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How To Use Paid Search To Drive The Right Leads To Your Content

Paid Search

As marketers, we rely on creative content marketing to channel and convert leads into customers. If you’re already running inbound marketing campaigns, you may be wondering, can paid search work for our business as well? Do we need to be doing paid search? Can paid search campaigns actually support our inbound marketing efforts, driving more of the right people and businesses to our content?

The short answer to all of the questions above: yes!

In this post we will cover some of the basic ad delivery methods in Google Adwords. Don’t worry if all of this feels like new territory! In our humble opinion, inbound marketing has been siloed for far too long from paid search, and it’s time for us Inbounders to feel more comfortable with the modality.

Whether you’re a PPC newbie or have some experience, we’ll walk you through how to approach paid search and some of its new and old ad mediums. Learning a bit more about AdWords’ offerings may help you assess whether it’s a viable platform to supplement your inbound marketing campaigns.

What Is Paid Search?

Google AdWords is a type of paid search or “pay-per-click” (PPC) marketing. For more in-depth explanations about the different types of paid search, check out Uberflip’s post on PPC for beginners, and a recent article on increasing PPC conversion rates.

For the purposes of this post, when we refer to paid search, we are talking specifically about advertising on Google. While we love PPC and find that it is still one of the highest converting mechanisms in internet marketing it may be too expensive to promote a piece of content (this depends entirely on your vertical and how good you are at managing your content leads).


Also known as “remarketing”, retargeting is a form of online advertising that enables you to capture the leads who don’t convert right away. Imagine your target customer searches for your product or service, and then gets followed around the Internet until they purchase. Through cookie technology, this is a reality. Welcome to the magic of retargeting!

We see almost every type of business, from B2B to B2C and Lead Gen to eComm, benefitting from retargeting. The clicks are cheaper and most times you need to make contact with a customer multiple times before getting a commitment from them. Retargeting typically proves especially effective if you offer products or services that are more expensive and take longer to convert as users may need reminders as they progress through the decision-making life cycle.

Display Ads

Display advertising makes use of image-based “banner” ads that appear next to content on web pages, in email, etc. Banner ads include text, brand logos and images and rich media. For B2B, display ads are a great opportunity to directly reach your target audiences in compelling visual means that will allow them to have a better sense of whether it’s the right fit to work with you. Ads often perform differently per network.

Typically, an ad that performs well in search won’t do well on display because you are targeting a customer in a different part of the sales process. Differences in performance metrics such as click-through rate and conversion rate can cause optimization issues when the data is blended together. Be sure to separate your display and search campaigns for the best, most accurate results. Display typically is the most cost effective way to drive clicks and your visual ads can generate thousands of impressions. If you have a great visual ad promoting an interesting piece of content this can drive strong awareness and engagement.

Test And Measure For Best Results

Smart marketers are constantly executing, testing, and learning to at least maintain the results they need and improve over time. It’s hard to know what will work for your particular business until you test. You need to be testing your paid search as well as your content campaigns to see what resonates best with your target market.

Bidding on keywords is like bidding on antiques at an auction – simply put – whoever has the highest bid will win (among other factors). How do you know what the highest bid is?  Well, luckily Google will at least tell you what amount to bid on to get a certain keyword above the fold. After that, you can test what bids achieve top ad positioning and adjust over time to get the best results.

Track Performance

In order to get the most out of the money you spend in AdWords, tracking conversions is essential. You are not tracking conversions in your AdWords campaign. By using conversion tracking you can identify what ads and keywords are driving conversions and therefore make more profitable changes to your campaign. For any business, it is important to know what terms drive sales. You can focus more attention on the terms that drive conversions and remove the ones that do not. You can begin to make your converting terms more cost effective by lowering or raising bids, or placing that term in the optimal position on a page that will drive you the most sales.

Make Time For Campaign Maintenance

When is it time to call in the cavalry? Be honest about your expertise and the time you can allocate to your campaign.

You’ll need to be doing these things at regular intervals:

  • Updating bids on top 10% of Keywords (weekly).
  • Writing and testing new ads (monthly).
  • Running search query reports & adding negatives (monthly).
  • Making Quality Score improvements or removing low Quality Score content (monthly).

So if you don’t have time to really run PPC right, maybe it’s best to outsource!

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About the Author

Matt Hessler is Director of Search at <a href="">PPCPath</a>, a marketplace for paid search marketing experts. He’s also a men’s fashion designer, rebuilder of vintage motorcycles, and the author of the ebook <a href="">The Ultimate Guide to PPC Landing Pages</a>. Matt says PPC gives him a holistic view of the customer lifecycle, reminding him that conversion marketing requires patience and persistence.

Profile Photo of Matt Hessler