B2B advertising in the paid media space can be tricky. The time it takes for a lead to become a sale can take months, and capturing the correct person at any given company can seem impossible. On occasion, you’ll find a C-level executive or vice president is the right person to target; whereas other times their assistant is the one doing the up-front research on products and services. Knowing where, how, and when to reach key decision-makers can seem like a complex problem. An often-overlooked solution for B2B digital marketers is paid social – and not just LinkedIn.
If your business is looking to optimize existing value, grow faster, or don’t have fully leveraged teams or an agency partner, paid social advertising may be the right solution. Social advertising sits in a unique spot within the marketing funnel. It has the potential to be fully brand awareness, fully bottom-funnel, and is great for customer retention. Although this blog will focus mostly on paid social as a bottom-funnel customer acquisition channel, it’s important to quickly touch on the uniqueness of paid social for capturing user attention and increasing engagement.
Capturing unaware users to make them aware of a brand, their product, and solution is an important part of the marketing funnel to drive them to conversion. At the top of the funnel, marketers typically focus on display ads for brand awareness. Accepting the fate of low click-through rate (CTRs) for the promise of recognition when the user goes to do a search – and that is the result in a lot of cases, but it takes time, money, and a wide net to capture that right user at the right time through display. A big reason it takes high impressions and a wide net to capture these users is because of ad fatigue.
We’ve all heard the term (if you haven’t, it’s the idea that right rail display ads aren’t being seen because we’ve adapted to ignoring them. You can learn more about it here), and we all look for ways to get around it. Paid social may be the answer to ad fatigue. When a user is on a site that serves display ads, they’re likely visiting for a purpose such as reading an article they’ve [purposely] clicked in to, meaning they’re going to be less willing to click away from what they’re doing to learn more about your product. Social, on the other hand, is filled with users mindless scrolling looking for something to pique their interest (We’ll even bet that you came here from a social post). Meaning that your ad, if done right, can be the thing they choose to click on. You’re not trying to take them away from what they’re doing, you’re trying to give them something to do, and thus, no concerns for ad blindness!
Now, back to the reason you’re here – using all of this for your B2B business to drive leads, not just awareness.
Facebook for B2B
Facebook is likely not your first thought when you’re putting together your B2B marketing strategy, but we’re here to tell you that you need to make sure it doesn’t get forgotten!
In the last year, Facebook has made a lot of updates to the targeting capabilities within its ad platform, creating some limitations toward reaching your target customer. However, job titles (the core of all our successful B2B campaigns) have been largely unaffected due to the fact that they’re self-reported to Facebook and not third-party, purchased data.
Now, just broadly targeting job titles probably isn’t going to work, and if it does, congrats – you have found your target user! Most businesses think they know who their target user is, but it turns out that they only have an idea of who their target user is and its typically a broader definition. In order to help find the most effective targeting, audience segmentation is key when setting up campaigns and ad sets. You should be finding the least common denominator of an audience and making that one group. Think of it the same way you would group keywords into ad groups for a paid search campaign. With this approach, we’ve been able to help clients drive incremental growth and spend their budget more effectively by moving ad spend from perceived “core users” that were under-performing over to highly engaged users that were thought to be secondary, or even tertiary, targets. For example, we were able to improve our construction management client’s CTR from 0.10% to 0.50% with this method.
LinkedIn Still Matters
Facebook is great – a personal favorite, actually – but there’s no denying the importance of LinkedIn for B2B advertising. LinkedIn was built for the B2B side with its robust job-related targeting such as job title, seniority, company size, field of study, and more. On top of all that, LinkedIn has recently been launching new ad types, including native lead forms, to stay in the race with Facebook. The biggest mistake made here is thinking that you can replicate your Facebook targeting and ad strategies on LinkedIn, and that’s where most B2B campaigns see issues. The audience and the way they engage is completely different on LinkedIn vs. Facebook – we’ve seen that users are less likely to engage with GIF ads on LinkedIn, but on Facebook GIF ads see higher reach, impressions, and ad engagement (even across the same client).
What you should be replicating on LinkedIn is the audience segmentation. Knowing your audience when it comes to paid social can help drive incremental growth and will resonate with the reader at a more strategic level. Don’t just layer up all targeting within one campaign, make sure you break out major targeting types (such as title and field of study) so you can learn more about who your audience is (same with ad type, but LinkedIn only lets you do one ad type in a campaign, so that’s a given). Most importantly, remember that LinkedIn is a smaller audience, so it will be more expensive – $40-$50 cost per clicks aren’t unheard of on LinkedIn, but the B2B targeting capabilities will help you find an audience ready to engage.
What About Twitter?
Twitter is an interesting world, some people swear by it, some people swear against it. We fall somewhere in the middle. The most success we’ve seen on Twitter is when it’s used to either promote content (aka not conversion-focused at all) or as a way for thought leaders within the company to engage with other accounts and drive conversation within the platform.
Saturate Without Overwhelming
Closing out with one last note: frequency capping. This refers to restricting the number of times a specific visitor to a website is shown a particular ad. It’s important to remember that the same user is likely on Facebook and LinkedIn, so frequency capping becomes increasingly important to ensure you’re reaching the customer enough times to drive recognition and engagement, but not overwhelming them or, even worse, annoying them to the point where they choose to hide the ads.
Reaching your goals of growing your business, closing the gaps in your revenue funnel, or optimizing your existing model can all be done using paid social. At Tallwave, paid social is a part of our accelerated growth solutions that help our clients meet their business goals. Interested in how paid social can help your business? Give us a call.
Written by Rachel Macadam–Paid Media Strategist