guide to leveraging paid search for effective lead generation. Need help with your paid search strategy? Contact us to optimize your lead generation efforts!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is paid search marketing, and how can it help with lead generation?

Paid search marketing is a form of digital advertising where advertisers bid to have their ads displayed to users when they search for specific keywords on search engines. It helps with lead generation by targeting users actively searching for products or services, increasing visibility, and driving relevant traffic to websites.

How can I measure the effectiveness of my paid search marketing efforts in generating leads?

You can measure the effectiveness of your paid search marketing efforts in generating leads by tracking key metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, cost per lead (CPL), and return on ad spend (ROAS). Analyzing these metrics can help you determine which aspects of your campaigns are working well and where there is room for improvement.

How can businesses measure the success of their paid search marketing efforts?

Businesses can measure the success of their paid search marketing efforts by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, cost per lead (CPL), and return on ad spend (ROAS). Analyzing these metrics can help businesses optimize their campaigns for better results.

Devanshi Jain

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