I think we all agree that for the most part, consumers start their purchase journeys online, googling for products to solve their challenges, comparing product details on Amazon, and watching video reviews on YouTube. So paid media is a huge opportunity to get in front of B2C customers. But what about B2B?
Clients often ask if paid media is really a good way to find and connect with distributors, dealers, buyers, and other B2B audiences. But the truth is that professional audiences are just as active digitally as consumers. In many cases, they’re just looking for different types of information in different digital spaces.
Some common information needs of B2B audiences are:
- Deep product information; researching by criteria/attributes
- Configuration of custom products/solutions
- Design solutions, best practices
- Accurate pricing, availability, delivery
- Online quote submissions
- Online payments
- Customer service
- Training / installation
Studies show that B2B decisions are usually made by five or more people and can be a long process for some industries, thus requiring a strategic plan to reach different roles (from specifier to CFO) within the buying cycle.
B2B advertising can be difficult to conquer in the digital space without an expert to help guide you, but there are certain platforms that with the right targeting and type of ad selection are effective in reaching B2B audiences.
LinkedIn is a natural fit for B2B marketers, with research from the Content Marketing Institute indicating that 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as part of their social media marketing efforts.
Because it’s a business-oriented platform, LinkedIn advertising allows marketers to target and reach more than 414 million professionals. For segmentation, it’s a great platform for targeting the decision makers of specific industries, companies, roles, etc. based on the position titles and companies in each user’s profile. The recommended ad type for B2B is based on your objective, but Sponsored Updates and Sponsored inMail are ad options that work well for many B2B campaigns.
The Google Display network is a mass collection of sites, properties, and partners that make up 83% of the total reach of unique internet sources globally. The reach of the display network allows for great brand exposure, effective targeting, and the choices of effective bid options. Targeting your business decision makers by selecting specific placements (such as a major industry online publication) paired with affinity audiences that match your customer is an effective approach, and you can go broad or highly targeted, depending on your objective.
Facebook has an audience of 1.4 billion people who use the platform to connect with what matters to them, and more than 900 million of those users visit every day. It’s the perfect platform for low-friction conversions (such as ad clicks), and very effective in targeting interests and behaviors. And while many professionals say they don’t use Facebook for work, they do use it for personal reasons—and when they see something relevant to their industry or job, they tend to interact with it even if they are on “personal time.”
One good option is Facebook’s Lead Gen ads. These allow you to reach your audience through the targeting you select (company, industry, job title, purchase behaviors, etc.) and capture leads without your audience leaving the platform. Facebook automatically generates the form with the name and email from their Facebook account (editable if the user would rather use another email such as their work account). This is a powerful ad type that is extremely successful with webinars, offers, and whitepaper downloads, helping you to build your lead database.
Twitter advertising allows you to tap into a user base of 310 million monthly users to reach the right audience for your business. Two of the most helpful Twitter tools for B2B marketers are Promoted Tweets and Lead Generation Cards. Promoted Tweets allow you to pay to get in front of an audience that matches the targeting you select. With the Lead Generation tool, users can sign up to receive emails simply by clicking a button on a promoted tweet, and their information is automatically generated to you (similar to Facebook Lead Gen ads). This is a great option if you’re trying to build your database or promote a special offer.
In summary, the B2B buying cycle tends to be much longer than B2C and is impacted by several decision makers. That’s why—though it may be challenging to work out the right strategy—it’s crucial to include paid media in your marketing strategy in order to ensure you are in front of as many of those decision makers as possible throughout the different stages of the buying cycle. Tapping into the detailed targeting offered on these paid media platforms will allow you to reach new, existing, and even former or abandoned customers, allowing you to inform, nurture, engage, and guide them all the way through your buying process.