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The belief that paid social is solely for raising awareness has led some B2B leaders to underestimate this advertising strategy. However, it's not that simple.
For example, a potential customer searching for a query on Google may also come across your ad on Instagram, thanks to precise targeting based on your ideal customer profile (ICP), giving them the nudge they need to convert. While Google paid search is a high-intent channel, it's also costly and competitive, especially for smaller businesses competing against industry giants like Amazon or Shopify.
This blog offers both general considerations and specific best practices for platform selection, encouraging readers to reconsider the notion that they must stick to one platform based solely on intent.
It's 2023. Merely having an ad isn't enough to generate conversions. The average conversion rate for first-time website visitors across industries is only around 2%. Thus, you must be strategic with your paid social media advertising.
What does the B2B paid social landscape look like in 2023?
As social media platforms continue to grow in popularity and digital marketing becomes increasingly vital, business-to-business companies must stay ahead of the curve to stand out. In response, we can expect more B2B companies to invest in video content, account-based marketing, and other personalized marketing strategies to engage their audience on social media.
You only have 2-3 seconds to capture someone's attention, so your content must resonate and look appealing. Making it specific and relevant to your audience is essential for standing out.
Choose the right platforms for your B2B paid social campaigns
Optimize your social media strategy by selecting platforms that align with your audience and goals. Experiment to find the most effective ones, as not all platforms are equally effective across industries.
Conduct thorough research by developing a well-defined Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and personas to assist in this regard.
Consider the following traditional platforms and their unique strengths:
- LinkedIn: Professional networking platform for targeting business professionals and decision-makers.
- Facebook: Widely used platform with diverse targeting options and broad audience reach.
- Instagram: Visual-centric platform for B2B brands to showcase products, tell success stories, and engage with a visually-oriented audience.
- Twitter: Real-time platform for sharing concise updates and engaging in industry conversations.
- YouTube: Video-sharing platform for creating engaging content and reaching a wide audience.
For example, if you offer HR software, your audience is likely on LinkedIn. If you provide a marketing automation platform for Shopify fashion brands, they're more likely found on Instagram and TikTok.
On the other hand, your ICP may extend beyond traditional platforms. Explore emerging platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse, which offer unique opportunities to reach your target audience innovatively.
How do emerging platforms play a role in B2B paid social?
Emerging social media marketing platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse offer valuable opportunities for B2B marketers to connect with their audiences in innovative ways.
You might have heard of TikTok and Clubhouse and dismissed them as irrelevant to your audience. However, there are some surprising facts about these platforms that you might not be aware of.
TikTok's growing role in B2B social media
- TikTok's popularity has expanded beyond Gen Z and young Millennials, with users aged 25-44 accounting for a significant 44.5% of the platform's users.
- US adult users are spending more time on TikTok, with daily usage expected to increase in the coming years.
Clubhouse in B2B: a new marketing avenue
- Clubhouse provides a unique audio-only platform for B2B companies to host discussions and live events.
- While traditional paid social media advertising options are limited, B2B marketers can still engage specific niches through influencer partnerships and room sponsorship.
As we delve into the role of emerging platforms in B2B social media, it's crucial to stay ahead of the curve and explore the latest trends and opportunities for 2023.
What are some B2B trends and opportunities for 2023?
- Personalization: This is key in B2B. Brands must tailor their messaging and content to meet their audience's specific needs and pain points.
- Account-based marketing (ABM): This enables marketers to create highly personalized campaigns, targeting specific accounts instead of a broad audience.
- Social selling: This is increasingly popular for B2B lead generation and sales. By engaging with potential customers on social media, companies can build relationships on a more personal level.
- AI and automation: these help to streamline processes like copywriting, personalize messaging, and improve ROI in your social media marketing strategy.
- Sustainability and ESG (environmental, social, and governance factors): these are essential considerations for B2B buyers. Sharing how you are prioritizing responsible business practices can give you a competitive edge.
- Virtual events and hybrid experiences: combining in-person and virtual elements continue to be popular in the B2B world, even in the post-pandemic world.
Mastering B2B paid social media starts with a comprehensive understanding of the landscape. With this knowledge, you can then implement actionable strategies to create a winning approach. Let's now unleash the steps on how to succeed and stay ahead of the competition.
How to create a winning B2B paid social strategy
In today's digital landscape, a winning B2B marketing strategy is essential for businesses to thrive and stay ahead of the competition.
From setting clear goals and objectives to identifying target audiences and aligning with broader marketing goals, these are the key steps to creating a successful paid social strategy that delivers results.
1. Set clear goals and objectives for the social channels of your paid strategy
Setting clear goals and objectives for your social media strategies is crucial for achieving success and maximizing ROI.
What are the key steps to defining your campaign objectives?
