Let’s be honest—finding your perfect B2B Facebook target audience kind of sucks. Okay, not just kind of. It’s about as fun as cleaning your kid’s car seat. Or scooping a yard full of dog poop.
Working in the Facebook platform natively, you have very limited options for finding and targeting B2B buyers.
You might even wonder if it’s worth it for your company to use Facebook advertising as part of your paid social media strategy. The short answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes.’ There are an astounding 2.89 BILLION people on the platform. Your buyers are definitely among them, and with a little creative targeting, you can find them.
Here’s what you need to know about the challenges of finding and building the perfect Facebook audience for your B2B company. We’ll cover tips for working natively in the platform—as well as some options for if you’re lucky enough to have some additional resources.
The reason targeting B2B audiences on Facebook is such a pain in the @$$ comes down to the ways in which Facebook allows you to build these audiences. Facebook allows you to target in four ways:
What’s notably missing here are most of the variables B2B marketers use for effective ad targeting:
Ouch. This is a huge pain point for reaching B2B audiences on Facebook.
Facebook does allow you to target by job title, but the platform offers a limited set of options. Plus, when was the last time you updated your job title on Facebook? Maybe around the same time you ordered your last studded belt or Ed Hardy t-shirt. This data point is dubious at best.
You can also choose industries and companies that the audience is interested in. But who cares that the person viewing your ad is interested in the healthcare or technology industries? What you need to know is whether these folks have been able to achieve gainful employment in these fields.
As Adam Goyette, VP of Marketing at Help Scout explains, “Using Facebook’s demographics, the closest I can get to targeting people in B2B SaaS is ‘Business & Financial Operations.’”
There are even targeting complications when it comes to uploading your own lists. Working natively in Facebook, you can’t upload target account lists (TAL) consisting of company names and domains. The platform only allows contact lists of individuals’ names and email addresses. No bueno when it comes to B2B and ABM.
Without these options available in Facebook ad targeting, finding your B2B audience is tricky at best. And the leads you do generate will probably suck a little, too.
We’ve painted a pretty bleak picture, but not all hope is lost, young grasshopper.
So, how DO you get your ads in front of the right Facebook target audience? You have a few options for finding an audience that delivers the results you’re looking for (leads, signups, content downloads, new best friends…).
If you’re set on targeting natively in Facebook, there are a few things you’ll have to get good at.
In case you’ve totally been living under a rock, first-party data refers to data your business collects directly from your customers. These data points are called identifiers and include things like name, email address, phone number, etc.
You can feed this information into Facebook to build a custom audience. Facebook takes your identifiers and matches them to user profiles to find the people in your target audience. Since these people are your customers already, you know they’re the kind of people that buy your product.
Then, you can ask Facebook to find more profiles like these people via a lookalike audience. And Facebook can probably do a better job than you can at figuring out the trackable similarities between these people.
The better quality first-party data you put in, the better your results are likely to be. So, get collecting.
Caveats on lookalikes:
Who else do you know is likely to be jonesing for your wares? The peeps that have engaged with your company already. Maybe they’ve visited your website and downloaded some of that sweet, sweet content you’ve been sweating over.
Your goal is to get them to come back and enjoy more. You can track this behavior on your own website with the Facebook pixel—then build a Facebook target audience specifically made up of these people.
As Facebook explains:
“When someone visits your website and takes an action (for example, buying something), the Facebook pixel is triggered and reports this action. This way, you’ll know when a customer took an action after seeing your Facebook ad. You’ll also be able to reach this customer again by using a custom audience. When more and more conversions happen on your website, Facebook gets better at delivering your ads to people who are more likely to take certain actions.”
Don’t forget to personalize this retargeting to people based on what they’ve already engaged with. Keep it relevant, friends.
Most of us are pretty fixated on targeting the right people. But it’s equally important to keep the wrong people out of your target audience. When your impression pool is full of fluff, there’s a higher potential for overspending—which means higher customer acquisition costs (CAC) and lower ROI.
This means you’ve got to get good at using Facebook’s exclusions.
Running a demo campaign? Exclude anyone that’s already signed up for a demo. The same goes for things like webinar and event registrations.
Got a special offer for new customers? Make sure your existing customers don’t see it and get miffed. Lot’s of companies don’t—which is just insane.
A good rule of thumb when you’re creating your B2B target audience is to always exclude:
Pro tip: Create a 1% lookalike of your worst customers/leads—and exclude them from your targeting.
Our friend Adam over at Help Scout explains it this way:
“Facebook automatically optimizes ads for ‘website conversions,’ but I would much rather have it optimized for the highest quality, which means the likelihood to convert into a sale.”
Adam reviews the deets in his post on lowering your Facebook CPL, but the TL;DR is that you need a good lead scoring model. He uses Madkudu, but there are plenty of other options out there. The model looks at thousands of your data points and figures out the most common traits in people that converted into a paying customer—and those leads that went nowhere. Then it tells Facebook exactly what kind of target audience to build based on this information.
If you’re totally sold on Facebook ads (but tired of crappy B2B targeting), it ironically might be time to forget working natively in the platform. There are a variety of tools you can invest in to access the granular, B2B-specific data points and targeting options you need to build the perfect Facebook target audience—like accurate job title, job function, company, industry, etc.
For example, with the right tools, you can layer in information like G2 and Bombora intent data, target dynamic Salesforce audiences, upload and target account lists (versus only contact lists)—and generally get access to all of the firmographic targeting options that give you the warm fuzzies.
With Metadata, we’ve found that combining these various data sources and B2B targeting options allows you to increase your Facebook audience match rates up to 9X (but you can also explore options like Lusha, Clearbit and Versium).
And when it comes down to it, more audience accuracy means more moolah.
As our own Jason Widup likes to say, “A mediocre ad targeted to the right audience will typically outperform a stellar ad targeted to the wrong audience.”
We’re diving deep on Facebook, so keep your eyes peeled for our next post on Facebook ROI.