Marketers and advertisers know the drill.
Another week, another Facebook ad to connect with your audience.
You churn out advert after advert, campaign after campaign – spending dollars all the way.
But, for some reason, conversions don’t seem to take off.
Is Facebook even the right platform for your advertising dollars?
It’s natural that a conversion-focused advertiser or business (like you) might try to avoid the platform. But that would be silly. And here’s why:
Facebook proudly boasted over 650 million daily visitors to its site last year, a number that is only going to increase in the foreseeable future. In the face of such high traffic to the social media giant, brands not taking full advantage of the site’s advertising features are missing out on tremendous conversion opportunities.
Just a quick by-the-numbers, courtesy of Digital Marketing Ramblings, illustrates the potential boost for your business’s bottom line:
• There was a 40 percent increase in Facebook ads that users saw between Q1 2013 – Q1 2014 (Source).
• 92 percent of social marketers use Facebook advertising (Source).
• The reported ROI for retail Facebook advertisers is 152 percent (Source).
These are some impressive numbers. But with 1.5 million active advertisers (and 30 million branded Facebook pages), it’s important to do whatever you can to stand out above the crowd, and that’s what will make a difference to your conversions.
How do you achieve this winning difference? Let’s jump in on the essential tactics to help your Facebook conversion rates get off the ground.
1. Targeting 101: Do Your Homework
It’s no secret that Facebook collects tremendous amounts of user data, which is generated not only by the demographic information in a user’s profile, but also through likes, interactions and shares. All of this information is available to advertisers through Facebook’s extensive targeting features, but it’s important to remember that the effectiveness of this capability depends upon how much you know your target customer base.
This means doing your homework ahead of time and determine the most essential traits of your target profile. If you’re still unsure which target profiles will work the best, try an A/B test by creating two different profiles with the same ad. Facebook is an ideal platform for A/B testing in this regard, since marketers can enter incredibly specific criteria.
Say you’re a Seattle-based real estate firm that offers modern, affordable housing. You’re targeting young, professional, first-time homeowners with new jobs (say in the tech sector) interested in starting a family. A basic targeting strategy could look something like this:
This covers your basics: location, age, generation, family-related interests and your desired buying behavior. Use something like this as your A. Now, let’s trying a more focused B:
Here, the same basic criteria apply, but now there are added considerations. In addition to the new job, marriage status has been added. Elements were also added for family and parenting. Even with home ownership considerations, the drop-down menu shows a number of possibly helpful criteria.
Trying both a general and specific ad will teach you a lot about effective targeting for your business. Once you’ve gathered enough data on the click-through and conversion rates between the two groups, you should have a clear idea of how to focus your efforts moving forward.
2. Decide What Kind of Ad Works Best
According to data from Marin Software, News Feed ads achieved a conversion rate five times higher than right-side display/sidebar ads in the third quarter of 2013. While this certainly makes News Feed ads an enticing option, there are other considerations.
First, the recently announced larger dimensions of sidebar ads will likely reduce the disparity in conversion rates, since the sidebar ads will be much more eye-catching. News Feed ads are also more expensive to run, so advertisers will have to decide whether the added cost is justifiable in terms of ROI.
This is where the right-side ad strategy comes in. Basically, if one goal of your campaign is to increase brand awareness and generate a more constant presence, then right-side ads will likely be more beneficial. They will be seen more often and by more people, likely decreasing the click-through rate but boosting overall visibility.
Here is a good look at an effective News Feed ad:
This B2B ad features a bold graphic that will instantly catch the eye of interested parties, in this case professional freelancers looking for new opportunities. Such an ad makes an especially effective entry into News Feed advertising, since the target audience in this case probably already self-selects similar content for their stream and won’t consider such an ad an intrusion.
Now here is an example of effective sidebar ad:
It’s easy to see that larger brands, whose messages are already recognizable, are well-suited for the sidebar ad. Such brands have the freedom to spend less time on their value proposition (a focus of the Outsource.com ad), so instead, as Sprint does here, they can highlight current offers and co-branded discounts. They also don’t waste headline space by inserting their logo into the graphic.
3. Timing Is Everything
Marketers have learned a lot over the past several years about peak conversion periods. Simply put, during certain times of day, your target demographic is more active online and more likely to be shopping. Other times of day, they’re simply not online—or at least not in active purchase mode—so the potential returns for running an ad will be minimal at best and nonexistent at worst.
The good news is that Facebook’s Power Editor feature (supported by AdEspresso as well of course) allows you to schedule your ads for specific days and times, helping you to maximize your exposure. However, this strategy comes with a caveat: Other advertisers will also be seeking to place their ads during the same or overlapping peak hours, meaning that paying to advertise only during this times will likely prove more costly.
To kick-start your understanding of when to target your ads, start by learning the peak hours of social media engagement. But don’t stop there. Depending on your industry, these hours might not be best for you. For instance, online gaming communities are known for putting in long hours late into the night. Try determining the most common hours this group comes online or offline, and schedule your posts around those times.
4. Make the Appeal Clear—And Stick the Landing
It’s no secret that advertising isn’t exactly most people’s favorite thing. Your headline and copy need to be “first-glance worthy,” because you won’t get a second chance at attracting a new customer.
More than that, you have to make the goal clear to the prospect—and as specific as possible. Let’s take a look at a couple sidebar ads to see their strengths and weaknesses. We’ll start with Levi’s:
On the one hand, the call to action is clear, and the added incentive of free shipping is enticing. However, Levi’s is making a broad appeal; they’re not promoting a specific sale or tying it into a relevant event (i.e., back-to-school sale), so many prospects might be left wondering “why now?” The headline, “Levi’s Official Site,” is clear, but not memorable, and it’s probably not alerting prospects to anything they didn’t already know. The ad helps Levi’s maintain brand awareness, but is not likely to generate the highest conversion rate.
Now, let’s look at that Sprint ad again:
Here, rather than simply encouraging people to visit their site, Sprint is making a specific offer to a particular subcategory of people. AAA cardholders are always looking for membership discounts, and a large percentage of AAA members have families. The small amount of copy makes a clear appeal and does an admirable job of articulating the benefits.
The other consideration is where your customers will land once they click through on the ad. The Levi’s ad just take visitors to their website, so once there prospects will be left to their own devices for the rest of the buying journey. This strategy may work with a brand as recognizable as Levi’s, but for most other brands, such an approach is likely to produce lower-than-desired conversion rates.
The Sprint ad, on the other hand, because it has a specific offer, has a corresponding landing page designed to keep their target demographic moving through the sales funnel. Because there is very little ambiguity in the value proposition, there is a much higher likelihood of conversion.
So go ahead and take advantage of these strategies to improve your conversions… or take it further by calling a CRO professional. Either way, you can’t afford to leave your conversion to chance and outdated methods.
What other strategies have you used to improve your conversion rates? Share your thoughts in the comments below!