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You can put a lot of time and effort into your Facebook ads, but if no one is reading or clicking on them, then what good are they? Every Facebook ad you create should be about results. And to get the results you want you need to stay ahead of the curve and pay more attention to the content you’re putting out, as well as understand how it’s being perceived by your target audience.
Facebook ads are a bit different than, say, Google ads. With Google, your potential customer is seeing ads based on a specific search they’re typing in. With Facebook ads, you need to find out first who your target audience is based on their search behavior and where they’re hanging out in order to get in front of them. It can be tricky, but with careful research and testing, Facebook ads can give you a good amount of bang for your buck. If you hone in and really target your audience, provide them with great content that answers their needs, make the ads aesthetically eye catching and test them regularly for the best response, you’ll find Facebook ads are a great option to increase conversion rates and grow your business.
Julie Lowe creates social media strategies for businesses looking to increase leads, sales and create a successful plan for future business growth.
Rich: Julie Lowe is a Facebook Ads expert whose mission it is to make online marketing feel accessible and empowering, rather than mysterious and stressful, for every online entrepreneur. She also has the shortest bio that anyone ever sent me for the show. I’m literally out of material now. You can find her at sociallyaligned.com. Julie, welcome to the show.
Julie: Hi, thanks for having me. That’s to keep it short and sweet, right?
Rich: I guess. Although, you sound mysterious now. I mean there must be more to your story I’m sure, maybe we’ll dive into that. I guess we can start by asking how did you get into being interested in Facebook ads?
Julie: Well, I’ve been doing marketing and advertising for about 16 years in some sort of fashion and I really got into Facebook ads when I was working full time for a travel agency. I was a one woman show for marketing and advertising so I was doing all the social media management work and I started doing Facebook ads for that travel company and it ended up pretty much replacing all of the Google PPC work that we were doing. It was successful so I had a lot of practice with that before I started doing my own business.
Rich: Alright, so you had some real world experience. And again, what time period was that in when you were working for them?
Julie: I was there for about 5 years and actually just quit that job last fall and went full time in my business, so 2015 was my first year full time in business. So I’ve been doing Facebook ads for 6 years or so now.
Rich: Alright, so you’ve seen Facebook go from 27 different opportunities for ads to really kind of streamlining their offering to make it a little bit simpler for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Julie: Yeah. When I started there was basically no training out there so I just kind of had to figure it out on my own and I’d practically be in tears trying to figure it out because Power Editor – believe it or not – was even clunkier back then than it is now. So it was just finding what I could, fortunately I eventually found Jon Loomer and learned a lot from him. But yeah, I really was just kind of self taught.
Rich: That’s sometimes the best way.
Julie: Yeah, I have seen it really evolve over the past couple years. But that was kind of why I started teaching Facebook ads was because it was such a struggle for me. And then once I saw how great it could be for business – because the ad traffic for social traffic was making a small business millions of dollars – and I realized this is really powerful. But man, it was really hard to learn. So then I wanted to kind of figure out how to make this easier for everybody else so they’re not in tears on their keyboard trying to figure it out like I was.
Rich: Absolutely. So maybe it’s just my newsfeed, but it seems like there’s a lot of internet marketers right now who are bullish on Facebook ads. But I want to focus on entrepreneurs and small business owners, people whose entire business isn’t just internet marketing. Should they be using Facebook ads as well? If so, what kind of things should they be focusing on or testing when they’re running their ads?
Julie: Yeah, I’ve yet to find a business that I don’t think it makes sense to be doing Facebook ads in some form or fashion. Even if whether you’re B2B or B2C, it doesn’t matter, everyone is on Facebook. So with the targeting that you can do, it’s possible to find anyone you want to target with Facebook ads. Whether it’s by job title or interests that they have, you can find most everybody.
So whenever somebody is getting started with Facebook ads – I work with a lot of business coaches, help coaches and also a various mix of small businesses – usually what I’m recommending is list building. I think everybody should be building their list. So I talk a lot about coming up with a great offer to list build around.
There’s also video ads which can be fantastic for exposure and branding and getting in front of a new audience really affordably. You can get views on a video ad for a penny, one to three cents is very common.
That and promoting your content. We all work so hard on our blogs and putting content out there, and a lot of people put it out there and it just kind of falls flat because they’re not getting the traffic to it. So a lot of times I work on that.
Rich: You mentioned three distinct categories. One is list building, one is video ads and one is promoting content. So if you’re ok with this, let’s just dig a little deeper into each one of these.
