A common misconception of Facebook advertising is that Facebook ads are a magic machine in which you put $50 and get $500 out. It can work like this; however, as with most things, it is not a one size fits all product. And, while it is well known that Facebook advertising can be an incredibly effective tool for marketing and sales, it is often thought of in the context of only being effective for consumer products and services.
So, do Facebook ads make sense for business-to-business (B2B) companies? As with many things in Facebook marketing, the answer to this question is: it depends. Let’s take a look at the basics of Facebook ads, why they work, and how to determine if they are right for your B2B company.
What are Facebook Ads
To first understand how they work, it is important to understand what Facebook ads are. Here are some details directly from Facebook about their advertising:
- Ads can appear in News Feeds on desktop, News Feeds on mobile devices, and in the right column of Facebook on desktop.
- Ad content is something paired with news about social actions that your friends have taken, like liking a page.
- Your confirmed friends might see news about the social actions you have taken in Facebook ads with the proper privacy settings you’ve set for your account.
- Facebook doesn’t sell your information to advertisers.
- Facebook actively enforces policies that help protect your experience with third-party apps and ad networks.
Essentially, Facebook advertisements are posts of images, links, copy, and video content that are shown to your chosen audience based on an advertising objective. This could look like a sponsored video directed at people in a certain geographic area who are most likely to watch the video or a certain age group most likely to click the link. These posts are shown on Facebook, in the audience network, as well as on Instagram. Remember, Facebook owns Instagram, so Facebook and Instagram ads are managed the same way.
Why Facebook Ads Work
It is no question that when done properly, Facebook advertising can be the most effective marketing tool out there. But why is it so successful? There are three key ingredients to Facebook’s success with advertising, whether B2C or B2B.
Unlike traditional marketing, Facebook ads contain a tremendous amount of real-time data. Whereas with newspapers or radio advertising, a business owner may have to do months or years of advertising to test the data correlation and see if sales increase, Facebook ads speed up that process and show a direct ROI. For example, you can see exactly how much was spent on each image, and how many sales, leads, or conversions were made from that one image. This also allows advertisers to easily optimize to the best performing posts.
Thanks to cookies, browser histories, and data, the target audience options available on Facebook outpace most other types of advertising. Rather than only being able to target certain regions, these ads can be focused on a variety of demographics, interests, and behaviors. For example, instead of targeting everyone in St. Louis, the ads can be shown to everyone over 35 in a 10-mile radius that reads business magazines and has a c-suite title.
If you are not familiar with the term, it is the opposite of traditional marketing known as “interruption marketing.” This marketing “interrupts” the audience from what they want to be doing, such as listening to their favorite radio program, to share an ad with them. In contrast, on Facebook, users are choosing to interact with the content, look at a Facebook page, or watch the video. Others will scroll right past and ignore it. Because they are choosing to be there, it is a much more powerful approach to connect with your audience. Additionally, Facebook only makes money if the audience member takes the desired action you have set, so the program is designed to make you successful. (If you know what you are doing).
Keep in mind it is good to have a social media strategy in place too. Having a consistent digital footprint through an organic social media strategy adds to the effectiveness of a Facebook ads strategy.
When Facebook Ads Makes Sense for B2B
At this point, you can likely see the obvious correlation for B2C marketing with this tool, especially for eCommerce products. However, Facebook ads are equally powerful and effective for many B2B marketing strategies as well.
The first step to successfully utilizing Facebook ads for your B2B company is to have a sales process and know your numbers. For example, for every 100 contacts you receive, let’s say you are able to book 20 calls. From those 20 calls, 10 answers are qualified contacts. Of those 10, five make a second appointment, then from there, two make a purchase. So for every 100 contacts you receive, on average, your team closes two new customers.
Next, let’s look at costs. If each of those customers has a LifeTime Value (LTV) of spending $12,000 with your company, working back up the sales process, every 100 contacts turn into $24,000 of gross income. To further understand your process for this example, of the $24,000 gross income, there are $12,000 in expenses, leaving you with $12,000 in profit for the company. Therefore, if you spend less than $12,000 per 100 contacts you receive, you will be profitable.
