Right side up logo





What's Working for B2B Performance Marketing in 2024


April 3, 2024


Right Side Up and Right Percent recently hosted a webinar on the current state of B2B performance marketing led by Kevin Lord Barry, co-founder of Right Percent, a Right Side Up venture specializing in B2B advertising. Kevin covered everything you need to know to understand the current B2B landscape and challenges, which channels to utilize, paid ads strategy, and creative best practices. Watch the full webinar for all of Kevin’s B2B ad data wisdom.

The world of B2B marketing is in flux with industry trends and macroeconomic factors throwing wrenches into even seasoned marketers’ most tested approaches. At the same time, demand for strong ROI has never been higher. This makes it crucial for us to have a better understanding of the state of B2B performance marketing and the innovative strategies needed to see success. In this article, we’ll dive into insights and actionable advice to help you deliver high ROI with your B2B advertising despite the challenging market conditions.

The Changing State of B2B Marketing

One of the biggest influences on the current B2B marketing landscape is the shift in venture capital funding. If keeping your budget afloat on your own has felt more challenging than usual, you’re not alone—in Q3 of 2023, we saw more startups shutting down than ever before. But why? Yes, the world at large has no shortage of chaos, but overall, the US economy has been doing fine, all things considered. However, when it comes to venture capital, funding is tougher to get, due to bubble bursting and interest rates—which means making the right marketing decisions is crucial.

This funding crunch has been felt particularly hard by late-stage companies. Capital allocated to Series C and up has decreased heavily, yet most seed funding has barely been impacted. Smaller companies are still grinding to find product-market fit, but the larger, already-scaled companies have had a difficult time in the last few years securing new funding.

Despite this tricky environment, there are still many B2B companies running large-scale, ROI-positive marketing campaigns successfully. What’s their secret? They know the right strategies and tactics to break through this challenging market.

Marketing Channels for B2B Success

When it comes to B2B advertising, the marketing channel mix you need for success might be slightly different than the combinations that drive growth for B2C or ecommerce. For most B2B companies, your marketing campaigns should be focused on:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook/Meta
  • Paid search

There are, of course, smaller channels you can test into, especially if you have a niche product or service, like Bing, Reddit, or even TikTok, but in general, LinkedIn, Meta, and Google will deliver the best ROI.

Should You Focus on Lead Generation or Demand Generation?

Before you can craft an effective marketing strategy, it’s important to know what you want. Do you need lead generation or demand generation to drive your growth? And is the difference between the two really that significant? In short, yes.

  • Lead generation is promoting trackable, direct response campaigns that generate leads that a sales team then follows up with.
  • Demand generation is promoting ungated, less trackable content to a pre-qualified audience.

There’s a lot of debate about which one is better. Those in favor of demand generation claim that lead generation is an outdated form of marketing and that no one wants to fill out forms or answer a cold call these days. Arguments on this side often point out that B2B advertising is tricky to track directly, so there’s no sense in using ungated, unattributable content with pre-qualified audiences, and instead, advocate for HDYHAU or lift tests.

Those on the lead generation side say it’s much more difficult to track performance for demand, with no true way to tell which campaigns, ad sets, and ads are working. Optimizing performance gets murky because it’s hard to learn which campaigns are driving results. And with lead generation’s greater attribution visibility and clear path to ROI, why fix what isn’t broken?

Although both camps make valid cases, the truth lies somewhere in between. Lead generation is usually better for broad B2B audiences of 100K+ decision makers. But for very targeted B2B audiences with less than 100K+ decision makers, demand generation typically wins out.

Avoiding common mistakes with demand generation

There are risks involved with both demand and lead generation and you should understand each to avoid making common (and costly) mistakes. However, we often see bigger risks from demand generation, due to ineffective audience targeting or ad creative. Because there’s no feedback loop in, it can be very easy to waste money. To solve this, use audiences and ads you’ve already proven out with other channels or direct response campaigns.

Plus, keep in mind that demand generation campaigns only work when used as a support to a sales team. Demand generation alone isn't enough without people in your business actively focusing on outbound sales.

