Are you considering digital advertising for your B2B client or your own business, but don’t know where to start? Does the thought of shelling out good dollars only to see poor results on your B2B ads give you the hives?
Fear not! No one can promise you’ll exceed your initial investment from your advertising. But this valuable information can help you make a more informed decision about what ads to run, how, and where.
The million-dollar question from B2B marketers has always been:
“How many sales or leads did I generate from my advertising investment?”
Now more than ever, the effectiveness of advertising is measured by Return on Investment (ROI). Digital ads that click directly to a buy or lead generation page can be tracked to figure out whether a sale or lead takes place.
“Performance Ads” Deliver Business Results
The term “performance ads” is well-known in the digital advertising business. This refers to the types of ads that drive B2B customers to a page where they can buy or get more information about a product or service.
Even if you or your B2B client decide to work with an external advertising agency and outsource the ad buying function, it’s important that everyone involved has an idea of how this all works. What digital ads are best to drive ROI?
I’ll discuss six popular ad formats B2B marketers and small business owners like you can use every day to increase your leads and your profits. It’s worth noting that these are not the only ad types available on these platforms, but they are the most widely used ones that most often drive conversions, such as sales or leads.
1. LinkedIn Sponsored Content Ads
As we know, LinkedIn is a B2B marketer’s paradise. LinkedIn has over 774 million users in over 200 countries. If you’re targeting a professional of any type, LinkedIn is the place to be.
In terms of advertising, LinkedIn sells sponsored posts that appear in the user’s newsfeed. Also known as Sponsored Content or Native Ads.
You can target audiences such as B2B decision makers, C-Suite executives, and marketing managers. You can use an image, a group or “carousel” of images, or a video in the Sponsored Content Ads. Videos can be anywhere from 3 seconds to 3 minutes in length. However videos less than 15 seconds tend to perform best.
Below is an example of a LinkedIn Sponsored Content Ad from LegalZoom. This appears in the LinkedIn newsfeeds of users who fit the targeting parameters set by you, the B2B advertiser.
If your business is a professional service like consulting or copywriting, or your client sells Business-to-Business products like office supplies or industrial equipment, LinkedIn should have a role in your advertising strategy.
2. Google PPC B2B Ads
Next up is Google PPC ads, which can increase sales and leads from customers who are actively in market. These potential buyers are looking for help your product or service may be able to provide.
Google PPC ads appear at the top or to the right of a search engine results page. PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. With PPC Ads, you or your client as the advertiser only pay if the user clicks on your ad and is directed to the landing page where your product or service is sold.
In this example below, the user was searching for the term “B2B copywriter.” The three PPC ads appear at the top of the page. The organic or non-paid search results appear beneath the paid search ads.
3. Facebook and Instagram Promoted Posts
The most popular type of ad on Facebook and Instagram is the promoted post that runs in the customers’ newsfeed. You can target your prospective buyers across both platforms simultaneously, or you can just focus on one or the other.
There is no minimum spend to buy ads, so Facebook and Instagram are often used as a testing ground to compare the performance of different ads to see what copy or photos/videos perform better.
Facebook (who recently announced their new corporate name is Meta) currently has about 2.89 billion monthly active users worldwide. Instagram has about one billion users.
In case you weren’t aware, Facebook (aka Meta) owns Instagram. There are many opportunities on both platforms for businesses of all sizes to run ads targeting people with a variety of interests and behaviors.
Many business owners do not realize that if you post on Facebook and Instagram without paying for ads, you’re only reaching an average of 5% of your total account followers (and that’s if you’re lucky).
If you or your B2B client can’t spend advertising money, then you want to focus on making the best organic or free content possible, so people will want to share your posts. That way, you’ll at least reach more people organically if you’re not able to pay for ads.
All major social media platforms today operate on a “pay-to-play” basis. This means to reach an audience of any significant size with your messages, you need to buy advertising.
Here are examples of a Facebook and an Instagram promoted post.
Facebook Promoted Post
Instagram Promoted Post
Facebook and Instagram are often the first places new advertisers try out. They are platforms with huge audiences and offer B2B and B2C advertisers many targeting options to find your most promising customers.
4. YouTube “TrueView Ads”
YouTube TrueView ads can be found before, during, or at the end of a video. Viewers can skip these video ads after 5 seconds. As an advertiser, you would be charged after a video is viewed for a full 30 seconds or if the entire video was shorter than 30 seconds but was viewed in full. You would also be charged if users click the link in your ad, regardless of how long they viewed the video.
Did you know that YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, after Google, as well as being owned by Google? It’s not a surprise that its reach is massive, with over 2 billion monthly users and over 5 billion videos consumed each day.
If you have video assets promoting your business you’d like to showcase to wider B2B audiences, YouTube offers a cost-effective way to do this, and you will only pay if the user watches your ad.
5. Promoted Tweets
Promoted Tweets appear in the Twitter newsfeed. You can target by age, location, profession, type of device, gender, language, and many other traits. You can also target people based on conversations they have had, keywords they have searched for, and other topics they have tweeted about.
Images or video also works in these ads. The video can be up to 2:20 minutes in length. However, like most other types of videos on other platforms, the shorter lengths are recommended as a best practice because consumers generally have short attention spans. As with everything else, there are exceptions to this video length rule.
Here are is a promoted tweet from Verizon. You can tell because it’s labeled “Promoted” in the bottom left-hand corner of the Twitter ad.
Twitter is smaller than most of the other major social media platforms I’ve discussed in this article, but you can use it successfully to target people who are talking about certain B2B events or products that are relevant to your business.
Clubhouse is a drop-in, invite-only social audio app that launched in March 2020. It has over 10 million downloads and is growing rapidly. Don’t worry about the “invite-only” part. If you’d like to join Clubhouse, just download the iOS or Android app and an existing Clubhouse member will soon send you an invitation to join.
Clubhouse is like a big party, with different discussions going on in various rooms. There are no videos or photos allowed, outside of a profile picture.
Display your expertise and get noticed in meaningful ways. It’s also great for generating business leads.
Anyone on Clubhouse can start or join a chatroom. You can find like-minded people by joining clubs related to your industry or interests. A chatroom is like an interactive podcast on a particular topic. Like sales copywriting, B2B marketing, or IT solutions for small businesses.
At this point, Clubhouse has limited advertising options. This isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. You can look at it as an exciting opportunity for your business or your client’s business to stand out organically with less competition.
However, as an advertiser, you can do things like sponsor a branded room, such as “B2B Marketing Tips, Brought to You by [Insert Advertiser Name Here].”
Although Clubhouse is new, it provides a tremendous opportunity for B2B marketers to connect with qualified prospects in a way that none of the other social media apps can.
A Final Word on B2B ads
As a business owner and B2B marketer, using paid ads to promote your products or services may be a new thing for you. Even if it isn’t, it’s important to remember that advertising is constantly changing. New types of ads, platforms, and tactics are often emerging. Therefore, ads working well for you now may not work as well next month.
However, one thing won’t change. Your goal should always be to find the most effective advertising type for your target market. The best cost in the most appropriate places.
You also need to clearly define the goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your ad campaign. How will you measure success after the campaign?
As a B2B marketer and entrepreneur, it often makes sense for you to outsource your ad buying duties. However, it is still a wise idea to familiarize yourself with the popular digital ad options that can help you achieve your marketing goals more quickly and effectively.