Hint: LinkedIn isn’t the only paid social channel for B2B, as much as we’d like it to be.
Welcome to 2023: we B2B marketers are “doing more with less” (or pretending to, at least). Our audiences are as overworked as we are and it’s getting harder to capture their attention.
It’s tough out there and I’m sure a lot of folks are wondering, “is paid social even worth it?”
We definitely think so. It all comes down to targeting your ICP on the right channels in the right ways.
Surprisingly (or not, because so many companies are facing an immediate need to show growth), paid social spending is actually ramping up despite the down economy. Investing in paid social in 2023 is like buying the dip during a stock crash. When you double down on your marketing during a recession, it positions you to capture a larger market share when everything rebounds. Metadata customers are in on this secret; they’ve spent nearly $130M in advertising over the past year.
The party is over for a single-channel approach, though. In 2009, you would see significant ROI from outbound email alone. Now, you need to reach across channels—to target B2B customers wherever they are. That means incorporating paid social on LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok and whatever’s next. (Threads? Just kidding.)
It also means optimizing your messaging, creative, and audience targeting across paid social channels. That’s what the balance of this article is about.
B2C companies do it better. Granted, they typically have the luxury of focusing on immediate conversion. But they also do a few things right that B2B marketers should copy.
B2C paid social ads are often more personalized, focused on the mobile experience, and target everyone involved in the purchase. Most importantly, B2C ads are usually more human.
“Targeting” 200,000 directors of sales with the same message on the same channel is akin to lighting your money on fire. If you view paid social like a vending machine––where you put ad spend in and get leads out––you’re going to lose.
Nike doesn’t serve the same ad to every 40-year-old man looking for shoes. They know better. They consider questions like: Will he want them for hiking? For running? For his new weight loss routine? Their ads are highly personalized, which is why they work.
So how exactly do you personalize ads for B2B? There are many ways to answer that question, but here’s my recommendation: Target their tech stack. If your product integrates with a company’s existing tech, your audience is way more likely to buy. They don’t want to switch to yet another new platform so they can integrate with yours.
We tend to think of B2B audiences as worker bees always behind their laptop screen. But professionals are still people. That means they use mobile devices during the day and in their off hours.
Any creative you use in your paid ads needs to work on both desktop and mobile. Make sure that your ad and the associated landing page are mobile-friendly.
Test a variety of creative formats, but remember that video is most important (and works best) in the mobile age—no need to be precious about production value. Have your best product expert give a quick demo. The important part is that it’s personal.
You don’t market to a business. You market to humans in a business, all with different goals. That means everyone in the buying group needs to see content targeted directly to them.
B2C marketers get it. Take Netflix, for example. They sell to the entire household, not just the person who signs up. They advertise content for children, teens, and adults. Kids aren’t the ones with the credit card, but they are the ones bugging their parents to watch Cocomelon.
There are three audience subgroups in any ICP: influencers, decision-makers, and gatekeepers. You need to tailor your paid social content to each.
Remember that indicators of future conversion look different for each of these groups. You can’t expect an influencer to submit a demo request. The privilege of just tracking leads no longer exists. Instead, monitor deal-related activity across all members of your buying group.
LinkedIn is the obvious choice for B2B marketers. If you invest in one paid social channel already, it’s probably that one. But you need to diversify your channels and be everywhere your audience is if you want to succeed. If you fish in the same spot every time, you’re going to run out of fish.
Don’t sleep on “less professional” channels like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Yes, even TikTok can be a fruitful adventure for B2B audiences as witnessed by former Silvio Perez Head of Product Innovation at Metadata.
In the 60s and 70s, coupons were the go-to for advertising. If someone used a coupon, you knew they bought your product. But only advertising through coupons wasn’t enough to grow. Customers were also listening to the radio, watching TV, and seeing billboards.
