January 28, 2014, 8:26 AM

Twitter offers new ways for B2B companies to reach customers

The social network’s Tailored Audiences tool lets B2B marketers use e-mail addresses from their customer databases to reach their current customers or seek to attract new prospects using information consumers have publicly shared.

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Twitter is giving B2B marketers new ways to target Twitter users using its Tailored Audiences tool.

The tool, which launched in December, already allowed marketers to use browser cookies to retarget shoppers on the social network. Now, Twitter is giving B2B marketers and other brands the ability to use e-mail addresses from their customer relationship management databases—or CRM database records they share with a digital marketing vendor—to reach their current customers.

Advertisers can also seek to attract new prospects using lists of Twitter IDs based on information they share on Twitter, such as their biographical information, follower counts and past tweets.

Twitter also added a feature to let marketers exclude certain CRM or Twitter ID groups from their targeting. For instance, a B2B marketer might want to exclude a group of its customers who haven’t bought in the past 90 days from an ad highlighting a new line it is carrying.

Sign Up for B@Becnews for FREEThe new targeting options let advertisers “define groups of existing and potential customers more flexibly and connect with them on Twitter,” wrote Kelton Lynn, Twitter product manager, revenue, in a blog post.

Twitter says it doesn’t exchange any personal information about its users with advertisers. It is using “hashing technology,” which converts an e-mail address or other information into a string of numbers and letters that cannot be reversed to recreate the original information. It then matches up those strings with hashed information provided by marketers. In other words, if the e-mail address jill@customer.com shows up both in a marketer’s database and Twitter’s file, that advertiser can display an ad to her when she is on Twitter—without Twitter providing the advertiser any information about Jill.

Tailored Audiences is similar to Facebook Inc.’s Custom Audiences tool that the social network launched last year. Facebook also offers tools that let marketers target shoppers who share similar profiles to consumers in Facebook’s Custom Audiences customer segments, as well as to aim ads at shoppers based on offline behaviors.

However, unlike Facebook, Twitter lets consumers opt out of targeting that uses a consumer’s off-Twitter browsing or other information, such as her e-mail address, by unchecking a box in their account settings.

As Twitter and other social networks have increasingly rolled out new targeting options over the past year, retailers have boosted their spending on social media ads. Spending on social ads increased roughly 400% from 2012 to 2013, according to Internet Retailer’s new 2014 Social Media 500, which ranks the leaders in social commerce by the percentage of web site traffic they receive directly from social networks.

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