Facebook’s B2C marketing model is a proven winner for its advertisers. There are case studies from around the world that show how CPG brands have boosted sales using Facebook, and it seems like every week there is a new success story about an eCommerce company that has doubled customer conversions with Facebook ads. Now marketers across industries see their opportunity to duplicate these examples in their own niches with B2B companies. Many marketers already think they understand what makes a great Facebook ad: clickbait headlines, shareable images, snappy visuals—the same tricks that get so many likes and shares on consumer-facing pages. If you use those same techniques but find your leads aren’t moving down your funnel as quickly as you’d like, it may be because your prospects are not your everyday social networkers.
They are businessmen and -women with a sophisticated understanding of their own needs. They don’t have time for clickbait—they want the real story: What does this company do? Why should I buy from them? How will they make me successful? Marketers who create B2B Facebook ads that answer these questions and more will find their leads moving down the funnel to become warm sales-ready opportunities.
HOW TO UNDERSTAND YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
The first step in creating B2B Facebook ads is to understand who your target audience is and what they need. This requires deep research into each stage of the buying process from awareness to purchase-readiness. For example, if you sell a product that helps managers maintain their budget, your target audience is not just middle managers at big companies—it’s the VP of finance who makes the final decision about which software they will use. If you’re selling HR software for small businesses, your target audience isn’t just HR reps—it’s the business owners themselves. It can be hard to find this information at first, but there are tools to help with research before diving into Facebook ad creation:
1. Industry research:
Look up your industry and see what companies dominate it on LinkedIn; check out descriptions of job roles and responsibilities of those companies’ employees; look at competitors’ websites and social media pages to find out how their target audience is described; read news articles related to your industry. Use the information you gather to define your target market in terms of demographics, company size, location, and professional role.
2. Facebook’s Audience Insights:
Facebook’s Ad Manager has a tool called Audience Insights that can help you explore different parameters of who your intended audience may be. You can create custom audiences for any criteria you want (such as age range or profession) and Facebook will show you how many people match that description in the United States alone—or around the world if you’d like to get even more specific. If you decide you want to run an ad campaign based on this research, I recommend setting up a Custom Audience in Facebook’s Ad Manager instead of creating an ad directly on the platform. It gives you more information about who is most likely to engage with your content and make it easier for you to stay within your target budget.
3. Demographics reports:
Use Google Analytics’ demographics report to learn everything you can about who accesses your website, including age, income, education level, interests (based on keywords they use when searching), profession (if they come from company or government organization pages), and location (including city-level location if they have accessed through mobile). You can also download this data into a spreadsheet so that it is clear how many people fit each description.
4. Psychographics research:
Once you have a sense of who your audience is demographically, it’s time to consider psychographics—what drives the choices that they make? Read their blogs and industry news sites to find out what their interests are beyond your product. Check LinkedIn as well as Facebook groups for professionals in your target market. For example, if you’re selling marketing software, join marketing-specific FB groups, read marketing blogs and news sources, search “marketing” on Reddit or Inbound.org. The more you know about them from a psychological perspective, the better you can tailor your messaging to connect with them at an emotional level.
5. THE BUYING PROCESS
It’s important to understand how leads progress through each stage of the buying process. In order to do that, you need to know how your potential customers learn about a problem. B2B buyers can be categorized as either early adopters or laggards.
Early adopters are on the cutting edge of technology, forward-thinking enough to try out new products and willing to invest in learning how they work B2B. They are also more likely to have already made it through some of the earlier stages of the buying process—they are aware there is a problem, but may not yet know exactly what that problem is or who has the solution. Early adopters tend to reach out for information on blogs and company websites before turning to social media for their research.