PPC for Lead Generation: How to Get More Leads with PPC

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Ask any business owner what he or she needs, and you’ll likely hear “more customers.” Businesses can’t just rely on their existing customers to fuel growth, so there’s a constant need for more leads who will eventually become clients.

This guide will tell you how to use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising with Google AdWords to get more leads and grow your business.

PPC for Lead Gen Guide

Who PPC Lead Gen Works For

A common misperception is that PPC is only for e-commerce websites, but that’s not the case at all. PPC is a highly effective channel for websites and companies doing online lead generation.

Lead generation (often referred to as “lead gen”) is a requirement for businesses that can’t or won’t do business with just anyone. There’s usually a prequalification and information-exchange period that takes place so the company and consumer can make decisions based on information.

Lead-gen business characteristics might include:

  • Trial periods
  • Approval and denial processes
  • Long sales cycles because of the complex nature of the product or service
  • Price quotes

For example, financial services (credit cards and mortgages), all types of insurance, and business-to-business software survive with lead generation or lead capture. In fact, anyone who’s reading this guide is, or at some point has been, a lead for a company. As a lead you were categorized with a label, like “hot lead,” and were then marketed to on a regular basis until an event occurred: you may have signed up, were denied, decided to do nothing, or just went to the bottom of their lead pile to be marketed to later.

The goal of lead gen is to get prospects into the lead-tracking system (commonly depicted as a funnel – see below) to begin a contact period in which the company learns more about your needs and qualifications, and you learn more about the company’s products and services.

The ultimate goal is for a sales person to close the deal, so the company gains a new customer. It starts with obtaining basic information, like a name and email address, then progresses to getting more detailed information about the prospect.

Why PPC Is Great for Lead Gen

If you consider your typical lead funnel, it won’t take long to realize you need to keep filling the funnel full of leads.

Get More Leads with PPC

At first leads go into the top of the funnel, then work their way down to an eventual conversion. The challenge is getting the initial leads to feed the top of the funnel. Let’s look at the ways this may be accomplished and why PPC is an excellent source of leads:

  • Blogging: This can be a good source of leads, but you need to a) constantly publish new content, b) hope your blog posts get shared a lot, and c) have a lot of blog subscribers. This takes time.
  • Email: You can repeatedly email your existing subscribers, or you can rent or buy a list of email addresses and hope you’re targeting great new leads for your business.
  • Social media: This can get you new followers and fans and expose you to new prospects. However, it doesn’t mean those followers are in your target market or need your product or service.
  • Organic search: Organic ranking is the top of the heap. Approximately 85 percent of search clicks come from page one organic listings, and the clicks are free! The only problem is you’re competing with thousands of others for those positions, and you’ve got to do a ton of on- and off-page SEO work and wait months, maybe years, to get to page one.
  • PPC: You can instantly appear on page one and be in front of people who are searching for your solution to their problem. More people are aware of you and what you have to offer than before. Bingo!

Yes, PPC is a channel you pay for by the click. Do keep in mind, though, that no marketing channel is free. Someone has to manage social media, write the blogs, work with the SEO agency (not free), and publish the emails—and those people don’t do it for free.

Benefits of PPC for Lead Generation:

  • Attract visitors who are looking for what you offer
  • Achieve immediate keyword rankings and traffic
  • Bid on various stages of the funnel
  • Control the message for each funnel stage
  • See what people are searching for and craft your message to their needs
  • Know more about your leads and their behavior
  • Track ROI down to the penny
  • Grow your database of leads and market to them with other methods

How Lead Gen Compares to E-Commerce

Back to our initial statement about how e-commerce and lead generation both use PPC marketing. The most glaring difference is the qualification process: in e-commerce, there is none. As long as you have a credit card you’re in the target market.

Lead gen vs. e-commerce ad copy

Starting with the ad copy itself, you’ll notice the messages and calls-to-action vary between e-commerce and lead-gen companies:

Lead Gen vs. E-Commerce

Notice how e-commerce is about immediate gratification (and sales!), while lead gen is a bit more discriminating. It’s rarely the case where you become an immediate customer in lead gen because you have to go through a process first.

Here are some real-world examples of how the ad copy, CTA, and landing page experiences compare. For lead gen, the keyword is “car insurance.”

lead generation ppc ads

Now look at the e-commerce copy and CTAs used for “asics running shoes”:

e-commerce ppc

The ad copy and CTAs are somewhat subtle in their differences. The landing pages, however, are where a distinct difference between e-commerce and lead gen is clear.

Lead gen vs. e-commerce PPC landing pages

Here are some examples of lead-gen landing pages for PPC:

get leads with ppc

PPC lead gen landing page

The landing pages are limited and with few distractions.

