Humans make up less than 40% of the internet’s traffic. The rapid growth of social media bots, fake users, and ad fraud has caused a corresponding spike in bad paid social data for most businesses, with countless hours now routinely wasted investigating leads that don’t actually exist or are never going to convert.
If customer acquisition is the top priority for most B2B marketers in 2022, are your paid social channels performing as well as they could be?
Our co-webinar with click-fraud experts, Lunio, explained the secrets to generating qualified leads (which you can watch again here).
Here’s what you need to know.
The role of content in paid social: gated vs ungated content
From a lead generation perspective, which is best to use: gated or ungated content? Well, the short answer is, it depends. Most brands either gate their content or leave everything ungated. We recommend setting up 8-10 content touchpoints with a user before a sale is achieved. If every one of these content touchpoints are gated, it is likely that a user will become frustrated with having to provide the same details over and over again. So, it becomes more a question of who do we ungate content for, rather than what content do we ungate.
Content should become gated once you are offering potential customers something. This should be something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access, such as a calendar plan, format, or document exclusive to a company. At this point, value add becomes so prevalent that someone would be willing to part with their personal information for it.
Before this stage, when a user may have little to no awareness of your business, they may want to just receive relatively general information about the services you provide. This needs to be fairly broad information that doesn’t necessarily contain a large value add, but is enough to entice them.
Plenty of platforms are moving away from gated content and even want users to stop accessing content on a client’s website – this is known as zero click content. Most platforms are now rewarding a client or brand for algorithmic purposes if you are able to keep a user on the platform while providing them with content. If users have to leave the platform to use the content then you are automatically not as buyable to LinkedIn, Meta or even Google, compared to brands who provide content on the platform.
How to measure paid social performance holistically
Paid social activity is difficult to directly measure, especially when looking at upper funnel activity. To see success with paid social, it is necessary to take a step back and view everything from a combined approach. This means not just recognising that X activity creates MQLs & SQLs, for example, but that it is a combination of different activities and outcomes, across many channels, that drive paid social performance.
With the growth of social media channels and private sharing and messaging, (often referred to as ‘dark social’) the sales journey has become more complex than no click, no lead, no sale. It is much harder to track the effect that these activities have on lead generation. However, just because we are not able to measure sales through these means, it does not mean they’re not driving revenue and certainly these activities shouldn’t be ignored.
In B2B marketing, social media is a demand generating activity. Impressions and word of mouth, for example, have influence in a buying cycle. After seeing a social post, people may search the company and click on an ad, which then would say we attribute the sale to CRM. We know this is not correct, because it is the social post that drove them to click the ad in the first place. You therefore need to take a holistic approach in order to gain the most leads. Do not underestimate social and private sharing. If you’re confident enough, push out messaging and stories monthly and make sure to measure and experiment with audiences.
How to use audience exclusions to make your ads more cost-effective
Businesses lose millions a year due to ad fraud. Most businesses typically won’t ask any questions as long as they are meeting cost-per-acquisition requirements or seeing a return on ROI. This means a large proportion of media budget is frequently wasted – around 10-20% of ad spend, to be exact, is lost on fake users. Many brands are missing out on a huge amount of reinvested media spend to improve costs-per-lead and drive a greater volume of leads.
The ‘Era of Exclusion’ is a term referring to the fact that the internet is mostly made up of bots. In fact, over 60% of the internet today is bot traffic. When you tie this into the way advertising is evolving, into automation and smart bidding, advertisers have less control over who they are targeting. Targeting criteria is slowly dwindling, with cookie depreciation and audience limitations becoming more and more frequent, the logical alternative is to exclude users you definitely don’t want to target. The same way you would retarget a real user is the same way you can detect and exclude another user.
Best practices for crafting high-performing B2B social media ads
It’s impossible for us to give you a winning formula. But, take a look at your ads from a holistic perspective, not just your reporting. If there is a huge distinction between your brand ad and what your brand is when you are aiming to become front of mind for the customer for the first time, and then follow up with a product-heavy, technical, CTA ad with nothing in between, your ads will not work. There needs to be a hybrid between these opposing types of ads throughout the funnel.
A successful ad focuses on the end user. What does the customer want, or need? They never see your targeting, budgets or campaign settings – so unless that ad hits home, you’re out of luck. Success stems from building an emotional connection with your audience from the outset. This can then be following up with educational content, offering a value add and a push for conversion. Your emotional link needs to focus on the person on the other end of the screen, and it should be present at all your content touch points.
The best way to A/B test?
When it comes to A/B testing, pretend you’re back in high school science classes. You need to be methodical, don’t change absolutely everything and have a hypothesis. What do you think will be more successful? Will this be a slight change in copy – making it more personalised perhaps? A change in creative, such as a people-focused image or product-focused image, with copy kept the same?
What needs to be embedded in testing is a roadmap. You need a map to understand why you are testing for certain things and then act upon the success; for example, you have chosen to exclude a certain audience to see if it improves your costs-per-lead. Once you have a map in place that highlights which testing was most successful, you are able to roll it out across multiple campaigns.
Not all tests will work, but that doesn’t mean it’s an unsuccessful test. Sometimes you can learn just as much from a failed test as you can from one that succeeds.
You can sell almost everything if you have context. If you identify someone in the market searching for a specific product and you deliver it to them, it will be your primary route to success. Take a look at current targeting criteria – what kind of segmentation could you be doing? Contextual targeting allows you to reach the right buyer with the right message.
Focus on the customer and end user
Marketing has shifted over the past few years and will continue to. The brand doesn’t matter in the same way anymore. It is about customer perception and whether they can tell a story to colleagues, friends or family right from your first ad. If you repurpose the same ads every year without a new story, then you will struggle. You have to tease emotional responses from users. Focus on your creatives and that is how your media budget and activity across paid social will help drive more leads and referrals into the future.