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Everyone’s on Facebook. How can you possibly increase your returns when it seems like every competitor also advertises on the platform, and the tools are constantly evolving?
Emily Hickey (former COO of Lolly Wolly Doodle) truly believes in the power of Facebook advertising. And with her company, Instant Ad Copy, she proves to clients daily that she knows all the tricks to make them believers, too. CommerceNext co-founder, Veronika Sonsev, in her Forbes retail series, interviewed Emily for a small glimpse into how she garners such high returns and robust customer acquisition results with Facebook advertising.
Frequently employing strategies foreign and uncomfortable for her clients, Emily’s team analyzes a number of factors to determine where the Facebook strategy can tolerate improvement. They utilize Facebook’s native tools and audience mapping to hone in on the most effective segments. But first, she tackles the ad content itself. What can feel “off-brand” to some is simply expert direct response advertising. Traditional creative agencies often miss this part, creating frustration and misunderstanding as to Facebook advertising effectiveness. The message itself has to really connect with the audience, and too much marketing jargon or brand language typically gets in the way.
This article was originally published in Forbes: The Secrets To Profitably Acquiring Customers On Facebook. You can also dig in deeper by reading the full article below.
THE SECRETS TO PROFITABLY ACQUIRING CUSTOMERS ON FACEBOOK
Advertising on Facebook is an ever-evolving area of customer acquisition. It’s increasingly challenging to acquire customers in a way that generates a positive return on investment (ROI). So, who’s really doing it right these days?
Lolly Wolly Doodle, a children’s apparel retailer, built their business on Facebook — and Emily Hickey was the company’s COO at its peak of social success. Since leaving Lolly Wolly Doodle, Emily built Instant Ad Copy to help advertisers quickly and effectively launch social ads. And, when she isn’t speaking at national retail conferences, like GrowCommerce, she’s consulting with retailers on how to profitably acquire customers on social channels like Facebook and Instagram.
I sat down with Emily to learn what it takes to acquire customers on social.
Veronika Sonsev: When you are consulting for clients today, which social channels have you found perform the best and why?
Emily Hickey: Facebook is the most powerful ad platform in existence—it has huge numbers of engaged users across numerous target markets, along with incredible targeting and affordability. It also lets you advertise directly in your target market’s Facebook feed. All this creates ample opportunity to acquire customers cheaply.
The strategy has to be direct-response advertising: finding the right image that makes customers stop, writing awesome copy that makes people click, figuring out highly effective audience targeting, and optimizing landing pages, email capture, average order value (AOV) and email marketing.
Sonsev: People often say Facebook is no longer a profitable acquisition channel, but that’s clearly not your experience. What’s your secret?
Hickey: The two most common scenarios we see when people say Facebook doesn’t work are:
1. Clients tried using an agency, or two, that didn’t work with the platform creatively or aggressively enough to see returns, so they simply gave up. We find agencies only focus on the ads and then they neglect other key parts of the sales funnel, particularly landing pages and email capture.
To understand how to optimize a Direct Response (DR) landing page, here is an example:
The original landing page was converting fairly well with some areas for improvement: “Earn” sounds hard; “Rewards” is ambiguous.
The revised landing page matched the language on the ad and addresses the ‘getting paid’ value proposition directly. Below the fold, we added press logos, testimonials and copy directly addressing key benefits and objections. The revised landing page overall converted 28% better.
2. Clients don’t fully understand or aren’t comfortable with direct-response advertising. When we work with clients, we’ll brainstorm creative ideas to put in front of clients and decide what will really make people stop on their ad. Often, we have to convince a brand to be more direct in its value prop, more proactive about addressing key objections, unconventional in its imagery, with a much more casual voice. Advertisers can’t use stock images. They have to scrap the marketing language and create a friendly voice their audience trusts. We convince brands to test ads that feel “off-brand” and use the data to inform their next decisions. While they may be appalled at the creative, they achieve unexpected results.
To understand how to optimize ad creative, consider this client case study:
This original ad used the blueberry image and more indirect marketing copy. It would have delivered about 28,000 sign-ups with the client’s ad budget.
The revised ad used more direct, colloquial copy and an image totally unrelated to the brand, but the combination of elements is much more effective at making people stop and read. This ad produced over 500,000 qualified sign-ups with that same ad budget, making it 18 times more effective.
Sonsev: What tools do you use to define audiences, to post ads, and to measure results?
Hickey: To define audiences, we start with the advertising tools provided by Facebook. The best performance comes from lookalike audiences on Facebook. In the Facebook advertising world, lookalikes are people who closely resemble your customers. You can find lookalikes on Facebook by uploading your email list to Facebook. Facebook then identifies similar audiences based on a number of attributes. This approach has the best performance, but only scales to around 1M people. If you want to reach more than 1M people, you’ll need to manually map what prospective customers like, what sites they visit, etc. and target based on those attributes.
Lastly, to measure results, we use Facebook’s native tools and our own offline reports—we’ll always pull numbers into our own formats, pivot tables, etc.
Sonsev: What kinds of return on investment (ROI) are you seeing on Facebook?
Hickey: Our target is to secure a minimum of 2x return on investment for our clients, meaning the advertiser makes twice the revenue invested in advertising. A client’s desired return on investment will ultimately depend on their average order value (AOV) and profit margin. In some cases, we need 3-4x revenue returns on ad spend to make a campaign profitable.
The reality is that scale and returns on investment can be at cross purposes. As you start to scale advertising, it’s hard to maintain targeting precision so the return on investment will go down. Advertisers have to make a trade-off between the speed of growth and how cheaply they can acquire customers.
Getting good results from Facebook advertising can be tricky, but it is not impossible. We hope these suggestions help improve your next Facebook campaign and make the entire process of Facebook advertising more accessible.
To learn first hand on how to make Facebook advertising work for you, check out the video of Emily’s session from last year’s event:
For more relevant customer acquisition and digital marketing tactics, subscribe to the CommerceNext YouTube channel and see almost every session from our 2018 summer summit.
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