The B2B Facebook challenge: how to best invest ad spend

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Precis Digital on how to find relevant users to push B2B marketing on Facebook and other paid social platforms.

B2B companies in search of best practices face a unique set of challenges. Every business is different, data can be scarce, and signals for user quality are in difficult to access offline siloes.

In such a complex setting, a fundamental objective for Facebook advertising is to ensure that we maximise our reach towards high quality, relevant users.

Facebook is a great platform for reaching high volumes of prospecting customers, but this can easily backfire. Low-quality traffic to your website not only represents an inefficient use of your budget, but it also has knock on effects such as the pollution of re-marketing lists which can negatively affect the performance of other channels. On the other hand, limiting your social efforts to re-marketing is a serious waste of the potential the platforms can offer.

So how do we improve the quality of our Facebook reach?

Give Facebook as many signals as possible

For online tracking, collecting micro-conversions and custom events using the Pixel will help you step up your acquisition efforts. For example, if you want to increase the quality of users reached with re-marketing, consider creating a custom event that fires a few seconds after a user landed on the website or interacted with something on the page. A custom audience built with this list can be higher quality than simply using 'All Site Visitors' as we have some signals of positive engagement..

If your business uses forms to collect leads, consider implementing events for form field interactions and ensure that critical information during the form completion process such as company size is captured. These signals can all be used to improve the quality of audience lists later.

If you generate relevant signals offline, such as lead quality, make sure to upload Offline Event Sets to the platform. A simple .csv with the customers’ details, properly hashed by Facebook, is enough to get you started and to begin understanding the performance of your campaigns. Adding a Custom Data field not only enables you to send specific attributes for the events but, more importantly, allows them to be used as Custom Conversions. Include all of this in the line of business that you used to set up Facebook Attribution and you can make incredible progress in understanding the value of your multi-channel marketing efforts.

If volumes are sufficient, a campaign optimised for the ultimate conversion event is often a winning strategy.

Make good use of lookalike audiences

Lookalike audiences are a key driver of valuable prospecting users for B2B clients. It’s fundamental to ensure that they are based on relevant and consistent seed lists. What’s the best way of increasing the relevancy of users in your audiences if not by being in control of their attributed value?

Value based audiences are often perceived as limited to the definition of lifetime value of ecommerce users, where their value is the revenue from their purchases. For B2B, the great thing about these audiences is that any value can be attributed to the users in your Customer List. Company size, predicted revenue score, intent based (interactions with specific parts of the funnel), or any attribute that makes sense for your business. These audiences can boost your acquisition performance while increasing the quality of the users that you drive to the site.

While highly relevant audiences (such as value based ones) can drive performance, other factors determine consistency. Seed audiences composed of users with very different characteristics tend to compromise the long term results of your lookalikes, especially if you’re working with low volumes. There are different techniques that can be used to analyse the consistency of your lookalikes, but it all comes down to the quality of the signals upon which your seed audiences are built. Ensure high quality data collection and high volumes for your custom audiences and you’ll see that lookalike performance will be more reliable in the long term.

Take the wheel on optimisation

In the unfortunate case that you’re unable to provide enough signals to Facebook and you’re struggling to get qualified users to your website, don’t be afraid of a more manual approach.

The most direct way to manage budget allocation based on offline data that Facebook is unaware of is to use one campaign per ad set. In this case you know the value of each audience and you can move budgets around. A very similar process involves the use of bid caps, where you calculate the ideal bid cap for audiences based on offline results, and Facebook’s algorithm will then take them into account when defining how to move the budget between ad sets.

If you want to keep making use of Facebook automated solutions and bid caps are not for you, consider “priority” campaigns. Facebook’s algorithm is very fast in defining a winner between multiple ad sets in a campaign, focusing most of the budget spend to a single ad set as a consequence. If an audience is performing well in collecting Leads but shows a lower conversion rate for Offline results, you might want to give the other ad sets a chance to shine with more budget.

One approach is to duplicate the campaign where the “losing” ad sets can compete. This way you can more easily control budget spend on the ad set with poor offline conversion rate, while letting the other ad sets compete in a fairer environment.

Federico Marogna, senior digital specialist at Precis Digital.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.