Twitter is an afterthought for most B2B SaaS companies. Behind Facebook, Google, and even LinkedIn, it ranks as one of the last channels they leverage in their marketing efforts. Among our clients, only two out of 10 even entertain the idea of running ads on Twitter.
But if used appropriately, we think that Twitter Ads can be a hidden gem for SaaS marketers. That’s because it enables you to target what we like to call a “no-one-else-but” audience. It’s built upon the idea that no one else but an insider within your company’s industry would follow this or that micro-influencer with only a handful of followers. And on Twitter, it’s possible to display ads targeting the followers of any user.
This is something that you can’t do on any other social media marketing platform. For example, you can’t specifically target someone’s friends on Facebook.
But on Twitter, there’s no limit to your sphere of influence. It provides B2B companies in SaaS the capacity to target audiences of these diamond-in-the-rough accounts. Since Twitter’s ad platform isn’t as evolved as Facebook or Google’s, you can still invest a small amount (as little as $10 to $100 a day) and put your business in front of potential customers.
It’s also worth noting that because so few B2B SaaS companies play in the Twitter Ads sandbox, there’s very little competition compared to Facebook and Google.
In this piece, we’re going to share our thoughts on best practices for running ads on Twitter. You’ll learn:
- Why advertising on Twitter has more to do with amplifying well-crafted tweets that are already performing well organically.
- How to find hidden gem accounts whose followers you can advertise to.
- Why we advise B2B SaaS companies to pay the most attention to the link click-through rate and engagement rates of their Twitter Ads.
But first, let’s begin by expanding on the reasons why most companies don’t advertise on Twitter.
We help B2B SaaS companies grow through paid media on social media platforms like Twitter. Want to learn how we can help your business? Schedule a free SaaS scale session with us today.
BTW – if you prefer to listen to audio, you can hear this post on our SaaS Marketing Bites podcast:
Why Most B2B SaaS Companies Steer Clear of Twitter Ads
Unlike the duopoly of Facebook and Google, Twitter has very limited conversion tracking right now. Because of this, Twitter isn’t particularly effective when it comes to direct response marketing. There are some exceptions, which we’ll get to later on in this article. But running ads that drive bottom-of-the-funnel lead generation like free trials or demos don’t work well yet on the platform.
Another reason why most B2B SaaS companies have limited success involves their approach to the platform itself. Oftentimes, we see businesses running ads that aren’t creative or engaging enough. Most ads we see are more seller rather than buyer centric. Their messaging fails to communicate their product’s value to their target audience.
For example, it’s not uncommon to see an ad like the one below, where the targeting is completely off — and we have no clue about what DevSecOps is or means.
Do and Don’t Marketing Strategies for Getting the Most out of Twitter Advertising
Compared to Facebook and Google, running ads on Twitter calls for more nuanced tactics. Based on our experience, we’ve highlighted the most critical do’s and don’ts on Twitter strategy below:
Don’t Make Direct Response Ads, But Do Run Ads to Tweets That are Educational or Editorial
The best way to think about Twitter Ads is as an amplifier of organic content that’s already struck a chord. Approach them in the same way you would’ve approached Facebook Ads in its early days, where you’d promote your most organically engaged post to an ad-targeted audience.
Find tweets that are engaging in and of themselves, then ramp up their engagement with ad spend. You don’t need to have a huge budget to get traction. We’re still in the early days of advertising on Twitter and the market isn’t too saturated.
For the most part, you don’t want to run direct response ads on Twitter. As we alluded to earlier, conversion tracking isn’t nearly as effective or accurate compared to Facebook or Google. But there is one exception to our no-direct-response-ads rule.
Run them only if you’re doing remarketing. Just like any other platform, SaaS remarketing is no longer about where you’re advertising. Rather, it’s more about the fact that you’ve built familiarity with the person who now knows you because they’ve engaged with your company before.
The way you’d remarket on Twitter is not much different than other platforms. You go into Twitter Ads under tools and conversion tracking, and create a custom audience. Even though Twitter doesn’t allow conversion tracking in the conventional sense, you can create what’s called a universal tag. This tag allows you to remarket ads to anyone in your custom audience that meets its conditions.
