Editor’s Note: This post was updated on April 2, 2019.
Original Publication Date: May 25, 2017
Most advertisers think of Facebook as a fun playground for B2C companies.
Social Media Examiner reported that 52% of B2C marketers consider Facebook marketing effective, compared to just 38% of B2B marketers.
While consumer brands are having a blast organizing challenges, competitions, and free takeaways, B2B brands seem to be left out of the game.
The common reasoning goes like this: people mostly spend their time on Facebook to communicate with their friends and family, not do business or network. Facebook’s recent News Feed updates also prioritize posts from your friends and family over the ones by companies trying to sell you stuff.
This is why Facebook ads might seem like forbidden fruit for many B2B companies.
More often than not, however, this is a total misconception. B2B Facebook ad campaigns can actually be quite profitable.
Facebook’s ads can deliver major website traffic, leads, and sales both to B2C and B2B brands. (I’ll show you how in a sec.)
But first, let’s get one question answered and out of the way:
Should Your B2B Brand Advertise on Facebook?
After working with hundreds of clients on Facebook ads, we can confidently say that there are high-ROI Facebook ad tactics out there for both B2C and B2B advertisers.
B2B Facebook ads do work. You just need to know how to bring out the best in them.
A survey of 342 B2B marketers found that 58% of managers pointed to Facebook and LinkedIn as the social media platforms with the highest ROI.
B2B Facebook Ads Success Stories
There are plenty of success stories that prove a strong match between Facebook and B2B companies.
B2B company Schneider Electric used Facebook ads to raise awareness of its product with high-quality video content. They saw up to 80% reduction in cost per engagement.
A German patent and law firm used Facebook targeting and got awesome results, including a 40% increase in return on ad spend and a 75% lower CPC compared to other paid channels.
If that’s not enough, Facebook is already the top social network for B2B promotion. As of 2018, nine out of 10 B2B marketers are already including Facebook in their ad campaigns.
There’s no reason B2B brands should be left out of the party.
B2C and B2B Facebook Ad Strategies Are Not The Same
Of course, there’s a significant difference between B2C and B2B Facebook ad strategies.
Clearly, the audience for a B2B product is different from an audience you’d target with ads for chocolate bars or holiday travel.
We put together this guide to help you better understand B2B Facebook ads and decide whether they’re a good fit for your company.
Up next, you’ll find exciting Facebook B2B advertising ideas, tactics, and best practices, all spiced up with stellar ad examples.
B2B Facebook Ads And The Conversion Funnel
Like any other advertising channel, successful Facebook advertising requires that you understand your target audience and conversion funnel. Otherwise, you won’t be able to promote the right offer at the right time to the right audience.
B2B Facebook advertising is similar to the B2C marketing in that you can’t keep trumpeting the same message to every target audience and hope they’ll convert.
That’s just wrong. There’s a decision-maker behind every large B2B enterprise — but they’re still people like you and me. They’re the ones that need to be directed towards the purchase with small consecutive conversions.
You should aim to tailor all your marketing messages around a particular conversion stage.
Here’s a chart to give you some campaign ideas for every step of your marketing funnel:
Also, don’t limit your Facebook ads to a single offer.
Instead, build a flow of lead generation and remarketing ads that will guide your prospects towards the final deal without scaring them away by screaming “BUY ME!” on the first encounter.
B2B Facebook Ad Messaging
In addition to the different conversion funnel stages, B2B Facebook audiences also differ in regards to job seniority, industry, and many other factors.
The message you use to target CEOs will be very different from a message targeting assistants.
As you get started with B2B Facebook ads, take your time to define the conversion actions you want your target audiences to complete. These should be fully defined before you proceed to the development process for messaging and value propositions.
To that end, Zuora’s sales pitch deck has been named “The Greatest Sales Deck Ever.”
The 5-Step Pitch Deck:
- Name a big, relevant change in the world
- Show there will be winners and losers
- Show and tease the Promised Land
- Explain how some product features could help to reach the Promised Land
- Show how your product will get the customer to the Promised Land
Your B2B Facebook ads should do the same: Convince the potential customers there’s a way to improve their work or increase their company’s profits. The solution? Your product.
