Our Twitter Ads Playbook
#printingmoney #conversiontracking #demandgeneration
Quick favor - Before you start reading, please fill out the audience survey so we can write better essays for you (and we’d like to know who you all are)
Hard to believe I’ve been a user of Twitter for around 13 years. But that’s beside the point.
Marketing fundamentally is about presenting where your customers and prospects are. In some cases, that might be Twitter (#marketingtwitter, anyone?).
Twitter has struggled to build a massive ads business (compared to Google & Meta) because it has historically struggled to monetize its audience and prove it can drive revenue. Said another way - Google and Meta are massive Ad businesses because a lot of brands invest money and believe that it drives revenue (i.e., folks purchase after they click on an ad on those platforms). In contrast, Twitter has always been where ‘real-time conversations’ happen but not where brands spend a lot of time.
But I think brands, and especially B2B brands, don’t pay attention to Twitter because it doesn’t behave like other channels. We believe the case for Twitter is more in the awareness / TOFU stages of the customer journey vs. DR. Hope you enjoy the read & if you have questions feel free to reply or tweet us at @get42agency or me @kamilrextin.
Shoutout to Claire Suellentrop who in some ways pushed me to finally write this down.
Why Twitter Ads?
Great question. You can likely spend truck loads of budget on Google Search Ads without even diving into Bing, let alone Paid Social like Facebook and LinkedIn.
We're so bullish on Twitter because it mixes intent and brand engine. Here's what we mean. Google built a massive business because it knows what customers want / when they want it (because we type it into its search box). Facebook, on the other hand, built itself around brand & over time direct response advertising. It knows who you are and what you like (based on things we voluntarily added to our profiles, websites we visit, links we click, etc.).
The Facebook open graph and advertising engine is a book on its own. But Facebook could never "prove" that it's what got you to purchase something. That last touch attribution was almost always Google. But, of course, Facebook now has a conversion pixel and a very sophisticated model of measurement that tracks behaviors and purchases anonymously (7-30 day windows).
So, where does Twitter fall into this spectrum? Somewhere in the middle. As a gross oversimplification of its advertising business, Twitter knows what you like based on who you follow (it's not that simple, it likely pulls in 3rd party data as well). It knows your thoughts based on # and tweets to a degree. But the challenge with Twitter has always been its lack of ability to make direct response perform (it is not great at measurement + perhaps the nature of the platform is such). So it's always been thought of as a brand channel used mainly by big brands like Disney+ to promote their new Star Wars show.
However, we think many B2B brands sleep on Twitter because it can be challenging to operate. The advantage of Twitter is that you can tap into social intent at scale (run ads targeting specific # or @ mentions) and run ads to an audience that is most likely to be like your ICP. Plus, they have a comprehensive guide on how to track conversions and are rolling out a conversions API for offline measurement.
Before we get into the playbooks, it is important to clarify that Twitter is not a direct response channel like Facebook, AdWords, or LinkedIn. Instead, it's more of a brand affinity one. In other words, be sure not to run conversion ads on Twitter because its conversion tracking is far from intuitive/accurate there’s a lot of fake / bot accounts. We recommend either running website visits or engagement campaigns.
The main objective should be to get your brand in front of the right people. Twitter ads are a brand affinity play that allows you to appear in relevant conversations.
And now, let’s explore how to setup Twitter Ads Campaigns & playbooks we run for twitter ads and some tips.
Setting up a Twitter Ads Campaign
How does the Pixel differ from Conversions API? Here’s an easy way to think about it. Are you tracking ‘in browser’ actions (like a newsletter signup?) or ‘back-end’ actions?
Server Side is different because the action happens somewhere outside of the browser. The easy way to think about it, is imagining a person signups for the newsletter (client side pixel event) but then they go into Salesforce where they happen to become an Opp with $$ associated with it. Since this action does not happen inside the browser during an active session, and happens in a completely different environment - the pixel has zero visibility on it. But we can use the API to send a ‘ping’ to Twitter servers that ‘this newsletter subscriber that came through the site is now an actual qualified opportunity‘. This helps the ad platform ‘optimize’ for actions that happen ‘offline’ (i.e. not in the browser aka client side)
For the sake of this piece we’ll only setup a URL based event (and not an event with code which can be triggered via Google Tag Manager). Here’s a Loom walk through of how to set it up.
Tip: Install the Twitter Pixel helper to confirm everything is halal and working as expected.
When you first open the Twitter Ads interface & create a campaign - you need to choose an objective.
You have multitude of options. Don’t just pick an objective without understanding your goal. Is the goal to drive more native consumption of content? (i.e. Twitter native content) or is it to drive folks to a site or to take an action? (conversion like app download).
Whichever objective it is. Be sure you know from the start.
We typically focus on 3 main objectives:
Engagement - when we are trying to drive more eyeballs and reads on our latest meme or Twitter thread. We aren’t talking folks off platform but rather want them to read on-platform content.
Video Views - yep you guessed it, when we’re driving more views to video assets (like the LinkedIn Live I recently did with Laura)
Web Traffic - when we’re promoting our essay + getting folks to subscribe to the newsletter (install the Twitter Pixel so you can re-market to them later)
Note: We typically don’t use CBO on Twitter Ads. Campaign Budget Optimization lets Twitters algorithm allocate spend b/w different ad sets based on performance.
Some quick tips on campaign setup:
A couple of things to keep in mind.
We almost always use site visits as the goal (for web visits) but you can also optimize for conversions but Twitter almost *never* reports conversions or perhaps never generates them.
