Being a digital marketer can be tough. Being a digital marketer in the B2B industrial space is even tougher.
It’s not as easy as posting a picture of a restaurant’s $10 double bacon cheeseburger online and boom — you see ROI from your digital ads. The product or service you’re selling to people can sometimes cost north of $500K, and on top of that, your audience is extremely niche.
It isn’t easy, and many marketers wonder how to use their ad spend efficiently. They’ve got the tools in the campaign manager dashboards of Google, LinkedIn and Facebook. But what’s true on the packaging production line or in the field technicians’ road kit is true in the marketing workspace: You won’t go far without the right tool for the job.
In this guide to digital advertising, we’ll walk through how to use each platform and tips in mind when advertising for your business.
You can check out part two here, where we cover metrics on each platform and how to use these insights to tighten your targeting and drive more business.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Google for B2B marketers
The primary platforms we see working best for industrial companies are Facebook, LinkedIn and Google.
All three platforms we are discussing have plenty of similarities: i.e. they’re paid digital platforms that track advertising results to generate (and show) ROI for your business.
Each of these platforms can be a fantastic use of your marketing dollars, if done the right way. But each has its strengths and weaknesses.
For Facebook, the main benefits are cost efficiency and tracking capabilities.
You can deliver your content for extremely cheap CPM’s on this platform, and track the results of your advertising to an extent that most platforms simply don’t offer.
Facebook’s Meta Pixel allows you to track online events such as leads from your website, visits to a specific page, and more. Or it could be offline conversion options where you can upload data from other sources such as your CRM. It even shows you what specific ad drove those actions, so you can make informed decisions on what content you show your audience.
Now you can see if the people you’re targeting are becoming leads and leading to more opportunities for your business.
The main downfall of Facebook (besides their nightmare of a support service) is something I would describe as a need to “trim the fat”. What I mean is, there can be an awful lot of people in your audience that are outside of your actual target audience.
The good news is though some of your ad spend will likely be spent on users that are nowhere near a potential qualified lead, the cost to distribute your content on Facebook is so low that your overall cost per lead should still be manageable if you’re running ads correctly.
In contrast, look at LinkedIn like an excellent cut of meat — no fat cutting needed. LinkedIn uses its own first party data for its audience targeting. You can target users by specific job titles within a specific industry, or even layer it further by adding in job seniority as a criteria and basic traits such as age and location.
It also offers a lot of the same tracking capabilities as Facebook through LinkedIn Insights tag (their version of the Meta Pixel). They even offer offline conversions like Facebook does too (however LinkedIn’s Offline Conversion capabilities are still pretty far behind Facebook’s as of now).
You might be thinking, “Is there any con to advertising on LinkedIn for B2B?”
Once again, LinkedIn is like an excellent cut of meat. And just like a high end steak at your local butcher, LinkedIn can cost a pretty penny.
Website visits, cost per lead, and most CPMs will cost more on LinkedIn than Facebook, but here you’re paying for quality over quantity.
Google is like a giant amusement park with every ride or attraction you could ever imagine. But sometimes finding your way around that amusement park can be really tricky.
Google’s new Performance Max campaigns also offer some impressive targeting capabilities such as individuals who research certain sites, search terms or have shown interest in certain products or services.
Google also has a wide abundance of creative capabilities. You can run basic search campaigns, video content, or essentially any creative asset you can think of. You can also advertise your product pages directly at the top of search queries through the shopping ad placement in Performance Max campaigns.
The biggest strength Google offers is the data that it provides for its advertisers. Compared to Facebook and LinkedIn, the amount of information you can get out of Google is best in class for ad platforms in terms of how the users behave, what makes them convert, when, etc.
If you’re running paid search ads, your targeting can be pretty simple. Your keyword targeting should mimic the products/services your company offers along with some of the problems your potential customers face that cause them to need your company.
Ironically, Google’s biggest strength as an ad platform can also be its biggest weakness as well. It is extremely easy to type up a search ad with a few keywords and hit “upload”.
But it’s harder to understand things like Google Ads best practices, where to find information and conversion tracking compared to platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Getting proficient on this ad platform can take much more time than some other options, but once you are there the opportunities can be endless.
What tool for what job?
