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Improving B2B Paid Advertising Performance

On joining the company, Cognism's CMO faced paused Google Ad spend and tracking issues.

Launching focused campaigns, trust in Google Ads was rebuilt, leading to improved lead quality and lower CPLs. Efficient resource management and strategic keyword targeting were pivotal.

Tips include tight account oversight, prioritising high-intent keywords, and conducting ad experiments. These efforts not only restored confidence in Google Ads but also paved the way for continued success in digital advertising.


Diary of a first-time CMO by Alice De Courcy
By: Alice de Courcy
1 minute read

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When I joined Cognism, our paid ads were a little all over the place…

For example:

All Google Ad spend had been paused due to a previous overspend.

No tracking was in place.

Up until this point, ads had performed badly.

Now this might all sound like bad news, a bleak way to come into my new role, but I saw this as an opportunity.

How can a CMO make a quick impact on business?

This was actually a great example of where I could roll up my sleeves and make an impact straight away. I started by getting our tracking in place.

Then auditing the ad campaigns we had running and identifying the following issues:

  • Very broad keyword targeting.
  • Poor account structure, prioritisation and personalisation.

I first focused on launching just 2 key campaigns:

  1. Brand
  2. Competitors

As the only resource working on this project, I wanted to keep the account tight by:

  • Maximising for high intent.
  • Doubling down on changes to messaging on the landing pages to improve quality.
  • Robust tracking and data hygiene.
  • Producing ad copy that would convert.

Due to bad past experiences at Cognism (before my time), all faith had been lost in Google Ads as a channel.

So it was a very quick win to see that after only a few hours of launching my revised campaigns, we could see leads converting and being attributed correctly in Salesforce.

Later that month these leads were starting to appear on our deals whiteboard in the office, correctly attributed to Google Ads. A big win.

That was the proof I needed to show leadership that things were being properly managed. They could put their faith back in Google Ads!

It proved that Google Ads had a rightful place in our strategy.

How to Scale Google Ads with limited resources?

My advice when it comes to scaling Google Ads with limited resources is to manage things closely.

You can’t just set it and forget it.

You also shouldn’t hand responsibility over to a cheap agency either.

Especially if they don’t have access to your CRM or request access. Otherwise, how can they optimise the spend for revenue? Leaving you with suboptimal optimisations and inefficiencies out your ears.

There are so many philosophies out there on how to run Google Ads, but it’s actually as simple as keeping the account as watertight as possible.

For example, don’t run more than you have the resources to manage.

Focus on the highest intent, lowest hanging fruit first, e.g. brand and competitors.

And from there you can expand out to the highest intent, transactional keywords. Always bearing in mind your resource limitations.

It’s another good idea to be running mini-experiments through your ads too. Such as checking what language your audience responds to and optimising landing page copy accordingly.

Some other experiments I ran were:

  • Including navigation on landing pages.
  • Creating multiple landing page variations to test specific messaging.
  • Gradual keyword expansion.

These changes may sound simple, but they’re often overlooked. There can be some big wins in the simple things.

And we got some big wins!

We were getting CPLs well under our breakeven CPL. We were getting far better quality leads (that were actually converting into customers at speed!)

After Google Ads, I turned to email - but that’s a whole other story in itself, so I will save that for a little later on!

Want to keep up with Alice's latest CMO advice?

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