So list building, I’m a huge fan of list building. We talk about that almost every episode here on the Agents Of Change. You mention that we should have some type of offer. Now obviously everybody’s offer is going to be different, but can you give us some examples of the kinds of things that either you’ve seen out there or that you’ve helped your client with, in terms of what’s the offer and how exactly are you putting that into an ad?
Julie: I talk a lot about offer creating because the problem I was seeing when I had people come to me for one on one coaching for Facebook ads is sometimes we could drive lots of traffic, but they just didn’t have the best opt in offer. So it would kind of fall flat or it wouldn’t end up leading to something else down the line. I think the thing with creating the best opt in is really figuring out what’s the point of imitations and where can you meet your ideal client while they’re ready and hungry for that information and you’re not trying to get a couple steps ahead of them. Sometimes people come up with these solutions that it’s what they want to teach and maybe what someone ultimately needs, but it’s not that point in the invitation where somebody is ready for help.
Especially with life coaches this comes up a lot where they’re trying to do deep, life changing work right out of that gate. So let’s back up and figure out what is that thing that somebody is saying that they desperately need help with and are ready for. So what is the one thing that you can really succinctly help them with, whether it’s a really short video or a couple page PDF, so you’re not putting this massive piece of content in front of somebody and potentially clogging your sales funnel when they can’t get past the point of entry. That happens a lot.
Rich: It sounds like a lot of the offers that you’re putting out there right now tend to be more like the digital download sort of thing. Have you had much success in things like – let’s say you’re a carwash using Facebook ads – have you seen things like coupons or discounts work as well and that sort of thing where we drive traffic to the website, get them on our email list by enticing them with some sort of discount in the online store or physical store?
Julie: Yeah, I’ve worked with some businesses where there’s not necessarily a piece of content that they can put in front of somebody like a checklist or a cheat sheet or something like that which is usually great. But if it’s a product based business like you said, usually getting them in on some sort of discount can work well.
A lot of times there’s a piece of content you can put in front of them with tips or something like that, but if not then yeah, if it’s got to be a discount or free shipping. If it’s a company that has sales that are seasonal, getting first dibs on promotions can work as well.
Rich: Alright, that makes a lot of sense. The second category you mentioned was video ads. So walk me through an example of what a small business or an entrepreneur might do in a video ad, and how then we get that video ad into the newsfeed.
Julie: I sort of have a love/hate relationship with video ads. The great thing is it’s really cheap views. The downside is a lot of times they’re not the best for driving traffic and getting opt ins. They can work well for that but they don’t work fantastic for everybody, so a lot of times I recommend that people start with one for branding or exposure. You can use them to promote something like if you have a webinar coming up or an event, it can be a great way to get in front of people and grow the know/like/trust factor because I think when people can see you and hear you that really helps.
Sometimes I’ve seen people use them for educational purposes to lead to something else. So maybe a video ad that is pure content where you’re teaching. I’ve seen health coaches that had videos where they’re preparing a smoothie or showing a workout or something like that and providing value, and then in the text they can lead them over to their website so that somebody can get more information and they can sign up for the freebie opt in offer.
Rich: Like the recipe or something like that.
Julie: Yeah. And then get on a list in some way there.
Rich: How long do these videos tend to be?
Julie: You need to keep them pretty short and interesting enough to grab somebody’s attention and get them to turn the sound on. Because whenever these ads come up in somebody’s newsfeed they’re going to autoplay and the video is going to start, but the sound doesn’t come on. So if there is anything you can do to prompt someone to turn the sound on in the beginning.
And then usually – especially if it’s a promo video – you’re just trying to send somebody somewhere else to sign up for your webinar or something, definitely keep it under 2 minutes. If you can keep it under a minute, even better. You want to keep it short and sweet and get their attention. If you’re teaching something it can be a little bit longer, but at least under 5 minutes I would say.
The cool thing is you can actually see in your ad report how long people are watching the videos on average. So if you start putting content out there and you’re not sure how well it’s doing, you can check your ad report and see how many people actually click to turn on the sound and see how long they actually watch the video on average, and that can kind of inform how long your videos are in the future.
Rich: That’s really interesting. Ok, so that’s some good feedback to get back from Facebook I’m sure if my concern is people are just going to scroll past it and Facebook charges me a penny for the “view”.
So the other question I have is I know with a lot of the ads people run on Facebook – the still ads – there’s very strict limitations on how many words you can have or what percentage of the ad is text. Are there any similar limitations on video? I mean, I would envision that if you’re trying to get people to click on the sound you might want to hold up a little sign that says “click on sound for special discount”, or something like that, some sort of visual placement that probably requires some sort or words.
