B2B vs. B2C: What’s the social strategy?
How does an effective social advertising game plan differ between B2B and B2C companies? Columnist Brad O'Brien shares tips on optimizing the social approach for both audience types.
Social advertising allows for a bevy of ways to effectively reach people on social platforms, both in their personal and their professional lives. Whether your brand desires to advertise to consumers or businesses, social platforms can return strong ROI when you have the right strategy.
A core draw of social advertising for B2C and B2B advertisers is its near-unmatched ability to execute “people-based advertising.” Essentially, your first-party data is leveraged to match and message to real people across platforms and devices. This marks an advantage over cookies, which can expire, be cleared and have poor mobile reliability.
In addition to reaching known customers and prospects directly, most social ad platforms allow you to create lookalikes from these segments. Lookalike modeling uses hundreds, often thousands, of online and offline signals to find other users that act just like your customers. This is a powerful acquisition tactic that has attracted the attention of advertisers.
Third-party data, accessed through social platforms and data providers like Acxiom and Datalogix, are another powerful way to prospect on social. Demographics, psychographics, interests, job title and more can all be precisely targeted for social B2C and B2B advertisers. Additionally, data providers offer prebuilt segments of like-minded consumers and professionals.
Now that the stage has been set on social’s unique ability to reach the right user, it’s time to dig into strategic tips for B2C and B2B advertisers.
Reaching known users
A tip that applies to both B2C and B2B is to always work toward increasing your user match rate percentage on social ad platforms. Reaching more of your customers allows for incremental impressions, higher confidence intervals for tests and better seed audiences for lookalikes.
To achieve this, adopt a “waterfall approach,” which involves supplying as much first-party data on users as possible. In addition to email address, provide information such as physical address, phone number, full name and so on. Ensure your pixels and mobile app SDKs (software development kits) are always sending as much user data as possible back to social ad platforms.
For B2C, I’ve found that you can often achieve a 70 percent or so match rate when adopting the waterfall approach. The percentage will always be lower for B2B, since it is rare for a user to have their business email associated with a personal social media account. However, there are third-party companies that provide the service of matching business emails to personal emails.
For B2C advertisers, the platform options are virtually endless. B2C social ad strategy is often an exercise in self-restraint, focusing efforts on the platforms that provide the best ROI for your brand. Also, consider where your customers spend their time and are most engaged when determining the optimal mix.
Typically for B2C, Facebook and Instagram are safe bets for getting your social advertising program off the ground. After you refine your targeting, messaging and user experience on these platforms, take the learnings and apply them to other platforms.
As for B2B advertisers, the social ad platform options are more conservative. LinkedIn is the obvious choice for most to tap into a business-focused audience, with its ability to reach users based on career parameters. Facebook has upped its game for B2B as well, with products like lead ads and professional targeting options.
Most often, a sound B2C social prospecting strategy can be built around lookalike audiences. You should segment users based on quality-driven metrics (lifetime value, average order value and more) and limit seed audiences to 5,000 users post-match. A good place to start for lookalikes is to reach an audience of 1 million to 3 million after placing any necessary targeting restrictions.
Continue to scale to outer tier lookalike percentages as you find success at lower tiers. Once you’ve reached diminishing returns on high-tier lookalikes, it’s time to go after third-party audience segments. These can be obtained off-the-shelf in many social platforms and through data management platforms and providers.
For B2B, lookalike audiences may not be where you see the best ROI. This is because most B2B advertising requires reaching users with very specific qualifications or job criteria.
Manually selecting qualifying professional criteria or using segments from data providers is the area where you’re most likely to find scaled success in B2B. Additionally, ad platforms like LinkedIn allow for account-based marketing to target groups of companies you want to do business with.
Address the full funnel
Social ads can fill the top of the funnel, inform and educate the mid-funnel, and persuade action at the bottom of the funnel. It’s important to consider the total value of the actions taken at every stage of the funnel when attributing social ROI.
For B2C, leverage the relatively inexpensive traffic you can drive from social and native ad platforms, and then sequentially message these farther down the funnel. Use “gated” landing pages for email collection, video completion signals to derive intent for retargeting pools, and of course, push conversions.
With B2B social advertising, a good top-of-funnel tactic is to push informative content like white papers and case studies. Take a systematic approach toward the mid-funnel, and collect shallow leads and content downloads. Fuel bottom-funnel initiatives by using native lead-generation ad products found on Facebook and LinkedIn. Additionally, collect form-fill leads and track appointments set and calls initiated from your site.
The ability to drive measurable awareness, consideration and conversion is a draw for B2C and B2B advertisers alike. How will you take the strategies outlined in this post and use them to drive full-funnel ROI for your brand?