The Search Marketer's Guide to Successful Facebook Ads


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The Search Marketer's Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

  1. 1. WHITE PAPER The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads March 2011
  2. 2. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Table of Contents Introduction 3 Audience Targeting 5 Understand Your Audience 5 Use Keywords to Identify Likes 6 Target Your Fans & Their Friends 6 Use Root Analysis to Expand Targeting 7 Segment Audiences 8 Creative 9 Images are Important 9 Keep Ads Fresh 9 Match Creatives to Audiences 10 Facebook-Specific Promotions 11 User Experience 12 Maintain the Facebook Experience 12 Measure Conversions 13 Facebook Influences Search 13 Conclusion 14 About Marin Software 15 Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Introduction With US consumers spending more time on Facebook than Google or any other website, adver- tisers are jumping at the opportunity to reach them. The number of monthly visits to Facebook first surpassed Google in May 2010, and continues to outpace Google today. During the week ending November 13, 2010, nearly 1-in-4 page views in the US took place on, representing 24 % of the total market share for page views that week, almost four times the volume of the 2nd ranked website, 1 Facebook vs. Google Visits: 2 It makes sense that marketers are rushing to build a “social” presence on Facebook. Not only are consumers spending more time on the social network, but Facebook users are also extreme- ly engaged with both friends and brands, sharing activities and interests sometimes multiple times a day. With advertising, however, marketers are still in the early stages of understanding how to best use the Facebook platform. Despite Facebook’s sizeable and growing ad revenues, advertisers in many cases are still limiting their efforts to testing on Facebook to evaluate per- formance. This hesitation from advertisers in the Facebook market represents an opportunity. There is still a chance to get ahead of the curve and build a Facebook advertising program before competition increases click prices. For search marketers, advertising on Facebook represents a shift from intent-based advertising to interest-based advertising, similar to running campaigns on con- tent networks. A common starting place for search marketers is to think of Likes and Interests on Facebook as paid search keywords. While these targeting criteria can be a useful place to begin, there are a variety of skills and techniques used by successful search marketers that can also be translated into building successful Facebook ad campaigns. Despite differences in targeting methodologies, Facebook and paid search advertising share a common bond – their ad platforms fundamentally rely on narrowly targeting segments of users to drive specific traffic to a site or application. 1. 2. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 3
  4. 4. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads With a large variety of targeting criteria to explore, Facebook advertisers must balance expanding their audience with refining traffic quality, all the while paying attention to the impact that fac- tors such as creative and landing pages have on conversion. This plays to the search marketer’s strengths: analyzing conversion rates and ROI down to the creative level; building out multiple campaigns with varying targeting parameters; sub-segmenting based on quantitative results to refine traffic; testing ad copy and landing page effectiveness; and managing ad quality. So, you have the skills, but where do you begin? We interviewed large-scale paid search market- ers advertising on Facebook and put together a summary of tips and tricks to help marketers get Facebook ad programs on track. These tips are focused on helping advertisers improve the performance and ROI of Facebook Ads through best practices in the areas of targeting, creative, and user experience. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 4
  5. 5. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Audience Targeting Understand Your Audience With over 500 Million users on Facebook, there are likely a lot of consumers you’d like to tar- get – but where do you start? Facebook Ads provide a unique audience-buying experience. On Facebook, consumers choose to share information that is vastly more valuable for ad targeting than what marketers can typically gather from behavioral data or online surveys. By now, most organizations have built some type of social presence and have organically attracted fans. The advertisers we work with find a surprising amount of insightful information from users who al- ready “like” their page. If your company already has a Facebook page or application, it can be a great way to understand the seed audience that will perform well for your ads. On the “Insights” page you can see the breakdown of your fans’ by age, gender and location. Use information from the Insights page to understand your demographic, and apply these parameters to target users similar to your current fanbase. Use Keywords to Identify Likes Targeting by Likes and Interests on Facebook allows marketers to serve ads to users who have expressed affinity for particular activities, products, brands, or services related to their busi- ness. One best practice we identified across leading advertisers was using paid search key- words and themes to identify initial targeting criteria. Identify your highest performing paid search groups or terms to determine relevant interests for targeting. You should be thought- ful about how you use these keywords, focusing on topics and themes rather than individual terms, to translate search keywords into terms representing Likes and Interests. Also, not every term is going to work, some iterations of ‘likes’ only reach a few users on Facebook, and others may not even be targeting options. Use Facebook’s advertising tools to estimate the reach of an ad with particular targeting parameters. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 5
