If you’ve ever used Facebook advertising to drive business leads, you’ve felt jealous of consumer brands. Your very first, very hopeful Facebook campaign probably crashed and burned, providing few if any leads and leaving you feeling like this supposed juggernaut of an ad platform only works for companies advertising coupons or teeth whitening products.
Sifting through the wreckage of your campaign’s maiden voyage, you thought “How stupid was I to believe that people clicking through their friend’s vacation photos would stop to request a demo with my sales team?”
Is Facebook actually useless for B2B marketers like you? No, not even close.
In fact, Facebook is potentially your most plentiful resource for connecting with and converting your target audience. The reasons you thought it was a juggernaut ad platform are true, but as a B2B marketer you have to know how to use it to your benefit, and it’s not as simple as slapping your "request a demo" banner up there and letting the leads flow in (because that certainly didn’t work the first time you tried).
Start thinking of Facebook as a cocktail party
Think back to the last time you met potential new clients under purely social circumstances, like over drinks at a cocktail party. Did you walk up to them, stuff a business card in their hand, and close for a meeting? No, you didn’t. That would make you a total jerk.
The last time you got a client from a cocktail party you almost certainly opened up with interesting conversation and naturally, the talk moved towards business. That’s the same approach you should take with lead generation on Facebook. First, you start a conversation, and once you have a captive audience you steer them towards your business.
Be legitimately interesting
The first step towards success with Facebook ads is to captivate your audience. Most people at the “cocktail party” want to talk about their kids, pets, and home remodels, and while some people will certainly like to listen, they’ll also like to chat about business. Those are your people, your “initial audience,” so you’ve got to have something interesting to say to start a conversation that coaxes them into revealing themselves as people who like to engage in business chat on a social level.
In a Facebook ad, a legitimately interesting conversation starter would be a topical video or informative blog, which may not even be by or about your company. In fact, just like when you first meet someone at a party, the less you talk about yourself the better. Instead, present them with an idea to think about or some advice you heard elsewhere that you think they could use. The goal of your initial Facebook ad is to be recognized and to build trust in your business so the user clicks on your ad. That’s it.
Plan on having multiple interactions
The last time you met a new client at a cocktail party, did you corner them and talk one-on-one the entire night? No, you didn’t. That would be weird.
You probably had multiple interactions over the course of the evening, chatting a bit then moving on naturally to talk to other people and eat delicious finger foods and then running into each other again and starting on a new topic. This is the same pattern you should plan to follow with your Facebook ads -- you should work the room and engage with people on more than one occasion, and it helps if you have progressively more interesting topics to discuss.
This is what retargeting ads are all about -- having multiple interactions with a potentially interested visitor. You may have heard of retargeting ads before and their value may or may not have resonated with you, but Facebook is an excellent tool for engaging in that second or third or fourth conversation and keeping someone engaged as you tell them more about yourself. And the more you tell them, the more they are likely to convert as a lead.
Learn to use Facebook’s awesome tools
Facebook’s ad platform makes it really easy to build an “initial audience” who can mature into sales leads. On Facebook, you can build your audience based on users only having to engage with your ads within their own Facebook newsfeed (as opposed to having to click your ad link and leave Facebook altogether). And, you can cultivate an audience without requiring a lengthy time commitment. So, when a user shows an initial interest in your business, they can watch your video for as long as they like before returning to their friend's vacation pics, which is convenient for them and enables you to build a bigger audience for less ad spend.
You can also set up a sequence of ads for your initial audience. Think of it kind of like “drip email,” but instead of a series of messages to an inbox (which first requires the user to opt-in), you present a series of well-crafted ads about your business on Facebook; keeping this all easy breezy and non-committal for the person you’re engaging with.
Invest in enough marketing material to carry the conversation
In order to “keep the conversation going” across a series of ads that drive your visitors towards converting as leads, you’re going to need good marketing material. Writing great blogs isn't just a strategy for growing your SEO, it will play a key role in your Facebook lead generation as well.
And it's important that you write blogs that are tailored to each stage in your ad sequence: topical posts and advice at the top to get initial interest, then more product and solution-based content near the end of the sequence to build your value before closing for the lead.
Furthermore, those videos we talked about earlier are one of the most versatile and most engaging marketing materials you could use on Facebook. You don’t have to blow your budget and hire a major video production company, either. Low-fidelity, DIY videos can be equally effective because they are easier to do on a regular basis and they also come across to Facebook users as more genuine.
Whichever way you choose to keep your marketing material flowing, just remember that everything needs to look great on small-sized screens. The most abundant and most affordable advertising traffic on Facebook is found on mobile devices, so if you’re not optimizing for a small screen experience, you’re missing out on leads.
Facebook should be in your lead-generation mix
Google’s paid search is still the go-to for B2B lead generation, mainly because you can’t get more qualified than someone who’s searching for exactly what you offer. But getting the number of leads you’d ideally want from paid search can be difficult. There are a finite number of people actively searching for you and it’s competitive, and therefore pricey. For this reason, you should be looking at a secondary ad platform that is better suited to scale.
Facebook provides excellent opportunities to scale, and there’s tons of ad inventory. Compared to LinkedIn or industry-specific media outlets, Facebook advertising is also refreshingly inexpensive.
There is a catch; with Facebook, the burden is on you to get in front of your ideal buyer. Facebook’s platform has some really clever audience targeting tools, but there isn’t a magic setting that says “find my next customer.”
However, using Facebook’s targeting options in combination with a highly engaging “conversation starter” to build your initial audience, you can increase awareness of your business. If you use a sequence of retargeting ads, you’ll be able to convert this audience and complement the leads you've been accumulating from your other, trusty channels like Google’s paid search.
Finally, advertising on Facebook is fun. You get to flex your creative muscles by building ads in all kinds of formats using super intuitive built-in tools, and channel your inner nerd by analyzing the results in straightforward reports. If that’s not your idea of a good time, don’t worry. Pronto has a team of Facebook marketers to do it all for you and get you to the party.