Now that we’ve gone over a user’s mindset on each platform, as well as the pros and cons, let’s wrap up by discussing what the best use for each of these bad boys is.
To create demand: LinkedIn and Facebook.
Your B2B product or service is likely complex. To really get the benefits across to your audience, it may require an in depth explanation, maybe with a neat little graphic. Your ads should be the most educating on LinkedIn because your audience is more engaged, in a business mindset and ready to learn on Linkedin.
Which as I mentioned above, your audience can and should be very specific when using Linkedin.
Facebook may not be a business platform, but with its potential reach it can be used to generate brand awareness for your company. That in turn generates interest in what you’re selling at a very efficient cost.
Use Facebook similarly to LinkedIn to help build the top of your funnel by emotionally entertaining your audience to generate interest.
To capture existing demand: Google
Google ads will be there for you when that audience member who’s been hit with your paid social ads for months finally makes the decision to invest in a product or service like yours and they search “best option for [your product]”.
Google is where you capture the demand of your high-intent, ready-to-buy potential customers that don’t need to be nurtured for months. Paid social is best used to educate, entertain, and nurture your targeted audiences, Google is best used to reel those suckers in.
I’m still a bit overwhelmed — where’s the one place I should start?
If your company may not have the budget to cover both paid social and search or you think it may be difficult to get your leadership to commit to multiple platforms, which one should you pick if you only get one?
Your best bet to start would be running high-intent search campaigns on Google. These users don’t need to be nurtured for months like some do on paid social. This is a quicker avenue to show results and get some room to scale out a full-fledged digital marketing program.
Understand your user’s mindset to create compelling ad content
A huge mistake marketers can make is not acknowledging that the end user is in an entirely different mindset when using each platform.
It may be the exact same person on the other end of that screen. However, speaking to them the same way on each platform can be a little like trying to fit a triangle into a square hole.
We’ll tackle Facebook and LinkedIn first.
These are both paid social platforms, where the user’s mindset/intent is a lot more passive than when they’re getting hit with Google Ads.
When a user is on Facebook, they’re typically going on there to see updates from their friends, /family, and the latest adorable puppy footage.
On Facebook, you want your content to pull on one of their emotions. Try to grab their attention by being funny, addressing a problem that angers them while at work, or selling an ideal (“How’d you like to never replace your generator battery”) to grab their attention.
Remember: Facebook has mass abundance of content, so the user’s attention span is far shorter than most platforms.
With Facebook, the user is in a mindset to be entertained, while on LinkedIn, the user is there to learn.
Content includes insight from companies they follow and, education directly related to their field and position.
This causes the user to be more engaged, making them much more likely to read longer content when it can help solve a professional problem.
With LinkedIn being much less of an emotion-based platform than Facebook, your content here can be more cut and dry. Content that addresses the user’s exact problem (and introduces how your company can solve it) will strike it big on LinkedIn.
Google’s algorithm is more cut and dry than paid social platforms. It receives a search query from the user, and in a matter of seconds crawls millions of options across the web to give that user the best answer for their question.
Users comes to Google Ads to find the answer to a question they have, and they’d like it answered promptly.
So, you need it to be crystal clear to the end user and Google that the landing page and the ad are exactly what they are looking for.
Their search might not be worded as a question. For example, they might search “landfill odors.” But their real question is “My landfill stinks. How do I best solve this?”
With the right keywords and ad copy, your ad should essentially scream “ME. I AM THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION” (we wouldn’t recommend using that as copy though. It’s quite aggressive).
Google captures a more bottom-of-funnel, high-intent, ready-to-buy audience. So get to the point of how you solve their problem, because the user and Google don’t have much patience to wonder if you are or not.
Take this into practice and make your company some money!
You’re now ready to take everything you’ve learned today and execute. To review…..
Facebook is where you go to entertain and build a relationship with your target audience, utilizing it’s massive reach and advanced tracking capabilities.
Linkedin is where you to to educate your audience in depth about what your company has to offer, to a near perfect target audience for your business.
Google is where you capture the demand that you generated using Linkedin and Facebook by reaching users right when they are ready to make a business decision. In this case, hopefully it is to give your company a lot of money to solve a problem of theirs.
If you got to the end of this and are wondering, “Great, but what the heck do I measure on these things?” don’t fret. All that fun stuff is in part two of this overview.