The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Social Advertising

The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Social Advertising

The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Social Advertising


It’s no secret that social media has become an important part of any B2B marketing strategy. In fact, 93% of B2B marketers report using social media as part of their strategy (source).

However, as social media continues to grow and evolve, it’s become increasingly difficult for marketing teams to produce results with their social media efforts. The reason for this is simple; as more and more businesses jump onto the social media bandwagon, the social sphere becomes increasingly clogged and cluttered.

As a result, today’s social media users face content overload and it’s harder than ever to stand out. If your message doesn’t cut through the social media noise, you’re sure to miss your prospects. So, what’s the solution? Paid social advertising.

The Promise of Paid Ads

Social media advertising is not a new concept to the seasoned marketer. However, many in the B2B realm don’t fully grasp the promise of this tactic. After all, when your organic social strategy doesn’t produce results, it’s hard to justify spending even more time and money on it.

But, paid social can have a huge impact on your marketing efforts. Having a hard time believing? Consider these statistics:

  • 86% of marketers now combine paid and organic tactics as part of their social media strategies. It’s rare for social media marketers not to use organic and paid social media together (source).
  • 80% of enterprises say social media is the most important factor in digital marketing success (source).
  • 59% of marketers believe paid social is more effective than organic social (source).
  • Over 50% of B2B marketers rank social media as a “very” or “somewhat” low-cost ad option. (source)
  • 27% of B2B marketers identify social media as an “indispensable” tool for content distribution (source)
  • 25% lift in conversions for paid social media compared to organic social media (source)

The potential benefits of social advertising are obvious. However, to drive real, measurable success, you need a strategic plan.

The B2B Marketer’s Guide To Paid Social Advertising

Define Your Buyer Personas

As with most marketing campaigns, the first step in your social strategy should be to determine your target audience. A simple and effective way to do this is to establish your buyer personas.

By definition, buyer personas are simply profiles of your best buyers. When executed effectively buyer personas can be used to determine nearly every aspect of a marketing campaign, from channels to content type to the language you use.

Buyer personas are created using extensive research, observation, and analysis of the data surrounding your existing customers. Take a look at who your best customers are and what traits they have in common. For example, do they share a job title, work in the same industry, or come from companies of a certain revenue?

In its simplest form, a buyer persona may look something like this: 25-35 year-old male, working in logistics at a company of 100 employees or less, who has ‘specialist’ in his job title.

It’s important to keep in mind that effective buyer personas are more than a list of common characteristics— you need to have a thorough understanding of each persona’s buying habits. This includes common concerns, shared viewpoints, and other factors that influence their purchase decisions.

For a more in depth guide to creating buyer personas, check out the following blog posts:

Establish Your Goals

As seasoned marketers know, no strategy will prove successful without the support of your executives – and that support will often waiver if you can’t prove your return on investment. To put it bluntly, if you want to see continued success and progress with your social media efforts, you’ll need to measure your results and report on your success.

Like most marketing initiatives, calculating ROI can’t be accomplished without first establishing some goals. To do this, consider the overall goals of your organization and primary marketing objectives. Have you been instructed to focus on brand awareness, lead generation, or sales/revenue?

Let these considerations inform your strategy. Goals will differ from organization to organization, but ultimately, should share two common characteristics; they’re unfalteringly clear, and easily measured.

Define KPIs

Enter KPIs. KPIs, or key performance indicators, are metrics used to measure the performance of a campaign. In short, these numeric values represent key campaign milestones. With the right KPIs in place, your marketing team can track your campaign in real-time, and if needed, make adjustments to optimize and scale success.

As with goals, every marketing department will focus on a different set of metrics. If you’re not sure where to start, consider these important metrics:

  • Reach: The number of people who see your campaign.
  • CTR (Click Through Rate): The number of people who clicked your advertisement compared to the total number of people who see it.
  • Engagement Rate: The number/percentage of individuals who engage with your advertisement in some way—likes, shares, and comments.
  • Conversion Rate: The number/percentage of people who click through to your site, then complete a specified action—filled out a form, clicked a button, downloaded content, etc.
  • Cost per Action: The cost of each action made with your ad, be it engagement, conversion, or click.

The metrics you decide to track should be closely tied to your goals. For example, if your goal is lead generation, you might focus on CTR, conversion rate, and cost per lead. If your goal is brand awareness, you might focus on reach and engagement.

