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What Keyword Themes Work Best (According to Data)

Ranga Kaliyur
June 10, 2024

Hello and welcome to Factors Labs — a brand new segment that reviews findings and insights from our data science team on all things marketing analytics and attribution. We analyze and report on patterns that emerge from real data collected across markets, companies, campaigns, events, funnels, and more. Subscribe here (or follow me) to keep up with our latest research.

This week, we highlight trends around General Keyword Themes using data derived from five mid-market B2B SaaS firms over a period of six months (April 21’ to October 21’). We explore how Click-through rates, Cost per Lead, Cost per Demo, and Lead to Demo conversion rates compare across four broad Keyword Themes: Brand, Features/Product, Pricing, and Competitor. 

What are Keyword Themes? Why are they Important?

In general, Keyword Themes are high-level categories of words or phrases that match your ad campaigns with your audience's web searches. Selecting the right keyword themes can make or break your marketing campaigns. Well-structured themes will connect prospects with your business as and when they’re looking for the product or service you provide. It is a strategy that rewards meticulous targeting with recurring, qualified traffic and high-quality leads. 

Optimize Quality Score, Ad Rank metrics, and Cost-per-click with Keyword Themes

Investing in keyword themes restricts your impressions to prospects with intent. Themes ensure that ads are received only by motivated traffic that is explicitly looking for particular keywords. When combined with focused, high-quality ad copies, this approach empowers granular control over your marketing efforts and significantly increases your click-through rate. As your click-through rate improves (to ideally above 1%), your Quality Scores will improve as well. And as your Quality Scores improve, your Ad Rank will also increase. Ultimately, this chain reaction provides a valuable ad position, minimizes your cost-per-click, and optimizes your digital marketing performance.


Not All Keyword Themes are Created Equal + Analysis Technique

Certain General Keywords Themes are fundamental to any B2B SaaS digital marketing strategy. In particular, these themes include Brand, Product/Feature, Pricing, and Competitor. Accordingly, the following report examines how these four themes perform across the following commonly-tracked metrics: CTR, CPL, Cost per Demo, and Lead to Demo Conversion Rates. 

We’ve compiled and crunched close to 30,000 general keyword theme records over a period of 6 months across 5 mid-market B2B SaaS clients in order to ascertain the following trends. In short, our analyses technique controls and compares one keyword theme with a base-average of several other keyword themes to derive a causal interpretation. For instance, “Brand keywords themes” were compared with “Non-brand keywords” such as “Pricing”, “Product”, and “Competitor”.

An Overview of Keyword Theme Performance

#1 Brand Keywords Themes

Branded keywords are words and phrases used by prospects to seek specific information about a business and it’s products. Expectedly, they are some of the strongest performing keywords. This is attributed to the fact that while their search volumes may not be as large, there is usually high intent amongst Brand-themed searches. This in turn, results in increased BoFu traffic and high-quality leads. Hence, Brand-themed keywords are unequivocally successful at driving conversions across the board.

Examples of Brand Keyword Themes

How do Brand keywords themes perform in B2B SaaS?

     1. Click Through Rate - 10x Increase in CTR
     2. Cost per Lead - 77% lower CPLs
     3. Cost per Demo - 83% lower CPDs 
     4. Lead to Demo Conversion Rate - 1.4x Increase in LTD Conversion

#2 Product/Feature Keywords Themes

Upon initial inspection, Product or Feature themed keywords seem like great options as they showcase details, use-cases, and value-additions of your product and it’s features. Surprisingly however, data shows that keywords that reflect the product/feature directly don’t actually perform all that well. While these keywords do result in a significant increase in CTR, all other metrics of interest take a turn for the worse. This may occur because of the highly competitive nature of the Product/Feature keywords market. Competition results in inflated keyword prices and a negative effect on cost per lead, cost per demo, lead to demo conversion, and brand recall. 

Examples of Product/Feature keyword themes

  • “Automated marketing insights”
  • “End-to-end customer journey analysis”

How do Product or Feature keyword themes perform in B2B SaaS?

    1. Click Through Rate - 1.4x increase in CTR 
     2. Cost per Lead - 12% higher CPLs
     3. Cost per Demo - 39% higher CPDs 
     4. Lead to Demo Conversion Rate - 0.8x decrease in LTD Conversion 

#3 Pricing Keywords Themes

Pricing-themed keywords are straightforward. They involve keywords related to the overall price of your product. Statistically, Pricing is one of the first details top of the funnel prospects look for. Accordingly, keywords that focus on pricing seem to perform quite well — especially in terms of Cost per Lead and Cost per Demo. That being said, there is an interesting drop off in Lead to Demo Conversion rates. Determining the reasons behind this occurrence is beyond the scope of this paper. Nevertheless, Pricing-themed keywords are promising options.

Examples of Pricing keyword themes

  • “Bizible pricing”
  • “HubSpot pricing plans”

How do Pricing keyword themes perform in B2B SaaS?

     1. CTR - 1.45x increase in CTR 
     2. Cost per lead - 78% lower CPLs
     3. Cost per Demo - 54% lower CPDs 
     4. Lead to Demo Conversion rate - 0.5x decrease in LTD Conversion

#4 Competitor Keywords Themes

Competitor-themed keywords are keywords that are tagged to your Competitors. This is an aggressive keyword strategy that provides high-intent prospects with an “in-your-face” alternative to options they might be considering. There are several competitor keywords available but the overarching sentiment remains the same — “choose us over them”. As the following empirical evidence suggests, competitor-themed keywords falter when it comes to click-through rates in comparison to other themes. However, other metrics perform rather well.

Examples of Competitors keyword themes

  • Adidas alternatives
  • Adidas vs. Nike

How do competitor keyword themes perform in B2B SaaS?

     1. CTR - 0.5x decrease in CTR 
     2. Cost per lead - 20% lower CPLs
     3. Cost per Demo - 37% lower CPDs 
     4. Lead to Demo  conversion rate - 1.3x increase in LTD conversion

The above analysis covers high-level insights of commonly used general keyword-themes. Though these findings provide actionable steps to improving keyword performance and ROI, it’s definitely worth digging deeper and identifying keyword modifiers that enable granular optimization. Join us next week as we do just this by drilling into Competitor keyword themes.

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