Why should B2B businesses advertise on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and what value does each one bring?
During these complex times, we pivoted our marketing offer and decided to diversify our social media efforts beyond LinkedIn to discover how advertising on Twitter and Facebook can help B2B businesses capitalise on their marketing without breaking the bank.
LinkedIn is the number one priority network for B2B businesses to make their mark: we can connect with like-minded professionals in our industry, network, and find new sales’ prospects. When it comes to the more casual and less business-centred networks though, B2B pros are not entirely convinced because these are not industry standard and are less explored: is that a problem? We think so.
We think if you call yourself a master marketer in the B2B field, then you need to know exactly what each social channel offers and for which clients and in which situation using each one proves valuable.
Let’s think about this in terms of the marketing funnel: We already knew that LinkedIn would bring in top-of-the-funnel leads and Google search ads would serve as our middle-of-the-funnel lead generator, but when it comes to Twitter and Facebook, we wanted to leave room for natural exploration and learning through testing.
Our only assumption was that we could use the two networks along with our main lead generators to reinforce key brand messages to leads that had shown an interest in our marketing previously.
How did we get started?
We launched version one of our ‘one step at a time’ marketing offer: our promise to you to decide on your next step in addressing the immediate needs of your business with achievable marketing outputs in a few short days. We jumped on LinkedIn to get some feedback from existing clients and then promoted the offer on LinkedIn with some sponsored advertising to test the waters and find out if our target customers are actually interested in the offer. Learn more about getting started on LinkedIn Campaign Manager.
The campaign offers clients the possibility to explore their marketing needs with us to address their exact concerns with individual services like our branding and messaging reboot, Google Ads starter, help with social campaigns and more, and then reach out to us by acting on our main calls to action: viewing our pricing pages, or booking a call. We did not set up explicit conversion opportunities because our objective was to improve brand awareness and gauge lead interest in the offer.
The campaign’s overall click-through rate was 0.8% which, given the fact that we targeted very specific people in our market niche, actually translates to a decent amount of new interest and leads, so we’re happy to consider the campaign a success. It’s important to bear in mind that the success of a campaign can be measured in different ways based on your objectives and target market.
Following our LinkedIn campaign, we launched sponsored posts on Twitter to see what—if anything—a B2B business like ours could get out of the network. Read more about our LinkedIn and Twitter campaigns.
Why use Twitter?
We found—as we suspected—that the network was not ideal for finding new prospects, but—with a 6.22% click-through-rate on our campaign—Twitter is useful for reaching a large audience which is great for spreading the word about your business, reinforcing brand messages, and generating interest in your educational content. Want to generate hype for your new blog? Want to increase brand awareness? Then Twitter may just be the place to do that.
What was missing on Twitter?
The thing that really had us stumped with Twitter is that the platform’s audience builder alone does not offer the level of detail we needed to be able to target our ideal buyer persona like we can do on LinkedIn Campaign Manager. To really make Twitter work for us, we would have to upload existing contacts’ data in order to create a lookalike audience or for a remarketing campaign, but if we want to build a highly-targeted audience from scratch, we need to look elsewhere. We turned to Facebook to explore if we could recreate our target audience more easily.
How did we prepare for our Facebook campaign?
We jumped on Facebook to investigate if it could be used as an effective network for finding new prospects—like LinkedIn is—and how well it works as a message reinforcement tool (like Twitter is).
After analysing our Twitter and LinkedIn campaigns, we found that copy that focuses on specific services like this:
faired better than the more general copy that focused on the offer as a whole, like this:
In fact, campaigns on both networks showed that our prospects were mostly interested in our Google Ads and branding and messaging repositioning marketing services.
We then revamped our ‘one step at a time’ marketing offer on our website and released the super agile ‘bounce back better’ version to keep up with the evolving needs of our clients. We used our agile marketing acumen to rework the post copy and graphics of our ads too, shifting focus to our more specific services to ensure NowComms is 100% Facebook ads ready.
Some examples of our updated ads:
Next came the exciting part: building our audience!
We’ll summarise the thinking behind building our audience here, but if you’re interested in all there is to know about Facebook Ads, check out our comprehensive guide.
In order to attract new B2B businesses interested in the types of services we offer, we needed to make contact with C-Suite-level decision-makers in organisations so that—after educating themselves on us and what we do—they could make the final decision. Plus, these decision-makers need to be part of our target sectors to qualify as part of our target audience.
After familiarising ourselves with the platform, we were quite impressed with the capabilities of the audience builder which allowed us to easily recreate our target audience and matched the specificity of targeting offered on LinkedIn Campaign Manager.
Facebook advertising allows marketers to profile users based on their job title, industry, company size, age, gender, interests they’ve expressed on Facebook, and in many other ways. So we were able to transfer our target audience from LinkedIn Campaign Manager to Facebook Ads without a hitch (you can even use your LinkedIn list of job titles and industries to find similar ones on Facebook Ads).
How did we design the Facebook campaign?
We created 12 examples of ad copy each of which introduced our in-demand services—like our Google Ads starter, SEO makeover, social media bundle, and others— and designed compelling graphics that communicated our vision: helping B2B businesses bounce back better.
What are the results?
After running the ads for one week, the results on Facebook showed:
- 110 link clicks, with a £0.68 cost per link click, and a 0.79% click-through rate.
We ran the same ads on LinkedIn and have tested similar ones on Twitter. After having reached the same budget value as the Facebook campaign, LinkedIn results showed:
- 35 link clicks, with a £4.65 cost per result, and a 0.82% click-through rate.
