If you run advertising for your company you’ve probably dealt with the common question of Google AdWords (Search/Display) vs Facebook Ads. Both platforms have their pros and cons and in the end there’s a lot of experimentation involved to conclude which one works best.
In our case (and I believe for most companies) a combination of both is really ideal, taking advantage of Retargeting to ensure users complete the goals in your funnels.
I’ve probably managed about $100,000 worth of FB and Google Advertising in the past 3 years, first as a consultant and now for the growth of our platform Slidebean. These are a few tricks of the trade I’ve learned through the process:
1- Understand your moment of intent
Moment of intent could be translated to the point in an acquisition funnel where a user is located. In Google Search, ads are a result of a related search, which means the moment of intent is great.
If a user is running a Google Search for digital cameras, he/she is already planning to buy one. In other words, he already knows what a digital camera is (other ads, press, word of mouth…) and has decided he wants one and wants to invest his money. Now it’s just a matter of how much and from which seller they are going to buy.
This is why companies can afford to pay $50 for a click on Google AdWords, because they have a clear understanding of the number of clicks they are going to convert to a sale, and that ratio is usually rather high.
On the other hand, the moment of intent in Facebook ads is very different. If someone is on Facebook they are probably procrastinating and looking to consume content from their friends or from the pages they follow. In most cases, they check Facebook as a distraction, which means there’s still a long road from that point to the decision of buying a product or service. Instead of fulfilling a need, you are interrupting their Facebook activity.
We probably wasted about $1,000 advertising Slidebean with ‘Sign Up’ ads (a nice picture of the product and a Sign Up/Learn More call to action). These ads were delivered to specific audiences we knew had potential but our CTR never went above 0.5%. People were simply not interested in clicking our ad while they were using Facebook. The few that did, would rarely complete their activation funnel.
This is where we started leveraging the potential of content marketing. We discovered that sharing content and promoting (boosting it) on Facebook was a great way to get affordable traffic. Our blog articles get clicked and shared easily (and cheap), because we provide users with content that is interesting for them. If traffic is what you're looking for you might find this article very useful: Content Marketing Strategy: How we doubled our blog traffic
2- Detailed Targeting + Custom Audiences
Google tracks basic information about a user (age, parental status), and only in certain cases allows you to use that information for targeting. They tried to gather some more information about your interests with Google Plus, but that didn’t really work out, did it?
This is where Facebook is extremely powerful. Facebook knows EVERYTHING about their users, what they like (no pun intended), their marital status, their family members, etc…. We’ve provided Facebook with all this data through years of activity, and now they can use it to target us. While their moment of intent is relatively bad, you can find very specific audiences with very specific variables, and that’s Facebook’s secret power.
You’re probably familiar with Facebook’s regular targeting settings screen. The basics: age, location, interests, work, education, etc. Be sure to check the ‘Behaviours’ section, they have some interesting targeting groups like ‘New Business Owners’ or ‘Online Buyers’.
Custom Audiences are positioned as an ‘Advanced’ Facebook Advertising feature, but the truth is they are not hard to master at all. A Custom Audience in Facebook is created by tracking app/website activity or by uploading a list of emails.
For website traffic all you do is install a pixel on your site. Once installed, you can choose to target everyone who visited it, or segment them by specific activities. For example, you can create an Audience of users who visited your blog but didn’t visit your landing page to sign up for the product. Or you can target people who signed up but didn’t activate (by visiting a specific ‘success’ page).
This is how that audience would look like:
The great thing about this is that from the moment the pixel is installed, Facebook starts storing all this activity data from every single website visitor. New members are added automatically, but most importantly you can then go back and create a New Audience based their previous website activity.
You can bring your Custom Audience into any Facebook ad, either on ‘include’ or ‘exclude’ mode. For example, we exclude our paying users from most of our campaigns, since they’ve already completed our goal.
Custom audiences may also be created using email lists. Facebook simply tries to match their email addresses to the ones in their own database. Same as before, you can include them and exclude from any campaign, but most importantly, you can take a look at their insights.
This is truly scary shit and I believe it’s only the tip of the iceberg of everything Facebook really knows about you. Audience insights gives you statistical data about any audience you’ve created from the aforementioned screen.
‘In order to protect their user’s data’ you can only look at insights for audiences that are 1000+. The data Facebook gives you about them is absolutely scary (and also incredibly useful to understand your business and your product-market fit).
Let’s take a look at our blog visitors for the past few months. Bear in mind these are users who visited the blog not didn’t necessarily sign up for the product.
Starting out with Demographics. The gray bar in here is Facebook’s overall audience distribution, and the blue bars are how your audience compares to Facebook’s average. As you can see here, we attract a lot more 25-34 (millennials) than the average on Facebook; a lot less on the 18-24 range.
Moving on. Nothing seems to spike on relationship status, but very interesting data on Education Level (highest level of education reached). Notice how High Schoolers are not interested in our articles, as expected. We have average acceptance between college-educated professionals, but look at how popular we are with people who went through grad school.
Now this gets creepier with Lifestyle. For US Audiences, Lifestyle gives you insights about who your customers are. For example, Established Elite ‘represent’s America’s elite couples and singles. With no school-age children at home and the second highest income in the country, these house holds have enormous disposable incomes and pursue correlating luxuries and activities’.
Including some other insights so you can get a better notion of the data you can gather.
“Facebook Audience Insights can tell you about your users. Use this information wisely. ”
Facebook also lets you use this data to automatically create new audiences, using the lookalike audience filter. There’s little control over what you can do, other than adjusting how strict Facebook is about the new audience.
Lookalike audiences are defined by country, but you can later jump in and re-filter it based on variables that you already know, like age and location.
Advanced Post Boosts
The infamous Boost button on fan pages is an quick and easy way to boost your content, it works great if you have a small fan page and are not too worried about your final conversion rate, but if you are looking to scale your customer acquisition channels and measure your CAC accordingly, you need to do this the pro way.
In a similar manner to creating traditional Facebook ads, you can create a Campaign exclusively for Content Boosting. This allows you to edit all the variables available on a regular Facebook Campaign, but specifically for content engagement.
For our content marketing campaign (promotion of our blog content), we’ve defined a number of different audiences/verticals and we add new promoted content as it comes. Keeping them all in a single campaign gives us a side-by-side comparison of the cost per post engagement in each one of them.
Notice how we not only promote our content to new people, we also invest some budget in targeting our own users and previous blog visitors. The cost per engagement tends to be lower because these users already recognise your brand.
The value of retargeting those users is that you continue to stay at the top of their minds and they are more likely to comment or share our articles to their peers. After these users visit our blog, they move one step up in our acquisition funnel, and they move to our Sign Up Retargeting Campaigns.