In terms of conversion tracking you can setup multiple windows. I.E how long after someone clicked on an ad do we want to assign credit to the ad itself. Twitter (this is similar to Meta-Facebook / LinkedIn / Google) offers 2 types of conversions - VTC & CTC.
Post-engagement attribution window (1-30) this means Twitter will report a conversion for up to 30 days from when someone engaged (click / like / RT) with an ad.
Post-view attribution window: Twitter Ads will assign a conversion for up to 30 days of someone *viewing* an ad.
You can roll your eyes and say - why is twitter taking credit for someone who saw the ad and converted 30 days later? And, you won’t be wrong. But the point here goes back to ‘what really drove the action’ which all attribution models try to answer. We typically leave VTC at 1 day and CTC at 7 days. But depending on your business you may want to make it 14-30 days. For example an average customer closes in 30 / 60 days. If your attribution window is set to 1 day, you will not see the contribution of Twitter (or any other ad platform).
If you want to focus on maximizing the reach & frequency use manual bids. We typically use manual bids especially when reaching a smaller / competitive audience.
We typically don’t use Twitter Audience Network because like the early days of Facebook Audience network - the quality of inventory is low but it is worth testing.
Definitely turn these on (remarketing to folks who engaged with organic tweets)
For B2B we focus on Follower targeting (more below) and almost never use any of these:
Creative & Ads
Twitter allows you to create Ads (called Promoted Only Tweets) that will not show up in your Twitter timeline *also called Dark Posts*
We’ve been experimenting with Carousel Ads where we promote multiple essays from 42Slash and see higher CTR engagement vs. a single image ad (with exceptions).
And now, some of the playbooks we use.
1. Target based on followers
Targeting based on followers works well for your brand. For example, if you know that your target customers follows & listens to Rand Fishkin you can target people with that particular preference and create awareness about your brand and what you do. You can also piggy back of other brands in your space. For example 42 Agency is a B2B Demand & RevOps shop - folks who ‘use’ Hubspot are great customers for us. So we can target Hubspot’s follower ‘lookalikes’ or Marketo, and reach B2B folks who match our ideal customer.
It might be a TOFU initiative; remember that Twitter is not a direct response platform, but it will allow you to position your brand in your customers' minds. In this case we won’t be promoting ‘talk to us’ because it won’t work as well but we can promote some of our Twitter content / essays or case studies to stay top of mind.
Tip: We find targeting people vs brands to be more effective. For example instead of targeting Marketo (broad audience) we can target folks like Emily Kramer (hola Emily!) because her audience is more likely to be higher engaged and a better fit vs. a Hubspot audience that might have a much broader reach to general ‘marketing’ folks.
2. Target by Hashtags or Keywords
Hashtags and keywords are perhaps some of the most underutilized ways to stand out and find potential followers/users. However, there are two ways to use hashtags to your advantage.
The most intuitive way to do this is to run hashtags with relevant keywords for your ideal customer at any given moment. For example, if you know that everyone in your niche is attending a particular event where a hashtag is used, you can run ads against that hashtag (like we will for SaaStr) or a industry # like marketingtwitter.
The second way to use hashtags is a bit more machiavelic yet extremely useful and underutilized. Imagine that brand X (your competitor) is having a massive issue, and its users cannot access their accounts. Undoubtedly, Twitter is the place most of their users will go and rant about how problematic this is for their workflow and business.
In that precise moment when users use a hashtag to identify a current pain or problem, you have the opportunity to bid against that particular keyword, grab attention, and gain users. We did this with a certain fintech brand to a high degree of success.
Twitter ads are a mix between brand and intent. For example, suppose Facebook is the place that maps out brands and topics you are interested in, and Google is the place where your actual behavior unfolds. In that case, Twitter becomes a unique mix that allows you to position yourself and influence other channels.
Plus, you can view (if targeting by followers) which accounts are brining in most engagement / clicks etc.
Note: Video promotion is also great on Twitter, the costs per view are significantly lower there and you can leverage the creative capabilities of your team at a much lower cost than in other platforms.
3. Run organic tweet promotions
Have a viral Tweet? As an additional boost, you can run ads on that organic tweet so that it reaches more people and increases your brand recognition.
Additionally, if you have spent a significant amount on Twitter, you will get a dedicated account manager that allows you to promote tweets from other accounts. This will enable you to promote personal accounts relevant to your brand. Doing so will intuitively connect the company with a message that resonates and builds brand awareness.
Our customer quote Tweet got great organic traction and a 16% CTR on Twitter Ads.
What to watch out for
At this point, if you have spent a significant amount of time on Twitter, you probably know many bot accounts are out there. As long as you know what you are doing on Twitter beyond direct response, you should be able to gain value from the platform. If, however, you are looking at your metrics without considering this particular reality of the platform, you might not reach your objectives.
Over to you.
Twitter is an under utilized platform when it comes to advertising. If your objective is to create brand awareness and start getting in front of the right audience it might be an opportunity you are missing at a relatively small cost (Twitter is cheaper than other platforms). However, if you are looking for direct response, demo requests and pipeline metrics as a result of Twitter ads this might not be the right medium for your advertising budgets.
An interesting exercise here is to look at Multi - Channel Funnels on Google Analytics to understand if Twitter plays an assist channel in conversions (over a long enough period of time like 3-6 months).
Twitter is the OG influencer platform. People do not go on Twitter to be pushed into giving out their emails or go into a pipeline. They go there to learn, to follow interesting accounts that add value to their lives and to see the real-time cultural events that are happening.
Understanding what Twitter is and how it works will allow you to stand out.
Did you enjoy this piece?
Thanks for reading 42Slash! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.