Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Peter Dulay
For you B2B marketers, one of the hardest cases to make is why you should spend more advertising dollars on social, when historically results from B2B social ads leave something to be desired.
The problem is not that social doesn’t drive conversions and ROI. It’s that advertisers expect social ads to perform like search ads where searches can drive instant sales or signups. Social plays a very different role in the buying journey versus search. While search originates with an action of “intent”, social originates with an action of “awareness”.
The Role of Social Media in B2B Sales Funnels
The buying journey can be simplified into a funnel view. Think of a sales funnel where you have an ‘Awareness’ phase at the top and a ‘Buy’ phase at the bottom. Just before the bottom, you see there is an ‘Intent’ phase followed by the ‘Evaluation’ phase. The ‘Intent’ phase is where the B2B brand advertiser is used to seeing their marketing dollars go (PPC). When they don’t see dollars come out right away, there is a lack of confidence in the model and often times they stop running ads on social.
For B2B, paid search sales are limited without social media driving awareness and helping to support the Evaluation phase for all prospects in the funnel. There are usually many more touch points a prospect has to make when they originate through the awareness stage. Remarketing helps facilitate their journey down the funnel so B2B businesses get the highest conversion rate and sales in the end.
Pro Tip: When thinking about the effectiveness of social media ads over time, try pulling up the Multi-Channel Funnel in Google Analytics to measure cross-channel attribution. With so many engagements happening before an actual purchase or signup, reporting only on the ‘last click’ attribution (of the conversion) will Not give you the full picture of the impact from social media advertising.
By using the Multi-Channel Funnel view, you can see how much of your social media advertising is attributing to bottom-funnel conversions.
Putting Retargeting to Work
There’s a million and one ways to target and serve ads to people on Facebook and you don’t need me to cover that today. Instead, I’m going to talk to you about the people who engage with your ads or your Facebook page, but don’t sign up or buy anything. That’s likely more than 98% of everyone who had a single type of interaction with your brand. For those people, it’s time to consider Facebook Retargeting.
Retargeting is the when you set up an Engagement Custom Audience in Facebook and add people to it for targeting with Facebook ads at a later time.
There is no rule that says you have to start with an ad before you can create a Custom Audience, but serving ads in various formats certainly opens up a few more opportunities for exposure and therefore Retargeting, which we’ll discuss below.
After pulling a list of 5 B2B clients and their attribution models using social media (mostly Facebook, some LinkedIn) as an awareness campaign, we found that remarketing ads helped them increase the end conversion rate by as much as 580%!
Because of the length of the funnel I mentioned above, particularly with B2B businesses where sales cycles are much longer than B2C, it is that much more important for remarketing to be part of the advertising mix.
There are three types of Retargeting that we’ve found most effective and they all serve to add people to a Custom Audience, the target audience for Retargeting on Facebook. They are: Retargeting using Video Ads, Facebook Page Engagements, and Canvas ads.
When it comes to knowing which types of Retargeting ads, you’ll need to observe the buying stages at which the people you’re targeting are in.
If you want to reach people who are not familiar with your brand yet (in the Awareness phase), you might consider using a video ad Retargeting campaign to qualify the interested visitors. Video ads are a great way to captivate a new audience for the very first time, potentially bringing them through the ‘Awareness’ phase into the ‘Discovery’ phase.
If you’re looking for those who are already familiar with your brand, you might push stronger offers or promotions using Facebook Page engagements.
There is no specific size your Custom Audience needs to be, unlike with Google Remarketing where you need to have 1000 active audience members to serve ads.
After visitors take action from a Retargeting ad, you would want to exclude those individuals from being targeted in the future, by setting up the Exclusions in your Facebook settings. This usually happens when the person advances to a new part of the website or lands on a specific landing page.