There’s a clear pattern of headline, benefits, and multiple calls-to-action: “Start,” “Get an online quote,” “Call,” etc.

Your choices are limited: either make a call or provide them with your zip code.

Visitors need to tell the companies more so the companies can start to qualify and route the leads through the funnel.

With e-commerce, it’s a different landing-page experience. Visitors are free to shop the stores and make purchases.

E-Commerce Landing Page

PPC for E-Commerce Sales

Both landing pages are relevant to the search query and provide additional pages to look at.

There’s urgency associated with the “free ground shipping” offer – it’s a limited time offer so visitors are motivated to purchase soon.

The theme of both landing pages is to shop now. They’re encouraging visitors to make purchases now.

How to Optimize Your Campaigns to Get More Leads Through PPC

Optimizing lead-gen campaigns with Google AdWords requires the same principles you incorporate with e-commerce: tightly themed ad groups, testing ad copy and offers, and a variety of keywords. The major differences are the types of calls-to-action and the landing pages, as evidenced by the previous examples.

The goal is to keep topping off the funnel with qualified leads, and you do this by collecting information from your visitors. It’s a numbers game because not every click you get is going to convert, therefore you need to cast a wide net and increase your chances of getting qualified leads with PPC.

Actionable tips for improving your lead-gen performance:

Entice visitors with offers. Offer something (e.g., a free white paper or guide) in exchange for the visitor’s email, name, and more. At the very least, give them the opportunity to sign up for your blog or follow you on social media. Though the latter outcomes are not ideal, you at least have not wasted the click by getting nothing for it.

Use focused landing pages. Repeat the benefits and why the person should give you their information. Ask for just the right amount of pertinent information instead of making the transaction appear laborious by asking for too much information. Use primary and secondary CTAs. Test landing page length and fields. In short, make it as frictionless as possible.

Example of a PPC landing page that was reached via PPC:

how to get more leads

Things to notice:

  • Very few fields to fill in = increased response
  • Simple bullet point list of benefits
  • Testimonial and short client list
  • Free offer in exchange for information
  • Trust and credibility proof

BONUS: Three excellent resources for landing pages:

Try dynamic number insertion (DNI). DNI allows you to dynamically change the phone number that appears in your ads and on landing pages. This ensures your call representatives know what type of keyword triggered the call. You’re then better able to route calls to the right reps in your organization. Two of the better known providers are ifbyphone and Call Rail.

Invest in a solid CRM. Tracking your leads and staying in touch with them can become overwhelming—fast. A CRM (customer relationship management) program allows you to record who contacted you, what they were interested in, and what happened. You can then classify your leads and engage with them via email or a phone call. There are tons of CRM companies out there, but some of the more popular ones are Infusionsoft, Zoho, and Salesforce

Focus on a “new” KPI. In PPC we’re usually talking about metrics like cost-per-click and conversion rate. In lead gen, though, one of the major key performance indicators is cost-per-lead (CPL). It’s simple to calculate: [Overall cost of PPC campaign / number of leads = CPL]. In short, it will reveal how much you’re paying for your leads and will drive your decision-making process.

About the Author

This is a guest post by Brad McMillen, an internet marketing consultant and freelance copywriter at Mac Strat in Redondo Beach, California. He manages pay-per-click campaigns, performs SEO audits, and writes web copy. He rarely has a case of the Mondays, and he enjoys watching people surf while he works.

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Randall Magwood
Sep 23, 2013

I would so love to build a new landing page for Adwords. 1 concern: they might disapprove my landing page. Are you guy's landing page template designed to get accepted into Google Adwords?

Brad McMillen
Oct 28, 2013

Landing pages don't get disapproved -- they get scored. The WordStream Landing Page Creator is designed to help you create landing pages that follow best practices and get good scores from Google. There are countless blog posts and guides out there that discuss best practices. The most important thing is to keep the user in mind so you reinforce the benefits of your offer and make it seamless for them to convert. I hope that helps!

Phillip Collins
Jul 04, 2014

DO these practise methods still work?

Alok Bharti
Aug 04, 2014

Google keeps updating its policies but the best practices methords are based on keeping the user in mind. Now if you build a landing page based on best practice user experience it is likely to be more effective. 

Sep 24, 2013

Comparing  Lead gem to eCommerce gave me an idea how these two differ. And I suggest that you must see what keywords are actually spending your money when we talked about how to get more leads with PPC and also you must implement conversion tracking no matter what! There is no question that you have to execute conversion tracking. It is what closes the loop to tell you what is getting results.All in all this article is great! :) Well-written, I must say! 

Brad McMillen
Oct 28, 2013

Great point about conversion tracking to close the loop. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

Sep 25, 2013

This is what I am looking to do with my business. I have used a company in the past that offered business opporutnity leads that worked out great. Now I am moving more towards PPC and this article had some good insights to gain more leads and customers. 

