How to Maximize ROI For Paid Ads in B2B SaaS

Published on: | Daniel Laloggia

If you spend any time on LinkedIn, you’ve probably been served an ad for a B2B SaaS brand.

Adobe alone spends over $130 million annually on paid ads, according to a recent study.  This approach to advertising — which includes Pay Per Click (PPC), Display and native ads — is amongst the most popular for B2B SaaS across all industries.

Why? 

Because paid ads allow you to hyper-target your audience, all while being able to accurately measure the cost of each conversion and adapt your strategy to produce the optimal ROI.

But how do you achieve that goal? 

Before we can explain, we need to establish why B2B SaaS brands are particularly reliant on this specific channel. 

This begs the question…

Why Are Paid Ads So Effective For B2B SaaS Brands?

The answer requires us to delve into what makes effective paid ads. While other marketing channels (like SEO or content marketing) require long-term investments, paid ads offer nearly immediate results. You can launch a PPC campaign and see how effective it is within a few days, allowing you to start tweaking the campaign and quickly optimize for better results.1

However, how effectively you optimize each campaign depends upon two key factors:

1. The volume of data you’ve collected

There are two reasons data matters for paid:

First, it enables you to target a more specific audience and tailor your paid social and display ads more effectively to their needs. You can also mine your data for novel keywords to experiment with, and potentially reach your audience at a lower rate. 

Second, it enables you to more effectively benchmark the performance of your ads and measure the returns they produce.

2. Streamlined purchasing

Most B2B sales models involve a lengthy process after a buyer clicks on an ad. In professional services, for example, the buyer is likely to take a number of steps - such as downloading an asset, multiple sales calls, and finally a proposal - before closing a deal. This means the sale takes place long after they see your ad.

With B2B SaaS, buyers can purchase directly - and often do. That means you can more quickly and accurately track revenue generated vs. ad spend. This makes it easier to determine whether your campaign is on a path to positive ROI and keep costs under control.

These factors mean SaaS brands are able to tweak their paid ad campaigns with more confidence, optimize them faster, and take bigger risks because their cost-benefit calculations are so much simpler.

Despite this, paid ads are not a straightforward win for SaaS brands. Most SaaS companies exist in a very niche market where there is likely to be fierce competition and a limited number of relevant keywords. This creates…

3 Challenges SaaS Brands Face Running Paid Ads

1. Cost

The price of keywords is dictated by demand, and high-performing keywords are typically very expensive. Most SaaS markets are highly mature, and the cost of established keywords may no longer be worth the potential returns - especially when your B2B SaaS marketing budget needs to factor in other channels too.

This is in part due to…

2. Market Domination

The majority of SaaS markets have a small handful of dominant players. Less established brands are up against competitors who are usually very well-known, and their brand recognition makes getting a foot in the door difficult. 

These brands often “own” keywords associated with their market; brands like Monday.com and Asana are borderline synonymous with the term “project management software” because they have spent so much on paid ads over many years, which inevitably leads to…

3. Audience Fatigue 

B2B SaaS buyers have been fed thousands of ads from leading brands. They are familiar with the value props, understand how the platforms work and are most likely actively tired of this same handful of messages. 

Reaching buyers that don’t want to hear about your product is inherently difficult. But fortunately, our expert team has devised…

5 Steps to Optimize Your Paid SaaS Ads

1. Find New Ways to Differentiate

If you don’t own the existing market, you need to build a new one that you can own. The key to this is a combination of research and creativity to define a new audience and create a unique value proposition. (Yes, it’s actually an actively good thing to get creative in B2B marketing!) 

You can do this in a few different ways:

Unique Selling Points (USPs)

Does your software feature any unique tools or benefits? Are there challenges or problems buyers face that other brands aren’t addressing in their messaging? 

Under-served Audiences

Are there kinds of companies or end-users that your competitors never tailor their message to? Could you develop a niche that is not currently addressed? 

Underutilized Channels

Which channels feature fewer ads from your competitors? Are there ways to reach your ideal buyer without competing directly with the market leader?

2. Test Your Findings

Once you have concrete ideas about how to differentiate your brand, you need to test them. Run A/B tests catering to each of the audiences/selling points/channels you’ve explored. Compare the results and retest to develop a clearer sense of your most effective combination of factors. 

And remember: your goal is to find the lowest cost-per-purchase while still generating high-quality leads. Don’t get swept up with vanity metrics like higher impressions or Click-Through-Rates (CTRs) if they don’t correlate with actual sales.

3. Explore Different Offers

Take your best-performing audiences, value props and channels and start experimenting with different offers. This is another way to differentiate: a 15% discount may not have any noticeable effect if your competitors are also offering one, but even a 5% discount might have a large impact if no one else is doing it.

Test and validate each offer, with the goal of determining exactly what these new audiences are most receptive to — at which point you’ll need to…

4. Connect Your Ads to the Larger Funnel

Paid ads are a means to an end. You need to connect them with the larger sales and marketing funnels to see how they impact your overall revenue. RevOps is an established approach that helps you map your ideal funnel and align sales, marketing and customer service to deliver a seamless experience.

When a buyer clicks on your ad, there should be a comprehensive system in place to ensure they are nurtured, supported and ultimately led to purchase and become a loyal customer. Of course, this is a large undertaking, and it may be necessary to…

5. Work with a Specialized PPC Agency

Running PPC campaigns in-house can be very time-consuming - and often won’t produce the best results. You have to monitor and optimize ads on a daily basis to get great results, which is a bigger investment than many companies can afford. 

A PPC agency can leverage years of experience to strategically place bids, manage and optimize your budget and ensure campaigns steadily improve over time. At ProperExpression, our PPC agency has produced…

70% YoY Ad Revenue Growth for B2B Saas Brands

Using an omnichannel strategy with expert tracking and analytics, we empowered one client to transform how they run paid ads, as well as the large marketing funnel those ads fed into. The results were clear: 92% ROI in 15 months, 70% YoY ad revenue growth and nearly $500k in revenue generated.

You can read the full story here. And if you’d like to see similar results for your brand…

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