How to Win With Facebook Ads

Most of you in the Internet Marketing space have probably tried Facebook ads at one time or another.  It’s hard not to be tempted by the (typically) lower cost-per-click prices than Google AdWords and other PPC mediums; some of the keywords I’ve targeted on AdWords have come with costs as high as $6 – $12 per click, while the same audience through Facebook can be bought for under $2. But if you’re like most people you probably discovered one thing about Facebook ads pretty quick…

They don’t convert.

Yes, I know that’s a broad statement and individual results will vary and blah blah blah.  My point is that comparatively speaking, the typical conversion rates are far lower on Facebook ads than they are on more targeted PPC mediums, which for most of us negates the perceived “savings” of the lower-cost ads.  On one campaign of mine, after months of multivariate testing dialing in the conversion rates of a landing page, my AdWords and organic search visitors were converting at a steady 4.3% – yet a targeted Facebook ad, landing visitors on the exact same page, was converting at under 1%.

At this point, most people would say “Facebook ads don’t work” and shut off their campaign.  I say don’t throw in the towel just yet.

First, understand the psychology behind the two types of ads.  I’ve said it at least a dozen times in past articles, people don’t visit social media sites to shop – they visit them to socialize.  This factor alone means that your click and conversion rates are going to be lower than a search-driven campaign; it’s infinitely easier to capture a sale from a visitor looking for a solution than someone who wasn’t thinking about the problem.  Or in other words, you’ll get more sales at a trade show full of people looking to buy the type of product you’re selling vs. standing in a coffee shop saying “Hey, check out my product!”.  Knowing this fundamental difference between the mindset of these two distinctly different audiences will help you maintain more realistic expectations from the beginning.  For most of us, checking Facebook is something you do on your down time.  You check it in the morning, in between tasks at work, or on breaks.  Facebookers aren’t there to shop and aren’t in a buying mood when they see your ad, so even if they click it they’re far less likely to buy at that moment – and far more likely to forget about it by the end of the day.

So how do you bring them back later?  Remarketing through Google AdWords.

Remarketing, also known as “retargeting” or “Google Stalking” (that’s what I call it) is a feature that allows Google to show your ads on sites running AdSense to visitors who visited your site but left without buying.  Ever notice how after you visit certain sites, their ads seem to follow you around on other sites you visit?  That’s remarketing – Google knows you were there, and is now displaying ads to you in an effort to drive you back to the site, sometimes offering extra incentive to close the deal like free shipping or significant discounts.  I’ve experienced mixed results with remarketing on search campaigns, but combining a remarketing campaign with Facebook campaigns yielded pretty impressive results.

It makes sense too.  By running a Facebook ad, your first introduction to the customer happened at the coffee shop.  They weren’t in time or place conducive to shopping, and had other things going on that got in the way of the sale.  But now, they’re seeing your ads on other websites they visit – sites that aren’t social media sites.  Now they’re being presented with better visuals than Facebook’s tiny icon-sized image, reminding them of why they clicked that Facebook ad in the first place, and you look like a big shot with a huge marketing budget because they’re seeing your ads everywhere they go.  And these impressions cost you nothing unless they click through.  They’re off Facebook, already remember their earlier visit, and are now more likely to be in a buying mood.  Now you have them.

Analytics are key to making sense of this scenario, because although you’ll see an increase in conversions due to the remarketing campaign, Facebook won’t get credit for being the one who delivered that visitor the first time to trigger the remarketing code.  Your analytics will tell you your Facebook ads aren’t converting, so pay attention to how many conversions you’re getting as a result of your remarketing.  Create a separate landing page for your Facebook ads – even if it’s identical to a perfectly-tuned landing page that’s working elsewhere, that’s fine, just make sure it’s a separate URL.  Then watch how often that URL was viewed in comparison to your remarketing conversion rate to determine how successful this strategy is.  My bet is that you’ll start seeing results, and the combination of Facebook and Remarketing will turn what would otherwise be a weak ad campaign into a great one.

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