Lastly, you can layer in other filters for demographics, interests, and behaviors which help to further refine your custom audience that you created for Retargeting. For instance, if you have a custom audience of people who came to your site but did not convert, and you wanted to only retarget those who were old enough to be your customer, you could add a Demographic filter for ‘Age’ that would keep people outside the age range from seeing your ad.
Video Retargeting on Facebook
If you’re posting videos, you can set up a retargeting campaign to only reach people who have watched a certain length of a video. i.e. 3 seconds, 25% of the video, 50% of the video, etc. This is done by creating a Custom Audience to reach only the people who have engaged with your video, or watched it for a certain duration which you choose (in a dropdown).
If you are running a Facebook video ad in order to gain awareness for your software or product, this type of Retargeting would serve as a qualifier for those people who are truly interested in your offering.
It doesn’t mean they are ready to buy, but if they watched the video longer than 50% or 100%, you might assume they are ready to move the Discovery phase, where you would send them different ads with a different value.
Retargeting Based on FB Page Engagement
You could include anyone who has engaged with your Page in any way or anyone who clicked a call-to-action button on your Page. This is a staple for socialites who put a lot of effort into maintaining the community on their brand’s Facebook page. An engagement can be a like, a comment, a link click, and button click, or if someone dropped an emoji in a comment on one of your posts.
People who engage with your Facebook page could be anywhere in the buying cycle except Awareness. Obviously they have already engaged with your brand to some degree. Maybe they are still in the Discovery phase or maybe they have bought from you before. Nonetheless, you might serve ads which possess a stronger offer to buy.
Pro Tip: If your customers only buy once from you in their entire lifecycle, you might set these customers to be excluded from your custom audience after they have made their purchase. You would just set the purchase confirmation page on your website to be the Audience Exclusion page.
Retargeting People Who Opened Up Your Canvas Ad on Facebook
Many people still haven’t gotten word of Canvas Ads on Facebook. It’s a new way to create a mobile “story” styled ads from scratch using Facebook’s Canvas builder.
Within each story or Canvas ad, users have the option to set up videos and signup buttons, and create clickable images. Also most of the companies using Canvas ads today are B2C retailers. That means B2B advertisers have a unique advantage in being the first to use Canvas ads.
The Retargeting aspect works to add people who engage with the Canvas ad to a custom audience to which any of the standard variety of Facebook ads can be served.
Duration Setting for Custom Audiences
When Retargeting, you have options to choose how long people should be kept in your audience since they last time they engaged with you. Be sure you keep in mind how long you set your “In the past” field because if people don’t engage within that time period, they will be automatically removed from the list. For example, if you hold a “30 days” in the past for your custom audience, if they don’t engage with you within a trailing 30 day period, they will be removed.
Conversely, if you set 365 days for your custom audience, you risk retargeting people that have a highly diminished interest in your brand or content. Once they have been removed from your audience, they are gone for good so perhaps it’s best to start a little longer, test, and shorten if the engagement rate is low.
Being a B2B business, the optimal duration length might be a difficult thing to assess. Each stage of the purchase funnel that your buyers move through, they increase their knowledge of your brand and offering.
This changes their persona and so you would want to reflect that in the type of Retargeting ads you serve at each stage. For instance, you would not want to show an ad created for the Awareness or Discovery phase when they have already inquired or purchased a product or software from you.
We hope this opens some light into how you can expand your lifetime reach with business customers on Facebook. According to an Ad Roll Survey 92% of respondents (includes B2B and B2C marketers) said that Facebook Retargeting was more effective than other PPC and Email campaigns.
Also when it comes to social sharing, Facebook is responsible for 90% compared to Twitter and LinkedIn at 6% and 2.5% respectively. Retargeting services can help speed up that process and build brand trust, authority, and lifetime value all at the same time.
Peter Dulay is the CEO of Conversion Giant, a top-tier digital marketing agency in Los Angeles. Peter has built him team of digital marketing experts, consultants, and managers for the growth of eCommerce and lead gen advertisers.