Leaving Salespeople Behind
Both B2B and B2C buyers are becoming increasingly independent of salespeople during the buying process. HubSpot’s 2016 research showed that 57% of B2B/B2C buyers consider themselves more self-reliant.
People prefer to research on their own and base their decisions on the information available on websites (and in ads).
Your ads and website are like your business card.
That’s why your B2B ad messages should be:
- Professional: Avoid slang and “too-fun” messages. Speak your customers’ language.
- Trustworthy: Show that your brand is already trusted by many customers.
For example, Dropbox’s Facebook ad says “Join 90,000+ Businesses,” highlighting their product’s broad B2B user base.
Capterra uses a similar approach. They mention that “more than 2 million users per month choose the best software for their company.”
Having 2 million users is a clear sign the company is working with successful companies all over the world.
Other Trust Indicators
Naturally, mentioning a large number of users is not the only way to earn trust in the B2B space.
Research by Arketi Group found that at the beginning of a typical B2B buying cycle, when seeking to understand and explore a possible business problem, most people (41.6%) trust industry analysts (Gartner, Forrester,etc.) as their top go-to source.
So if you’re mentioned in a report from an industry analyst, you might want to point it out in a Facebook ad campaign.
You can also share industry stats to educate your target audience and position your brand as an industry expert, just like Office for Business did with their Facebook ad.
In fact, many Facebook campaign formats and ad types are a great match for B2B advertising.
Our Top Ten B2B Facebook Ad Campaign Examples
We did some research and found some super smart examples of B2B Facebook advertising done right.
Here’s what we found.
B2B Facebook Idea #1: Brand Awareness Campaign
As we already explained before, it doesn’t always make sense to jump right at a sales pitch during your first encounter with a potential customer.
If the decision-maker is unfamiliar with your brand and product, they likely won’t feel the urge to make a purchase right away.
That’s where the brand awareness campaign enters the stage.
For example, Contently’s Facebook ad doesn’t immediately ask the reader to sign up or make a purchase.
Instead, Contently’s Facebook ad focuses on creating awareness around their product. Their entire Facebook ad copy emphasizes that they’re working with high-level customers and have won awards in the past.
SendinBlue’s Facebook ad could also be targeting people who are mostly unfamiliar with their product. The headline “Email & SMS Marketing” says exactly what the product does, so that the ad viewers will associate the brand with email marketing in the future.
And who knows? When a prospect truly needs this kind of a marketing tool, maybe SendinBlue will be on top of their mind.
Best Practices For A B2B Brand Awareness Facebook Campaign:
- Be clear about your value proposition and brand positioning
- Target a wide audience and let Facebook auto-optimize your ads’ reach
- Select the Brand Awareness campaign objective for your Facebook campaign
- Offer people to learn more about your product/service, instead of proposing a demo or sign-up right away
B2B Facebook Idea #2: Combine PR and Facebook Ads
If your company is regularly featured in the news or you’ve just won an industry campaign, why not share the good news with your Facebook audiences.
While having your product mentioned on a popular news site is already a huge PR win, you can amplify the results by extending your campaign to Facebook.
For example, WeWork is sharing an article they were mentioned in, originally published on Inc.com. (They’ve even made it a pinned post to share the good news with all their Facebook page visitors.)
Here’s another example of WeWork’s Facebook post sharing media coverage by TechCrunch.
There are several reasons to include third-party media mentions on your Facebook page, and even promote the posts to amplify the reach:
- People trust product reviews more when they come from other customers or third parties and are more likely to trust a publication’s opinion than an ad. According to BrightLocal, 91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- Many brands add the “Featured In” snippet on their landing pages to increase trust. It will have the same positive effect on your Facebook page.
- Positive media mentions also enhance your B2B employer branding, making your company a desirable workplace.
The next time your B2B brand is mentioned by a news publisher or industry website, consider sharing the good news on Facebook as well.
B2B Facebook Idea #3: Make Product Announcements Heard
Most B2B product announcements are read by your existing customers.