- Identify your ICP and create detailed buyer personas to guide your messaging and content.
- Align with your overall business goals and determine how paid social fits into your overall marketing strategy.
- Create compelling ad creatives that support your paid social media marketing strategy.
- Write persuasive ad copy that focuses on understanding your audience's pain points and desires.
- Perform A/B tests and continuously optimize your social media campaigns for maximum effectiveness.
- Use targeting and segmentation for maximum impact across your social channels.
- Test and select the budgeting and bidding strategies that best align with your budget and specific needs.
- Measure and analyze the performance of your paid media efforts.
- Optimize and secure continuous improvement.
How can you identify your target audience?
To identify your target audience, focus on understanding who you want to reach with your paid social media campaigns. This can be done by defining your ideal customer profile (ICP) and personas.
How can you align your paid social strategy with broader marketing goals?
To align your paid social media strategy with broader marketing goals, start by identifying your company's objectives. These can include increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or driving sales.
Once you have defined your marketing objectives, set specific paid social campaign goals that align with them.
Pro tip: If you're entering a new market or launching a new product, develop a comprehensive go-to-market strategy. Ensure consistent messaging and positioning across channels to reinforce brand identity and help your marketing efforts.
2. Create impactful paid campaigns on your social channels
Create compelling ad creatives for your B2B paid social campaigns
As a marketing leader, you know that creating compelling ad creatives is essential to the success of your B2B social media campaigns. With so many businesses competing for the same audience, it's crucial that your ads stand out and capture the attention of your audience. To do this, your ad creatives must be engaging, informative, and visually appealing.
When creating ad creatives for your B2B social media campaigns, there are several best practices you should keep in mind. First, be sure to clearly communicate your message in a concise and compelling way. Avoid using technical jargon or overly complex language that may confuse or turn off your audience. Instead, focus on communicating the value of your product and what your audience would gain from it. The problem that you’ll be solving for them.
Tips for designing eye-catching visuals
If you've made it this far, you know that social media channels differ in terms of their audience intents. Here are my top platform-specific tips.
- Facebook: Use bold, contrasting colors and clear, concise messaging. Avoid cluttered designs and keep your visual content consistent with your brand's overall aesthetic.
- Instagram: Focus on using visually stunning images or videos, incorporating user-generated content (UGC), and utilizing interactive elements like polls and Q&A features.
- Twitter: Keep your designs simple and easy to read. Use strong typography and a limited color palette to make your content stand out in a crowded feed.
- LinkedIn: Use professional, high-quality images that align with your brand's image. Incorporate data visualizations and infographics to showcase your expertise and industry knowledge.
- TikTok: Use short, authentic ads with bold colors, playful typography and people. Make them blend with regular videos in users' feeds, not look like ads.
Remember, the key to creating eye-catching visuals for social media marketing is to know your audience and tailor your designs to each specific platform. But effective visuals go hand in hand with persuasive messaging. So, let's now dive into the steps to write persuasive ad copy for paid social media marketing.
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How can you write persuasive ad copy?
Identify the needs and pain points of your audience and show how your product or service can solve their problems. Test and optimize your ad copy regularly to ensure it resonates with your audience.
Before we delve into the benefits of leveraging video and interactive content, I strongly recommend incorporating the pain-claim-gain approach into your overall social media marketing strategy.
This approach ensures consistency and helps you build brand recognition. It seamlessly works across various channels, creating a unified brand identity that resonates with your audience. Now, let's explore the advantages of video and interactive content.
What are the benefits of leveraging video and interactive content?
Video is inherently more engaging than other content types, as it delivers a visually compelling message that resonates emotionally with viewers, effectively resulting in increased brand awareness.
Interactive content creates a personalized and immersive experience for your audience, building stronger relationships and increasing engagement and conversions in social media channels.
Although video and interactive content are undoubtedly significant, it's important not to overlook the value of static images in social media channels.
That's precisely why A/B testing holds paramount importance when it comes to optimizing your paid social media marketing campaigns.
Why is A/B testing and optimization important?
A/B testing and optimization are vital for successful B2B social media campaigns. Test different ad versions and campaigns to gain insights into what resonates with your audience, optimize performance, and drive conversions. Without testing, you risk wasting ad spend on ineffective campaigns.
3. Use targeting and segmentation for maximum impact
Maximize the impact of your paid ads through targeting and segmentation. Personalize messaging by narrowing your audience and focusing on specific audience segments, improving engagement, click-through rates, and conversions.
Targeted campaigns optimize ad spend by showing ads exclusively to relevant and interested audiences, stretching your budget for a higher ROI.
4. Choose the best budgeting and bidding strategies for B2B paid social
I always recommend starting small and gradually increasing the budget over time. This approach allows you to test and optimize your paid ads without committing too much money upfront.