Remarketing on Twitter is far more affordable than other platforms. We’ve found that the cost per click, for example, is typically sub $5. That’s more affordable than Facebook and way cheaper than LinkedIn Ads. On Twitter, it’s possible to invest small dollar amounts of your ad budget to raise your company’s visibility in front of the right people.
Don’t Run Ads from a Corporate Account, But Do Advertise Tweets from a Personal One
Most B2B SaaS companies have some sort of presence on Twitter. We see that a high percentage of them at least have a brand account set up on behalf of their company that’s well-filled out.
Though this is a good start, this isn’t enough. One of the big problems we see is that their company accounts lack any personality. Because of the nature of the content they tweet or share, their company accounts aren’t compelling enough to follow. Most times, their approach mimics one of two patterns:
- Their tweets are promotional. We all have seen brands like this before. They’re the kinds of companies that only tweet when they’ve published a new blog post that they’d like to drive traffic to on their website. They see Twitter only as a distribution platform of outside content.
- They only tweet responses to customer complaints. Many companies use their Twitter accounts solely as a point of contact platform with users. Their content is limited to responding to customer gripes with proverbial messages like: “So sorry for your experience, please DM us and we’ll make things right.”
Those two approaches are fine, but they leave limited impact from a digital marketing and advertising perspective. What we’ve found is that personal accounts are really where the action is. Ads on Twitter can perform well when you’ve promoted tweets of employees and insiders within your B2B SaaS company.
Ideally, you’d promote tweets of employees who already have their own platform. Many times these employees will be members of your growth or content marketing teams — people who are writers or have a public narrative voice.
Other times, it might be C-Level executives like your CEO or CMO as well as VPs. One company that does this well is Shopify. They’re one of the best in the world when it comes to leveraging Twitter, amplifying what their employees are already sharing about what’s going on inside the company.
Take for example their VP of engineering, Farhan Thawar. With close to 10,000 followers, he’s established a relatively small but mighty presence on Twitter. From hiring to how his engineering team is making improvements to the eCommerce platform, he’s constantly tweeting about topics related to Shopify.
Many times, Shopify’s CEO Toby Lutke will retweet Farhan, amplifying that information to a much bigger audience. This increases their distribution of mindshare in a very natural, unforced, and organic way.
What Kinds of Content Should Your B2B SaaS Company Tweet?
Content that works well on Twitter is much like any other social site. Despite Twitter’s reputation as a platform for wordsmiths, we’ve noticed that tweets with images perform better than ones without. Also, content that’s a little rougher around the edges versus highly polished is effective, too.
For example, screenshots like you see below work quite well on Twitter versus a more highly-mocked up image.
Tweets that take an audience behind the scenes tend to work, as well as showing before and after results.
Amplifying threads is also a repeatable playbook that most businesses can and should test. If you’re already writing blog posts on your company website, repurpose them into Twitter threads.
Like a good article, lead with the most attention-grabbing idea first. Then build the rest of the thread chronologically, condensing the concepts you’ve conveyed within Twitter’s 280-character limit.
You can also repurpose replies in conversation with other Twitter users. This can be a distribution hack for Twitter that works when executed appropriately. Find people who have more followers than the personal accounts you’re thinking about amplifying and reply to or quote tweet them in response.
Using ad spend to boost tweet replies enables you to increase klout through association. It’s a lot like PR brand awareness at this point. Boosting your tweet replies can invoke curiosity about you among your target audience. As a result, they may click over to your own Twitter profile to learn more about you.
B2B Marketing Execution on Twitter: Finding Hidden Gems and Measuring Campaign Efficacy
So far, we’ve covered the general best practices when it comes to creating SaaS content your company can amplify. Next we’ll focus on executing the advertising of those tweets.
How to Find Hidden Gem Accounts to Target in Your Twitter Ad Campaign
We’ve discovered that the easiest way to find these kinds of Twitter users is by leaning on SparkToro. It’s a SaaS product founded by Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, that allows its users to find out what their “target audience reads, watches, listens-to, and follows.”