The same thing is true today. LinkedIn may be the bread and butter for B2B, but it can’t be the only channel you use if you want to get as many relevant eyeballs as possible. You can’t care where you get the click as long as you’re getting interest from the right people. And don’t get too hung up on attribution. It’s not that it doesn’t matter, but it doesn’t matter as much as getting the client.
Of course, you can’t copy and paste the creative from your LinkedIn campaigns to Facebook and expect the same results. Test fresh creative with a different purpose. Amend every detail down to the reading level and CTAs. Below are the ones that have driven the highest click-through rate (CTR) for our aggregate customer base.
When you set up your ads through native channels, you have limited targeting criteria to work with. You only have the user-generated data provided on each individual channel. All that information gets siloed. This means you’re missing any data from other channels, as well as data from third-party providers like Aberdeen, Bombora, and Leadsift.
Instead, you can build B2B audiences across native ad channels and target people everywhere they are.
Just ask two questions to set up your audiences:
You can then use all the data you have on each individual person to target them, including firmographic (company size, revenue, industry, etc.), technographic (tech stack), and intent data.
Instead of targeting prospects on one channel at a time, you can generate specific audiences and orchestrate campaigns across every channel those people are active on. Machine learning figures out where your prospects are and how they’re behaving, then optimizes your ads based on that information.
For those using a product-led growth model, you can generate immediate feedback on your targeting. If people sign up for your product from your ads, great! If not, iterate.
But you can’t instantly gauge the effectiveness of your targeting if you play the enterprise game. You know if your paid social strategy is wildly successful or unsuccessful, but everything in the middle is up in the air until at least the next quarter.
There are three axes (plural of axis, not the wood-chopping implement) that will help you determine how to target audiences across channels:
You can also consider:
But I’m going to guess your leadership needs to see some proof of your strategy’s success sooner than that. That’s where experimentation comes into play.
For successful marketing experimentation, put guidelines in place across channels. That way, you can conduct effective experiments and learn from them. Walk before you run, starting with a basic spreadsheet.
Experimentation helps you get to revenue faster, but it’s iterative. If your boss says, “Turn this off! It’s too expensive!” don’t press pause right away. Iterate. You have to ride the ups and downs and not let emotions get in the way. When you start running ads on a new channel, it takes a while to get it right. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Just make sure you use your tools to target the right people.
Native targeting is limited—and requires hiring an expert in each channel. That’s the old way of doing things. MetaMatch helps you build more accurate audiences across all channels.
You get data through four different pathways in MetaMatch:
This helps you target prospects with more relevant messaging. Are you going to market to a G2 lead the same way you’d market to someone who downloaded gated content? Of course not. That’s why having all the data on each person in one place is so important.
You can use both native targeting and MetaMatch in Metadata, but there are some key differences:
|Relies on the ad channel’s native data and filter criteria
|Relies on Metadata’s proprietary database of over 800 million contacts pulled from 10+ data providers
|Audience criteria are based on fields used for targeting in the ad channels
|Audience criteria are based on fields in the MetaMatch database
|Criteria inform the targeting settings on the ad channel
|Always produces a contact list that’s uploaded as a custom audience on ad channels
To create more accurate audiences, you need to achieve stronger match rates. Match rates measure your ability to accurately match data about your audience to target your media buys.
On average, MetaMatch yields match rates of 30% on Facebook and 45% on LinkedIn. Some customers see match rates as high as 48% on Facebook and 71% on LinkedIn.
While LinkedIn can natively give you a list of B2B personas with specific characteristics, MetaMatch provides deeper info—including the tech each prospect already uses and what integrates with your tool. This allows you to target each prospect with more relevant messaging based on all the data you have on them, not just what’s available through each channel.
Plus, you can manage all your audiences in one location in MetaMatch without feeling overwhelmed.
Zingtree’s marketing team wanted to run paid campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, but they knew they couldn’t rely on native targeting.
With MetaMatch, they targeted companies in their ICP that use Zendesk and other technologies they integrate with.
Want a deeper dive into the paid social data from this article? Download the 2023 Paid Social Benchmark Report today.