Ignore Microsoft Advertising for B2B Demand Gen at Your Own Peril

Since launching in 2009, Bing has been treated like an afterthought. Microsoft’s search engine only accounts for a fraction of web traffic that Google delivers, so the temptation to ignore it is understandable.

If you’re a digital marketer in the B2B technology space, Bing has probably been in your top 5 traffic sources for years. I’ll also wager that its SQL conversion rate is above average. If the companies you’re targeting are in North America or Europe, Bing’s performance may even surpass Google organic in terms of revenue generated.

Yet there’s a good chance you haven’t considered using Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads). Why is that?

Who uses Bing?

As of December 2022, Bing is the second most popular search engine worldwide with 3% market share, according to Statcounter. Yes, that looks pitiful compared to Google’s 92.6%, but you’re not marketing to everyone in the entire world. When you break out the demographics who would actually use your product, Bing’s performance will likely stand out.

Who uses Microsoft Advertising?

There is a lot less competition advertising on Bing than Google. Experiments conducted by SEMetrical showed that the average cost-per-click (CPC) was 70% higher in the Google Search Network vs. Microsoft Search Network. The average cost per action (CPA) was also 15% lower.

While Google has the advantage in sheer volume, Bing Ads are seen by an older, higher earning demographic, the type of people who are most likely to be decision makers at their companies.

Understanding this advantage, Microsoft Advertising offers demographic targeting options for B2B, including by company, industry, and job function.

Devices

What is the mobile vs. desktop breakdown for your visitors? Globally it’s about an even split; 49.8% mobile and 50.2% desktop. For the last decade, marketers have shifted focus to mobile traffic. In 2023, lacking a mobile-friendly web presence is unacceptable, but the level of importance in B2B tech, broadly speaking, just isn’t the same as B2C.

Unless your B2B product is a mobile app, your website visitors likely skew desktop. Drill down to organic and direct sources and the disparity will be even greater.

What is your core audience doing when they visit your website? If your web activity peaks during traditional office hours and craters every weekend, it should be obvious: They’re at work. No matter how game changing your B2B technology is, there’s no way your target customers are browsing your site while drifting off to sleep at night.

For desktop users, Bing’s market share is 8.9% globally. That number is all over the place regionally. The search engine’s market share is particularly strong in North America and Europe: 14.5% in the United States, 12.5% in the United Kingdom, 11.3% in Canada, and 12.8% in Germany.

Work vs. personal devices

There’s a recurring theme here: Those percentages are probably higher in your analytics, and it makes perfect sense.

People visiting your site during working hours are likely browsing on their work-issued computers. Odds are they weren’t handed a Chromebook on their first day. They probably don’t use a Mac for work either unless they lobbied for it.

If they’re like 75.3% of global desktop users, they work on hardware that runs Microsoft Windows.

Default search engine

Computers that use Windows come with Microsoft Edge preinstalled as the default browser. The default search engine is, of course, Bing for obvious reasons.

Many users will immediately change the default browser and search engine to their preferences, but the rest will see Bing SERPs by default when they look for answers to their work-related issues.

DuckDuckGo Private Search

Another reason to consider Microsoft Advertising is its partnership with DuckDuckGo. If you’re in a niche like cybersecurity, you likely get an above average number of visitors from DuckDuckGo because of its emphasis on privacy. Tracking visitor activity from DuckDuckGo ads will be a lot more challenging, but the leads could be inherently more valuable.

Importing from Google Ads

If you’re already using Google Ads for paid search, you’ll be able to quickly adapt to Microsoft Advertising’s platform. The interface is different but the principles are the same.

You can even import your ads from Google into your Microsoft Advertising campaigns.

How to get started?

If you’re currently running Google Search Network campaigns, I’d recommend carving out at least 10% of your paid search budget to try Bing Ads. Give it the standard 6 weeks to show real results like Google paid search campaigns are afforded. If the ads fail to perform, you can pivot back to Google Ads. But if you’re in B2B tech, I’m willing to bet you’ll shift even more funds to Bing going forward.