A blog about Facebook marketing

7 things that's made my Facebook ads profitable

Monday, May 20, 2013 Qwaya

This is a guest post by Marcus Taylor, founder of Venture Harbour, an online marketing consultancy specialised towards the music and entertainment industries. Marcus is a frequent speaker at conferences globally, including TED. Prior to launching Venture Harbour, Marcus was the head of social media at UK digital marketing agency, SEOptimise (since acquired by Found).

When it comes to advertising on Facebook, most marketers I speak to are skeptical about their effectiveness. In my experience, marketers who don’t believe in Facebook Ads simply haven’t experimented with them enough.

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a Facebook Ad Campaign achieve a ~400% ROI for a client in the music industry. Every £200 we spend, we drive £1000 worth of signups. Needless to say, I firmly believe in their effectiveness.

What I found particularly interesting about this specific campaign was that there is no way it would have been a success if I had created it via any of Facebook’s recommended approaches. To cut a long story short, Facebook do not make it easy for you to run a really effective campaign. You have to experiment and learn what works for you.

Here’s an example to put this into perspective. This month I ran two identical Page Like Ads as an experiment. The only variable was the bid type. One had the bid type set to oCPM (optimised cost per thousand impressions) for reach, the other was set to oCPM for clicks.

The first ad received a cost-per-like of $29.89, the other $1.20.

Imagine you had only ran the first ad? You’d come away thinking that it was going to cost you $3k to get 100 likes! What a waste of our budget - let’s stick to posting cat memes!

Understanding what works with Facebook Ads

I’m not going to explain what does and doesn’t work, because, of course, it depends on a variety of variables. But I will explain what’s helped me, in the hope that it might inspire you to think about what you could test.

Here’s seven hands-on tips that I would recommend to anyone who’s serious about advertising on Facebook:

1. Scrap the Facebook Ad Manager

If you’re serious about Facebook advertising, stop promoting your posts on the page, and stop using the Facebook Ad Manager. These tools are extremely limited, and in my opinion often guide you down the wrong path.

I highly recommend using Qwaya, which to my knowledge is probably the most comprehensive Ad management tool specifically designed for Facebook Advertising that won’t break the bank.

Failing that, use the Power Editor. These tools not only offer you a wider selection of powerful ways to promote objects on Facebook, but they also speed up the setup process and enable you to do clever things with segmenting your ads and tracking what works.

2. Use the conversion pixel

Facebook’s conversion pixel is not just about being able to track conversions better from Facebook, it’s also about optimising for them. One of the bid types that Facebook offers via it’s Power Editor is ‘oCPM for conversions’ which algorithmically optimises your budget to drive more conversions.

3. Segment, segment, segment!

When I speak to friends who are heavy Facebook advertisers, one thing that is always quite amusing to hear is how massively the results for similar demographic targets can vary.

“18-19 year old males in Canada converted at 5%, but 20-21 year old males in Canada didn’t convert at all!”

Depending on budget, I try to segment each ad by gender, country, and age blocks of 3-5 years. You can then use the campaign reports to identify whether it’s worth segmenting by interests or other variables that you’ve chosen to target by.

4. Use mobile ads for app advertising or page likes

Mobile advertising on Facebook is currently one of the most cost-effective paid options for driving page likes. It’s also incredibly effective for driving mobile app awareness and downloads, for obvious reasons.

About a month ago, I wrote a post on Social Media Today suggesting what lies ahead for mobile & tablet advertising, particularly on Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms. In a nutshell, as marketers understand the platforms better, and app creators like Conduit and Mobile Roadie begin to integrate app advertising more heavily into their packages, bids will continue to go up and up – so now’s definitely the time to be making the most of the low cost of advertising on mobile.

5. Vary image, URL, and video posts

I generally stick to promoting really fascinating photos or URLs when promoting page posts on Facebook. My rule of thumb is, if I post an image and it gets an unusually high amount of engagement naturally and includes a call-to-action link, then it’s probably worth promoting. That way, you’re not promoting annoying crap in people’s news feeds.

URLs tend to work best for driving traffic, so if the goal is driving conversions it’s usually a safe bet to use them. Mix your ads up, try a combination of videos, photos, and URLs to see what works for you.

6. Sponsored stories vs. promoted posts vs. ads vs…

The best combination of ad types is highly dependent on your goals. From my experience, promoted posts are best for engagement & traffic, standard Facebook Ads are good for reach, and sponsored stories are good for increasing the effectiveness of either.

One thing I will add is that these ads all compliment each other. As your post gets more engagement, it will perform better on all metrics. So while standard Facebook Ads may be pretty ineffective for traffic, if they can drive a bunch of likes and comments which improve the effectiveness of your promoted post and sponsored story, then it can be worth running them for that reason alone.

7. Use Facebook Exchange retargeting

I have to admit, I’m still experimenting with Facebook Exchange retargeting and have seen very mixed results so far, but overall I’ve been quite impressed.

For MusicLawContracts.com, a side project of mine, I saw a 39% conversion rate from people who had not purchased but then clicked after being retargeted to on Facebook. A friend of mine in the gambling niche also sent me a screenshot showing a 50% conversion rate from his Facebook Exchange advertising!

I recommend giving Perfect Audience a try, as they also offer a $60 free trial budget to test whether it will work for you.

Final thoughts

From my personal experiences, I can say that Facebook Ads do work if you’re willing to put in some effort. Sure, not every niche lends itself to them, but I think it’s naïve to jump to the conclusion that they only work for consumer-facing brands, or brands in exciting industries. Those assumptions are, in many ways, self-defeating.

The next time you read a ‘Facebook Ads Suck’ blog post, consider – did they just give up too early? Did they have the wrong strategy?

When it comes to Facebook advertising, I highly recommend building a small network of people who are also experimenting that you can share insights with and get feedback from.

If you have any questions or would like to share data / experiences, I’d be more than happy to jump on Skype. Drop me an email or tweet at: @MarcusATaylor or marcus (at) ventureharbour (dot) com.

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