Facebook is constantly unveiling new ad features. But over the past year or so, they’ve also been unveiling completely new product features. The most interesting part is how these all connect.
Facebook Messenger, for example, is now like a spin that centralizes all personal interactions on the platform. It means you can start using it for sophisticated interactions like customer service.
That’s great for engagement. You can do everything from drive new awareness to follow-up individually with customers on Facebook.
However, there’s been one thing missing for a long time.
A business could replicate almost every single important function. Except for running payments and transactions.
Thankfully, that’s all changed with the Facebook Marketplace.
Here’s what it is, how it works, and how marketers can use it to grow their businesses.
What Is Facebook Marketplace?
Facebook Marketplace is a literal marketplace. It’s an open exchange, where you can post stuff for sale or buy new and used items off people within your local area.
There has already been over 18 million new items in the Marketplace, ranging from cars to video games to rental houses to clothes.
The premise is super simple. And the buying experience is, too. When you find something of interest, just click to message the seller and you can work it out from there.
Each item might have a few pictures and a short description. But otherwise, it’s up to you and the seller (or buyer) to figure out the transaction details.
It also works flawlessly on the mobile app, with a button conveniently located directly in the middle.
Just tap it to bring up Facebook Marketplace, and the app will use your GPS to start displaying products right around you.
The promise for Facebook Marketplace has always been massive. However, the reality often failed to live up to it.
For example, it’s been a glorified garage sale for most of its existence, offering up such luxurious items as the following:
Obviously, products like that don’t inspire a lot of confidence for marketers. How on Earth can you do anything with that?!
Just recently, Facebook officially unveiled new support for content from local businesses.
SearchEngineLand reports that Facebook will also be creating new categories for:
- Daily deals
These new options also open the door for platform integrations. For example, Shopify owners will be able to seamlessly push products to Facebook Marketplace without having to manually create duplicate listings.
Facebook will also start processing payments directly, and they’ve been testing ads directly in the Marketplace, too.
More than one company has used the platform ‘hack’ in the past to successfully siphon off users from a marketplace.
They created tools to help Craigslist property managers re-publish their listing over to their own platform.
So now you see the potential.
Facebook Marketplace is revamping the old Classifieds business and going directly after Craigslist’s buyers and sellers.
Now, the doors are opening for local businesses to get in on the action.
How To Use Facebook Marketplace For Business
Here’s how your business can take advantage of Facebook Marketplace and capitalize on it — before the competition catches on.
1. Increase awareness & ‘discoverability’
Trick question: What is the easiest way for new businesses to increase sales?
It has nothing to do with closing methods. It has nothing to do with a green button vs. a blue one on your landing page.
Instead, it has everything to do with branding.
Increasing brand awareness is the fastest, easiest way to increase sales. Because people won’t buy if they don’t know or trust you (more on this in the next section).
That means you need to increase the number of people who know who you are. You need more people to recognize your name.
And you need to make it easy for them to discover you when they’ve never heard of you before.
Facebook Marketplace is an excellent place to do just that. Don’t take my word for it, though. Take AdWeek’s:
“Facebook added that the buying and selling experiences triggered by Marketplace have led to a growth of 77 percent in users who may not have otherwise connected.”
You know what that means?
The Marketplace gives you an easy way to almost double the number of interactions you have with potential customers right now.
Like any other platform, channel, or medium. With an offer they can’t refuse.
Here’s Exhibit A:
This product listing contains the following:
- Focus on the products, not the company
- Date and time availability
- And a local address
If you’re looking in the Marketplace under “Tools,” it’s safe to assume you’re interested in tools. The offer is designed to pull people in, focusing on what they want.
And then you use that momentary attention to expose them to your business for the first time.
Exhibit B is an even better example:
First, the remodel picture. It’s showing the work-in-progress so you can see the quality.
It’s transforming an intangible service into a tangible finished product.
Next, is the phone number straight in the description. That helps build trust.
But the best part is saved for last. Notice the ‘price’? It’s listed as free.
Their goal here is to show up to the most people possible. Of course, you know the actual service isn’t free. The service estimate is. However, this isn’t the point.
Instead, they’re capitalizing on how “Free” products inside the Marketplace will get extra visibility.
2. Build trust prior to purchase
What’s the worst part about buying something off Craigslist?
It’s that nagging question in the back of your mind. “Is this person legit?”
Trust makes all the difference in a transaction. It’s literally the difference between a sale and a pass.
That’s why people look for known brand names when deciding to purchase — even over price.
Most of Facebook Marketplace sales will come through an individual’s profile. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
It helps people see exactly who they’re doing business with. It helps them answer that nagging question without ever having to call you or step foot in your store.
Google calls this the Zero Moment of Truth. It’s the proactive research phase that consumers will check out before starting the buying process.
Facebook’s relative transparency aligns with how consumers are already shopping today.
