When most people are setting up their campaigns on Facebook, they’re focused on right now results. I’ve seen this countless times when working with my clients on copywriting, with one of the first things they ask typically being “How fast will this drive sales?”
The thought that they’ll actually need to set up even basic sales funnels that utilize a few steps of retargeting is more than some people want to do when they’re hoping for a one-ad, one-impression, one-click, one-conversion type of situation.
And while that certainly would appeal to almost everyone (and can happen on a very small scale every so often), it’s not the norm.
Sometimes even complex funnels that are designed to nurture users through the digital sales funnel aren’t actually long enough to warm up certain users to the point where they’d actually become customers.
This is where long-term ad strategies come into play.
If you want to build stronger, more authentic relationships with customers over a longer stretch of time that, in turn, can result in conversions that you would have otherwise lost you need to think long term. And we’re here to show you the four best ways to do it.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at exactly why you should be using long-term ad strategies on Facebook (and other similar platforms), how much of your budget you should allocate to them, when to start setting up these ads, and specific strategies that you can set up today to start seeing results in the future.
In many cases the benefits to these strategies are significant, giving you more room to catch all customers in a metaphorical marketing net to ensure that no one slips between the cracks if they have the potential to become customers.
We wanted to ensure that you’re capturing every single customer that you possibly can, and we know that means getting a little more creative and branching out with your campaigns.
What Exactly Are Long-Term Ad Strategies?
To clear up any confusion before we even get started, let’s take a look at what we mean by long-term ad strategies so we’re all on the same page.
When we say “long-term” we don’t just mean to set up a basic funnel and to wait a few weeks for the conversion as your ads slowly nurture users through the funnel. Instead, we mean that it may take several months or longer to see results from these campaigns.
And wait, before you click away– I know that at least half of people reading this post paused for half a second, thinking forget that, I can’t afford to wait that long. But these campaigns are relatively low cost and low budget, meaning that they’re not going to chew up your ad spend that could be used to prioritize warm or hot leads. Instead, it’s almost like an insurance policy, investing a little consistently to capture as many customers along the way, essentially “feeding the funnel” and keeping people engaged until they’re ready to convert. Without these strategies, there will be a large number of users who are slipping between the cracks when they would have otherwise become customers in the long run.
And if you still aren’t sure, consider the value of content marketing. Plenty of brands invest enormous funds into content marketing to attract and engage their audience for months or years until they’re willing to convert. This is the same basic idea, and it can be just as lucrative.
Why You Need Long-Term Ad Strategies
If you’ve ever purchased something off of Facebook Ads from a brand you weren’t previously familiar with, take a moment to think about it. Did you purchase the very first time you saw the ad? Probably not. You probably didn’t even convert the second and maybe even the third time.
This is normal. There’s even a conventional (if not always 100% accurate) marketing Rule of 7 that reminds businesses that customers may need to interact with your business around seven times before they’re willing to really consider purchasing with you or to actually make that purchase.
There are going to be some customers who need more touch points before they’re willing to convert. Millennials, for example, are prone to doing significantly more research on a buying decision before they purchase, as are B2B customers compared to B2C. Sometimes, since Facebook is all about demand generation, users may need more time to build up that demand internally, deciding that they really do need that monthly eucalyptus subscription or the self-cleaning toilet you’re selling. With enough exposure, many of these customers can be won over.
There will be other customers who may want to purchase, but the timing isn’t right. Maybe, they tell themselves, they’ll sign up for your coaching services once they get a promotion and can afford it, but right now there’s just no way it’s in their budget. Or perhaps they think that those expensive headphones you’re advertising would make a perfect Christmas present but it’s only May, or that they do love the engagement rings in your ads but they won’t be ready to propose for another six months and where the heck would they even keep the ring?
There are a million and one reasons why potential customers might not be ready to buy right now or even anytime soon, but that they’ll absolutely convert when the time is right. This is why you need long-term ad strategies, which are designed to build relationships with your target audience and bring people into the funnel so that they can move through it when they’re ready.
How Much of Your Budget Long-Term Ad Strategies Need?
While there’s no one set budget that works for every single business, a good rule of thumb is to allocate a small chunk of your ad spend every month to long-term Facebook ad strategies. AdEspresso’s own expert Paul Fairbrother recommends allocating about 10% of their budget on long-term brand building, which all of these strategies fit into.