  6. 6. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Target Your Fans & Their Friends Just as you would want to serve an ad to a consumer on their second or third search, marketers should take advantage of users that already “like” their page or app. Especially for well-known brands with an established presence on Facebook, your fanbase is likely already a strongly performing audience; they might just need that extra push or reminder from an ad to make a purchase. One advertiser we spoke to said ads targeted at existing fans drove 30% more new customer sales than ads targeted towards generic audiences. Friends of connections are also a great way to expand your audience to reach people likely to convert. User’s connections tend to be of similar age, status and location so that puts them in your target audience. Moreover, when you target Facebook users’ friends, your ad will mention their connection, giving it increased credibility and relevancy to the audience. Case Study: Success with Existing Fans Situation: Razorfish began running ads on Facebook for a large retail client. This branded retailer had organically built a fan base of millions of Facebook users but weren’t able to generate sales from this organic traffic. Solution: With the help of Marin Software, Razorfish published Facebook Ads specifi- cally targeted towards “fans” of the brand, using an aggressive call to action / linking to their site (what about the ads drove response). Results: By targeting ads to existing fans of the brand, Razorfish drove a measurable increase in revenue for the brand. Surprisingly, Facebook ads targeted at existing connections had higher new customer purchase rates. For one campaign they saw a new-to-file rate over 30% higher than any other marketing channel. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 6
  7. 7. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Use Root Analysis to Expand Targeting As referenced above, paid search keywords are a great place to get introductory lists of likes for targeting. However, in order to target a full audience of potential customers, you may have to do some investigating for likes and interests that go beyond your general keyword terms. For example, using the targeting parameter “Camping,” an ad will not reach users who have listed “Camping in the Mountains” or “Tent Camping” on their profile. However, these users could be valuable consumers. Root analysis is a useful way to discover likes and interests on Facebook to expand your audience and drive more conversions. Simply start with a root word and expand your targeting to include related interests. You can do this by typing the root word into Facebook’s “Likes & Interests” targeting settings and then typing a single letter to find related terms. Using the camping example, entering “Camping I” results in a list that includes “Camping in Califor- nia” and “I love camping.” Adding these unique terms to your targeting criteria expands your audience, helping to discover additional valuable consumers and improve overall ROI. Root Analysis To the left is a screenshot showing how to use root analysis to expand on Likes and Interests targeting on Facebook. The advertiser types in the root word and a single letter, and then additional targeting criteria are suggested by Facebook. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 7
  8. 8. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Segment Audiences With all of the targeting options above, and over 500 Million users on Facebook, you probably already have a sizeable potential audience. However, not all Facebook users are created equal. Audience groups will inevitably convert at different rates. Segment audiences to understand the value of each group of consumers and then adjust your bids accordingly to optimize your Face- book budget. Segmenting audiences by age, location, gender, and “likes” are the most com- mon types of segmentation we’ve seen across advertisers. As you see the performance variance between your segmented advertisements, you can adjust bids for each segment up or down to improve overall ROI for your Facebook advertising campaigns. Audience Segmentation Automatically segment audiences by targeting criteria in Marin, creating multiple micro-targeted copies of the original group. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 8
  9. 9. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Creative Images are Important The audience you are targeting on Facebook is on the social network to interact with friends, share their photos, and play games, not to look for products and services; so ads need to grab their attention. Facebook users are inundated with content and typically scan text and images quickly to find what interests them, but there are tricks to attracting attention in the Facebook world. Our research shows that images are the key driver for click-through rates. Advertisers need to focus on creative that first captures the consumers’ attention, unlike in search where they are already seeking information about a topic related to your product. We’ve found the most successful ads tend to be those that standout on a page with engaging images and contrasting colors. Adding borders to photos in colors like orange or yellow, that contrast with the blue and white Facebook interface, is a simple way to pull the users’ eyes towards ads. Relating images to your audience, for example by serving an image of a local landmark or a sport’s team that users have listed in their Likes, is another way to garner more attention