HubSpot, a B2B marketing software firm, said its Facebook ads during Q1 2012 lifted its sales from the social site by 71 percent when compared to 2011 overall. While the company wouldn’t divulge spending comparisons for Q1 vs. 2011, Dan Slagen, head of paid lead generation efforts for the brand, said ROI for the Facebook ads was 15 percent better than other digital efforts during this year’s first quarter. He also said traffic driven to HubSpot.com from Facebook.com increased 39 percent because of the ads.
But Slagen doesn’t seem to be heralding the view that companies, B2B or B2C, can plug themselves into Facebook’s marketing platform and quickly experience success. In a climate where brands like General Motors and social marketing vendors such as Syncapse are cultivating a debate about the value of paid Facebook promotions, his statements seem to point out that social ads are similar to any other kind of direct marketing effort in which sophisticated tactics need to be part of the mix. That’s especially the case with lead-generation-based initiatives, Slagen suggested.
“It’s a fallacy that paid leads are easy,” he recently told ClickZ. “It took time. We looked at planning. We looked at post-click issues. We looked at market seasonality and day-parting.”
His team’s Facebook effort involved a slew of ad creative variations, taking aim at marketing management decision-makers in numerous geographical locations. They like-gated offers, such as ebooks on social marketing and free product trials, specifically to people from the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnels. Cambridge, MA-based HubSpot, which currently has 166,000 likes, wouldn’t say by how much its Facebook audience increased.
A handful of other tactics from HubSpot’s Q1 effort:
- identified marketing directors and/or marketing managers at their respective companies based on their “likes” activity
- targeted dedicated ads to three age groups – 24-34, 35-44, and 45-54
- used call-to-action copy in ads, such as “Like HubSpot for exclusive webinar invites, blog updates, free new ebooks & more!”
- employed Sponsored Stories, informing Facebook users when one of their friends had liked the HubSpot page
- created a “Try HubSpot!” tab for the brand’s Facebook page, offering a 30-day free trial
Meanwhile, Slagen said his company had its largest social media budget yet during Q1. He wouldn’t state whether HubSpot was investing more or less in the space during Q2, but compared Facebook to another digital giant when it comes to marketing platforms.
“It works the same as Google when it comes to paid vs. organic,” he said, suggesting that it takes a mix of strong content and ads to be effective.