While it’s essential to track results, we also don’t want to get too wrapped up in short-term goals. We can get too near-sighted, and this can end up sabotaging our own campaigns. When you turn the rapid-fire, high-converting-right-now ads off, it’s like turning a faucet off and the tap dries up before you know it. No conversion-oriented ads, no conversions if that’s all you’re running.
As you’re investing around 10% of your ad spend in brand building, however, you can still focus predominantly on those high-converting ads (helping you grow your revenue and your ad spend budget), but you’ll also be investing into relationships that will continue organically even if your paid campaigns come to a stop. This is the key to building your brand in a meaningful way, allowing your business to scale much more sustainably for years to come.
4 Long-Term Ad Strategies That Will Pay Off
Alright! We’ve covered why big picture, long-term ad strategies are so crucial for your business, so now let’s actually look at a few tried-and-true strategies that fit the bill. As you’re reading through these strategies, you’ll notice that each one uses a combination of organic marketing and PPC advertising to keep users engaged long-term. In some cases, organic marketing is used to create retargeting campaigns to drive conversions down the road; in others, the reverse is true, with PPC campaigns being used to funnel users to organic marketing channels for improved relationship building over time.
Relationship building is going to be key here, so keep this in mind as we take a look at each strategy and how to execute it.
1. Run Page “Like” Campaigns
After businesses had the option to “buy” likes outright, many stopped running campaigns designed to get more users to like and follow your page. (As a note: Never buy fake likes, because they’re fake profiles, they’ll drive down your engagement rate, and Facebook is cracking down hard on the fake profiles and businesses who pay for likes from them).
This omission became even more popular once brands started to focus on more conversion-heavy campaigns while organic reach simultaneously declined.
We’re not arguing that likes can be a vanity metric in the grand scheme of things and that you don’t want focus your entire ad spend there.
That being said, likes are still valuable. They do add social proof to your Page, which can increase trust from other users who are coming across your brand from the first time. It’s also worth pointing out that new, fresh bodies on your Page will typically increase engagement across the board. They’re going to scroll through a few posts and will typically interact with them, and Facebook’s algorithm has a tendency to show more content from Pages to people who just recently started following them, giving you an advantage there, too.
As these new users are engaging with your content, a few valuable things are happening:
- These same users are going to see more of your content down the line, and it boosts your overall engagement rate, which means that other users are going to be seeing more content from you, too.
- You’re going to be gaining new followers on your Page who you can connect with and engage for a long period of time.
- As users are engaging with your content and you’re gaining new followers, you can retarget these users later on with additional PPC campaigns just because they’re followers or because they’ve engaged with certain posts. This gives you more power to run conversion-oriented campaigns later on to better success than you would have upfront.
While you can run content-oriented ad campaigns designed to increase likes (which can be done by choosing “engagement” and then “Page likes”, you also have the option of boosting a contest post that requires users like your Page to participate. This gives them an incentive to do so, offering a grand prize. The example below has users liking their post, but you can also require that users like your Page to enter.
2. Promote Your Facebook Group
Facebook Groups are a pillar of modern social media marketing. They can help you foster close-knit, exclusive groups of potential or current customers while creating valuable communities they’re excited about. They’re incredible for relationship building, whether you want to make your group open to the public or only grant access to specific users based on criteria like whether or not they’re customers. As an enormous added bonus, Facebook Groups are prioritized by Facebook’s algorithm, so group content will rank towards the top of users’ feeds every time, giving you better organic (read: free) access to your followers.
Facebook Groups, however, doesn’t currently have advertising features, and while they’re valuable, they’ll only benefit your business if you’re able to get traction in the form of new members joining and engaging. In many ways you want your group to take on a life of its own, and while email and organic promotion is a great start, it’s often just not enough when you want to scale your group size quickly.
PPC campaigns can come into play here, but you need to be careful. If you try to create an ad dedicated to funneling traffic and potential members to your Facebook Group, Facebook typically doesn’t like that; they normally don’t want to see a link in an ad that sends people anywhere on the actual platform.
There’s a workaround here, however, that’s completely valid and doesn’t break any of their rules or regulations: You can create a brand new organic post that contains a link or tag to your group, and then boost that through the ad system. You can either use the Boost Post option on your Page or create an Engagement campaign that’s designed to improve post engagement.
When you’re creating these campaigns, make sure that you’re focusing on the benefits the group has to offer while letting people know whether or not the group would be right for them.
