How to Win When You’re Fighting Against Cat Videos: Best Practices for Social Advertising
Facebook was once the platform to reach fans, customers, and potential customers with little to no cost. Success was counted in “likes”, and often brands could leave it at that. But now, with so much content out there and so many competitors fighting for attention, the signal-to-noise ratio is slipping out of brands’ favor. To catch your customers’ eyes you have to be just that: eye catching.
You may already be considering adding social advertising to reach your desired audiences. Not only can you target new customers, but you can also tie your ads into your email campaigns and target your existing customers, extending your reach. Facebook Ads combined with email make your contacts 22% more likely to purchase.
This post will lay out best practices for you to follow when launching or refining your social advertising campaigns.
Set your goals, do your research
Have you done social advertising in the past? What worked? What didn’t? Even more importantly, why?
Setting clear objectives, knowing what you want to achieve, and planning out your social advertising so it fits, and supports, your general marketing and traditional advertising campaigns is critical to success. Take the time to really think about what your goals are; more traffic to your site, or targeting existing customers who haven’t opened your latest email?
QUICK TIP 1: Research, clear goals, and setting a budget will help steer you in the right direction, and ultimately save you time and money.
Find your audience and listen to them
Where are your buyers and potential buyers spending time, and what are they saying? What other brands do they like, and what communities do they frequent?
Remember, social platforms are their space, not yours. You’re going to be competing against cat videos, pop quizzes and politics for your customers’ attention, never mind posts from their friends and family. It is critical that you listen first to be able to determine the tone of your copy or the types of ads your customers will respond to.
People share what resonates with them. It’s not the same on every platform, or through every channel. It might even fluctuate depending on the day of the week or the time of day. You’re getting a glimpse into how they view and interact with their world. Don’t try to change their habits, you won’t be able to. What you can do is be where they are, when they’re primed to look for you.
Compare what you find with any of your existing customer research. You can create custom audiences and target your existing customers, as well as potential customers with whom they share affinities. The more data you have, the more you can refine your advertising efforts. You can go from 20% open rates to 60% list reach by delivering your message on the platforms you know your customers prefer to receive content.
Quick Tip 2: Think carefully about who you’re targeting and where. Remember, social advertisements are more about targeting and efficiency than mass awareness.
Content, let’s make content!
It’s all content, and it all has to be awesome, whether it’s a traditional Facebook right-side ad, or, right there in their news feed, a “Suggested Post” or “Sponsored Story”. No matter if it shows up on the web or the mobile app, your content has to hold up to all of these criteria:
- Keep it Short – You have a small (tiny, really) window to capture their eyes and their interest. This is not the time to wax poetic.
- Maximize Your Keywords – What are people searching for? Don’t know? Go find out.
- Have a Call to Action – Is there a sale they’re about to miss out on? Get that in front of them. Tell your customers what to do and drive them somewhere specific. Keep the interaction as simple as possible.
- Engage and Entertain – Try to not sound like a marketing robot. Remember, “talk human to them.” They’re on Facebook to have fun, or at the very least, for personal reasons.
- Optimize for Mobile – Have you looked around recently? Everyone is on their phones. All. The. Time. If your content isn’t mobile friendly, your content will miss your customers.
Quick Tip 3: Would you want to share the content you’re providing? If not, try again. Relevant content is engaging and shareable.
Would you like some [insert brand here] with your coffee?
Timing really is everything in the world of social. Catching you customers in the wrong mood (sorry, it’s “look at my friend’s baby pictures o’clock”) and they’ll never notice you. Yes, it’s going to be tricky, but you have to set up your ads to reach the relevant audiences at the right time.
Targeting ads at existing customers who haven’t opened an email, or customers who abandoned their cart, are great examples of where to start. Don’t target ads at customers who have already purchased a product with the same product or something similar.
Quick Tip 4: Don’t turn Facebook into Ad-book. Your customers will resent you for it, or worse, they’ll tune you out or actively ‘hide’ you.
When setting your goals, you also need to set a budget. Setting both a daily budget and a lifetime budget for each of your campaigns will help keep you on track. Keep an eye on your budget, where does your spending make sense and where is it just …spending?
Without a running ROI you won’t be able to decide which ads to keep ‘as is’, and which ones to adjust.
Quick Tip 5: Investing in tools that integrate your social ads into your overall marketing program will ensure your ads (and team) run efficiently.
Test, test, and test some more
Facebook might as well have been built for A/B testing. The number of hours people spend on the platform, paired with the sheer volume of people engaging daily, is a data scientist’s fantasy land. Take advantage of this.
Start with two small test groups and show them similar, but intentionally different, versions of the same ad. Use the better performing version, and then test again against some slightly different content. The trick is to continue making small and always measurable changes to your ads, based on how they’re performing.
Quick Tip 6: By defining success metrics for each campaign, and using A/B testing, you will know when your campaigns have reached their best ROI.
Social moves fast. If you get mired in manual operations you will not only lose your windows to send the best content, you’ll lose the opportunities of customer eyeballs (and the resulting sales) because of it.
Use a platform that helps you build custom audiences and makes optimization decisions for you, based on performance. This will help you target and run the best ads possible. Yes, sometimes running ads manually will be necessary, whether in response to a competitor or current events, but automating 99% of the process with save you time and money.
Quick Tip 7: By automating you’re able to spend your time coming up with more creative content.
Just because it’s social doesn’t mean it’s not science.
You have to analyze your metrics. The only way to get the most out of your ads is to know what to measure, why you’re measuring it, and to act on what the results are telling you. Your favorite campaign didn’t do as well as you had hoped? Figure out why. Don’t just keep running it because you like it, or because you can’t think of anything better. Your customers have spoken through their lack of clicks. Listen to what they’re saying. The only way to do this is to look at the numbers you’re getting back from your campaigns.
Figuring out what went wrong and what needs to be adjusted can be very complicated. You’re interacting in a crowded space, with a feed that is the reflection of your customer’s entire world. Knowing what to change for your next ad means looking at the numbers and asking a lot of questions: Was the timing off? Was the messaging wrong? Did you launch right when the trailer for some hot new movie came out? Without metrics, clear goals and some general awareness of what’s happening in the world, you might ditch a campaign that just needed to be launched at lunchtime rather than during the game on Monday night.
Quick Tip 8: Adjusting ads to best fit your customers requires benchmark metrics paired with clear goals and objectives.
With Emarsys you can find your existing customers on Facebook, and effectively target individuals in real time through automated, data-driven advertising campaigns. Just like Email. With an industry average of 20% open rates for marketing emails, 80% of an entire customer list does not see your message. Social Ads can enable brands and retailers to reach that 80%, and continuously synchronize your audiences with their source segments so you don’t need to worry about manually updating them.
Quick Tip 9: Find out more about Social Ads here.