than a generic image. One marketer we surveyed suggested “amateur” style images, instead of stock-photos, are more successful because they mimic the rest of the content on the site. Notice how the yellow image below grabs your attention more than the image on the left. Keep Ads Fresh Believe it or not, just standing out on a page is not enough; marketers need to rotate ads to keep them fresh. Facebook Ads are typically served to the same users multiple times, often in the same day, so they quickly tune-out repeat ads. Facebook doesn’t have frequency capping, so it is up to you to monitor the number of impressions each ad receives daily and watch for drops in click-through rates. Successful Facebook advertisers typically rotate creative to combat the “ad blindness” that can result from a user seeing an ad multiple times. Switching out images and headline copy typically helps boost click-through rates. Facebook itself even suggests that advertisers change images and copy every few days to make sure ads remain fresh to the viewers and encourage clicks. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 9
  10. 10. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Creative Rotation Marin Software automatically rotates creative for you to keep Facebook advertise- ments fresh for viewers and maintain high click-through rates. Match Creatives to Audiences If you’re following our advice, you’ve probably built out a variety of audience segments with unique characteristics, so it makes sense to apply this knowledge to creative decisions. For ex- ample, for campaigns targeted by region, inserting city names or promoting local events can be more effective than generic creative. One advertiser that we spoke to promoted college-focused apparel, segmenting audiences by their alma maters. When they targeted their copy and images so ads referenced each user’s school, they saw significantly improved performance. For adver- tisements targeted at existing fans, referencing the fact that they’ve already expressed affinity for your product or brand can catch their attention. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 10
  11. 11. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Facebook-Specific Promotions Getting consumers to convert on Facebook requires more than just getting them to your page, users also have to click the Like button or install your application. Just as you would provide a promotion or call-to-action on a paid search landing page, marketers must encourage Facebook users to convert even past the click. One of the most successful practices we’ve seen on Face- book is when advertisers reward consumers for engaging with them through fans-only sales and promotions. It is simple to build a tab on your Facebook page that appears only to fans. Promot- ing a coupon code in ads, as well as on the landing page, is a great way to get users to convert. And, this conversion is easier for consumers than most paid-search conversions, because they don’t have to enter any information. Consumers just click “like” or “accept” and marketers im- mediately have the ability to engage with them. Case Study: Reward Fans Offline Situation: A multi-channel retailer was looking to engage on online audience to drive purchases both online and in brick and mortar stores. Solution: The brand used Marin Software to run promotional ads targeted to women in their core demographic that were geographically located close to stores. Results: By providing a special discount coupon, only to Facebook users that “liked” the brand, this retailer was able to build out their fan base and drive business to the brick and mortar store. Marin Software made it easy for the retailer to target specific cities where the retail stores were located. More importantly, now that they have Facebook Fans, the retailer can promote sales and new merchandise directly to an interested audience. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 11
  12. 12. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads User Experience Maintain the Facebook Experience Many of the advertisers we spoke with have found keeping users “Access to our brand’s on Facebook is a more engaging experience. While sending users Facebook page is pivotal. We weren’t seeing any to external websites may work for some, tailoring your brand expe- results sending ads to rience to Facebook users typically delivers better results. Linking external websites, but as ads to Custom Pages, Applications, or Events on Facebook allows soon as we could target existing fans, we saw ROI you to keep users within the social network for a consistent brows- and measurable increase ing experience, resulting in lower bounce rates. Use Custom Pag- in business.” es, as part of your Facebook Page, that make it easy for consumers to “like” your product or brand. A Like allows you to then remarket - Shawn Cheng, to them over time with messages and status updates about deals Lead Account Manager Razorfish. or upcoming events. Facebook Apps, on the other hand, provide the marketer with more control over the user experience, as well as the ability to gather detailed demographic data from user pro- files. If keeping users on Facebook isn’t ideal for your business, consider tailoring your site landing pages for social users. This could include writing different ad copy, using Facebook connect to include Like and sharing buttons, or presenting user-generated content such as videos or reviews instead of product information. Rewarding Likes There are countless ways to reward Facebook users for liking your brand, including fan-only sales or coupon codes. To the left is an example of a RueLaLa promotion giving fans access to a private sale in exchange for liking the brand’s page. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 12
