Every week I speak to countless businesses and no matter what they are selling, most businesses want to accomplish one thing: sell more. While they know that Facebook advertising can help their business, most don’t know where to get started. Another large percentage of businesses may have dabbled in advertising on the site but they haven’t been able to obtain the conversion ratios they are looking for. In this guide, I’ll walk you through 10 of the most important laws for businesses when advertising on Facebook.
Not all of the laws are strategies that should be implemented. Instead these are laws that define how Facebook advertisements function and general perspectives that you should keep in mind when creating your advertisements. Some laws will describe immediate actions you can take while others are more broad. All of these laws should help you improve your overall Facebook advertising experience.
1. Facebook Is Least Effective At Direct Sales
If you’ve come to Facebook looking for instantaneous sales than you’ve come to the wrong place. Facebook presents businesses with the opportunity to reach their target market throughout the entire marketing cycle. While a small percentage of users are ready to purchase while they’re browsing Facebook, a much larger percentage of users are going to make a purchase in the future if not now.
Fortunately you have the opportunity to build an ongoing relationship with your customer and that’s what Facebook is most useful for: building relationships. It’s a platform to build ongoing relationships and “remarket” to your customers, as Facebook says in some of their own marketing copy. Understanding that these users are not ready to purchase is key to success on Facebook.
As I outlined in the 5 phases of the Facebook sales funnel, Facebook is about relationship marketing. As Wikipedia describes, “Relationship marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long term value to the firm of keeping customers, as opposed to direct or ‘Intrusion’ marketing, which focuses upon acquisition of new clients by targeting majority demographics based upon prospective client lists.”
2. Create A Greater Volume Of Ads That Target Less People
Often times on Google, advertisers will create an ad which targets every person in a single country and then split test two ad versions against each other. On Facebook this model will do nothing but cost you money. Placing a generic ad that’s targeted at an entire country, without any additional targeting, will do nothing but get you a lot of clicks and waste a lot of money for the most part.
Facebook provides 11 targeting factors for advertisers (with three new factors announced yesterday). Below is an outline of each of those factors:
- Location – Facebook enables advertisers to target by country, state/provice, city, and metropolitan areas. All advertisements are required to have a location selected. This should be pretty straight-forward as to which location you’d like to select.
- Age – Age is a standard demographic factor. Most marketers that have a well defined target-market will be able to select their age.
- Birthday – This is one of Facebook’s latest advertising targeting filters. It should be pretty obvious what types of ads should be presented to people who’s birthday it is. Try wishin the user a happy birthday and offer them a gift for higher conversion rates.
- Sex – Gender is another typical targeting filter for Facebook.
- Keywords – Keywords will are based on a user’s profile information including Activities, Favorite Books, TV Shows, Movies, and more. I believe job titles are included in this field and I typically spend the most time trying to brainstorm effective keywords. What types of products do your customers like? What’s their job position within an organization? Spend time on this field and you’ll be rewarded.
- Education – While you can target based on their level of education, this is most effective for targeting ads based on the schools that people went to. Want to announce a reunion for the University of Illinois class of 1996? This is a great way to promote it.
- Workplaces – This is another great targeting filter. Often times you will know the companies that your target market works at. If you are looking to get new clients or looking to spread awareness within specific organizations, this filter can be priceless.
- Relationship – Want to target people that are about to get married? This is a great tool for that. If you are a bar or club, you most likely want to go after those people that are single. While this filter can be useful, you also need to keep in mind that selecting any of these settings will remove all users that haven’t selected a relationship status in their profile.
- Interested In – This factor is useful if a user’s sexual preferences are relevant to whatever you are advertising. I tend to skip this field for most of my ads.
- Languages – If your ad is in English but the user speaks Chinese, it’s probably not a good idea to be displaying ads to them.
- Connections – The connections fields were launched yesterday by Facebook and they enable you to include and exclude users based on pages, events, and applications that the users have joined and you happen to be the administrator of. If you’ve created a Page and don’t want the ads to display to people who have already joined, this is a great way to avoid duplicate clicks.
If you aren’t taking advantage of the numerous targeting factors then you aren’t using Facebook advertising effectively. In order to have an increased conversion rate on your advertisements, increase the targeting in order to make the advertisement more relevant for the users. Relevance will get people to respond to your ad.
3. Friend Users Before You Sell To Them
Facebook is about relationship marketing, not direct sales (as I described in the first law). That means it’s more important to build a relationship with a potential client or an existing customer rather than closing a sale right away. So how does this law show up in practice? The most obvious form is through the Facebook Ads for pages and events.
Through these advertisements, users can become a fan or RSVP to an event directly from an ad. At that point, you have the opportunity to interact directly with that individual and build a relationship. If you had directed a user to your website, you would have been forced to have them enter a form or make a purchase right away. The odds of getting a user to fill out a form or make a purchase immediately is far less than getting them to become a fan of a Page or RSVPing to an event.
In addition to having an increased conversion, you are also now able to reach out to individuals directly if you wish. For example if someone RSVPs to an event, but you don’t know who they are, you can send them a message welcoming them to the event and inquiring about more information. This form of relationship building is used to build lasting customers, not one time purchases, and it is core to Facebook marketing.
4. Understand Your Market
On Google, a shoe retailer will develop an advertisement that targets people who are “looking to purchase shoes”. These advertisers will look for people who are carelessly misspelling a word while searching for something in order to convert them into a customer. It’s a great model for generating one-time sales but unfortunately these advertisers don’t always understand their market.
In order to become an effective Facebook advertiser, you need to have effectively defined your market. This will help you to take advantage of the 11 targeting factors that Facebook currently provides. To help define your market, you can go through the market segmentation process. This involves defining the need your company satisfies and then more thoroughly defining who your customer is.
