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There’s no denying that Facebook is an extremely effective advertisement platform for B2C. Low order values and short sales cycles allow businesses to efficiently target a large volume of consumers to convert quickly. And with aggressive sales tactics such as discounted products and limited time offers grabbing our attention as we share the latest cute dog video, it’s easy to see why it’s regarded as an advertising haven.
As a B2B marketer however, most would forgive you for laughing in the face of anyone that suggested using Facebook as an advertising platform for your business.
But we’re not most people and we’re here to tell you that your distrust in B2B Facebook advertising is fundamentally misplaced. Let’s take a look at why…
Facebook remains the world’s largest social platform with over 2.4 billion users. If Facebook were a country, it would be way bigger than China. Most would consider China a market worth tapping into, so why assume that there’s no success to be found on Facebook for B2B marketers?
Yes, recent years have seen Facebook move further towards the social side of social media and businesses have migrated away accordingly. But the fact remains that even if Business Decision Makers (BDMs) might not use Facebook for work, there’s a strong chance that they use it at work. Scrolling through our social feeds has become our default way to pass a few bored minutes on our coffee break. If you can reach BDMs by presenting them something of interest and value on their lunch break they might just find out more about you when they return to their desk.
Despite popular misconceptions, Facebook is an excellent platform for generating an audience, building brand awareness, directing traffic to your website and, of course, converting.
So, how do you get Facebook marketing to work for you in the B2B space?
Before we start talking about objectives and methodologies, there’s one string that you’ll want to add to your bow right away. That’s Facebook Pixel. If you’re even remotely interested in marketing on Facebook, you should make installing it on your website a priority.
It‘s quick and easy to set up (just use this tutorial) and it can unlock a treasure trove of insights that will tell you all about who’s clicking your ads. You can see their age, gender and location. You can find out what kind of device they’re using- whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet and whether it uses Android or iOS. You can even find out what time of day they’re viewing your ads. Best of all, it can track users no matter where they come to your website from.
The data gleaned from this handy little widget can make a huge difference to everything else which we’ll discuss in this article. It can save you a fortune and ensure an altogether more targeted and efficient approach to your Facebook marketing.
It can be invaluable in helping you to establish your audience, build profiles, generate leads and increase conversion rates.
All of that just for a little snippet of code which gets to work around 24 hours after installation.
B2B marketing differs from its B2C counterpart in a variety of ways. The B2B approach is inherently more multi-touch, necessitating consistent messaging across multiple formats. Thus, at first glance, the inherently complicated nature of B2B marketing may seem at odds with the three fairly simple silos Facebook offers for objectives- Awareness, Consideration and Conversion.
These are then subdivided into a range of smaller objectives. Some will be hard to correlate with your goals (like reach or product catalog views). Others may be irrelevant (like app installs or store visits).
Reach campaigns, for example, may be a veritable goldmine for B2C businesses, but will be harder for B2B companies to attribute directly to revenue. At least not without some engaging and useful content marketing with which to follow through.
If your campaigns are to be effective on Facebook, you’ll need to focus your efforts on the objectives that are relevant for B2B. By paring down the lists in each silo we can build a neat little funnel from brand awareness through to traffic to lead gen and finally conversions.
Let’s look at each goal in a little more detail.
B2B conversion is usually a fairly long drawn out process. As such, building and maintaining brand awareness is crucial if you’re to start winning BDMs to your side. While this objective may lead directly to some sales this is not the ultimate goal here.
Brand awareness campaigns can cast a slightly larger net than other objectives, although you may want to base around 10% of your audience on the profiles of people who have bought your products or similarly converted before (we’ll go into more on lookalike audiences later).
The first decision you’ll need to make with this objective is where you want to drive traffic to. You have two options: your website or Facebook page — the latter is a waste of time and money. Where on your website you want to send prospects depends on the stage of the funnel of your ads.
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When you drive traffic to your website, you can use Facebook Pixel to inform some effective remarketing campaigns and sow the seeds of trust and loyalty with your content marketing efforts. You’ll also get some great data from which you can start to build lookalike audiences.