Choose the Right Platform

The next thing you should consider is platform selection. While you may be tempted to throw your money into every social networking site, this isn’t always the smartest strategy. The truth is, not all social ad platforms will work for every organization – especially in the B2B world.

Instead of going in blindly, take the time to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of each channel’s advertising capabilities. Does one offer more superior targeting capabilities than the rest? Is one significantly more cost effective than another? Be sure to ask questions like these during your analysis.

It’s also important keep your buyer personas in mind when selecting a platform. If your advertising on Twitter, but your audience is on Facebook, how can you expect to turn a profit? Use your buyer personas to locate your best buyers and ensure your efforts are well placed.

Again, platform selection will differ from organization to organization. But for many B2Bs, your platform selection will consist of the Big Three: LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook. As with any marketing strategy, start with an idea, test it, and then try again. The reality is, you may try a few platforms before landing on the option that works best for you.

Choose the Right Ad Type

The decision making process isn’t quite done. Next, you’ll need to determine which ad type will work best for your campaign.

Each social platform offers its own, unique set of ad types. These are each designed to drive a specific response from an audience (i.e. website clicks, engagement, follows, etc.) That being said, it’s imperative that your ad type correlate with your goals.

For example, if your goal is to boost website traffic, then a ‘site traffic’ ad type should be your go-to. Simple enough, right?

Here are a few of the most common ad types to consider:

  • Reach: This ad type promotes your content to social users who aren’t currently connected with your brands account/page. Platforms will typically charge you per thousand or million individuals reached.
  • Website clicks:This ad type is specifically tailored to encourage your prospects to click-through to your site. If a prospect clicks, you are charged.
  • Site conversions:Conversion ads not only promote your website link to your audience, but track their activity once on your site. You are only charged once a prospects completes a specific action on your site. (i.e. submitting a form, clicking for more info, etc.)
  • Followers/Page likes:These ads promote your account/page to an expanded audience that you may not reach otherwise. They are tailored to grab your audience’s attention, and encourage them to follow along.
  • Engagement:Engagement ads are delivered to the audience most likely to interact with your ad. Advertisers are only charged when a user completes actions with the social content, such as liking, commenting, sharing, or clicking.
  • Video views:These ads promote your videos to an expanded audience and encourage them to watch it. Typically, users are charged when a prospect views the video for a specified amount of time.
  • Lead capture:These ad types offer your audience a prize or special deal in exchange for their contact information. Users are charged once the prospect submits their info.

Create Your Content

One of the last steps in your social advertising strategy is, arguably, the most important: crafting your ad content. Content is ultimately what will get your audience’s attention and drive them to act. That being said, your content needs to be of value to your audience and professional looking! Here are a few suggestions to get you started in the right direction:

  • Be relevant: Effective ad content resonates with your audience; it speaks directly to them. Think of the common pain points of your buyer personas, and craft content that offers them a solution.
  • Communicate value: If you’re looking to capture a prospects contact information, you’ll need to offer some top-quality content in return. Be sure that your value proposition is apparent to your readers; serve them an offer that is impossible to refuse.
  • Correlate your social campaign with your other campaigns: Analyze your existing content strategy; what type of messaging has worked in the past? Is there an email campaign or perhaps a webinar that produced impressive results? Scale your past successes by incorporating your existing strategy into a social campaign.
  • A/B test: Social media is a whole new ball game. Realistically, your first attempts might not be great. Consider A/B testing to see what messaging, creative, ad type, platform etc. work best to drive the response you’re looking for.

Hyper Target Your Ads

Today’s social advertising platforms offer some of the greatest targeting capabilities available. Whether you’re trying to reach mid-level managers in the software industry, or simply Game of Thrones fans, these functionalities can ensure the right audience will receive your message.

If campaign efficiency and success is important to your team, you must take advantage of these features.  For best results, think back to your buyer personas; utilize the commonalities and shared characteristics of your best buyers to guide your targeting endeavors.

Analyze & Optimize for Success

Successful social advertising takes time; don’t expect your efforts to knock it out of the park your first time around. Instead, develop a strategic plan to consistently analyze your efforts. With your goals and KPIs in mind, track your campaigns wins and losses.

Determine which tactics work, and which could use a little adjustment. Then, tweak your strategy accordingly. When you find something that works, stick with it!

Contributed by Krysta Williams, Marketing Content Specialist at ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo offers the most accurate and actionable B2B data to help organizations accelerate growth and profitability. The continuously updated database enables sales and marketing teams to execute more effective marketing campaigns and improve sales prospecting efforts.


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