After exhaustively defining who your customer is, you’ll be more effective at defining the targeting factors to be used in Facebook advertisements.
5. Set Advertising Budgets With A Goal In Mind
It’s extremely easy to spend a lot of money on Facebook advertisements by “experimenting”. I can’t tell you how many people I know that have aimlessly spent thousands of dollars on Facebook advertisements but couldn’t point to tangible goals that they had accomplished. If you set a budget on a campaign for $20 a day you should know what you would like to receive for that money.
Yes, we all want customers, but as I’ve continuously emphasized: Facebook marketing is not about instant sales. With that in mind, below are two practices that are good to keep in mind when setting your goals.
In terms of sales, the payoff will be further down the line so be prepared to spend over weeks and months, don’t blow your budget in a day. Unless you are an affiliate marketer (who has distinctly different goals), you should be invested in the advertising for the long haul. A one-week campaign is not going to bring you riches, but a long-term investment in advertising can produce measurable results.
This means don’t spend beyond your means for one week and have no money left at the end. Instead, set reasonable budgets that you’ll be able to handle for longer periods of time.
Measure Initial Conversions As Fans, Comments, and Likes
Since most users will not make a purchase right away, you need to make sure that you are at least engaging them. Would you go out on a first date with someone and then wait two weeks to call them back? If you want to see them again I hope you don’t wait two weeks to follow-up. The same goes for your fans. Follow-up with your fans often and consistently.
6. Monitor Your Ad Performance And Adjust Accordingly
Now that you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to track whether or not you’ve achieved them. Throughout each Facebook advertising campaign, you should be tracking how well the advertisements perform. Are you on track to reach the goals that you’ve set? Are your advertisements achieving a reasonable click-through level?
Facebook provides advertisers with a number of monitoring tools including their basic ad manager area as well as downloadable data about each campaign you are running. If you visit the ad reports area you can download three types of reports to determine how your campaigns and ads are performing: advertising performance, responder demographics, responder profiles.
The primary things to monitor are clicks, click through rates (CTR), actions, action rates, and CPC. Each of these variables will differ depending on what type of campaign that you’re running but in theory, the more targeted your ad, the higher click through rate you should have. Additionally, your click through rate will tend to go down over time as your entire target population views your ad and decides whether or not they want to respond.
7. Test Landing Pages Versus Facebook Pages
In traditional online advertising, users are directed to a landing page from which they are prompted to fill in information in a form. This information is then typically used to send marketing literature. On Facebook, you want to build relationships but if the relationships you are building aren’t generating any revenue, you may want to diversify your advertising strategy by including some landing pages.
Yes, building relationships are extremely valuable and despite those users never making a purchase, they can become effective brand advocates that ultimately drive new customers to your business. For smaller businesses, investing in brand advocates is often considered to be a costly proposition which is why investing in some direct sales is always useful.
The point of this law is that Facebook advertising combined with relationship marketing cannot be your only strategy. You need to generate sales and sometimes that means being direct and converting a customer. If you want another phrase to summarize this law: “diversify, diversify, diversify”.
8. Split Test Ads By Demographic
An advertiser once told me that women tend to react more often to advertisements that have the color pink in them. While I doubt this is consistent across all women, this could be true for a large portion of them. The only way to find out if it is true is to split test different ads within that specific demographic. I’ll use an example to illustrate this rule.
Let’s say that you’ve created an advertisement that’s targeted at CEOs of companies in the Northeast region of the United States. You can create two advertisements and compare which version of the ad results in a larger response. An example lesson learned would be that “CEOs in the Northeast region tend to respond better to ads with the word ‘influence’ over the word ‘power'”.
As you narrow your targeting, you can begin to adjust your advertisements even further. For example, as a second step you can now create separate ads for CEOs in the Boston area and CEOs in the New York metropolitan area. Each step along the way you should be refining your advertising copy while incorporating some of the lessons learned from the previous steps.
As you increase your targeting, you can incorporate some of the lessons learned from previous steps.
9. Develop Creative Ad Copy
This honestly has to be one of the most important laws. Conversion is primarily about two things: your ad copy and the landing page. If your advertisement doesn’t provide a call to action, there is a good chance that the user won’t respond. Facebook ads for pages and events already provide a call to action but generic advertisements don’t. If you offer the user something for clicking, there’s an increased chance they will click.
The best way to determine effective ad copy is to take a look at the existing sites around the web. Which are the ones that you see most often? Even if the ads appear to be annoying, if you continuously see them, there’s a good chance that they are doing something right. Click on ads and see what types of products are being offered and what the pitch is.
The best way to improve your advertising is through research and other advertisers provide you with plenty of free information. While copywriting books can assist with writing effective headlines as well as how to structure landing pages, your best information will come from other ads. Also check out magazine racks at book stores and see what headlines are being used. Often times you will find great headline ideas there.
10. Don’t Over Target
In the eighth law I outlined how the more that you target, the more you can begin to hone your ad copy. While increased targeting can increase click through rates, determining how to most effectively target sub-segments of your customer population can be costly both in time and in money. While you should most definitely take advantage of Facebook’s targeting features, it’s more important that you get your company’s name out there and then build the relationships.
Everything in marketing is a balance and the last thing you want to do is spend all of your time increasing ad relevance while not interacting with the users who are clicking through on the ads. Spend time tracking your ads’ performance but also make sure that you spend time connecting with all the people that respond to your ad.
If you aren’t following through with the marketing process then you aren’t going to generate new customers.
Improving your advertising is something that takes time and patience. On Facebook, marketing is about relationships, not immediate sales, so set your budgets and advertising plans with that in mind. Facebook advertising is still a relatively new offering and marketers are just beginning to understand how to use these advertisements most effectively. With these 10 initial laws, all marketers should have a great starting point.
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