By Kevin Hurley
Wow – I’ve spent a lot of time using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter ads over the last five years. Most of my paid advertising efforts have been focused on attracting and converting enterprise leads which might include fortune 2,000 and similar fast growing companies. Although the title with fortune 500 is much sexier! This post is about my experience attracting and converting high quality business leads (B2B) and users (B2C2B) using Facebook’s advertising platform.
Using the strategies outlined below, we’ve managed to acquire decision makers from companies like LinkedIn, Salesforce, Adobe, HP, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Microsoft, and many others. Acquisition cost varies by target audience, however I’ve found Facebook to come in at 100-150 percent lower than LinkedIn ads when done properly.
When I was working at Pivotal Labs, we were really focused on B2B (enterprise) lead generation by promoting some pretty awesome mobile trend and industry reports – we built mobile apps for the top media, financial services, retail, hospitality, and healthcare businesses. We had a good size team of experienced content creators and were pumping out content across all of these verticals.
It was pretty easy with a little budget, some creative LinkedIn ads, and nicely designed landing pages to attract high quality fortune 500 leads on LinkedIn. We tested a bit on Facebook but didn’t have much success – so we doubled down on LinkedIn, our top performing channel. We had a consistent lead gen machine running at a cost-per-lead well below the industry average. This was a pretty easy process to get up and running.
At my current role at Nudge, the modern sales platform, we’re taking a much different approach to acquiring customers. We’re focusing on a B2C2B (business-to-consumer-to-business) model where we attract individual users and earn their trust by providing a great product for free. Tomasz Tunguz wrote a great piece on why this strategy is so popular among emerging SaaS businesses.
Once we’ve earned an individual business user’s trust and provided real value, we can promote our premium paid product and encourage them to invite the rest of their team. This is obviously simplified explanation; however, you can see how it’s possible to create a viral-ish effect by tapping into the rest of their team. From the top of the funnel, it’s very similar to B2C user acquisition, however it’s much harder to reach business users at scale with paid advertising on platforms like LinkedIn where we’re competing with companies like Salesforce, LinkedIn, and HubSpot. So, I turned to Facebook and told myself – I need to make this sh*% work!
Attracting business users, especially in a competitive space, can cost a lot of money very quickly. On top of that, instead of simply asking for someone’s email address, I’m asking them to create an account > connect their email addresses > social accounts and some professional information. That’s a lot to ask from someone who is typically used to filling out a form (probably with the wrong email address) to get access to an eBook or resource guide. In order to gain their trust, you need to be extremely clear on your product’s value while also gaining their attention in a feed filled with other advertisements, breaking news stories and baby pictures.
After hundreds of creative variations, I’ve concluded that the best performing ads follow these guidelines:
Don’t be afraid to try something completely new and out of the ordinary. The more people who engage with your ad = more eyes = lower conversion costs. You’ll be surprised to find out that some of the simplest ads can acquire execs from your target audience.
Targeting the perfect business audience on LinkedIn is extremely easy with their in-depth options, however that ease of use comes with a price tag. According to the folks over at effinamazing, LinkedIn CPC can cost anywhere from $2-11 depending on your level of targeting. But let’s face it – to reach a unique business audience requires a great deal of targeting.
Targeting on Facebook has come a long way; however, it can take a lot longer to build your perfect audience. LinkedIn does a great job at standardizing their targeting options while Facebook sort of jams everything together. Following the guidelines below, be sure to save your custom audiences so you can continue to optimize as you go. There’s a few areas that you’ll want to focus on in order to filter out the crap (there’s a lot of it on Facebook) and get in front of a high-quality business audience:
This takes a lot of patience to reach business users, however once you find your sweet spot you’ll be able to keep using the same audience and build sub-audiences that are even more targeted.
I really think the introduction of the Facebook Conversion Pixel was a turning point for the advertising platform. It’s incredibly easy to setup so that you can track the performance of your campaigns and optimize your spend to focus on users who are more likely to convert. You’ll also be able to review which targeting options provided the most conversions.
Before you setup your conversion pixel, you’ll want to make sure you’re tracking the right conversion. For example, I really don’t care how many people sign up for an account, I’m much more interested in users who complete a specific step in our onboarding and become an actual user – this is what I track as a conversion and it’s where I spend a lot of time optimizing. We’ve made a habit of checking these metrics on a weekly basis and optimizing every step of the process by reviewing the conversion numbers at each step of the onboarding flow. It could be a big project like minimizing your landing page or something as minor as making your confirmation email more clear.
This is a pretty quick overview of how I’ve learned to attract high quality business users / leads as a cost much lower than the industry average on Facebook. However when you’re looking at your costs, it’s important to consider how competitive your industry is and what a conversion is worth to your business. Once you find your groove, you can turn up the engines!
Author: Kevin Hurley – I’m an entrepreneurial, data-driven and growth focused professional who leverages innovative marketing, sales and public relation strategies to develop highly scalable, efficient and cost effective processes with a deep knowledge in software products.