Facebook Ads are going to drive more leads for your business in 2017 than any other paid channel. You’ll need to have the right strategy and execute with agility and precision, but right now there is a massive Facebook opportunity for inbound marketers. An opportunity that if you take advantage of now, will pay off for years.
Technology changes fast but that doesn’t stop us from missing big shifts. This is because they never happen all at once, but every once in awhile you can catch a glimpse of change in motion. Right now, this is the case with Facebook.
Facebook’s growth has been tremendous -- and I don’t just mean the number of people who have a Facebook profile. Its most exciting growth has come from its network:
Instagram: 600 million users, as of December 2016 -- with 50% of all users following a business.
Facebook Messenger: Over one billion monthly active users, as of July 2016.While those are a big numbers, it’s just the visible part of the iceberg. What’s fascinating is the amount of time people spend with this network. In May of 2016, Zuckerberg announced that globally users spend 50 minutes a day on average with Facebook properties. That is head and shoulders above any other tech property -- and almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking each day.
But Facebook marketing has always had reach. You know it can provide that. What’s new is a subtle shift towards solutions that benefit B2B, midmarket companies.
According to research from Google B2B buyers have increased the amount of mobile research they do by 91% year over year throughout the B2B purchase path.Facebook has cracked the code on mobile marketing.
This is important because as consumers have shifted to mobile over desktop so have B2B buyers. They now do more research, reading, and work on their phones -- and spend time on the Facebook app/Instagram/Messenger.
With Facebook you can now reach these people with slick ad units like Lead Ads that promote your event or white paper and allow users to sign up with just a few clicks.
Facebook’s Lead Ads eliminate the need for users to fill out a form by using pre-populated data and cut out the landing page step, both of which skyrocket conversion rates and actually make the mobile ads effective for B2B marketers.
If you have a longer sales cycle, you need to influence decision makers wherever and whenever they do research. That means you need a strong mobile strategy. Right now that strategy can simply be Facebook paid and organic.
The Best Ad Technology Available
Facebook offers some of the most powerful, innovative and advanced ad units and targeting. But they present it in a way that makes it easy for marketers to execute. Ads are built around your goals, which makes getting started simple for inbound marketers. Let’s dive into some of their best tech for B2B.
Targeting: Facebook puts heavy duty technology to work to help you reach and connect with the most valuable people for your business. Most marketers start by targeting Friends of your existing users, visitors of your website, or people in your CRM lists. These options can be very powerful but what may be most effective is Facebook’s audience expansion tool Lookalike Audiences.
Lookalike Audiences uses machine learning to help find you valuable potential customers who are similar to those who visit your site or are already in your CRM. So you can upload a list of your most valued customers from your CRM and have Facebook hunt down similar users based on their rich data.
Ad Units: Facebook is also rolling out better B2B ads, like Lead Ads and Canvas. I mentioned them earlier but Lead Ads are worth a look from any B2B or lead focused marketers.
Canvas ads can also be great for B2B and are a storyteller's dream. They expand into beautiful pieces of creative that allow you to deliver a great marketing via mobile. If you’ve got a more complex product or one that really shines through video consider Canvas.
Instagram Ads: Similar to Canvas the Instagram Ad format is a big, beautiful ad unit. These ads lend themselves to powerful ad creative with strong CTAs. While Instagram may feel more B2C, B2B brands are already having success on the platform.
In the big picture, Facebook is focusing more on solutions that help smaller, B2B companies. This is great news for inbound marketers.
Facebook ad solutions will help you grow today. But investing in Facebook now also sets you up to succeed in the future. By all measures, Facebook has been extremely successful over the last few years but don’t expect it to rest on its laurels. When people all over the world go online today, they go to social, and spend the majority of their time with a Facebook property, but that’s just the start.
Video Ads: Facebook is also investing heavily in video, looking to steal time and attention away from TV and movies. It’s easy to imagine a future where Facebook is the most watched video channel, larger than cable, YouTube, or Netflix.
It already has some powerful video solutions but expect Facebook to grow video ads and get more creative. If video and video ads aren’t yet a part of your B2B marketing strategy now is a good time to consider it.
Messaging Ads: Globally, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) dominate the mobile messaging app space. Messaging is an area that is growing like wildfire and quickly replacing email, text and voice calls for millions of people every day.
As this trend continues, Facebook (Messenger/WhatsApp) could become the main way we all chat with our friends and family on our phones. This is larger an untapped resource for Facebook in terms of ads. It’s a little further out but paying to have your Facebook Messenger B2B bot placed prominently as an option for your target audience could happen.
Virtual Reality Ads: In 2014, the company bought Oculus Rift -- the leader in virtual reality technology. This along with its play into video puts Facebook in a better position than any other tech company to lead this format if it becomes the default way to watch movies or play video games. It also opens up a new ad powered revenue stream.
Programmatic ad buying companies are growing fast and Google, Facebook and others are putting more and more machine learning into the targeting and bidding process. This trend should continue and it is something most marketers should take advantage of. When it works, this automation means less work for you with better results.
Facebook already does this and will look to get more sophisticated with the application of AI for ads. It’s hard to say exactly how ads will fit into all of these bigger best for Facebook but it’s been a very successful model for them. And while it all may feel a little foreign or uncomfortable, the rules of inbound will still hold up as Facebook changes the landscape of marketing.
This is true for ads. Ads haven’t always been part of the inbound playbook, but due to the innovation from Facebook and other ads can be very help and not interruptive. We also know the combination of ads and inbound works.