ith so much noise masking simple and straightforward answers to the efficacy of Facebook for B2B marketing, we understand that it can be frustrating getting a clear view. In short, marketing through Facebook is suitable for B2B organisations, but the approach is much different from how it's used as a B2C channel. This article covers why and how Facebook should be used by B2B companies to get the most impactful results.
As a B2B company ourselves, we know all too well that advertising techniques that work for B2C businesses don't always work for B2B businesses. Selling through the B2B channel means that we have to contend with longer sales cycles, more stakeholders per purchase decision, budget ambiguity, often complex approval processes and competing stakeholder motivations. At the end of the day though we are still selling to people and not some intangible legal entity, so we still need to take a human approach.
As of the beginning of 2018, a whopping 60% of Australians were actively using Facebook (15M) and 50% of all Aussies log in every day! The chances that your customers and prospects are using Facebook are therefore very high.
There are two reasons why Facebook advertising isn't considered as effective for B2B businesses however - low buyer intent and targeting limitations. Low buyer intent simply means that a person browsing Facebook isn't usually there to buy anything. Rather it's social and personal. So, if an advert that isn't lifestyle related comes up, it's unlikely to receive much engagement. It has been seen though, and that brand awareness alone is great if the viewer is a potential customer.
Since Facebook is rarely engaged by users as a professional platform, people almost never list their real job titles, resulting in very low accuracy in targeting professionals. This is why most B2B businesses prefer to advertise on LinkedIn; it's a lot more expensive though and has less than a third of the users as Facebook. The good news though is that there is an accurate way of targeting your marketing on Facebook and considering how inexpensive it is (including retargeting which we will cover as well), it makes a lot of sense to start investing.
Currently, Facebook offers a few types of audience targeting. The standard type draws upon information from profiles and browser behaviour on Facebook - for example, you can target men, aged 25-65, in Queensland, who are interested in business and software, who have completed high school or above, and who are employed. This sounds great, but apart from user-input data such as gender, age and location, the remaining criteria is synthesized using Facebook's algorithms, which contrary to popular belief, can be inaccurate and a waste of time.
Another type of targeting is the creation of "lookalike audiences". If you have a solid following on your page and they are the right audience, you can target users who are similar to them. This too relies upon algorithmic matching criteria - but based on more loosely specified criteria, can be very inaccurate, and should be approached with a healthy degree of scepticism.
In order to maximise your chances of success, B2B organisation should be using a third targeting type - custom audiences. Facebook allows users to upload a list of email addresses (from your CRM for example) and will match those addresses with existing profiles. You can also add a tracking code directly to your website or Tag Manager which will allow to show ads to people who have been to your website and who then go on to use Facebook.
If you have a list of customers but are nervous about supplying Facebook with data that could be hacked, remember that it's not creating a profile and storing the information, it's matching the email address to an existing profile (of a person who has voluntarily given Facebook their details). Avoid using business email addresses though because most people use their personal ones like Gmail and Hotmail. If you really don't want to use Facebook advertising for whatever reason but you still want to have a presence, then you can choose a method called retargeting. By adding a tracking code to your website or Tag Manager, you can show ads to your website visitors across third party websites including Facebook.
Retargeting tools like AdRoll also allow you to connect your CRM or upload a list of customers or leads so you can serve ads to them directly. Google also offers retargeting, however we prefer AdRoll as it is not limited to the Google network and is a lot more user friendly. Whichever you choose to use however, retargeting is an inexpensive method of advertising.
So, circling back to the question of whether B2B businesses should be advertising on Facebook - the answer is most definitely yes!