Brad McMillen
Oct 28, 2013

Great! Glad the article will help you get more leads and customers, Drew. PPC is easy to track and you can make adjustments in real time. Good luck!

Sep 26, 2013

Great Article Brad,Question: Majority of lead gen clients I have work with do utilize a landing page as you have mentioned in your article. Very concise and direct in terms of what we want the user to do. My experience though has also seen that landing pages typically deliver lower quality scores as opposed to lead gen clients that are drive to website interior pages. Does driving users to a singular landing page have an impact on the quality score? Is it because there sometimes is no navigation other than navigating through that landing page? Can it be that there is limitedcontent such as the Geico landing page example you used?Thanks!Richard

Brad McMillen
Oct 28, 2013

Thanks for commenting, Richard, and you make excellent points. Pure landing pages (meaning they're solely for leads) generally don't have the depth of content like interior pages. However, if you follow Google's guidelines (https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2404197?hl=en), you can avoid getting dinged for having a poor landing page. I think it's important to remember relevancy and user experience: is the content relevant to the search, and is it a good user experience? Regarding Geico: You generally want to keep visitors focused when they get to your landing page, meaning they can't go clicking around and get distracted and leave the process. It's a good idea, though, to give users an "out" somewhere on the page in case they need more information. If Geico found themselves getting penalized for a poor landing page experience, you can bet they'd do some testing and add more content to make it a better experience, but they'd do so without affecting the conversion process.In the end, I personally would be willing to sacrifice a bit on quality score if I had a high-converting landing page. If Google sees your page is converting well, then your quality score will probably see an uptick. Lead-gen landing pages are a balancing act, and I recommend lots of testing.      

Sep 27, 2013

I once believed the misconception about lead generation services you pointed out. But that was years ago in the beginning stages of my career. Now that I have more experience, I found that gaining lead generation success rests upon developing a comprehensive integrated marketing campaign. The work does not stop once qualified leads are obtained. It goes beyond that, continuing to work your sales and marketing organization to make sure sales are created. 

Brad McMillen
Oct 28, 2013

Don, you nailed it. A comprehensive plan with coordinated sales and marketing efforts is really the key to it all. I'd also include customer service, product performance...well, your entire organization. Everyone has a chance to be a part of lead generation and conversion. Thanks for your input!

Hamza Afridi
Sep 28, 2013

This is a nice little reminder about the power of search PPC. 90% of My last few months have been spent on the display network.

Thanks Brad!

Brad McMillen
Oct 28, 2013

Glad this was a help for you, Hamza. Display is great, too, and so are organic, social media, content...it's so easy to get tunnel vision and forget all the tools at our disposal. Thanks for your comment, and happy lead-generating! 

Indiga | Caetano Notari
Oct 03, 2013

I fully agree with the Lead Gen approach.
We did a PPC campaign for a customer that was on the B2C arena, trying to sell advanced services for households. Even though we had proper landing pages, since the offer was too much focused on the bottom of the funnel, the number of clients acquired was low.
Now we are planning a campaign with a Top-of-the-funnel offering to capture contacts. We are expecting a higher conversion rate, followed with an e-mail nurturing campaign.

Brad McMillen
Oct 28, 2013

Thanks for sharing your experience. You give a great example of learning and testing. It sure would be easier if people were always ready to convert, but the fact is you have to build trust most of the time. E-mail nurturing is an effective way to stay in front of prospects and slowly woo them toward your service, especially when the price and/or perceived risk is high. 

Brad McMillen
Oct 28, 2013

That's a great example of making responsive adjustments. Thanks for sharing it!

Kim Huang
Jan 15, 2014

Brad, thank you for the great article. I recently tried a free tool called meetleads, and it seems to be a good alternative to google analytics as it displays the actual visitor info such as companies and contacts.

Jan 17, 2014

good and informative article but i think ther should be a more explaination about lead gen,i think would be more informative if it is explained in plain words

Auto Lead Pro
Feb 18, 2014

Nowadays, PPC plays an important role in lead generation for every business. But proper keyword research is very essential for that. The success of PPC campaign depends upon the keyword research. The lead generation concept through PPC which you have shared in your post will help any business to get more leads and increase business ROI. Nice post, keep it up.

Feb 19, 2015

Its really a great post. In this post i like the most comparison between how to write Ecommerce and Lead generation ads.

Jul 21, 2015

Nice post and thank you for sharing

May 24, 2016

Thanx Its really a great post for every AdWords user live display banner add information to PPC campaign related.

Jun 09, 2016

Thanks for the post. I use Lead Ads of Facebook for lead generation and also a tool which the leads go to my autoresponder automatically.

Feb 20, 2017

Very Interesting And useful information for ppc experts.

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