Julie: Yeah, when it comes to the photo or the video you are limited to only having 20% of the image covered in text. And that does apply to your video. Whatever comes up in the first 10 seconds of the video, later on I think you can have more text on it, but at the beginning of the video or on a still image you want to make sure that it’s 20% or less. They actually have a grid tool to check that, it’s not a random 20%, you just can’t eyeball it or something you have to check with the tool to make sure it’s under 20%. That is something I see people run into a lot if they don’t know where to check that.
And then as far as how much text you put on the ad itself, one of the reasons I like Power Editor to build Facebook ads is because the text area is limited but you can type a lot more. That’s another question I get a lot is somebody says, “You know I tried to create this ad and I typed 90 characters and I get cut off but then I see ads in my newsfeed all the time that say a whole lot more. What am I doing wrong?” It’s really just the difference between Ads Manager and Power Editor, and that limitation isn’t existing in Power Editor.
Rich: Alright. So if we’re verbose, then we definitely want to use Power Editor over the Ads Manager.
Julie: For sure.
Rich: Alright, And the last one you mentioned was promoting content. I assume that’s pretty straight forward. I’ve got a new blog post, a new video, a new podcast and I want to throw some dollars behind its promotion and just do that to drive traffic to that piece of content.
Julie: Yeah, get more people over there, it’s a good way to get people to your site and then offer them something to opt in to while they’re there. You don’t have to, but I like to try to take advantage of that traffic and either in a blog post or a pop up or somewhere on the site I want to make it easy for them to opt in for my offer.
And then the other cool thing is it can be used really well for retargeting. So you get the traffic to your site – they may or may not sign up for something – but once you get them to your site, if you have the retargeting pixel installed, you can get in front of them later. So some audiences might take a little bit more warming up to get them to sign up, it can take repeated exposure for somebody to decide if they want to opt in for your offer. But if you retarget them with ads, then you have this nice, warm audience and you can keep getting in front of them again. So if nothing else, that’s really valuable.
Rich: You must have seen my questions because I was going to ask you a question on retargeting, but we’ll skip to that one right now. So we’ve done some retargeting and had some great success with some retargeting. I was curious to know if you use just Facebook for retargeting or if you use more like AdRoll where you can do retargeting both on Facebook as well as outside of Facebook, if you have a preference one over the other, and if you found certain industries or offers are especially good when it comes to retargeting?
Julie: I personally haven’t used AdRoll in my business, it’s something that we did when I worked for the travel agency and that can work well because people are doing a lot of search around their blog to that worked well with the travel agency. I haven’t personally done it, I just focus on Facebook, but it works the same way. So instead of just showing up on every website, they show up on other banners. You’re just getting in front of them again on Facebook.
I’ve seen it work pretty well for everybody that has started out, I know some of my highest conversion rates are from my retargeting my website visitors because people find me in various ways. So somebody might have landed on your site because they searched for something in Google and then they get there and read the post and they’re gone without ever having opted in because you’re brand new to them. So it usually works really well.
I’ve also seen it work really well for product based businesses. I had a client for a while that had a product based business and we were not having a lot of luck growing her list with a discount and promoting sales, but when we were retargeting her site visitors it took a couple times getting in front of them, but when we were driving that traffic back she was actually getting direct sales off of her ads and really retargeting those site visitors. So it worked really well for both product based and service businesses in my experience.
Rich: Yeah, we’ve had a lot of good success with retargeting. Before retargeting, there’s just targeting. So let’s talk a little bit about some best practices around how we can get in front of our ideal customers in using Facebook ads. And I want you to tell us a little bit about how you target specific groups within Facebook.
Julie: It’s amazing how targeted you can get. The thing with Google search is somebody is going with intent or searching for something, with Facebook it’s different, somebody isn’t searching for you and then you’re surfacing but it’s based on their other behaviors. So it’s based on pages they like or interests they have on Facebook that are a little more broad.
So for example, you can target fans of other pages. So if I was trying to get people for my own ad – so people interested in learning about social media and Facebook advertising – I would target other big names in the industry that are targetable. Not everybody can be targeted with an ad, they have to be a certain size usually. But I would target maybe Amy Porterfield or Jon Loomer or somebody else that’s teaching similar topics as I am. Or you can also go a little more broad and target the general term of “Facebook advertising” or “Facebook for business” or something like that. You can also get in there and target by job title.
There’s just a million ways to size it but the more specific you can get, the better, as far as the targeting goes. Sometimes people go really broad and I’ll ask then to describe their ideal client to me and they’ll say, “She’s a woman between 20 and 65 and she reads Cosmo”, and things like this whether their business has nothing to do with beauty or fashion or Cosmo related, and kind of go off the tracks on that. So you want to get really dialed in and say if somebody wants to learn about this topic that I teach on or whatever your product is, what are they going to be searching for and where are they going to be hanging out online. So you can find this by just a good, old fashioned Google search as one way. So if you’re not sure which pages they might be following on Facebook, do a Google search for your topic.