After all, they’re the ones who care the most about your product’s improvements.
Depending on your company’s processes, a product announcement could be made:
- In your company’s blog
- In an email newsletter
- Via press release
- Across multiple platforms
However, many people who might be interested in your product news can miss an email or won’t visit your blog when you publish the announcement.
To make sure your product updates reach a wider audience, create a Facebook ad campaign like Teamwork did.
Teamwork’s product announcement introduces a new Zapier integration that will enhance the way many of Teamwork’s customers do their daily work.
Your product announcements could target multiple Facebook audiences:
- The existing customer base
- Leads about to convert to paying clients
- Cold leads that may be interested in your product
We’ll stop on the B2B Facebook ad targeting options later in this article.
Sharing product tips is similar to promoting product updates in that it’s mostly relevant to your existing customers.
However, keeping your existing client base happy is strongly advisable in B2B business. A 2014 Ogilvy study pointed out that 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision.
The same study found that consumers prefer brands that engage them on their passions and interests 42% more often than those simply urging them to buy something.
Try not to be too pushy in your B2B Facebook ads.
Instead, focus on delivering value, both to existing and potential customers.
Here’s another example by Dropbox (the company’s seriously rocking B2B Facebook marketing). This time, Dropbox is sharing 10 tips to get more out of their product – Dropbox Paper.
Here are some best practices for sharing product tips on Facebook:
- Share product tips that benefit a large percentage of your customers
- Target your existing customers and fans of your Facebook page
- Test promoting product tips articles to current leads as well to convert the into paying clients
B2B Facebook Idea #5: Create and Promote Original Research
The users of a popular publishing platform WordPress produce about 70 million new posts and 77 million new comments each month.
And as you might guess when looking at the chart below, the increase in the number of articles is not going to stop anytime soon.
Looking back at KlientBoost’s blog growth, I’d say that great content takes care of 50% of sales all by itself.
When done right, content marketing gives so much value to your potential client that they’re already halfway sold before reaching out to you.
But what is great content?
According to an article in Kissmetrics blog, these are the nine pillars of awesome content marketing:
- Strong headlines
- The actionable nature of content
- Providing helpful answers
- Reliable information resources
- Highly engaging content
- Images that help to deliver your message
- Smart punctuation
- Sharing the latest information
Let’s stop on the first point of the list: Originality.
B2B brands that create original content not only get tons of quality backlinks to their blogs, they also position themselves as leading industry experts.
For example, the Facebook ad by Office for Business offers a free research report.
Optimizely is promoting a free playbook on conversion rate optimization. That’s both relevant and interesting to their target audience — marketers.
People both familiar and unfamiliar with your brand can find value in the industry’s research reports.
This means that an original article empowers the existing customer relationships AND increases brand awareness.
Looks like a win-win to me.
If you haven’t noticed yet, most of the examples and best practices thus far have focused on lead nurturing and brand awareness campaigns.
That’s because B2B sales are often based on trust and take more time to close.
A 2018 Demand Gen survey found that 80% of B2B buyers are using more sources than ever, including social media, to learn about new solutions and make purchase decisions.
Another B2B Facebook ad format that recently caught my eye is promoting customer testimonials and case studies.
For example, ConvertKit placed a customer testimonial right in the ad image.
According to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, an overwhelming 90% of respondents said that positive online reviews influence their buying decisions.
And as you look at the chart below, nearly 40% of people have spotted customer reviews on Facebook. With that in mind, you might want to give your positive client reviews a boost by promoting them in a Facebook ad.
B2B Facebook Idea #7: Get New Leads with Quality Content
Successful B2B sales and content marketing go hand in hand.
According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 benchmark study, social media and blog content are the most widely used types of B2B content marketing tactics.
However, not all content marketing will bring large companies to your users’ list. Your content marketing efforts have to deliver a high-quality experience and be relevant to your target audience.
OkDork, for instance, offers a free 30-day email marketing course from highly skilled marketing experts. That’s a crazy valuable offer.
While Litmus’s content offer isn’t as grandiose as OkDork’s 30-day free course, it excels in its own way by being highly relevant to the brand’s target audience.