Now, compare that to a place like Craigslist, which uses fake ‘no reply’ email addresses and often doesn’t even give you ANY seller information up front.
There is no comparison.
Here’s a perfect example:
The image is a professional bed set. This seller knows what they’re doing.
But three key things separate it:
- The store name is listed
- The address is listed
- And the owner, Mark, wants you to message him
Interested buyers have three ways to double-check everything about this company before even looking at the available products.
Notice it’s “products” and not “product.” That’s important. Here’s why.
3. Conduct market research to see what sells
So far, you just want people to know your name. You want to get them into your store.
How would you do this with ads?
You’d probably pick a few different products and see which gets the most attention.
You figure out which products are in the most demand. Then, after you have their attention and trust, you can sell them anything.
The trick is to figure how to get their attention. Or more specifically, which products get the most eyeballs.
Let’s check out the Home & Garden category real quick to see what the most “Popular” products are:
Those arrows are annoying, I know. But they’re trying to highlight something.
Three things stand out when you look at the top six most “Popular” items in this category:
- Sectional sofas
- Bedroom sets
- Patio furniture
Now, you have a much better idea of how to bring in eyeballs. You know which items to feature.
The next step is to split test the creative. Treat this like any other ad creative, because the elements are largely the same.
It doesn’t need to be super official at this point. Don’t stress over statistical significance.
Instead, just get started with split testing classic creative elements like the headline you use, the featured image, and even the call to action in the description.
4. Test sales sequences for automating follow-up
Two stats illuminate the difference between top-selling companies and everyone else.
There’s no difference for product companies. People might visit or express interest in what you’ve got. And yet, that doesn’t mean they’re going to buy immediately. In fact, most won’t.
That means you need a follow-up strategy. You need to choreograph a ‘transition’ from the minute someone expresses interest until you finally get that sale.
Fortunately, you can cheat with Facebook’s Marketplace. You can use marketing automation to scale a lot of the time-consuming, back-and-forth that takes place.
For example, someone reaches out to ask about what you’re selling.
Boom. You’re off to the races.
The tricky part is that timing also plays a crucial role in sales. Check out this next stat:
“35-50% of all sales are won by the vendor that responds first.”
That means you need to respond ASAP.
But you’ve also probably got a business to run. Or a family to spend time with. Or a life to live.
So how do you do it?
Thankfully, you can automate just about the entire thing with templates or chatbots.
For example, the standard reply can be a simple copy and paste away:
Otherwise, you can also use bots to help tailor responses depending on what someone says. You can already do this with SMS:
Based on the actions someone does (or doesn’t) take, the message changes.
The key here is to figure out which sequence produces the most sales.
How, specifically, should you follow up? Which messages should you send when someone says “I’m interested in buying” vs. when they go cold.
Most businesses don’t already have these fleshed out in Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
They should. But they don’t.
Facebook Messenger lets you test this out, experiment on the fly, and even gives you a solid roadmap that can be used offline afterward.
5. Sell more products
The entire goal of Facebook Marketplace is to sell products.
You post products. People click and buy.
However, it’s not always that simple in reality.
And a one-off product sale won’t scale your business. You need to sell dozens of products. Maybe even hundreds to make a dent.
That’s why so much time needs to be spent on the first four steps. The only way you’re going to sell dozens or hundreds of products is if you have thousands of people looking.
How, exactly, do you do that? Especially if you have expensive items?
You start with a tripwire.
You first get people to commit for free or a single dollar. The barrier to entry is incredibly low. There is almost zero risk on behalf of the buyer.
Then, once you have them, you slowly but surely work them up to your more expensive stuff.
For example, let’s say you have a video game store. Or you sell video game consoles. These might range a few hundred bucks a pop.
Selling one directly over a Marketplace posting might be tough. However, you can start with a tripwire to build out a list of potential prospects.
Sell video games for a single dollar to figure out who’s interested and willing to spend a little money.
This isn’t a new strategy, either. Far from it.
Tripwires and $1 products have been used since the 1960s.
The best part about this?
You get people to message you. They can start building that recognition and trust.
If one sale goes well, they’ll come back for more.
Especially when you start running Messenger ads to people you’ve already spoken with.
A simple Marketplace sale becomes the perfect conduit to a long-lasting, profitable customer relationship.
Facebook’s Marketplace resembled a glorified garage sale initially.
But it’s just getting started.
New developments have made Facebook’s intentions clear. They’re gunning to own the Classifieds market. They’re going after Craigslist head on.
Businesses are now able to use it to get free exposure to potential customers around them.
They can use it to increase awareness, build trust, and even test the market to figure out the best way to position what they have to offer.
Then, they can use it to fine-tune follow-up sequences to produce more consistent results.
All of these activities can help open up a pipeline of new business that leads people directly to your doorstep.
By that point, the sale should be easy. Especially when they have an offer they can’t refuse.