April 10, 2023

3-Step Framework for Creating Effective Paid Social Ads in B2B Marketing

Hannah Peritore

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B2B Companies waste millions of dollars every year on paid advertising that doesn’t drive revenue.


Because they’re stuck in a search mindset.

Meaning, they’re using the same tactics they use for their search campaigns as they do for their social campaigns—even though what works for Google does not translate to social campaigns.

Search engine marketing is an intent-based marketing channel. Anyone searching for a SaaS product on Google has clearly defined purchasing intent.

It’s not the same on social media.

Social media is disruptive advertising. Similar to a billboard, it’s designed to quickly capture your attention and disrupt your focus from what you intended to do—whether that’s browse through Instagram or post on LinkedIn.

No one is logging onto social media to get on a sales call with a company they’ve never heard of. They’re not intending to buy any product at all.

They’re just there to scroll.

But just because they aren’t intending to buy, doesn’t mean you can’t successfully market your product on LinkedIn or other socials.

In fact, we fully believe LinkedIn is the B2B marketer’s best friend.

You’re just going to need to modify your approach to building awareness instead of assuming intent.

Thankfully, we’ve outlined a 3-step framework to successfully market your B2B SaaS product on social media.

Step 1: Redefine your campaign goals

The modern B2B buyer doesn’t just have search to rely on anymore—they have broad access to their peers on social media, specifically, LinkedIn.

Because of this, it’s getting harder and harder to track the buying journey.

A lot of the time buyers are asking their network in private communities, sharing ads and content in DMs, and scouring forums for real experiences with products—all dark social activities we can’t track or see.

Buyers are just as interested in solutions, but they’re finding them in new ways.

So how can you be sure they’ll find your product?

The best way is by telling a story that educates your audience on the key message you want them to know about your product.

Source: duo Strategy

For buyers at the top of the funnel, your story should have less to do with selling your product and focus more on how your product solves some annoying problem in their day-to-day.

Ask yourself… what SUCKS about their current process or solution?

Find out what your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) hates about the problems your product solves, and create your messaging around that.

Not sure who your ICP is? Learn how to create an Ideal Customer Profile for your B2B SaaS product in 5 steps.

But it’s not enough to dump money into social ads like you would into winning keywords.

Social ads have more work to do. And honing in on the right message for your ICP is paramount.

Just think of it as the difference between capturing demand that already exists through search, and creating demand that wasn’t there before through a compelling story that positions your product as a solution to your ICP’s real problems.

Not sure how to execute demand generation? Learn more in our blog: The Power of Demand Creation: 6 Steps to Measure Your Success in Creating a New Product Category for B2B SaaS.

Step 2: Overhaul your campaign success metrics

To really understand the success of your LinkedIn ads… you shouldn’t rely on traditional metrics.

Why would you optimize for things like CPC, MQLs, CPL, and a plethora of email leads, when what really matters is sales qualified demos in your CRM! 

Unfortunately, traditional software-based attribution and ad-channel metrics can’t tell you if this strategy is working.

Learn more about the limits of attribution in: The Flaws in Traditional Attribution Models for B2B SaaS Marketing.

You should be looking at more outcome-based metrics to understand campaign performance.

Things like…

  • Pipeline that your sales team closes at greater than 25%
  • Increased direct or organic website traffic
  • Decreased cost per sales qualified lead
  • Cost per sales qualified opportunity
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Increased revenue

You’re also going to want to rely on just as much qualitative data from your leads as quantitative data from ad platforms. 

Start by adding “How did you hear about us?” to your lead submission form or sign up process to really understand where your web traffic is coming from.

Source: duo Strategy

Make it an open text field, and make it required. Don’t worry about the conversion rate on your form tanking.

At the end of the day, it’s better to weed out the bad leads before they waste your sales team’s time.

The goal should be to build and scale an efficient funnel of high-intent sales opportunities—not one full of wishy washy leads that rarely end in a sale.

Step 3: Transform how you execute your campaigns

Now for execution—the most important piece of the puzzle.

To effectively execute a B2B social ad campaign, you need to deeply understand your audience.

This really revolves around unpacking all the nitty gritty customer insights to get a better understanding of their psychology.

The better you understand your customer, the better you’ll be at developing the key messages they need to understand before they’ll consider buying your product… and how to talk to them about it in a way that will resonate.

To tell an effective story, you can’t just stab in the dark.

You need to construct a complete story arc for them through your advertising. One that outlines their pain points and explains in the simplest possible terms how your product solves them.

If your product truly solves a problem, it shouldn’t be a huge undertaking to sell it.

But you can’t jump straight to the sale without the education first.

Every individual ad you create should strategically communicate a single key message that, once combined with the rest of the campaign, completes the story arc.

You want to think about communicating both to your audience as a whole and specific types of users.

Think about it as advertising both ‘wide’ (the big picture problems your product solves) and ‘deep’ (the really specific use cases for your product).

The more specific ads might not get as much engagement, but those that do engage are likely to have greater purchase intent.

As far as targeting goes, we recommend casting a wide net for these ads.

While C-Suite execs may have to sign-off on the purchase, the mid-level employees that are actually experiencing the day-to-day pain points are going to be the true sales drivers.

They’re the ones that are going to be actively seeking solutions and sharing them with management in meetings and on Slack—so advertising to them will boost a lot of that dark social activity that drives most modern B2B sales.

Source: Convince & Convert

Plus, people are changing jobs constantly these days… So you really never know when a mid-level employee may jump into a management role with purchasing power.

The Big Takeaway?

The modern B2B buyer has a non-traditional buying journey. They aren’t going to tradeshows and, according to Gartner, they don’t want to talk to salespeople.

They just want to research on their own. No pressure.

And the companies that can help buyers educate themselves on why their product is the best possible solution for their needs are the ones that are winning big.

If you find yourself in need of a marketing partner to help you execute a successful social ad campaign for your B2B SaaS product, reach out to us. We’d love to help!

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