Do Facebook Ads Work for B2B SaaS Companies?
By Aaron Zakowski
The short answer is YES!
I speak with lots of people who worry if Facebook ads can really work for B2B SaaS companies.
The conversion usually starts something like this… “Sure, I understand that Facebook drives sales for B2C or retail products. But Facebook doesn’t have enough data about people’s professional lives to be effective for B2B offers. A B2B company can’t really succeed with Facebook ads.”
Facebook Knows Your B2B Audience
No platform knows more about your audience than Facebook.
Sure, Facebook has tons of basic info on all of its users like their name, email address, and gender, etc.
But they know a ton about our professional interests as well. And that data helps us B2B marketers to target our ideal customer persona.
Here’s how Facebook gathers professional data
- Facebook Pixel – Facebook knows nearly every website you visit on the web because nearly every website has a Facebook Pixel installed. Facebook uses that web history to understand more of your surfing history and interests (both professional and personal).
- Facebook Groups and Pages – Many people are in Facebook groups and like Facebook pages connected to their professional interests. These could be Professional associations, competitor brands, influencer pages, etc.
- Employers and Job Titles – Many people include their the companies that they work for and their job titles in their profiles.
- Fields of Study – Many people also include their college majors in their personal profiles. This data can often indicate what careers people are going in to. For example, if someone studied engineering, there’s a good chance that they now work as an engineer.
Getting your B2B Offer Right
It’s important to make sure that your offer is right for Facebook.
Due to the social nature of the platform, most people here aren’t ready to buy your product or service yet. So your best opportunity is to bring prospects into your community and educate them about your product.
You can do this by offering:
- Free Trial accounts
- Free Demos
- Ebooks or White papers
- Video ads
In our experience working with lots of B2B SaaS companies, we’ve found that a free trial offer usually works really well on Facebook.
After you warm up the prospects with your content or trial account, you can close the deal using retargeting ads, email marketing, sales calls or anything else that works.
There are a number of ways to target your perfect B2B prospects with Facebook ads
- Retargeting – Retarget people who already visited your site. These people visited your site already, so they’re probably qualified, right? Retargeting requires a relatively small budget and is going to result in the highest ROI.
- Custom Audiences – You can also upload prospect lists into Facebook to create custom audiences. Facebook uses the emails, phone numbers, etc in you list to match with known Facebook users so that you can target them.
- Interest Targeting – This is how you take advantage of Facebook’s data to find fresh, relevant prospects based on the data that Facebook knows about them. And based on your assumptions/definitions of your perfect customer.
- Lookalike Audiences – Lookalike audiences are usually the most effective prospecting tool available inside of Facebook (and one of the main reasons Facebook has become the marketing behemoth that it is today). They use Facebook’s algorithms and the data they have about all their users to identify the target audiences that are most relevant and and most likely to convert on your offer.
How 3 Large SaaS Businesses Have Successfully Used Facebook Ads
There are already tons of B2B companies that are successfully using Facebook Ads for prospecting.
Take a few of our B2B SaaS clients for example…
With Invision, we were able to reduce their cost per signup by 44% by fine-tuning their Lookalike audiences, remarketing efforts, and optimizing their ads. In the end, we increased their volume of free trial users by 1100% and helped them reach their first million users.
In another case, we boosted new customer sign-ups for DigitalOcean by 330% by focusing on optimization testing and scaling the winning ads as quickly as possible.
Let’s check out how a few other larger B2B SaaS companies are using Facebook Ads to grow.
Salesforce is a well-known brand that sells a robust CRM and helpdesk tool all under one roof.
They are a quintessential B2B SaaS brand that shows just how effective Facebook ads can be, as more than 3% of their traffic comes via social media.
For example, one of their recent carousel ads directed users to a landing page for an interactive tour:
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud is the SaaS version of the Adobe suite of tools that includes classic designer tools like Photoshop, Lightroom, Dreamweaver, and many others.
According to Similarweb, 2.29% of their traffic comes from Facebook, primarily in the form of ads.
Here’s a look at one of their current ads that shows off the Adobe Portfolio tool:
Gusto is a popular SaaS payroll company targeting small and medium businesses.
You can see in this ad that targets employees of accounting offices (B2B audience) with their offer.
You can see from SimilarWeb that Gusto is getting 2.8% of their traffic from Social Media. With Facebook being the largest part of that. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s pretty significant.
Yet another SaaS company that relies on Facebook ads is Microsoft Azure, who offers an app building platform to other SaaS businesses.
The key takeaway from all of this is that SaaS companies can (and do) use Facebook ads with great results.
I’ve shown you a few examples of SaaS companies using Facebook ads, but they’re just a sampling of the top brands that are consistently using them.
If you want to browse more brands (or maybe find one in your industry), here’s a list of some other notable SaaS brands that use Facebook ads to grow their business.
Click the links and you can see their current, live ads:
When Facebook Ads Aren’t Good for B2B
Despite everything we’ve seen, I still want to throw in a few caveats. There are times when Facebook ads might not be a scalable option for B2B.
For example, if you have an extremely small and very niche audience, you probably shouldn’t spend much of your marketing budget prospecting on Facebook. Ad campaigns excel by targeting a wider pool of prospects.
If you do have a small audience, you can still utilize Facebook ads to reach that audience but you’ll be limited by how many prospects you’ll actually be able to capture and convert. Allocating a small portion of your budget for Retargeting can also be super effective.
For example, if you target an audience of 10,000 people, you should expect to convert more than 1% of your total audience. In this case, that’s only 100 people (and that being optimistic).
The other instance when targeting ads is really challenging is when your audience is hard to identify within Facebook’s parameters.
For example, if you’re going after Fortune 1000 decision makers, that’s not something Facebook is going to be able to pinpoint efficiently.
However, if you’re willing to put in the effort, there are ways to geo-target very specific individuals.
The other alternative option is simply to target your broader industry and hope that your more specific audience will see your message through all the clutter. The problem with this approach is that you’ll probably have a low Click Through Rate (CTR) and a high Cost per Click (CPC) and Cost per Conversion. It’s not a very efficient use of your marketing budget.
Nevertheless, if you have a target audience of more than 50,000 people, Facebook should be a very powerful prospecting and acquisition platform.
Facebook ads do work for most B2B SaaS companies.
But you need to have the right offer and sales funnel in place.
And you need to have the systems and processes in place to scale your campaigns to their full potential.
Click here to learn more about our SaaS Scaling Framework for Facebook Ads. This is our system for scaling SaaS accounts.
We’d love to hear about your experiences with Facebook ads in the comments.