You can even be like NewsCred and build your marketing campaign around a new highly targeted landing page.
NewsCred’s landing page is targeting specifically at content marketers, combining storytelling, brand campaigns, and fashion — topics that resonate deeply with their target audience.
One more quick thing: before you start creating content for an advertising campaign, take a deep breath and think about who your target audience is.
Keep them in mind as you proceed to the content creation process.
B2B Facebook Idea #8: Side Project Marketing
Have you heard the term “side project marketing?”
We’ve seen an increasing number of brands succeed with this marketing tactic lately.
So, what exactly is side project marketing?
In a nutshell, side project marketing means building a new small product that parallels your main offer. The new product will solve a small, highly specific problem or help people achieve a particular goal.
For example, HubSpot’s Website Grader helps marketers evaluate their on-page SEO, loading speed, security, etc.
Promoting side projects with Facebook ads can be a great way to attract new leads and increase brand awareness.
Another example is Salesforce’s free ROI Calculator side project.
According to an excellent article by Crazy Egg, the best practices for creating B2B side projects are as follows:
- Scratch your own itch. Build a side product that solves a problem you understand.
- Use existing resources. Find out what resources that you already have which could be given away for free.
- Simplify your solution. Take a specific feature and offer it for free to generate leads, users, and customers.
- React to the market. Look for industry trends that you can build on.
- Wrap it in an awesome experience. Don’t hold back when creating a perfect user experience.
- Promote. Look at your side project as an independent endeavor and give it the spotlight it deserves.
B2B Facebook Idea #9: Free Demo Offers
If your product requires some time to get used to, a free trial offer might help to increase the lead-to-sales conversion rate.
For example, Pipedrive’s Facebook ad features a “Sign Up” call to action.
As prospects click on the ad, they’ll be conducted to a landing page with a free trial offer.
You can also test running a Facebook Lead Ads campaign to collect new leads. When promoting SaaS products, however, you might want people to sign up on your landing page. From there you can lead them directly into your onboarding funnel.
Facebook Lead Ads also work great with eBook and whitepaper offers. Here’s an example by Infusionsoft offering email marketing tips.
If your product is focused on smaller companies (compared to large enterprises), you could also try Instagram ads, just as Clanbeat has done.
The general rule about Facebook ad placements is to think where your target audience spends most of their time. Is it in the Mobile Newsfeed, Desktop Newsfeed, or elsewhere?
Also, consider your landing page experience – is it better (and converting more visitors) on desktop or mobile?
B2B Facebook Idea #10: Enhance Your Onboarding Experience
Once you get a new lead signed up for your SaaS product, you’re only halfway through the sales process.
You still need to convince people to start paying for your product. And that’s where onboarding enters the game.
According to an ConversionXL, these are the main reasons why your leads never turn into paying clients:
- Prospects don’t understand how to use the product.
- They have a false impression of what the product actually does.
- Prospects aren’t brought into the product quickly or frequently enough.
- They don’t understand the value.
So, how could you make a larger number of leads understand your product and its benefits?
In addition to product walk-throughs and sales calls, you can create helpful guides that explain how your product applies to specific use cases.
For example, Intercom’s Facebook ad invites prospects to learn more about their Intercom Demos feature.
As someone clicks on the ad, they’ll be led to a landing page with plenty of use case examples.
Intercom’s Facebook ad could be targeted both on leads and cold audiences to show both how Intercom helps to improve the demo process.
You can also advertise onboarding guides to people who have just signed up to your product by creating a Facebook Custom Audience of new trial users.
B2B Facebook Idea #11 (Bonus Idea!): Upsell Campaigns
Upselling campaigns can be used both by eCommerce and B2B businesses.
And you know what? Upsell campaigns can be highly effective.
According to Salesforce, shoppers who click a recommendation comprise just 7% of eCommerce visits, but drive 24% of orders and 26% of revenue.
Depending on the nature of your B2B product, you could find upsell opportunities such as adding users to the existing subscription plan or selling additional products to existing clients.
