At Metric Theory, we take a lot of pride in becoming a part of our client’s marketing team rather than a vendor of outsourced work. When I get the invite to the holiday party, I know I’m on the right path. This is especially valuable for B2B clients whose offerings are not always as straightforward as a shopping cart purchase. Most importantly, we know all leads are not created equal and it is crucial to understand paid search’s relationship to the company.

In order to create a valuable agency relationship, it is crucial that we really understand each client’s products, business, and internal processes. Below I’ve outlined 10 essential questions to talk through when onboarding a new B2B client. Getting solid answers to these questions is less important than starting a conversation around the true value of paid search for a client’s business.

1. What is your target audience?

This may sound like marketing 101, but the account foundation starts with knowing the specific audience we are looking to reach when it comes to keyword research, negatives, ad copy, and even the settings and structure of the account. Are potential customers searching using industry jargon or should we also bid on keywords that are spelled out in layman’s terms? Do you have an international sales team or are we looking to target leads in the United States? Which level in an organization should we address with ad copy (manager, VP, C-suite)?

2. What are your most valuable and best-selling products?

Looking in an account, we will be able to evaluate which areas of the account drive the most traffic and get the most impressions, but that often doesn’t tell us which of your products bring in the bulk of your revenue. We don’t want to focus on a product that makes up 5% of your revenue if there are other product areas that will have a bigger positive impact on your bottom line.

3. What are your competitive advantages and disadvantages?

In addition to learning the product and service offerings, it’s important to understand what advantages you already have over your competitors. Before we can evaluate ad copy and research unique selling propositions that will stand out in searches, we need to know what to highlight. Do you have excellent customer service, is your product scalable, or is the platform easily integrated with other necessary applications? Likewise, if your HR software doesn’t offer payroll integration, we don’t want to highlight or even bid on those terms for workforce management software.

4. Who are the main competitors in your space?

In order to get a good lay of the land, who are we competing directly against with similar capabilities? Are there any big brand names in the space where we can piggyback on their brand recognition? Will it make sense to run a competitor campaign? More so than with consumer products, we’ve found success with B2B clients by targeting advertisers who’re further down the funnel looking for other providers in the same product space.

5. What conversion types are you using to capture leads?

Are you primarily using demo downloads? Do you create any whitepapers we can advertise? Do you host webinars? Have different lead types yielded different client close rates? Should we track multiple conversion types separately or does your sales team treat all leads the same?

6. How long is your sales cycle and what type of lead nurturing do you use?

How paid search fits into the overall marketing strategy will largely be dictated by the product and its sales cycle. For example, one client might have a SaaS product that can be quickly purchased and implemented at a low price. Compare that to an enterprise software that needs multiple evaluation points, averages a 4-6 month nurturing cycle, and can result in six figure deals. This impacts how we want to look at CPA, back-end tracking data, remarketing strategy, and even keyword selection.

7. How do you qualify leads?

We want to set a baseline for what you consider a qualified lead. Some companies consider a qualified lead anything that’s a non-spam, non-student email address lead with real contact information. Others consider qualified leads to be further along in the sales funnel, usually represented by a sales rep noting them as a potential buyer. For simpler B2B products with short sales cycles, we may want to look at closed sales and skip qualified leads altogether. This information along with the typical sales cycle can be especially powerful data when it comes to integrating lead quality data with paid search metrics.

8. How does your company evaluate marketing channels like paid search?

Some executives and marketing departments put more weight on the number of leads being generated while others will focus on the quality of the leads. With shorter sales cycles, some will evaluate based on ROI of the initial sale while others will base ROI on the average lifetime value of the deal. It’s important to talk through the evaluation process so we both understand how that will impact measuring success and monitoring progress in the account.

9. What are your goals for paid search?

Initial goals for paid search accounts really run the gamut. They can start out as increasing leads, creating a cleaner account structure, getting tracking implemented, decreasing cost per lead, and responsibly scaling spend with a specific CPA ceiling. It is also important to define short term goals and long term goals since both need to be accounted for when setting an account strategy.

10. What level of detail is contained in your current back-end reporting?

Some businesses are just starting to track lead sources for the first time while others will be able to report down to the campaign, ad group, or even keyword level. Ideally, we all want to get to the point of optimizing the account based on metrics that capture both lead quality and the true cost per acquisition. However, we first need to know what our capabilities and limitations are. We will also need to learn how your back-end system captures the lead tracking information we pass on to it.

Ideal State:

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In the simple example above, without any back-end tracking, Campaign 1 looks like a more valuable campaign. It has 200 more conversions for the same amount of spend. However, if we integrate back-end data and find out close rates and actual sales figures, we see the true cost per acquisition is actually lower in Campaign 2. That makes Campaign 2 more valuable and changes how we would optimize toward a lower Cost/Sale goal.

Once we get to know a client’s business and develop a clear understanding of the company’s goals and evaluation process, the better we can implement more advanced optimization techniques. This added knowledge also allows us to get more creative within the account, another reason we love getting to work with new B2B clients and typically develop long-term relationships with them. Use these 10 questions on your next onboarding and you’ll be on the right track.