So if somebody was trying to find to find meal plan ideas and you’re a health coach, Google “meal planning guides” and see what comes up, see which sites come up and which Facebook pages you can find. That’s one way, so think about that.
Rich: That’s a clever tip. I like that.
Julie: Just do some searches and see what comes up. I guarantee you almost any topic you search for you can find in a top ten list. So like, “Best Books For Entrepreneurship”, there’s going to be half a dozen top ten lists that are about that topic. You can target books and authors on Facebook, too. So do some searches around that, that can work really well.
Another tool I really like to use is Audience Insights. So you can actually find this inside the Ads Manager tools, and it’s another research tool. It’s kinda like Graph Search used to work where you can find a “people like these” pages, what else do they like, and Facebook will tell you. So you put in what you do know – countries, age, gender – of your ideal client and the one or two pages that you know they might like, and Facebook will tell you other pages that those people like. So that’s a really great place to start because you’re getting it right from the source that if somebody is interested in this topic on these pages, here are other pages that you can target that they might like.
Similar to AdWords these like half a dozen sites similar where you can put in an URL and they’ll give you websites similar to the one you just put in, and you can get some more results from that.
Rich: Oh that’s interesting. I didn’t know about that. That’s definitely something worth checking out. Now I assume they’ll also tell you that the people you targeted also like USA Today and it will still be too broad, so you start to narrow it down.
Julie: Yeah, I sometimes get people that are interested in mindset and self improvement kind of topics and they want to target Oprah, and I’m like, my mom likes Oprah but she’s not looking for a life coach, so you have to get a little more specific. You want sites only the people that are definitely interested in that topic are going to follow.
Sometimes you can narrow it down. So I’ve talked to life coaches and people that are into spirituality, so I can target some of these spiritual teachers on Facebook, but I really specifically want business owners and entrepreneurs, so I can narrow it down so where I get these spirituality pages. They also have t be a Facebook page admin or a small business owner. SO it helps narrow it a little bit.
Rich: Interesting. Ok, you’re definitely taking things to the next level. So the reason why the car wash is fresh in my head is because I just put together a proposal for a carwash and detailing one, so walk through this with me. Let’s say you run a carwash and a detailing business, chances are people are not necessarily liking other car wash and detailing pages in my geographic area – and if they are – they’re probably not going to be my customer anyways because they already like this other company.
So obviously I can target by age, I know they have to be of legal driving age, they’re probably only going to go 5-10 miles for a car wash so I can target that. Those sorts of things I may – for the detailing end of the business – would I then find people who are really into cars? Like, would that be something that might help me get in front of my audience or do you feel that’s a little bit too off target?
Julie: Local marketing is a little different sometimes. Sometimes you can’t narrow down quite as much. For the car wash specifically, one thing that comes to mind is Facebook works with some third party companies – like credit companies – so they know a little bit about us as far as our purchase behavior. And you can actually target by the type of car somebody drives. I don’t know exactly how accurate this information is, but supposedly they have some of this information. So I’m pretty sure that you can target by people that drive luxury SUV’s and things like that. So that might be one way to go about that particularly.
But sometimes in local marketing, especially if the geographic population of that area isn’t that large, sometimes there’s only so much narrowing you can do and you end up getting a little more broad when you’re targeting. It’s still more targeted than a lot of other types of advertising out there so I still think it can work. You just have to go a little bit broader. So I would say not necessarily car enthusiasts, but you can at least target maybe the type of car they drive.
Rich: Interesting, alright. Now one of the things that you always want to be doing is testing to see what’s working and what’s not working, does this image work, does this copy work. So do you have any best practices you can share with us around how to best test ad copy or the images we use? What kind of experience do you have in that area?
Julie: I do think it’s important. You need to be testing both the audiences that you’re targeting – which is super important – because if you’re not getting in front of the right people you have no chance. But then also how you talk to people and how you display things can really have a huge impact.
I had one client that came to me and when I looked at her targeting and what she was doing – the targeting, the budget, the building – everything was totally dialed in. But whenever I looked at it critically, her photo and ad copy was not the best it could be. And just making that one change took her from a 4% toa 27% conversion rate on her webinar. It was a huge difference. So I’ve definitely seen firsthand what impact that can make. So I always recommend you do some testing.