  13. 13. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Measure Conversions A number of the advertisers we spoke to started advertising on Facebook as an experiment. They weren’t specifically thinking about what type of conversions they were driving, nor did they know what type of performance to expect. However, a cardinal rule of online marketing still applies – you need to track conversions. Once you define the goal of your campaign, whether you want to drive fans, sales or installations, an important step is to track these actions and measure cost-per-conversion. Because many Facebook advertising programs drive a variety of different conversion types, you might need to track multiple conversion types. Facebook’s integrated tracking solution automatically tracks likes, RVSPs, and application installations within the social network. With this data, you can understand your cost-per-conversion and begin optimiz- ing spend. If ads are driving clicks off of Facebook, you can use any third-party tracking system to monitor conversions, in the same way you would for search or display ads. Just be sure you regularly evaluate the cost of conversions and adjust budgets and bids accordingly. Facebook Influences Search Although Facebook users spend a significant amount of time online within the social network, they’re not browsing in a vacuum. Consumers exposed to a brand’s social media content are actually 50% more likely to click on paid search ads and 1.7 times more likely to purchase through search. As you manage and optimize Facebook Ads, it is important to analyze cross- channel performance and adjust spend and messaging accordingly. Your Facebook and search audiences overlap, and it is critical that paid search campaigns are optimized for the increased traffic driven by the social network. When launching new Facebook Ads, advertisers should pay attention to the impact these ads have on paid search performance and attribute appropriately. Start by tracking users across channels to understand which channels combine to drive sales and specific paths to conversion. Understanding the interaction between channels should allow you to quantify the value of companies for budgeting purposes, and to adjust the tone of the media on each site. Above, in the screenshot from a Marin Paths report, most users who interacted with both paid search and Facebook saw the Facebook Ads first. In this case, the advertiser could adjust the tone of the Facebook messaging to be more focused on top-of-funnel interactions, and make sure paid search creative encourages a final purchase or conversion. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 13
  14. 14. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads Quick Facebook Ad Don’ts: • Don’t over-target – Ads that are targeted to too-small of an audience won’t get any traffic or conversions. Be sure your ad’s reach is over 100 people. • Don’t over-punctuate – Facebook will disapprove any ad that is overly punctuated so ‘Free!!!!!’ or ‘Love PowPow Sports?!?” won’t get approved. • Don’t over-capitalize – All-cap headlines or weirdly capitalized words will not make it through Facebook’s approval process either. • Don’t try to create an ad as Paused – As you’re getting started, don’t think your new add will be hidden if it is “Paused.” Facebook reviews new ads as paused, but if ads are approved, they will turn them on. Conclusion These tips should get you started on the road to a successful Facebook advertising program, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Marketing campaigns require continued analysis and adjustments for optimal performance. Don’t underestimate the value of analytics and daily reporting. Just because you may not be directly driving sales from Facebook ads doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to optimize for downstream conversions. Not only will you need to adjust to the performance of your campaigns, but we as marketers will need to continue evolving with Facebook solution as its advertising tools change. As we men- tioned earlier, most organizations are still figuring out how to best leverage Facebook Ads and we expect Facebook to grow with them. However, building a fan base now, before cost-per-likes begin to rise, can work to your advantage. Marketers looking to get a jumpstart on testing and campaign automation should consider leveraging an advertising management platform to do the heavy lifting. Marin Software’s platform is fully integrated with Facebook’s API and enables marketers to efficiently follow the best practices we have discovered through a growing client base of large-scale advertisers and agencies. Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 14
  15. 15. The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads About Marin Software Marin Software is a leading provider of online advertising management solutions for agencies and advertisers. Offering an integrated platform for managing search, display, and social market- ing, Marin Software helps enterprises save time and improve financial performance by increas- ing marketing insight, efficiency, and effectiveness. Headquartered in San Francisco, with of- fices worldwide, Marin Software runs marketing campaigns for over 800 clients managing more than $1.8 Billion in annualized ad spend in 47 countries. Marin Software provides a complete workflow, analysis, and optimization solution for marketers using Facebook Ads, saving time and improving financial performance. Marketers can easily analyze the performance of Facebook Campaigns, edit targeting parameters, and optimize bids to meet business goals. Unique solutions for Facebook Ads deliver automated audience segmen- tation and rotation of creative to increase advertising effectiveness and ROI. Like this paper? Tweet about it ( Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved. 15