Sizzling Search Strategy: How Demandbase optimized SEM for Account-Based Marketing

Can search engine marketing (SEM) target specific accounts and minimize waste from unqualified respondents?

It can be done. And we did it.

SEM by definition is a top-of-funnel, quantity-focused channel. For many companies, the bulk of the budget goes toward branded keywords. No technology currently exists that uses SEM to target accounts. Yes, there’s cookie tracking, but many people use their personal emails to engage with the sites that populate the cookies, so any match is hit-or-miss for B2B targets.

Here at Demandbase, we knew Account-Based Marketing best practices could be applied to paid search so we could continue to focus our digital spend on high-value targets. We were determined to figure it out, and implemented a new, powerful SEM strategy in response.

Our new strategy gave us much better visibility – our ads appeared in the top spot three times more often than the prior strategy. And that placement gave us better overall campaign performance resulting in an 81% increase for direct pipeline and a 39% decrease in the cost per opportunity.

Let’s examine what we did, how, and why.

Asking the Big Question

How can you leverage SEM to aid and abet Account-Based Marketing? We focused on two strategies.

We wanted to focus on quality, so  we chose keywords that represent high-quality search queries, even if they’re low volume, and created SEM ads featuring relevant content that would gain a high ad-quality score.

B2B Marketing Word Cloud

It’s simple: High-volume keywords make it difficult to get visibility and are pricey. Low-volume specialized keywords are impactful and cheap.

Next, for the high-volume, competitive keywords we continued to want to target, we focused our budget on geographies that had the highest concentration of target accounts. We increased our bid prices for those geos to get higher ad placement there.

Fish where the fish are.

That 81% boost in pipeline and 39% decrease in cost per opportunity from search engine marketing was directly attributable to some creative account-based thinking and investing.

Screenshot of Top Keyword in a SEM campaign

How You Can Do the Same

Account-Based Marketing and paid search aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • Use paid search in data-driven ways to highlight great content, increase conversions, and reduce waste.
  • Deploy Demandbase’s ABM Platform to select your targeted segments, no matter where they are.
  • Leverage Keyword Discovery to identify keyword families that are not on your list.
  • Understand the volume of keyword families to prioritize which ones you’ll use to create campaigns.

Demandbase tested new strategies and scaled our SEM channel with optimized performance that grew our business.

Combined with reduced costs and pipeline increases, what’s not to like?

You can do the same.