Understanding Your Leading Indicator of Future Earnings

Establishing a reliable system to quantitatively value your leads is crucial for maximizing your campaign. You typically cannot optimize ad accounts based on new closed won customers if you have an enterprise or mid-market target audience because those groups take too long to act and require too many touches. Instead, you can create a leading indicator event—one that you can accurately determine the value of—and optimize on that to improve your campaign.

To calculate your lead indicator event, consider incorporating the following variables:

  • Answers on the lead form (number of employees, title, budget, etc.)
  • Sales activity (did they open the email?)
  • Geography
  • Site activity (did they watch the demo video or try the free trial?)

With that data, you can go into your backend and connect the dots to see which features actually correlate to revenue. You should then focus on generating leads with those matching variables.

Once you have a system to measure the value of your lead, there are four main levers you can pull to improve your lead quality:

  • Use creative that makes qualified users self-select
  • Optimize toward a conversion event that correlates to revenue
  • Promote content that appeals to qualified users
  • Target narrower audiences and/or keywords

As you adjust these levers, be sure to keep an eye on how they’re impacting your leading indicators.

Tracking for mature ad accounts

A basic table tracking B2B performance marketing indicators

For accounts that have a small number of closed wons or require longer sales periods, tracking your leading indicators can be challenging. The amount of data needed for statistical significance isn’t always there. In these situations, you should focus on tracking your metrics on a weekly basis in a table that includes:

  • Spend
  • Leading indicator conversion
  • Cost per leading indicator conversion

And, where applicable, you should also have down-funnel conversion that’s set up as a vintage measure that automatically updates over time.

Multi-placement Ad Strategy for Multi-channel Success

As marketers, we often view each ad placement in a vacuum. Let’s say you run ads on Facebook Newsfeed, Instagram, and Reels. Normally, these would be looked at independently. But what if these channels are working together? Even if one channel performs better than the others, it may still get a boost from other placements. For example, we’ve seen a combination of sponsored content and conversation ads generate winning results on LinkedIn. There are other pairings out there to explore as well for mixed placement. A few types on LinkedIn to consider are:

  • Thought leader ads (promoting posts from the CEO)
  • CTV (serving ads on Roku and smart TVs)
  • Improved audience network (serving ads outside of LinkedIn)

LinkedIn is investing significant resources into testing mixed placements this year, likely resulting in new combinations that drive great results.

A Refresher on Creative Best Practices

Regardless of the channel, following creative best practices can turbocharge your campaigns. For B2B, top-performing ads feature a strong visual headline—which is the most important aspect of the creative—as well as concise, compelling main copy, an attractive main visual, and an enticing subheading or CTA.

You should also utilize content ads, which drive ad clickers to downloadable assets, like ebooks, templates, and guides, instead of directly to your demo form or free trial. Content ads can be an effective tool for significantly decreasing ad fatigue on your accounts. However, you should only use content ads if you have a sales team that can follow-up on leads—the ads aren’t likely to convert on their own.

And remember, with content ads the more specific you can be, the better. For example, instead of using a title like “Guide to Increasing Business Profit” for your asset, get granular with something like “Guide for Increasing Widget Business Profit for Sales Leaders.”

Take B2B Performance Marketing to the Next Level

Despite the challenging B2B marketing landscape we’ve seen over the past few years, it’s still possible to run effective, ROI-positive campaigns. By understanding shifts in the B2B industry, knowing which channels to use, and how to measure and place ads, you can drive success for your B2B marketing campaigns.

Over 1,000 companies have hit growth goals with Right Side Up—get in touch with us and we'll deploy the right talent to empower your organization to take its B2B performance marketing to the next level.

Kevin Lord Barry co-founded Right Percent, a Right Side Up venture that focuses on scaling fast-growing B2B companies in every vertical. Over the past 10 years, he’s managed millions in ROI-positive ad spend for brands like DoorDash, Zenefits, Masterclass, Segment, OnDeck, and more.

Jes Parker is a writer and content marketer with experience creating B2B and consumer-facing assets that build brands and make complex concepts more human. She has worked with companies and nonprofits like Highstead Foundation, Trust for Public Land, Harvard University, the Museum of the City of New York, and Times Square Alliance to craft accessible and engaging content strategies.

Let's talk growth

Get in touch

Let's talk growth

Get in touch

Let's talk growth

Get in touch