Why I Don’t Love Twitter Ads for B2B Lead Generation

Twitter-Ads

In 2019, savvy social media marketers have more opportunities than ever to sell to their audiences. Campaign budget determines how much you advertise. Campaign strategy determines where you advertise.

Google is a given. LinkedIn is a given. Facebook is a given.

If you have some spare marketing change left over, do you go for Twitter? Is Twitter a good network for B2B lead generation?

Not really.

Here’s why:

The goal of lead generation is to get more customers.

A lead is someone who shows interest in the thing you’re trying to sell. Hopefully, that lead is interested enough to do the thing you want done—click your action button.

You give them the goodies and they eat the goodies. That’s a lead.

Lead generation starts with interest and ends with action (building a list or selling a product/service). You figure out the number of impressions you want for your piece of content marketing and you hope it’s click-worthy. A click means you reached a member of your audience.

Reach is the successful side of impressions.

Reach is the number of people who engage with your content when they see it thanks to an impression. Reach is the golden metric. It’s the part that must happen to get conversions.

Leads, impressions, and reach—this is the starting game. So how does Twitter do when it comes to reach?

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Compared to other paid ad networks, Twitter’s reach is small potatoes.

Google, YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Instagram… these sites all make the top ten charts for daily visits, page views, and overall active monthly users. But Twitter?

Doesn’t.

Does not.

Not even close.

The active monthly users top out at 336 million. That’s low.

But actually—it’s even lower.

Bots make using Twitter a big question mark when it comes to reach.

Bots plague Twitter. Estimates say that as high as 15% of Twitter users are not users at all, but bots (that are notorious for spreading misinformation).

A Twitter bot is “a software program that sends out automated posts on Twitter.” Often, these automated posts are tweets. Other times, the bots will automatically respond to user messages that include specific phrases. But is this really a problem? It certainly can be. Although some bots can be helpful for your business objectives, there has been an influx of bots permeating through Twitter’s user base. Now, there are a lot of them. In fact, there are an estimated 48 million bots on Twitter, accounting for 15% of Twitter’s total users.

- Neil Patel

Reach is a key metric in our decision to promote or not promote on Twitter. Statistics show that reach is low on Twitter. How low can’t be determined thanks to the network being overrun by fake users.

And so, it appears at face-value that Twitter is not a platform you’d put your marketing dollars on. You want your ad seen. By people. And there are no guarantees here.

But wait.

There’s an underscored side note to reach, and it has to do with ratios.

The scale of your reach is important—more eyes, more prize! But what’s more important than reach?

ROI, That’s what.

The return on your investment is what matters.

If you are reaching an audience in a way that your expenditure is paid back and then some, that’s a win (provided the effort you put into it didn’t cut away from that profit).

So that’s the better question to ask:

Are Tweeters more likely to click on an ad and buy a thing (convert) than Facebookers or YouTubers?

If Tweeters are more into their network, more engaged, more click-happy, then—big reach or small reach—that’s still dollars. It doesn’t matter that Facebook has a gazillion users if Facebookers are stodgy with their clicks. It doesn’t matter if jillions of people watch The Tube if the ads popping up between channels get skipped.

So what is the click-through rate on Twitter?

Twitter CTR hovers around 1%.

Swell. We love a stat. But is that a good stat or a bad one?

It’s hard to tell when it comes to Twitter.

Frustratingly, the numbers for Twitter are scant. After searching high and low, it’s tough to find solid figures to push our pins into. That’s one of the reasons out the gate why we aren’t overly anxious to invest ad dollars on Twitter.

There isn’t a great set of numbers out there when it comes to Twitter. If Twitter had a greater reach, it would have a greater analysis of ad success. But Twitter doesn’t have great reach, so it has slipped through the number crunching cracks a bit.

But let’s use this working figure of 1% since that’s what we’ve got.

Is that 1% for all industries roughly, or does that 1% include an ultra-high performer in one sector that skews the graph? Right now, there’s no way to tell.

Can we look closer by industry?

Nope.

With Twitter, an across-the-board generalization is the best we’ve got.

At ThinkFuel, that’s not something we want to make a sandwich with. We like juicy numbers, not hard-to-find and missing-altogether numbers. The numbers are dry and vague with Twitter.

And dry sandwiches taste bad.

Okay, but, let’s still play ball for a bit. How does 1% CTR for Twitter compare to Facebook?

