Given the complexity of Facebook’s algorithm, you can’t simply throw a dart and hope to land on a winning ad or audience. I’ve been working with Facebook ads for close to a decade, and have personally managed tens of millions of dollars for hundreds of clients, which has helped refine and improve my understanding of, and approach to the platform's various ad offerings.
So what have I learned? While everyone else is doing the same thing, and achieving mediocre results, you can increase your competitive advantage by intelligently engaging your top prospects.
Here are three tips on how to do just that:
1. Finding Profitable Audiences the Right Way
The main issue with targeting cold audiences is that it takes a lot of time and money, and generally produces low-quality results.
When starting a new campaign for a new client, you make a lot of assumptions about who the perfect customer is, and these guesses can derail a campaign before it ever gets off the ground. Then you have to build out all the cold audiences to target, which eats away at your most precious asset: time.
Why not just have your ideal customer raise their hand and tell you they’re interested? It may seem too obvious to work, but it actually produces high-quality audiences at a fraction of the cost. The secret is to create ads that look like organic posts, then segment those who interact with those ads into custom audiences.
For example, run an ad using an article about toxins in major makeup brands, then retarget those who've engaged with that ad with the solution - a mineral makeup product. You’re letting those who are interested find you, instead of guessing who would be interested. You can use an app like Buzzsumo to find content that’s viral and buzzing. And you don’t have to work too hard digging for the “perfect” content - these tools enable you to work smarter, not harder.
2. Boosting Profits Without Selling to Cold Traffic
The sad truth is that 98% of first-time visitors don’t buy. Marketers know this, yet they still try to send cold traffic to a product or sales page. This doesn't work.
There are two critically important things you need to do with cold traffic - educate and entertain - and you have to do both. The most successful businesses in the world have mastered this cold traffic strategy.
The goal of these early-stage ads is to establish authority, develop trust and build a personal connection with your audience. Such efforts can generate a treasure trove of useful data based on who interacts with these ads, which can then help set up later campaigns for success.
For example, if your end goal is to register people for a podcast course, start with running content that educates and entertains, like a 'Podcast Cheat Sheet'. It gives the consumer something for free and builds trust - then, after you’ve built up leads, set up retargeting to those leads to get them registered for the actual course itself. That way your traffic is warm, not cold.
Cold traffic should be viewed as an investment, not an expense - even if you don’t sell anything to cold traffic, that investment has built a valuable pool of warm leads to retarget. The retargeting is where you will reap all the rewards, such as with abandoned cart retargeting. Reach out to those who abandon their cart with a special offer, but not a discount - instead, add value to train the customer to pay full price, such as a $5 freebie on top of their purchase or free shipping. You need to lead with value, not discounts. Discounting dilutes the value of your product and teaches Facebook to look for more customers like the deal seekers instead of high-value ones.
Make sure to connect your store’s product catalog to your Facebook pixel, and set up Product Catalog Sale objective campaigns, thereby creating the holy grail of abandoned cart retargeting. In the ad itself, it will feature the product they abandoned in their cart. This personalizes the approach and greatly increases the chance of a conversion.
3. Conquering Rising Ad Costs
Ad costs are the gravity of paid traffic - except they only go in one direction: up. As such, you need to focus on your most valuable asset - existing customers. Post-purchase retargeting is the key to profitable Facebook ads. Think about how easy it is to get someone who's already bought from you to buy again. This also increases customer lifetime value, which should be one of your key performance metrics.
Post-purchase retargeting isn’t just about generating more profits - the start of the retargeting sequence should focus on building goodwill and brand loyalty. Higher traffic stores can break this out into first time and repeat buyers with different follow-ups accordingly. Ultimately the goal is to build loyalty and therefore maximize profits.
A highly successful example of this is to run a thank you ad from your founder thanking them for their purchase. Don’t use it as an opportunity to sell them anything. It goes a long way towards building brand loyalty, and people will come back and buy more. After their first purchase, you can retarget to upsell or cross-sell if you know they haven’t purchased from a given section of your catalog. Lastly, you should solicit reviews, video testimonials and other valuable user-generated content that can then be used to improve the performance of cold traffic and pre-purchase retargeting campaigns.
These strategies can be highly effective when implemented well. Knowing how to reach your audience on Facebook and Instagram can be a make or break for small businesses, so make sure you’re working smarter and not harder.