If a company ordered business cards from MOO, for example, they could be targeted with a cross-selling campaign of notebooks:
Don’t ‘Over-Ask’ In Your Upsell
Be careful not to ask for too much additional spending from your customers.
Shopify suggests that you should upsell and cross-sell products that cost 25% or less of the overall order.
“When choosing upsell and cross-sell products to display, avoid suggesting products that increase the overall order by more than 25 percent. For example, if the original product the visitor is looking at is $100, you want to avoid showing customers cross-sells and upsells that are greater than a $25 increase on the original product.”
Reaching Your B2B Audience on Facebook
Alright, now that your brain is full of awesome B2B Facebook ad ideas, it’s time to talk about how you’re going to reach them.
On a high level, there are three main Facebook audience types that let you reach your B2B buyers:
- Saved Audiences
- Custom Audiences
- Lookalike Audiences
Let’s see how you can reach all those audiences on Facebook and turn them from cold leads into paying customers.
Reach B2B Clients with Facebook Saved Audiences
Facebook Saved Audiences let you reach people based on their interests, location, demographics, and behaviors.
When creating a new Saved Audience, your most important tool is going to be the Detailed Targeting box.
Here, you can enter a wide set of interests related to your B2B product or target people based on their job seniority or industry.
To reveal the full list of work-related targeting options, select “Demographics” and then “Work.”
Here’s a list of options under the “Work” category:
Employers: Target people based on the company they’re working for (searchable)
Industries: Target people based on the industry they’re working in (not searchable)
Job Titles: Target people based on the job title they’ve shared with Facebook (searchable)
Office Type: Target people based on whether they work in the home office, a small office, etc.
You can also reach potential B2B audiences by targeting the following interests:
- Industry publications
- Industry events
- Your competitors and their fans
- Other services or products used by your current customers
Reach B2B Clients with Facebook Custom Audiences
We’ve got the internet’s most comprehensive guide on Facebook Custom Audiences here on KlientBoost’s blog.
So I’m not going to stop on this topic for too long.
However, we’re going to suggest some types of Custom Audiences that we’ve seen work well when matched with B2B Facebook ads.
- Website visitors – target people who have already shown some interest in your product
- Pricing page visitors – get your Pricing page visitors back to your website by remarketing on Facebook
- Blog readers – warm up these lukewarm leads with additional content offers
- Newsletter subscribers – turn these warm leads into clients by retargeting them with a sales offer
- Free trial users – help these users on board with helpful product guides and case studies
- Past purchasers – there’s an audience ripe for a cross-selling or upselling campaign
Don’t forget that in order to create Facebook Custom Audiences, you need to install the tracking Pixel on your website. Do it on Day 1 of your Facebook Page setup!
Reach B2B Clients with Facebook Lookalike Audiences
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could clone your best B2B customers and double the sales margins?
You can almost do it with Facebook Lookalike Audiences.
Lookalike Audiences are based on the idea that people who are most similar to your existing users are also the most likely to convert.
To create a Facebook Lookalike Audience, you first need to create a Custom Audience of your top clients and past purchasers. Next, you can use that Custom Audience as a seed for your new Lookalike Audience.
If the seed audience of your top customers is smaller than 1,000 people, you can create Lookalike Audiences based on other types of conversions, e.g. past 60 days leads.
Tip: If your Lookalike Audience is too large for your advertising budget (e.g. over 8M people), you can narrow it down with additional interests- and demographics-based targeting.
Wrap Up on B2B Facebook Ads
While it may seem like an untraditional match, combining your Facebook ads and B2B audiences can be a great opportunity to reach additional customers.
Remember that the B2B deals take a longer time to close than B2C, meaning you should focus more effort on brand awareness and lead nurturing campaigns.
Here’s one more tip I’d like you to take away with you.
As a B2B advertiser, you should be aware of the holiday season and national holidays.
As B2C advertising is more aggressive around that time, you may want to pause your ads and let the high-cost period go by.
Alright, time to wrap up this article and give it over to you: What are your secret B2B sales tactics? Let us know and we’ll make sure to mention these in the upcoming articles.