Now if you have multiple ads in an ad set – meaning you’re targeting the same audience with more than one ad like a split test – Facebook will help you figure out which one is doing the best. They share the budget, they fight for the budget and they go head to head to see which one does best with this audience.
The things that I think make the biggest impact are the pictures, that’s the thing you usually notice first, so I usually test at least 2 photos for each ad. Things that usually test well are brighter colors without being obnoxious. A lot of times on Facebook they’ve actually done testing that says smiling women do the best, our eyes are drawn to faces whether it’s a photo of yourself or a coach or something or a stick photo. I’ve seen both work. But something that stands out and doesn’t totally blend in.
Also, the headline. The big, bold text that goes right under the photo. That’s the other thing that people tend to notice first. But make sure that you do some testing around that to who it’s for. My biggest thing about ad copy is making sure you’re focused on the benefits and that you’re specific, because sometimes I read ad copy and think it’s fine, but when you get a little more critical about it, are you basically sounding like everybody else out there, and is it very vague like, “I’ll help you grow your business.”
Rich: Right. Or, “We’ve got your solution.”
Julie: Right, exactly. So get really specific. People are concerned with what’s in it for them and how are you going to help them. One little trick I like to use when it comes to writing ad copy – because a lot of times people can’t afford to hire a copywriter just for their ads – I like to look in Facebook groups and forums and even on Amazon, and I check out book reviews for books that are on topics that I’m trying to teach. I look to see what people are saying and how are they saying it specifically.
People ask questions all the time in Facebook groups, so go in there and read questions in groups where your ideal client is hanging out, see what they’re struggling with and what words they’re using to say it, because expression when someone is struggling, they start to use jargon from their industry and they start talking how the ideal client talks. And if you can reflect back what they’re struggling with in their own words, then they kind of feel like you’re in their head and it makes it a little easier to get through to them and stand out amongst all those other ads and things that come up in their newsfeed.
Rich: I think that’s an excellent point because we’ve all seen that ad that seems to be speaking directly to us as if it was using our name. The idea of doing the research and understanding the questions and concerns that your ideal customer has, and then using their language so you’re really speaking to them. I mean that’s obviously not just true with Facebook ads, it’s true with all marketing in general. And I think a to of times we just don’t put in the time in the lab to actually put ourselves in a position to win. So I’m glad you brought that point up because no matter what new tool Facebook comes up with for A/B split testing, it doesn’t matter if our ads are nowhere near the target anyway.
Julie: Yeah, absolutely. It can make such a big difference and I think sometimes it’s almost an afterthought or if you just kind of throw it together, they know the benefits, they know what’s in it for them, but they don’t take time to really work on that copy and make sure that they’re getting the point across and that’s really compelling because people are not on there to be advertised. But if a solution comes up that seems helpful, people will click on the ad and sign up for things. But you have to give them a compelling reason to click over.
Rich: Yeah. I think you had mentioned this earlier, when people are seeing Google ads they already have a commercial intent, they’re already actively searching for something. For Facebook, we kind of have to get in front of people when they weren’t looking for something and be so engaging that we get them to stop doing what they’re doing so that they’ll engage with us. And that can be tricky. It’s more cost effective to get somebody to click on that compared to Google AdWords, but we do have to raise their desire to engage with us so we can really make that sale.
Julie: Yes, absolutely.
Rich: Julie this has been great, I learned a lot of new stuff that I definitely want to put into our own digital marketing here. Where can we find out more about you online?
Julie: You can find me over at sociallyaligned.com, and of course I’m always hanging out on Facebook. I have lot’s of resources, I’m always blogging about Facebook ads so be sure to check that out.
Rich: That sounds great. So if anyone is looking for a little one on one coaching they can find you there?
Julie: Yeah. I do online coaching for Facebook ads, I have digital programs and I also do a small group program that’s a Facebook ads incubator that’s start to finish from ad creation to promoting the ads.
Rich: Good stuff. Alright Julie, thank you very much for your time today, I appreciate it.
Julie: Thanks for having me on.
- You can find Julie and learn more about her online at her website, Twitter and on Facebook. Be sure to check out her blog where she interviews entrepreneurs each week as well as shares helpful information and insight for growing your business.
- Here are a few tools that Julie discussed in this episode to help with Facebook ads:
- Rich Brooks is founder and President of flyte new media, a web design and internet marketing firm in Portland, Maine. His annual Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference brings together some of the leading minds in the world of search, social and mobile marketing. Save the date for this year’s conference – 9/26/16!
- Check out Rich’s latest blog post at flyte new media, “5 Annoying Facebook Marketing Tactics You Need to Stop Doing Right Now (And What to Do Instead).”
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