When it comes to bidding strategies, it's important to test and evaluate different options to find the one that works best for your specific campaign goals and budget. As I've emphasized throughout this blog, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to paid advertising.
Your bidding approach should align with your goals, and remember that manual bidding is typically more cost-effective than automated. Consider target CPA for lead generation and CPM for brand awareness.
5. Measure and analyze B2B paid social performance
Measuring and analyzing B2B paid social performance is crucial for optimizing campaigns and achieving business goals. Regularly track key metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, CPA, and ROAS to gain insights and make data-driven decisions.
Set clear performance goals for each campaign, such as a target cost per lead (how much you want to pay per lead) or a target conversion rate (percentage of prospects that convert). Then, regularly track your progress against these goals to quickly identify any issues or areas for improvement and take corrective action as needed.
In addition to tracking performance metrics, it's also important to analyze audience data like CTR, impressions, etc. to better understand the behavior and interests of your target customers.
It’s also important to note that “conversions” is a broad term that you, as the marketing leader, need to define. A conversion could range from ad clicks to form submissions depending on your social media marketing goals.
6. Optimize your B2B paid social strategy and budgets for continuous improvement
As a marketing leader or paid media specialist, you need to ensure campaign effectiveness and a strong return on investment by continuously analyzing, refining, and adjusting tactics to align with business goals and audience.
One crucial factor to keep in mind when optimizing your B2B paid media campaigns is the law of diminishing returns. This law states that as you increase your investment, the return on investment (ROI) will eventually plateau and even decrease.
The client bell curve diagram illustrates this concept. As you invest more money, your audience becomes "colder," meaning they are less likely to be ready to purchase your product or service. This results in a higher cost per acquisition (CPA), as shown by the upward trend of the gray line on the graph.
It's important to gradually scale your budget while closely monitoring your ROAS and CPA. A sudden, large increase in budget can cause costs to skyrocket because you're essentially jumping over the bell curve instead of progressing phase by phase. This not only affects your performance but also hinders the algorithm of paid social platforms from efficiently optimizing for the change.
Pro tip: Increase your budget by no more than 35% per batch to allow the platform's algorithm to learn efficiently and avoid steep cost increases. By doing so, you can reach a wider audience while maintaining profitability.
How can B2B paid social campaigns integrate with other marketing channels?
B2B social media campaigns can be integrated with other marketing channels to create a cohesive and effective overall marketing strategy. Here are some ways to integrate paid media with other channels(starting with my personal favorite):
Account-based marketing (ABM): Use paid social campaigns to target individuals from your lists with personalized messages and high-quality content. It effectively reaches decision-makers and generates leads. This has been one of my most successful and cost-effective paid social media marketing campaigns.
Content marketing: Drive traffic to your website and engage your audience with educational content from your content marketing strategy. Promote blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, and lead magnets through paid ads to boost brand awareness and thought leadership and generate leads. Pair this strategy with nurture sequences for optimal results.
Email marketing: Target people who have already engaged with your brand through email. You can use email lists to create custom audiences on social media platforms, which allows you to show ads to people who are already familiar with your brand.
Search engine marketing (SEM): Drive traffic to your website or landing pages through paid social campaigns while retargeting individuals who have searched for relevant keywords on search engines. This strategy boosts visibility, fosters trust, and positions you as a likely trusted thought partner for organic engagement. Additionally, if your budget allows, you can also utilize paid search.
Event marketing: Use social B2B social media ads to promote your events, such as webinars or conferences, and drive registrations. You can also use paid social media to create buzz around your event and engage with attendees before, during, and even after the event.
Integrating paid media with other marketing channels can help you create a more cohesive and effective marketing strategy that reaches your audience across multiple touchpoints.
What is the ideal budget for a B2B paid social campaign?
The ideal budget for a B2B paid social campaign varies based on audience size, campaign objectives, industry competitiveness, and the goals you want to achieve with your marketing efforts. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, with budgets ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. The key is to determine your goals, understand your target audience, and allocate your budget in a way that maximizes your ROI.
Can I run B2B paid social campaigns on multiple platforms simultaneously?
Yes, you can run B2B paid social campaigns on multiple platforms simultaneously, adopting a "360 approach" to reach your audience across various channels. By appearing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and other B2B social media platforms, you establish familiarity and stay top of mind. However, managing multiple campaigns on different platforms can be time-consuming and may require a larger budget for optimal results.
How long should I run a B2B paid social campaign before evaluating its performance?
I recommend running a B2B paid social campaign for at least 4-6 weeks before assessing its performance. During this period, make small optimizations every 7-14 days to gather sufficient data and optimize effectiveness. If these optimizations do not yield positive results after 4 to 6 weeks, consider pivoting your strategy.