Sugar and Crumbs with Nifty Nozzles, for example, does this exceptionally well in their post below. They warmly invite people to join their group, tag the group, and mention what the group is all about: a supportive, friendly group that loves cake. They go on to talk about how everyone of all levels of experience are welcome, and how you can get tips and advice and have fun with other members. For good measure, they add a link at the end that takes users directly to the group in question.
When you’re promoting these posts, it goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyways: Always include high-quality images that represent the group well. This will help you grab attention quickly and can increase conversions.
And it when it comes to Facebook group promotion, Paul has stressed that focusing on ROI between 1-7 days won’t be the way to go, because the ROI in this particular time frame is terrible. Instead, he explained that all the sales and conversions are going to be happening between 7-28 days. This gives you enough time to get people to join your group, start to nurture relationships with them and warm them up while educating them about what you do. Then, once they’re ready, they’ll convert and become customers.
3. Leverage Lead Gen Ads to Boost Your Email List
When most businesses create lead generation ads on Facebook, they’re focused on generating hot leads so they can get on the phone and hopefully push them to convert quickly. While this strategy can certainly work, you shouldn’t just be creating lead ads with the goal of immediate conversions; a long-term approach to bolster your email list and then sale over a longer period of time there can be a winning strategy all of its own.
Keep in mind that plenty of leads who click on your ad and fill out that form are only in it for the free lead magnet, first class, or consulting session; most aren’t actually ready to become paying customers yet. While the lead magnet (whatever it is) can definitely help with that, sometimes a more long-term oriented approach is a better way to go, and email marketing can really work its magic over an extended period of time.
Email marketing is free (or, at the most, extremely low cost, if you’re using email marketing software), and it’s outstandingly effective. When you’re sending users emails, they’re pretty much forced to pay attention to the email long enough to at least decent to delete it. Since these users have opted in to read your content– even if only for a free lead magnet– many are inclined to pay attention, and this gives you a great chance for a relatively distraction-free relationship building with your target audience. Then over time, you can slowly trickle in offers for your latest products and discounts for the leads’ first purchases.
Let’s take another look at an example campaign from Sugar and Crumbs with Nifty Nozzles. In the ad below, they feature a free recipe booklet as their lead magnet, but it’s important to note that they’re not just offering content that would be of interest to their target audience with general recipes; they’ve gone a step further. The lead magnet they’re offering has recipes inspired by recent episodes of the Great British Bake Off, which quickly became an international treasure and a widely-watched show.
They’ve managed to create a lead magnet that isn’t only relevant to their audience, but also timely. These two factors together significantly increase the likelihood that users will want to convert right now by filling out the lead form, opening up the window for the brand to contact them through email for a long time to come.
When creating lead magnets, remember to keep your lead forms as simple as possible. When you’re focused on simply building your email list, you don’t need an enormous amount of qualifying information; you just need their name and email address. Extending your form too much can shoot yourself in the foot, and may even reduce the number of completed forms users submit.
As you are running your lead generation ads, Paul strongly recommends shooting to break even with your campaigns. These leads should ideally be generating significant bonus revenue through email down the line, driving significant conversions on an ongoing basis.
Even if you don’t see immediate conversions here through the ads manager, watch closely how these leads convert by watching your email software’s analytics; many will show you the open rates and clicks, and you can then track conversions through your analytics software like Google Analytics. Since lead generation ads can cost more in some circumstances, you want to make sure that your campaigns are working within about a month period. Not all conversions will happen that quickly, but at least some should.
4. Go Live To Build Retargeting Audiences
Like Groups, Facebook Lives are now an integral part of the platform that all businesses and brands should be using. Lives give you the opportunity to connect with your target audience in a way that feels truly transparent and authentic (even if you’re going off a script). You can interact with your followers in real-time, making the video’s engagement more powerful. Lives get outstanding reach, too, which doesn’t hurt; your followers may be notified when you start going Live or if you’re Live when they enter the app, funneling users towards your content automatically. No other type of post on Facebook has this benefit.
When it comes to long-term ad strategies, Facebook Lives can play an integral role here. Remember that every video you publish on Facebook (prerecorded and Live alike) gives you the chance to retarget users who viewed any part of it. While standard videos can work great for this purpose, nothing even comes close to a Live broadcast.
We strongly recommend going live regularly and for significant periods of time (ten minutes at the absolute minimum, but you can easily go up to two hours). Schedule the lives in advance so that people know when you’ll have the broadcast up and running and to generate interest early. The longer you stay live, the more views you’ll likely have, and then the bigger the audience you can retarget.
