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    As lead gen grows on social media, marketers discuss what’s working

    As lead gen grows on social media, marketers discuss what’s working

    It’s one of the oldest debates in lead generation: quantity vs. quality. Marketers who are judged by the number of leads they generate will push for quantity. But big-ticket purchases in B2C and B2B will help marketers see ROI with a small number of wins, which pushes some marketers toward quality. 

    Even with new channels and new tactics entering the fray on a regular basis, the debate around how to do lead gen rages on, including on social media channels.

    As social media platforms combine their vast collections of first-party data with artificial intelligence and machine learning, they’re enhancing their offerings for marketers looking to connect with those ideal customers in a buying mood.

    And social media is a good place to start if you’re looking for consumers who are thinking about researching and buying products.

    An engaged audience interested in products and services

    According to a study by TINT, more than three-quarters of consumers said they use social media to search or discover new products and vendors. More than two-thirds of consumers say they made a purchase as a result of something they saw on social media. 

    These purchase-minded consumers are also spending a great deal of time on social media. According to Statista, average daily social media usage worldwide was 143 minutes per day, as of 2024, or about 2.5 hours.  

    Naturally, marketing leaders are taking note of the connection between social media and buying behavior. Data from Deloitte, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association (AMA) found spending on social media would hit its highest level since the height of the COVID pandemic in the 12 months following August 2023.

    Marketers interested in tapping into social have a familiar decision to make regarding tactics. They can choose from brand awareness, driving traffic and collecting leads.

    “Our lead generation products have evolved over the years,” said Becky Bui, Senior Director of North American Small Business Sales at Meta. “In 2016, they were focused on high-volume, low-cost leads. Since then, we’ve invested in helping our customers with quality.”

    Meta saw 16.6% year-over-year growth for lead ad submissions in 2023 compared to 2022. There were more than 1.1 billion lead ad submissions globally during 2023, marking the first time Meta surpassed 1 billion lead ad submissions in a year.

    Social media platforms like Meta are, of course, rich in data. And they already have much of the information that advertisers request from prospects in a lead gen form. Meta’s flagship lead gen product is instant forms, which sit within Facebook and Instagram. The forms automatically fill in the reader’s information when it loads and the lead is generated on the Meta platform, instead of sending the prospect off to a website. 

    An instant form lead gen ad. Image courtesy of Meta.

    When a visitor has to visit an advertiser’s website to complete a form, Meta usually sees a 20% dropoff in conversions. In a test comparing instant forms to website forms optimized for website conversions, Meta found instant forms drove 20% lower cost-per-qualified-lead (CPQL) than website forms.

    Another advantage of lead gen forms on social platforms is the ease of edits. Marketers who rely on developers to make website changes can’t react quickly when they want to change lead form questions or make visual changes. Marketers are able to quickly and easily change their instant forms running on Meta properties. 

    Social media lead gen for B2C businesses

    Lead generation is often synonymous with the B2B sector in modern marketing, but big-ticket items in the B2C space use similar tactics to B2B. These purchases include cars and home improvement services. 

    Lauren Petrullo is the CEO and founder of marketing agency Mongoose Media LLC. She runs lead generation campaigns on Meta’s platforms to generate very high quality leads for a customer in the home improvement industry. Most notably, her customer was able to close a $24,000 deal in just six days using lead generation on Meta properties. 

    Petrullo ran PPC ads on search platforms for years, but she’s shifting her agency’s strategy.

    “Since October-November [2023], across local and national campaigns, we’ve been sunsetting search ads for forms,” she told MarTech.

    Petrullo also finds lead gen forms on social media allow her and her team to ask really personal questions. For a campaign for a travel agency, for example, she asked prospects about their travel plans. Conditional logic can also be used to control the questions, which helps identify the right prospect for a campaign. 

    More questions? More personal questions? Isn’t this digital marketing heresy? 

    “Every business is different,” Meta’s Bui told MarTech. “Some businesses need to reduce friction.”

    Petrullo’s agency isn’t one of them. 

     “We added as much friction as possible,” she said. “We get better leads, more serious leads. We wanted to get a $200 lead, but the cost is $20.”

    While longer lead generation forms might sink a B2B campaign, in a B2C setting on social media, they might just match the mood of the prospect. 

     “I would argue social media is social first,” Petrullo said. “They’re looking to have a conversation. People share on Instagram or Facebook what they want others to know about them.”

    If there’s a downside to instant forms that pre-populate with information and are nearly ready to submit, it might be that they are too instant.

    “We typically stay away from instant forms because they are too easy for people to fill out by mistake and will lead to poor lead quality,” said Menachem Ani, a Search Engine Land contributor and the founder of JXT Group, an agency specializing in multi-channel online advertising. ”Sometimes we’ll use instant forms and add qualifying questions. But we’ll mostly drive traffic to a landing page.”

    Ani told MarTech his challenge with lead generation campaigns on Meta is getting good quality leads, and he’s found it to be a matter of messaging and audience targeting. For creative, Ani’s team will use dynamic creative, which takes multiple media assets and ad components and combines them to create campaign ads, for lower-budget campaigns. For higher-budget campaigns, they will create individual ad units.

    Ani’s lead gen efforts focus primarily on Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising and Meta.

    Dig deeper: A marketer’s guide to Reddit

    Social media lead gen for B2B companies

    The B2B buying process is often much more complicated, and much longer than B2C. This impacts the way marketers think about lead generation in general.

    “There’s more to running lead gen on social media than what you do on social media,” said Laura Schiele. Schiele is a past speaker at The MarTech Conference, a contributor to Search Engine Land and Head of Paid Acquisition at Jordan Digital Marketing. 

    Among the things Shiele says marketers need to consider are the goal of the lead and what happens once they fill out the form. It’s a common mistake to think someone who fills out a form in B2B is sales ready. Schiele calls this assumption “misalignment.”

    Dig deeper: LinkedIn introduces CTV ads for B2B campaigns

    Schiele and her team use lead forms with qualifying questions to weed out irrelevant leads. They’ve also seen success using some of Meta’s Advantage+ features, which use machine learning to optimize campaigns and creative for advertisers. 

    But B2B prospects often need a great deal of education because of the cost and complexity of the purchases and because they’re not making the decisions alone. There’s a whole group of people, often including leadership, that need to weigh in.

    For that reasons, Schiele likes to use social media platforms as a distribution channel for content, and then re-market to the audience on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook with an offer for a demo. This approach provides more value than simply gating the content with a form.

    “The revenue return on leads from a whitepaper is pretty low,” Schiele told MarTech.

    Speaking of LinkedIn, marketers need to recognize that it’s a completely different beast from other social platforms. 

    “We’ve come into accounts spending a bunch of money [on LinkedIn] and not getting any demos,” Schiele said. 

    The problem, she said, is often the creative, which on LinkedIn needs to be thought out. Schiele’s team sees success with video ads and carousel ads on LinkedIn. As for re-marketing to LinkedIn members on Facebook, Schiele said it works some of the time, but if it isn’t working, move on.

    “If re-marketing isn’t getting too much success, I don’t recommend testing it too much,” she said. 

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    The post As lead gen grows on social media, marketers discuss what’s working appeared first on MarTech.

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