Lead gen ads allow you to gather user data directly from Facebook without dragging users away to your website. They are ideal for delivering forms in-app for gated content, so users can download your eBook with increasing ease, and you can still collect their valuable contact details.
Although this doesn’t immediately take them to your website, you can use their information to direct other content at them, and nurture them through the funnel towards a bottom of the funnel conversion.
Conversion ads should be your most direct ads, aimed at converting bottom of the funnel contacts. Rather than use these to redirect to your website pages (these ads are expensive and it’s a waste of money), take them to a carefully crafted landing page that’s designed to furnish them with exactly the information they need to entice them to convert
Now that we have clearly defined objectives, we can start to create ad sets. The better aligned your ads are with a clear objective, the more likely they are to resonate with your target audience.
One of the first steps to take when planning your ad sets is allocating your budget. You’ll be given the choice of daily or lifetime budgeting. When you’re first starting out, we recommend allocating your budgets on a daily basis. This can be easier if you’re accustomed to marketing via Google ads where daily budgets are the norm. Daily budgeting puts you in the driver's seat and allows you to take risks and experiment rather than tethering yourself to an ad set that’s going down like a lead balloon with your target audiences.When you’re ready to move on to lifetime budgeting, it’s still best to use relatively short sprints of 3-5 days. Facebook will allocate your budget within your allotted timeframe in a way that’s conducive to your ad objectives.
Scheduling is also important in planning your ad sets. After all, you don’t want to pay for exposure at a time when your audiences typically won’t be using the platform. This is where the data you’ve gleaned from Pixel becomes invaluable. By targeting the times when your ads are most commonly viewed you can optimise your ad set’s performance while reducing wasted spend.
The positioning or placement of your ad copy means far more than where it appears on a user’s feed (although, of course, it encompasses that as well). Facebook ads don’t just show up on newsfeeds. They can pop up in a wide range of places in and out of the app itself. As well as newsfeed ads, marketers have a range in-app options such as group ads, right column ads, instant articles and in-stream videos. Newsfeed and right column ads are historically the best investments for B2B businesses but these are just the tip of the iceberg. Outside of Facebook, your ads can also be displayed on Instagram (which has been owned by Facebook since 2012) or Facebook Audience Network. This is a network of websites which you can choose to advertise on, and it’s become a much more interesting prospect in recent years since Facebook has given marketers a choice of which sites they can advertise on.
Unlike Google ads which leverage intent-rich keywords, advertising on Facebook is all about audiences. The better you know your target audience, the more success you can expect in delivering relevant ad copy on Facebook and reaping the rewards accordingly.
Now, here’s where things get a little trickier for B2B marketers using Facebook. Finding your audience when you run a B2C business is relatively straightforward. Establish geographical perimeters, find people whose interests align with what you do and away you go. You have a list of local people who are primed to receive your ultra-relevant marketing copy.
Of course when it comes to BDMs, rarely do their interests and their jobs align so completely.
So it’s up to you to create your own audiences based on what you already know about your existing customers and prospects who are at the bottom of your funnel ready to buy. Again, Pixel is a fantastic resource when it comes to leveraging your data to create customer personas.
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Your core audience represents everyone who might have an interest in your product and is able to buy it. If your business is dependent on local traffic, for instance, this might include people within a reasonable distance of your business premises.
Obviously, that’s a lot of people. Detailed targeting, however, will allow you to whittle down the list by demographic categories like age, gender, job title, industry, income, relationship status and even political affiliation.
If targeting core audiences seems like casting the net too wide, an alternative might be custom audiences. These can be created using five metrics overall, but only three are really meaningful in the B2B space.
Finally, lookalike audiences whose demographic data matches that of your existing customers. These are the creme-de-la-creme from a marketing perspective. After all, if their data resembles that of your customers and converts, it stands to reason that they’d be prepared to at least give your brand a chance.
Contrary to popular belief, Facebook is ripe with opportunity for those in the B2B space who want to make a meaningful impact on BDMs. It can help you to get to know your target audience better and deliver highly targeted ad copy to achieve a range of discrete goals. With a little experimentation, A/B testing of ads and detailed segmentation, your Facebook ads can be a marketing powerhouse.