Live views can be fleeting, so don’t worry if users only stick around for a few seconds. That’s still enough for Facebook to clock their info enough that they can be retargeted on the platform.
Let’s go back to our earlier example from Sugar and Crumbs with Nifty Nozzles. Here, they’re specifically mentioning their Facebook Live baking and decorating sessions, reminding ad viewers that this is a big appeal of their Page and group.
Once users have followed and liked your Page and/or joined your group, use Lives to engage them organically.
Then, create ad campaigns that are retargeting based on video views to be able to show ad campaigns that are focused on conversion to users who watched part of your Live and are therefore relevant members of your target audience.
Long-Term Ad Strategy Mistakes to Avoid
As you’re executing these long-term ad strategies on Facebook and Instagram, there are a common missteps that could hinder your success. While running your campaigns, watch out for these mistakes that could derail your strategy quickly:
- Acting too fast. The goal here is “long-term” strategy, which can mean “Long-term results.” If you’re running a Page Like campaign and aren’t seeing results within two days, that’s ok. Give it time, at least a week or two, and wait at least a month before assessing the effectiveness and impact of a long-term strategy from a conversion perspective. As we mentioned above, at least 7-28 days will be the sweet spot… at the soonest.
- Forgetting to measure KPIs. Just because results may be coming in slower doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be evaluating them. You do want to make sure that your campaigns are hitting the mark; watch how many lead forms are filled out vs. just opened, and how those leads translate in quality once you actually start using email marketing to connect to them. Determine what results you want to see and which metrics can measure them before you start running your campaign.
- Neglecting them for awhile. Short-term appeal is massive and easy to understand, but don’t wait until it feels like there’s plenty of room in the ad budget to start running these campaigns; if you do, you’ll never find the room, and frankly it could dry up your budget, too. Remember that long-term campaigns are sustainable, and can often yield significant benefits in the long run and potentially at a lower cost and higher ROI.
- Only using one strategy. It’s typically going to be a good idea to leverage a lead ad campaign and Facebook lives for retargeting and group promotion all at once. It’s kind of like casting a wider net, allowing you to feed your digital sales funnel from every angle and connecting to users where and how they’re most willing to engage. Find the balance of strategies that works well for you, and remember to include some split testing throughout the process. This will help you determine which campaigns are working for you and which aren’t, and don’t forget to be adaptable as your campaigns progress. Agility, after all, is always a marketer’s best friend.
- Only sticking to one creative for each campaign. Don’t do this– you definitely want to switch things up. Create multiple different campaigns for each strategy, testing fresh creatives and new messaging to keep users engaged along the way.
Marketers and brands are all inclined to look for fast, clear results. We like when someone clicks on a carousel ad, views the product page, and then purchases directly. It’s clean and easy, and you don’t have to have a strong understanding of attribution to know what drove the traffic to your site and how effective it was.
Unfortunately, not everything is so black and white, especially in marketing. Short term, conversion-oriented campaigns are going to be essential to help your business grow rapidly and drive major sales fast, but neglecting long-term strategies that are geared towards brand building is an enormous missed opportunity. There’s an extremely high chance that you’ll have potential customers slipping through the cracks, losing them for good when you otherwise could have landed a lifelong customer.
Take a look at your ad budget as it stands now, and section off around 10-20% of it, and allocate it directly towards these long-term brand building campaigns. Depending on your specific situation, you may focus more of the ad spend on brand building if you need to create a strong social foundation, or less if you’re on an extremely tight and small budget and need to drive conversions quickly so you can reinvest your revenue back into your business.
And always, always experiment with these campaigns, monitoring them closely so you can see (to the best of your ability) what is and isn’t working. When you’re investing in a long-term strategy, the last thing that you want to do is keep investing into a strategy that just doesn’t quite work for your business. Set KPIs early and watch them carefully.
Remember that the key phrase here is “long term ad strategy,” so as much as we’d love to tell you that you’ll start to generate sales today, this one is more of a “so you can generate sales eventually.” Be patient, checking results every month or so to see where you stand, and remember that the payoff can absolutely be worth it here before you start pausing any campaigns.
What do you think? Do you use any type of PPC campaign to set up long-term ad and organic funnels that will keep users engaged until they’re ready to convert? Have you made any of the mistakes on our list? Which strategies are you most excited to try for yourself if you haven’t already? Share your thoughts, knowledge, and questions in the comments section below!