The Twitter results showed:
- 881 link clicks, with a £0.07 cost per result, and a 6.69% click through rate.
What can we learn from these results?
Initially, you may think that Twitter is the clear winner with a high engagement rate and the lowest cost per result, with Facebook coming in a close second and LinkedIn not doing so well. However, as we have seen before, high numbers do not necessarily equal campaign success. For us, the qualities of the people that actually click on the ads are the most important campaign factors, not just how many people interact with the ads.
LinkedIn is the B2B industry’s leading network because it offers a high level of flexibility and detail that allows marketers to create a truly niche audience and either advertise to them using LinkedIn Campaign Manager or use Sales Navigator for other marketing purposes. So, LinkedIn is still a viable go-to option for every marketer looking for new leads.
How is each network useful?
From our experience with running B2B ads on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, we think that:
- LinkedIn is the best platform for finding quality leads that are likely to be interested in doing business with you.
- It’s the most expensive platform when it comes to cost per result.
- Twitter seems to be useful for engaging a large number of people, making it useful for reinforcing brand messages and promoting content that will educate leads generated via your main lead generator about your business. For example, use Twitter to promote educational blogs that deliver real value to your customers.
- It is the cheapest platform when it comes to cost per result.
- Facebook could be the perfect compromise between LinkedIn and Twitter. We think that Facebook could serve as a great lead generator, as a tool for reinforcing brand messages, and as a way of promoting educational content. In our campaign, we used Facebook to generate interest in our bounce back better marketing offer. But, if we were to tweak the landing page—adding more calls to action and ways of converting—and revamp the Facebook campaign, we think Facebook could match the power of LinkedIn when it comes to lead generation.
- It is the midrange platform in terms of price.
What should B2B businesses consider when advertising on social media
The audience builder is key
When it comes to the capabilities of the audience builder on each network, we found that Facebook’s builder is most similar to LinkedIn because it allows B2B businesses to find their target audience easily versus a clunky audience builder on Twitter that didn’t give us the level of detail we were looking for.
Facebook is better than Twitter for lead generation, and potentially as good as LinkedIn, because it allows businesses to target people using very specific criteria, many of which are unavailable on Twitter. So, if you’re a B2B business with very specific buyer personas, then Twitter may not fare so well when it comes to targeting a new audience, but given that you can upload a list of existing contacts, create a lookalike audience based on the upload, and target existing followers, it may be useful for remarketing and reinforcing key brand messages.
Retargeting on LinkedIn is a given and we’re working on our next campaign to investigate if it is a strategy worth using on Facebook too. So watch this space.
Engaging people on Linkedin is most expensive because it provides a niche group of quality leads that will truly impact your business. On Twitter, we were able to reach many more people than on the two other networks, but we have to question the quality of these leads because it’s hard to gauge who exactly the respondents are and how useful they are to our business—a high volume of people and engagement does not equal quality.
On Facebook, B2B businesses can strike a balance between reaching a good number of people and engaging them e.g. you can create an audience as detailed as the one on LinkedIn, with the potential of reaching more people than on LinkedIn. But beware! Numbers are just indicators; it’s much more important to consider your objectives for each campaign and potentially experiment on networks of interest yourself to find out which one is best for what you’re trying to achieve.
Pay attention to metrics: Demographics and more
It’s important it is to consider how you want to use each social media network for your business, but also to pay attention to other results like demographics, devices used, ad placement, and other metrics to get as much of the bigger picture as you can.
Demographics from our Facebook ad campaign
For example, of the people who saw and clicked on our ads, 63% were women and 35% were men. The cost per result for women was £0.73 and £1.25 for men. And when looking at how Facebook users viewed the target landing page, we found that all but one person clicked through via a mobile phone. So to improve our next Facebook campaign, we may consider advertising exclusively to women in our market niche who are likely to view the ads on a mobile device.
Furthermore, you don’t have to make these decisions based on your campaign results alone; if you’ve never advertised on Facebook before or want more information on overall Facebook metrics, you can check out Facebook’s Audience Insights for an more in-depth look into your target audience. To access Audience Insights from Facebook Business Manager, click on Business Tools and under the heading Analyse and Report, find Audience Insights.
Twitter Ads and LinkedIn Campaign Manager also offer similar demographic metrics so that you can analyse as much of the data as possible and draw conclusions that will add value to your marketing strategy. For example on LinkedIn, you can view metrics based on job function, job title, company, company industry, job seniority, company size, location, country/region, and county. Phew, that’s a long list of metrics!
So after every campaign, be sure to check out all the relevant metrics that will help you understand how effective your campaign was and to unlock clues on how to improve future campaigns across the board.
How does our Facebook campaign compare to industry averages?
According to data from Wordstream, the average click-through rate on Facebook in the B2B industry is 0.78%, meaning our click-through rate of 0.79% is pretty much bang on the money!
Ads on Facebook in the B2B space receive less engagement than other industries because it is not a strictly professional-oriented network so when looking for niche industry-specific services people are more likely to search on platforms like LinkedIn and Google. Users use Facebook for social interaction and more casual browsing, not to improve their career prospects.
The user’s intent when searching also plays a key role in ad performance. For example, someone clicking a Facebook ad has different intent to someone clicking an ad on Google. Google uses keyword-based targeting so users are actively searching for something very specific while Facebook uses collated personal interest data to offer products and services the user may not necessarily be searching for.