“Facebook doesn’t work for B2B”
“Don’t waste your time on Facebook, LinkedIn is where everyone is nowadays”
“Social ads are dead, we need strong organic through SEO and thought leadership content”
This is how most B2B marketing “wisdom” or “common sense” sounds like nowadays and we would like to challenge that line of thinking.
With a lower than ever barrier to entry to the B2B space and a plethora of tools, automation and growth hacks, companies need to understand the full scope of the tools that they have at hand, experiment and find what’s right for them. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all strategy anymore.
As such, some companies will never find use in Facebook Ads, while others will find tremendous success. We’re here to help the ones that want to give it a shot, based on the recipe that we’ve found to be extremely successful in our own inbound campaigns.
However, there are a few things worth mentioning or clarifying before we go on to how you can start successfully using Facebook Ads in B2B.
Different channels fit differently in the funnel
“Display ads” like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Display do not directly compete with search ads or Quora ads. Search ads and Quora represent a no-brainer since the intent is much higher.
At its core, search engine advertising is most effective on high-intent queries, where potential customers are not only aware of a problem, they’ve already learned what solutions there are, the differences between different solutions, asked their network what to do, and are finally ready for the purchase. This is invaluable but, if you haven’t reached these people with your brand before, they’re less likely to convert.
These bottom-of-the-funnel ads need to be complemented by everything from content marketing to social ads, which fit higher up in the funnel so that at the moment of consideration, you’re one of the options that people have in mind.
With visual ads, your aim is to introduce people to your brand and your products or solutions, even if they do not convert immediately. In B2B, chances are that no one will convert to a paying customer at the first, or even second or third, interaction but they still need a way to learn of your existence, get on your newsletter list, or submit their email for a downloadable.
In any case, what we’re arguing for here is the fact that Facebook Ads can be used successfully in B2B when it comes to high and mid-funnel acquisition.
“Facebook doesn’t work for B2B”
There are two main reasons people claim that Facebook Ads don’t work in B2B.
One of them is that people don’t go to Facebook for work-related reasons. While that’s arguably true, we’re still human, and whatever draws our attention will be taken into account. I can’t ever remember seeing an ad for, say, a Marketing dashboard platform and going “oh, this is interesting and could make my life a lot easier, but I’m off the clock, you know?” The way we work has changed and I’d argue we’re never off the clock for the right opportunity.
The second one, with a bit more merit, is the idea that targeting on Facebook for B2B sucks. Their business data, such as titles, employer, seniority, and all of the other attributes that make LinkedIn data so good, is simply missing on Facebook. While that’s true for 1st-degree data, there are ways to get around that, given the plethora of behavioral data that Facebook has gathered on us. It’s terrifying but effective.
Facebook is underutilized in B2B
Think about the ads that you see on Facebook. I can bet that the overwhelming majority of them are B2C. The above-listed reasons and the recent popularity of LinkedIn for organic branding and reach have driven the majority of B2B advertisers to LinkedIn.
In fact, a recent study by Aaron Zakowski lists the top paid channels for the top 100 SaaS companies. Only 16% of them use Facebook Ads, while 97% of them use LinkedIn Ads! I’m sure that for smaller SaaS companies Facebook would have a higher figure because of the price disparity when compared to LinkedIn but I’m sure it would still be way below.
This means that there are fewer advertisers to compete with in terms of both pricing and attention. So, if you get to the right audience with the right message, you’ll get a higher chance at the message landing and the cost will be significantly lower than LinkedIn Ads.
All in all, my experience suggests that Facebook is heavily underutilized but is a prime channel for digital ads as long as you know where it fits in your marketing strategy and how to properly utilize its targeting capabilities.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our Facebook Ads guide for B2B.
We’ll be going into pre-requisites for being successful with your campaigns, starting from the type of target customer that you should be focusing on to setting up your Facebook Pixel and conversion events to make sure that you reach the right audiences.