Online advertising allows businesses to reach a wide audience (or target a specific audience) and accurately track the impact of marketing money spent.
Advertising for B2B businesses is generally focused on either building brand awareness or lead generation. Since B2B purchases are less influenced by impulses or discounts, there’s more room for relationships to inform a transaction, and the first touchpoint from online advertising can be crucial in securing a new solid lead.
With multiple platforms and a sea of information available on the net, it can be overwhelming to determine where to start and which platform is the best fit for your particular business. To inform your B2B advertising, we’ve consolidated our top 4 platforms and outlined the benefits of each to generate leads and maximise your ROI.
Linkedin is the undisputed top platform for B2B with some great features allowing you to hone in on your target audience.
LinkedIn is the largest professional social media network on earth with over 260 million monthly active users and over 30 million companies on board, making it especially appealing to B2B advertisers. It launched its ads platform in 2005.
Like many social media platforms with advertising capability, LinkedIn allows for granular budget control, geo-targeting, cost per click optimisation and conversion tracking. The main benefit that differentiates it from its competitors is its demographics targeting capabilities, which are incredibly specific and allow you to dial right down to target for example only employees from a specific company, by seniority level, years of experience and much more.
This is very useful for marketing tactics such as account-based marketing or for promoting a niche service to a select industry or job title.
- In-platform reporting is limited, we recommend connecting a third-party reporting tool such as Databox to build dashboards to analyse and optimise campaigns.
- The ‘matched audiences’ feature allows you to upload a csv and target a specific list of companies with the ability to then create additional lookalike audiences from this.
Whether your objective is to drive website traffic, build brand awareness or generate leads, LinkedIn has some great features to drive results
Google Search Network
The Google Search Network is a network of related websites and apps on which your ads can appear, the most notable and important being the Google search engine results page (SERP).
As most of your B2B prospects go to Google as their first touchpoint in their buyer journey, Google Search Ads allow your business to ‘buy space’ to appear at the top of the search results page with tailored information for the particular search term your prospect used. With a streamlined professional search ads campaign, you can achieve a good return on marketing ad spend and great brand awareness using this platform.
Key benefits for B2B advertisers using the Google Search Network include:
- Keyword targeting – detailed keyword targeting capabilities (generally not offered to the same degree by social media platforms), which allows you to target high-value converting search terms. e.g. ‘enterprise software consultant near me’.
- Pay per click (PPC) – You only pay when someone clicks an ad (hence the term ‘pay per click’). Even if you are not organically ranking for specific keywords with search engine optimisation (SEO) you can still get the visibility your business needs by investing in PPC advertising.
- Instant traffic – your B2B company can appear at the top of a Google search results page within a matter of hours of launching a campaign to get traffic flowing through to your website. Search advertising helps bring in immediate traffic by bridging the gap between organic SEO and a social media or content offer campaign.
- Reporting & analysis – the Google Ads platform has a great dashboard and reporting tool allowing for in-depth analysis of results to inform ongoing optimisation.
- Protect your own real estate – often, a company will target and bid on a competitor’s brand name when using Google Ads. This means that it’s possible for one of your competitors to appear higher in Google results for your brand name than you do. Establishing a ‘brand campaign’ targeting your own brand-related keywords allows you to trump any competitor targeting your name and is also great to test new meta titles/descriptions to aid your SEO.
- A/B testing – the Google Ads platform has a handy experiments tool for running A/B tests to see how individual elements impact a campaign’s performance. This is useful to test for bid adjustments, keywords, extensions, ad schedule and locations.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – a poorly managed PPC campaign can cost more than it brings in. As one of the most ‘involved’ online advertising platforms, a successful Google Ads campaign takes time, energy and experience. If you’re seeing lacklustre results inhouse don’t be afraid to outsource this to a professional marketing agency.
With search term targeting capabilities, reporting tools and platform flexibility, Google Ads can be a really powerful marketing tool for B2B businesses.
Google Display Network
Launched in 2003, the Google Display Network is an addition to the Google Ads platform. The Google Display Network allows for content to be shown across many different websites covering a vast array of topics and categories, so display ads can be particularly effective for brand awareness and lead generation.
Key benefits for B2Bs include:
- Large audience reach – with over 2 million websites in the display network, including Gumtree, eBay, Yahoo, Reddit, Real Estate.com and Hot Copper, the potential exposure and reach of your adverts is substantial.
- Cheaper cost per click – compared to Google Search Ads and social media advertising platforms, the cost per click on the Display Network is generally the cheapest. This means B2B marketers can target people who are interested in your product or service without having to pay a large amount.
- Visual ads – unlike the standard Google Search Ads which are entirely text, the display network allows you to use much more visually engaging creative content to encourage people to click.
- Remarketing ads – one of the most notable features of the Google Display Network is its remarketing capability, which allows you to create a campaign that only targets people who have already been to your website. Using the Google Display Network, a site tracks users via cookies and displays your ads after they visit your site.
- You can segment remarketing audiences based on website pages they visited and then show them relevant ad content on their journey around the web. E.g. If they visited one of your content offer landing pages but didn’t fill in the form, you can show this audience your content offer again to encourage them to take the next step.
- Content is key – Google has an auto-generated image and text format, however, we recommend creating a custom designed and animated ad for your B2B business. Bannersnack is a handy online tool to help with content marketing and has ready made templates you can use to create your ads.
With a large reach across partner sites and a low cost per click, the Google Display Network is one of the best B2B advertising platforms for ‘bang for buck’ and brand awareness.
Facebook & Instagram Ads
Gone are the days of Facebook & Instagram social media marketing solely being for B2C. There are over 2.38 billion active users on Facebook and more than one billion monthly active users on Instagram. 90 million small businesses and 74% of people say they use Facebook for professional purposes (HubSpot).
Benefits of Facebook & Instagram advertising for business to business include:
- Facebook Messenger advertising – with messenger as an ad destination and using bots you can nurture business leads through automated chat sequences. This can act as an extension of your marketing, sales, and service initiatives.
- Demographics targeting – Facebook & Instagram offers in-depth targeting abilities, for example including the ability to segment by Facebook page/event connections.
- A/B testing – the Facebook ads platform enables A/B testing of your ad creative, placement, audience and delivery optimisation strategies.
- Lower cost per click – Facebook and Instagram offer a lower CPC on average than LinkedIn, more creative options and a larger reach overall with more active users on these networks.
- Lead generation ads – the Lead Ads objective allows people to simply subscribe to your database and download content, wherever they are with mobile-responsive ads and auto-populated forms from their Facebook profile. Combined with a great piece of kit this can greatly boost your content marketing efforts.
Pro Tip: Lookalike audiences – being able to target people based on your existing database is a useful tool. Facebook’s algorithm based on existing data of people who have engaged with your content, converted on your website or you can upload a custom list of users and then generates a custom audience that is most likely to convert.
With LinkedIn generally thought of as the only social network for business professionals, it is understandable that B2B marketers sometimes don’t focus on Facebook and Instagram. But, with some useful tools to reach out to your target audiences, these platforms are worth considering.
Online advertising is a great way for B2Bs to reach out to potential clients across your state, country or even the whole globe. It takes time and effort and the right content as every B2B company is unique and it’s important to test and optimise your presence on each of these platforms to see which one works best for you.