How to approach B2B advertising during a challenging Q4

B2B companies planning for the rest of 2022 need to consider a number of unique circumstances:

  • Funding has dried up.
  • Mid-term election season drives up engagement costs.
  • Benchmarks from the last few years are anything but reliable.

We are in a very difficult time for B2B advertising. In this post, I will lay out some recommendations on how to approach channel mix, budgeting, KPIs and more in this Q4 2022 amid a strange and thorny landscape.

Channel considerations

I’ve seen Facebook advertising show more promise for B2B campaigns in recent months as advertisers implement offline conversion data to keep a close eye on lead quality.

Leads are still cheap, and for the most part I’d support testing B2B Facebook ads if you’re willing to aggressively cross-reference CRM data to ensure the overall ROI is reasonable.

Retire the Facebook issues

The biggest channel adjustment I recommend for B2B companies is to significantly scale back Facebook spend for Q4.

Facebook real estate is and will be clogged with political ads through early November and well into December as B2C companies ramp up holiday ad spend, meaning engagement costs will be prohibitively high.

Outside of this fourth quarter, I tell B2B companies that Facebook ads are at least worth a try. But for the rest of 2022, you won’t get the most accurate view of Facebook ad revenue and what the platform can do for your mix.

Build in more lead time for ad approvals

The major paid B2B media channels, Google and LinkedIn, will not see a similar increase in costs due to political spending.

For Google, election and retail campaigns will be in full swing at the same time (at least until early November). Allow a little extra lead time for ad approvals to ensure you keep your campaigns on track.

budget planning

In the world of B2B, nothing beats the first quarter, but the fourth quarter of last year brought some of my B2B clients a surprising windfall.

We saw CPC, CPM, and CPL increase in price (CPC, CPM, CPL) in the fourth quarter, but there was plenty of capital, confidence, growth, and momentum in the market that made these leads more valuable.

This has certainly not been the case over the past two quarters as the economy has retreated.

Trying to predict anything over the past two years has been challenging (to say the least). I work with clients to help them remain as flexible as possible over the coming months. We want to be ready to ramp up, but we certainly don’t want to bet on it.

Staying flexible means we periodically review what’s working to attract qualified leads, and most importantly how those leads are behaving once they enter the funnel, at shorter intervals. We make sure we stay in sync with our clients’ CRM data and compare things like purchase speed to the usual ad-centric KPIs.

Double lead quality

Budget pullback is a natural propensity for teams with uncertain financial resources, especially when revenue has declined in recent quarters.

My recommendation is to double down on quality: increase spending when you have strong leads and scale back aggressively when quality is poor.

And be sure to keep an eye on the total cost of where you can spend. If your competitors pull out, you could gain market share in the high season of Q1.

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Cost-Reducing Recommendations

B2B brands looking to curb spending should focus on two areas:

  • Control.
  • Alignment of the goals with the user journey.

Control your campaigns

By scrutiny I mean double checking to make sure you don’t let even your favorite platforms spend your budget where it doesn’t make sense.

For example, by all means advertise on LinkedIn, but check your settings to make sure the “Audience Extension” setting is turned off.

When enabled, LinkedIn can expand targeting to those that are similar to the settings you choose. For retargeting campaigns, this can mean reaching people who haven’t actually visited your website.

Expanding the LinkedIn audience

Similarly with Google’s search partners: when it comes to generating quality leads, that’s great, but in my previous testing experience with search partners, leads have been poor quality.

I’ve also seen campaigns wasting a lot of ad spend on retargeting Google’s ad group-level targeting extension setting, so make sure this option is disabled.

Align your goals with the user journey

Q4 is not the time to skip grooming steps. When you run ads on LinkedIn, you drive awareness and support your sales pipeline efforts by rehashing cold audiences instead of jumping straight to the “Request a demo” objectives.

Give your target audience useful ebook content to establish your expertise, then get them into your retargeting funnel.

To drive traffic to the top of the funnel and keep costs down, test LinkedIn and promote ungated content. You can get cheap views by directing people to popular blog posts and either warming up cold leads or driving new leads into your retargeting funnel (even if they don’t reach your CRM).

You can also use the options to prioritize spending on Google. If you want to pay high CPCs for late-funnel keywords, consider limiting your spend to campaigns with overlay audiences (retargeting or Google’s built-in audiences) that are more likely to take action after the click.

In short, limit your most expensive actions to those who are most likely to take them.

Be ready for Q1

Perhaps the most impactful actions you can take over the coming months are steps to prepare for the rising tide of the first quarter. The most important areas of preparation for me are:

I always rely on tracking, but for now it’s essential.

If you haven’t yet set up your GA4 instance and migrated your reporting cadence and insights from Universal Analytics, now is the time.

If you wait much longer to implement GA4, you won’t have good Q1 data from 2023 for year-to-year comparisons, which would be a huge loss.

On the creative side, test different creative and messaging themes (not just smaller elements like color and CTA) to see what works so you can prepare to launch a wave of fresh creative content in Q1.

All in all, if there are big changes you haven’t dealt with yet (like testing responsive search ads in Google when expanded text ads go away), do it in Q4 so you have a firm strategy for Q1 .Quarter can set.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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About the author

Laura Schiele, Head of Paid Acquisition at Jordan Digital Marketing, has nearly a decade of experience in paid media strategy and execution across both agency and internal accounts, and uses advanced analytical skills to drive growth within efficiency goals at Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and more. Laura manages a large team of paid media professionals from her home in Burlington, VT.

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