B2B advertising is a unique challenge in digital marketing. If you sell a product like socks or toilet paper, you know nearly everyone on the planet uses them (or we all hope they do), so your audience is everywhere. That’s the case for many B2C offerings. The target audience feels like they’re all over the place.
For B2B, that feeling isn’t even close to the same. Unless you’re in a highly specified trade publication, it feels like the target audience is elusive. Most targeting options on the ad platforms feel too high level or don’t really match what you’re going for.
So what gives? Do we just take our ball and go home? End of blog post?
Of course not!
I’ll tell you the secret to B2B advertising.
Ready? Your users are also all over the web, just like B2C audiences.
The only difference: We have to work harder to find the proper targeting options.
That’s honestly it. People who make B2B decisions are still people. They also like to look at cat videos and probably post too much political stuff on Facebook. We just need to find a way to better speak to them and stand out from the B2C crowd.
So what can we do? Let’s jump in.
1. Target the users already looking for you, at all stages of their journey
The first place we all want to run is to search, and B2B lead gen is no different. I’m sure you’re already targeting keywords that describe your product or service, but are you covering all your bases for search phrases?
During the buyer journey, there are all sorts of phases businesses go through when trying to find a new solution, and you should be using keywords to target all of them—not just the very bottom funnel, solution-focused keywords above.
Let’s take a common B2C scenario as an example for easy comparison: Your internet service is terrible. Here are a few types of keywords you could be testing:
- Problem Based: “very slow internet,” “internet keeps going out”
- Solution Focused: “new internet provider,” “transfer internet service”
- Informational: “how to transfer internet services,” “how to fix improve internet speed”
- Features: “high speed internet,” “60mbs download internet speed”
- Benefits: “reliable internet provider,” “internet with the lowest outages”
- Comparative: “which internet provider is best,” “internet provider companies”
Now, think of these types in terms of your business and your customer’s businesses. How can you turn these phrases into something more meaningful? What are their problem searches? What will they need to compare when they’re coming close to making a decision?
Lastly, nearly 15% of all queries are brand new on Google each day. They’ve never been seen before.
What that means is that we need to start thinking outside the box with our keywords and make sure we’re reviewing search query reports on a regular basis.
2. Go to the mothership: LinkedIn
Once you’ve covered your bases for people actively looking for solutions, it’s time to start prospecting. No channel even compares to LinkedIn when it comes to B2B targeting on the web, but all of that amazing targeting comes with a price, literally: high CPCs.
I encourage you to get the most from your LinkedIn CPCs by building out a robust cross-channel retargeting strategy, but before we get there, let’s run through some of the high-level options on the platform.
In most instances, I’ve seen people jump to Job Titles as their number one (and usually only) targeting option. But be warned: Job Titles have the highest CPCs on the entire platform. If possible, try to come up with custom, unique combinations of other targeting options to reach your target market at much lower CPCs. Just keep your audience size in mind and in range of what you are driving for on the platform. The smaller the audience, the higher the CPCs.
Now, once we’ve created these campaigns and followed the multi-channel retargeting route, we can head to the next point.
3. Take advantage of Audience Insights tools
I just recently wrote an article at Search Engine Journal about how to use these tools to better understand your audience. That goes for B2B as well.
These tools can be invaluable to understand what targeting categories your ideal audience actually falls into.
We can use these tools to specifically analyze the remarketing audiences we made of the LinkedIn users who visited our site, effectively translating that audience into our new channel’s targeting options.
The same can be done with Customer Uploads. Pop in your list of customers, review the segments they fall into to find new prospecting audiences, and begin to expand on the targeting you’re already using.
Which leads me to my next point…
4. Test outside of your comfort zone
No platform is perfect when it comes to targeting. Even in LinkedIn, you could input that you want users at companies over 100 employees and end up with leads with companies that have a booming team of two. It happens.
I say that to say this: Don’t get too caught up on what the targeting options actually say they are.
Here me out….
There are always going to be some blind spots where the platforms don’t have the targeting options to support your group or they don’t realize they need one.
I’m not saying you should start targeting lots of things that don’t make sense for your business. Please don’t do that.
But in many B2B instances, I see folks get very aggressive with exclusions right off the bat. Fight this urge and let the channels run with only your targeting options in place to start and narrow down using exclusions later if performance warrants.
5. Boost your lookalike audience game
Lookalikes are a B2B marketer’s best friend. They are a cross between the previous two points in this post in a much less manual fashion.
Lookalike audiences allow advertisers to upload “root” audience for the platform to analyze. Google, Facebook, or, most recently, LinkedIn will then create a “persona” for the group of users within that list and go find other people who behave in similar ways on the platform. In essence, they look like the audience you gave them. (Apt naming, huh?)
This might sound a little strange, but think about how honest you are with all of your social media platforms. Have you given all your interests and skills to LinkedIn? Listed all your past jobs and made sure they had as much info about you as possible? What about Facebook? Google?
Didn’t think so.
Lookalikes are a great way to reach beyond the standard targeting options on the platform and find new users based on algorithmic learning rather than individual targeting options.
Find your B2B audience
B2B audiences aren’t always extremely easy to find, but they’re out there just as often as B2C audiences are. We marketers just have to look a bit harder for them. Be sure you’re capturing all the demand you can through Search, then expand into prospecting channels and leverage the tools you have available from audience insights to lookalikes. Happy targeting!