Here’s the two-step process of how to find hidden gems with SparkToro, accompanied with a hypothetical example of how we’d execute on behalf of our clients.
Step 1: Compile a List of Industry Influencers
If we were doing this for Truffle POS, our client that runs an iPad restaurant POS business, we’d build a list of highly-regarded restaurateurs. It would include owners of high-end restaurants in cities with bustling food scenes. We’d aim to compile a list of at least 100 of these kinds of influencers.
Step 2: Identify Your Middle-of-the-Pack Influencers from Your List — Then Analyze Them on SparkToro.
From that list, we’d have TouchBistro pick a few handful of them who have a healthy, but far from massive following. We’d then input their Twitter handles into SparkToro for further analysis. SparkToro could then help us whittle down that list down to our hidden gems.
SparkToro shows you exactly who else follows these mid-tier influencers along with who they follow themselves. It also has a section within its platform’s dashboard called hidden gems. SparkToro defines these Twitter users as people who don’t tweet often and have few followers yet have high engagement rates.
These hidden gems are the “no-one-else-but” users we alluded to at the beginning of this article. They’re the people who wrote an obscure, but well-informed blog post. They’re the people who chatted with the influencers over dinner one evening.
Hidden gems float under the radar, but they tweet high-quality content. Because of that, they earn a following of people who tend to be more entrenched within the business or industry itself. Targeting these hidden gem accounts allows you to run ads in front of the highest quality of customers for your SaaS product.
Creating a Twitter Campaign to Target Hidden Gem Accounts
Running ads to these kinds of people isn’t complicated. Twitter gives advertisers the ability to target the followers of any account. In this part of the ad building process, simply select the hidden gems you’ve collected and Twitter will show you how much your reach is when you do. There’s even an option to ask Twitter for suggestions of other users similar to the ones you’ve selected.
For example, we ran Twitter Ads on behalf of Densify, one of our clients that specializes in cloud cost optimization and control. We decided to run Twitter Ads targeting people who follow DevOps influencers. The only kinds of people who would know these influencers were likely relatively well-established DevOps businesses.
How to Measure the Efficacy of Your Twitter Ad Campaign
There are many metrics you can monitor in a Twitter ad campaign. But the key performance indicators we pay most attention to are link click-through rate and engagement rate.
Engagement rate is important because it’s an indicator of how strongly your tweet is connecting with your audience. In essence, it’s a function of the number of people who are clicking to expand and actually see what your account has to say. The tweets with higher organic engagement are the ones you’ll want to amplify through advertising.
An engagement rate of 2% or higher tends to be respectable for most B2B SaaS companies on Twitter.
Link click-through rate is indicative of how much your cost per click will be. If you have tight audience targeting combined with compelling tweets, your CTR should be high. The higher the CTR, the lower your CPC.
We’ve found that a CTR below 0.8% is often the line between affordable and expensive CPCs.
If one or both of these metrics are underperforming, take that as a sign to optimize your strategy. You’re likely either targeting too broad or the tweet you’re amplifying isn’t resonating with your audience. Here’s what you can do to fix that:
- Narrow your targeting down further to followers of hidden gems that would appreciate the quality of your tweets. The more specific, the better.
- Change the content you’re promoting. Write new tweets and try boosting them instead. Keep testing until you find a winning combination.
Revisiting What We’ve Covered About Twitter Ads for B2B SaaS Companies
With the right strategy and execution, Twitter Ads can be an effective platform to reach prospects for B2B SaaS companies. The competition is limited, making it a blue ocean opportunity relative to Facebook and Google. It also empowers companies to reach the followers of industry micro influencers or what we like to call “no-one-else-but” audiences.
Running an effective Twitter campaign is less about the ad itself and more about amplifying organic content that already works. By pouring as little as $10 to $100 a day of your budget to promote tweets of influential employees within your company, it’s not unreasonable to anticipate a respectable return on investment. We’re still in the early days of running SaaS ads on Twitter, but there’s more to gain than lose by giving it a calculated try.