The biggest mistake with Facebook advertising

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I get asked ‘where should I spend money on ads?’ all the time. 99 times out of 100 I say Facebook ads. It’s demographic is so broad and it’s data on users that you can target very specifically is second to none. Sometimes that might be the end of the conversation, but I might hear from them again a few months down the track and they would say Facebook advertising doesn’t work for their business. 99 times out of 100 it’s not that Facebook doesn’t work for your business, but that the campaign you ran didn’t work for your business.

In today’s online world, credibility is everything. We are spammed constantly by all kinds of offers and we are very good at blocking those messages out without even thinking. We seek content from people we know and answers from sources we trust.

Building credibility in terms of your website is fairly straight forward.  If it looks professional and the content you publish is helpful and speaks to your audience, you will naturally build credibility. But have you considered the same applies to any paid advertising campaign you run?

Paid advertising is just like any other marketing channel. You need to build trust to earn the right to ask for the sale. Just because you are spending money on ads, doesn’t mean you need or should target a direct sale at the first step.

Example of a bad campaign

Let’s create imaginary John the accountant from ‘Tax Pros Plus’ who deals with small businesses. His ideal customer turns over 2 million and has 20 staff in Geelong. He offers an all inclusive accounting package that costs $1000/month that includes everything from book keeping to payroll.

John runs an ad on Facebook that targets people in the Geelong area offering his all inclusive accounting package for 20% off. The ad includes a video of himself that runs for under a minute and is professionally created. It’s pretty awesome if John says so himself. But nobody is taking up his offer.

Why is this bad?

On the surface that seems like an acceptable strategy. There’s a good offer, it’s targeting his local area and looks professional. However,

  • not everyone in Geelong runs a business,
  • this audience may not have ever seen John before so he has no credibility and
  • he jumped straight to an offer on something they weren’t even interested in yet.

A better Facebook campaign

So taking a step back John realises he needs to build credibility first before asking for a sale. To build credibility John needs to show authority in his industry by

  • publishing helpful and insightful blog posts,
  • offering resources like e-books or video tutorials and
  • interacting with influencers or communities.

You can use paid advertising to build credibility. These elements are what should be promoted through Facebook advertising as your first touchpoint with a potential customer. There is no selling intent, just an offer of some kind of value to your potential customer. Selling something is the last thing you want to do at this stage.

John’s campaign, using Facebook’s targeting should focus on small business owners or people that are admins of a Facebook page in the Geelong region giving him a much more qualified audience. His ad promotes a piece of content on his website or a post he made on his Facebook page. John is increasing his visibility with his content and with it building his credibility.

The tricky part is there is no obvious return on this type of campaign, but trust that you are building credibility and this is a worthy investment.

Now to convert

Stage 2 is all about offering something to those that took an interest in your stage 1 campaign.

If someone has clicked on your ‘better’ Facebook campaign, they are some what interested in what you have to say. They also know you now. This is a huge advantage. Someone that has already read John’s article or seen a video he posted is going to be far more receptive to another campaign that might include an offer of some kind.

If you install Facebook’s tracking pixel on your website, you can create a list of people that have been on certain pages of your site (known as remarketing). You can then create a Facebook campaign that is only shown to people on this list. This list of people will have a much greater chance of success than John’s original scattergun approach. They are already qualified as interested in what you have to say.

So don’t just jump straight into sales, discount coupons or offers in your Facebook advertising campaigns. Make an effort to build rapport, trust and credibility and you will find you will get a lot more bang for your digital marketing buck.


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