It’s the same—about 1%. But here’s the difference: Facebook breaks the numbers down so we can get a naked look.

adwords-industry-benchmarks-average-ctr

Legal and retail sectors enjoy a good click-through-rate on facebook. B2B CTR is 0.78% (average). Employment & Job Training poops the bed. Without this helpful breakdown, you go in blind. If you’re a skills guru and you see a 1% overall score, you might think you could anticipate a 1% CTR in your industry, but you’d do about half that great. And you’d be wasting your pesos.

And that’s what you get with Twitter since charts and graphs people apparently aren’t gung-ho to rip Twitter apart numerically.

Compared to Google AdWords?

Google does twice as well. It is the lead generation giant, and everybody knows it. It comes in closer to 2% for CTR (some stats show as high as 8%). That’s a bigger sandwich. Especially since that 2-8% of clicks apply to millions of clickers.

Google’s CTR breakdown:

adwords-industry-benchmarks-average-ctr

If I run a swingin’ minglin’ date site, Google’s my ticket. If I’m looking for leads in Business to Business (B2B), the finance and insurance industry, or tech, I’m all in with Google.

And then what?

Then, I take my winnings and go shopping at LinkedIn and Facebook.

And when I wash my pants and find some coins at the bottom of the washing machine, do I put them in the Twitter metre?

Uhhh, well…. let’s see what Twitter does well first:

How much could your business grow with more, highly targeted, leads?

Twitter gets granular with targets.

That’s a good thing. Targeting the right people is a marketing art form. Sometimes you hit your targets, and sometimes you miss. Broad match targets capture a bigger audience but can water down your dollars (because some of the broad match stuff is bang on the money, but some of it is off the playing field). Well, Twitter lets you go broad, or it lets you go narrow—really narrow!—down to a specific hashtag.

If you want to target users who use a particular word or hashtag, or people who have interacted with those words and hashtags (in the last week etc.), you can do that.
You can’t do that on Facebook. Facebook works by topic, not by word. For example, on Facebook, if you want to target people who interact with pay per click stuff, select AdWords as the topic. That’s a big topic though.

On Twitter, you can target #ppcchat, a popular marketing hashtag.

And you can target people who promote your tweets (engaged with it) via their twitter handle.  That’s specificity right there.

Twitter shoulders some of the marketing risk.

Google Ads is pay per click. Bing Ads is pay per click.

Twitter ads is pay per performance.

You only pay when you achieve your objective. So if your goal is to gain 100 followers, you only pay once 100 tweeters have clicked the follow button.

That makes the cost per click pennies. Less than one penny on average—probably. But Twitter’s CPC (from the numbers we scrambled to find in remote, outdated corners of the interwebs) were all over the board.

Conversion stats were even harder to find.

Does anyone else feel like there isn’t enough data to make a good decision?

A quick search reveals that Facebook’s conversion is over 9%. The fitness industry on Facebook soars at over 14%, and B2B conversions convert at 11%. Facebook is a great bet for B2B lead gen. So is Google Ads, converting around the 2.5% mark (that’s millions and millions of people) for B2B lead gen.

What about Twitter?

A cobbled-together best-guess picture of random stats (some as old as 2011) says no. A Twitter campaign underperforms in all key metrics.

So... are Twitter Ads a good bet for B2B Lead Generation?

Nope.

If you’re working on a limited budget, AdWords is your network. If you’re trying to build your brand, look at a Facebook campaign.

With the influx of bots, the spread of misinformation, a downward trend on Twitter growth, hard-to-find statistics required for a reliable ad dollar analysis (average users, CTR, conversion), it’s challenging to march confidently into the Twitter marketing arena and plop down money.

So don’t.

We don’t! Crossed fingers and scrunched eyes ain’t our game.

Don’t spend your pocket change on Twitter. Put that change in the piggy bank. Invest those found-in-the-washing machine coins in boosting your Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Facebook Ads—even Bing Ads! That’s how you grow.

Don’t toss those coins haphazardly at the Twitter fountain. Because it’s a small fountain.

And it leaks.

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About Author
Kevin D'Arcy

As our Chief Marketing Enthusiast, Kevin strives to provide clarity, honesty, and unique insights into every one of our engagements. Kevin helps companies improve their lead generation, enhance customer acquisition, and increase revenue. With over 18 years of inbound and content marketing experience with B2B technology companies, Kevin brings a straightforward approach to marketing with results that can be measured. He also has the most adorable hound dog that frequently comes to work with him.