When you know these numbers, it is easy to convert them into a Facebook advertising strategy. Where it previously may have felt extremely expensive to pay $50 for a contact when you have a 2% close rate, now that you know your profit is $120 per contact, that price makes much more sense. There are very few other types of marketing programs that enable you to measure your ROI so clearly and directly.
Type of Facebook Ads to Use for B2B Marketing
There are currently 11 types of objectives to choose from for the Campaign level of Facebook advertising. These objectives are in line with most marketing objectives:
As you can see, these follow a three-step lead generation and sales process from awareness to consideration and finally conversion. For utilizing this advertising tool for B2B companies, there are four of the 11 objectives that most successfully tie into a sales and marketing strategy.
This is most similar to a billboard with the added effect of measuring lasting impressions. This ad objective is designed to show the post to people who are most likely to remember your ad a few days later. Since sales is a several step process that takes many touches, this is a great objective to start with to begin to warm your audience to your brand.
The traffic objective is great for when the audience is starting to consider your brand as the product/service that fits their needs. At this point, they are aware of the problem they are trying to solve and are searching for solutions. This ad objective is ideal for sending audiences to an information page on a website such as a blog or a whitepaper. If you sell directly from the website, this is also the place to start including those landing pages with sales information.
This objective speaks for itself; it is designed to easily gather leads for your company. There are more creative options for this objective for how the post will look to the user, with the end goal being to create a list of data based on questions the audience answers. For example, an interested user can click the ad and have their name, email address, and phone number automatically added to the form to submit. This data is editable, and you are able to add as many questions as you would like; however, at this stage, the idea is to provide a quick and simple way for leads to identify their interest with a way for you to contact them. This data can be connected to your CRM system or downloaded in a spreadsheet for follow up.
Finally, the sales conversion objective. Facebook has a pixel that is a piece of code added to the header of a website, similar to Google Analytics. From here, custom conversion can be created to directly optimize the ads towards audience members who will complete specific actions. More simply put, this ad objective allows you to build ads that are designed to reach more people who will click a specific button, add an item to checkout, make a purchase, or download something.
Depending on how your company’s website is designed, this can provide lead generation through downloads of white papers, for example, or filling out a contact form.
Reasons Not to Use Facebook Ads for Your Business
While they can be a great tool, here are some examples of why Facebook ads may not be right for your B2B company at this time.
- You don’t know where your profit is coming from.
- You have a tight marketing budget with no room to test.
- You have no existing digital footprint.
- You are on a short timeline.
Depending on the sales cycle, how long it takes to convert a lead into a new sale, Facebook ads can take 6-12 months to be consistently successful for a B2B company. Time is needed for testing, optimizing, and learning what works. However, once the process is figured out and added into the overall sales process of the company, it can be a successful pipeline for years to come. Therefore, if you can’t give Facebook advertising the time it needs to generate success for your company, it is best to concentrate your efforts elsewhere and re-address it later..
Use Facebook to Grow a B2B Sales Pipeline & Watch Revenue Soar
Facebook advertising can be a great tool to help your company develop and grow a successful B2B sales pipeline. To maximize its capabilities and see an ROI, you should have a system to follow up with leads that come through the Facebook ads funnel, just as you would for your other marketing efforts. Finally, a Facebook advertising strategy is not a job for an intern or assistant to take on in addition to his or her existing full-time job. While this can be done in-house, proper time should be dedicated by someone to learn the system or consider hiring experienced outside help.
If you’re not sure how Facebook advertising could fit into your B2B marketing strategy, a great place to start is with a digital operations audit. With a digital operations audit, the Atomic Revenue team assesses how your different assets work independently and cooperatively with each other to support your lead generation and revenue goals. Contact us today for a no-obligation conversation.
About the Author
Rianna M. Hill is the Digital Operations Coordinator at Atomic Revenue. Rianna and Atomic Revenue work together with clients around the world to help them utilize the right digital solutions for their businesses and provide the opportunity to thrive by optimizing the tools of today's online resources. Rianna's social media expertise helps create digital marketing strategies that engage customers and support Atomic Revenue’s mission and our clients in obtaining customer success and revenue growth.