This year Facebook launched their national conference Boost Your Business where they are going to major cities around the US and teaching business owners and marketers how to really use Facebook marketing effectively. And, yes, there are real people from Facebook at this event. There are also a number of partners that are participating in the conference who are there to provide additional support for your business. For a relatively low cost ($25) you get a $50 Facebook ad coupon and direct access to Facebook - a pretty good value in my estimation!
So I signed up for the San Diego event with hopes of getting some good information direct from the source. And I have to admit, I wasn't disappointed. Well, except for the fact that, it was legit freezing cold in the building! It was a gorgeous glass building on a pier in the San Diego bay. Which, when planning an event in June in San Diego, you probably assume it'll be pretty nice out. But it was a cold, overcast day, and in a glass building with no insulation, yeah, us pansy San Diegans were more than chilly 😉
But otherwise, the event was definitely worth attending. I'm going to recap a lot of the information and details here for you in case you can't make one of the other sessions around the country. But know that there was a LOT of talk about Facebook ads. This was, by far, the dominant conversation and speaking points. So if you want to learn about Facebook ads, this will be beneficial. If you're a Facebook ads master, a lot of this may seem ultra basic to you and repetitive of what you already know. But there are still some good takeaways about Facebook marketing in general too.
The event started off with the always awesome Mari Smith as the emcee and host. She shared some great stories of the power of Facebook and set the tone for a valuable session.
The event got into full swing with Jonathan Czaja - the Director of Small Business for Facebook. He started his session with these key facts to consider:
- 40 million small businesses are active on Facebook
- 2 million of these small businesses actively use advertising on Facebook
That's a LOT of businesses using Facebook marketing! So the question has to be, how well are you using it and are you standing out from the other 40 million businesses? I know, that sounds overwhelming! But remember, not all of those businesses are in your niche or industry and don't have your same target audience.
Some of the key things to know about Facebook and using ads on Facebook include:
- Facebook ads automatically render perfectly across all devices
- 20% of mobile internet usage is spent on Facebook
- The average person checks Facebook 14 times a day
- Videos are viewed on Facebook at a rate of 4 billion views per day
- Facebook has also just recently launched a mobile ads manager app that will allow you to fully manage your Facebook ads on the go
- Facebook is now providing live one-on-one support for Facebook advertisers (this drew a lot of applause!) so you don't have to email and wait for a response anymore. And, yes, at some point (as Jonathan joked, it only took them 12 years to figure this out....) you will actually be able to call Facebook and speak to an actual human being!
Jonathan discussed the 5 key lessons to marketing on Facebook:
1. Tell Your Authentic Story
This is something you know I preach all the time as does Mari Smith so it seemed only fitting to hear it from Facebook too.
The reasons to tell your authentic story include:
- Building trust with your customers and audience
- Humanizing your staff - developing relationships before ever working with you or your business
- Avoid memes or cat posts (YES! Thank you!)
- Remember that your business ads and posts show up between photos of a kid's birthday party and a friend's post. Personal interaction and stories is why we're using Facebook.
2. It's Easy to Get Started
If you want to get started with effective promotion on Facebook, simply boosting a post is the easiest way. You can dictate the budget which will dictate the reach. And you can choose whether to target your fans and/or potential customers/fans.
3. Reach People That Matter to You
Facebook ads allow you to narrow your promotions directly to people of a certain age range, gender, language, and other specifics.
You can reach people near your business using your business address info, and targeting an area within a certain mile radius of that location. You can target people based on where they live or work or even if they have recently been in your area (traveling, etc.) based on GPS info from their mobile devices.
Adding call-to-action buttons in your ads (like Get Directions) will help drive traffic directly to your location. And a new feature just released called Now, will actually let that user call your store directly from the Facebook ad!
4. Use Advanced Targeting
Facebook ads allow you to use highly targeted methods. You can use your existing email list to target only existing customers on Facebook - even if they aren't currently following your page.
Or you can create a Lookalike Audience which takes the parameters of your existing audience and finds everyone else on Facebook that matches this same criteria. This is a super helpful way to find new customers on Facebook. And I should mention that the use of lookalike audiences was probably the biggest point stressed throughout the conference. It was brought up repeatedly in every session of the day. One of the panelists (a skateboard shop) even mentioned that when they looked at their lookalike audience, it was 2.5 million new people. Yeah, that'll get you some new reach!
5. Measure Your Results
The final lesson for using Facebook ads is to make sure you are measuring your results. You can measure actual conversions and sales on your website that generated from a Facebook ad through the use of pixels (a small snippet of code you put in your website page HTML to track activity from Facebook).
To finalize everything, they recommend you go to www.facebook.com/business/learn for educational videos and support with your advertising needs.
I know this is a lot already. But we still have so much more to cover!
Next up was the Small Business Panel. Being in San Diego, there were 4 local businesses that shared their insight, experiences, and advertising efforts. These included Jelly Skateboards, Tri Swim Coach, Suja Juice, and Chef's Roll.
So as not to give myself tendonitis typing this, I'm just going to summarize all their tips here:
- Know the value your Facebook page will provide - it's not about being promotional but about being a resource
- You need to have crisp, vibrant, quality photo content - it needs to stand out in the feed if you're going to have success. Yes, you can use additional tools to enhance your photos (consider Afterlight and Snapseed for iPhones).
- It's imperative you're building your email list and not just fans on Facebook. And use this email list to constantly retarget on Facebook.
- Use Facebook campaigns to collect emails
- Boost a post at least once a week
- Let Facebook ads run for at least 24 hours to gain steam. Sometimes they lag in efficiency then catch fire. You can always shut them off anytime if you think it isn't working.
- Know who your target "avatar" is. This is the description of the single person you are targeting as your ideal client. For example, his name is Andy. He is 52 years old, works in investments, has three kids, and surfs on the weekends.
- Make your Facebook campaigns as easy as possible for best results. The more complicated they are or steps they have, the less results you'll see.
- Use social media for customer service
- It's important to learn ad management for yourself. Outsourcing can be done (but each panelist does their own). But having the knowledge of what works and why, and being able to maintain your brand voice is priceless. It's time consuming and difficult but worth it. Also, look for good training and resources to help you learn more quickly and effectively rather than wasting precious time and money "trying" to "figure it out".
I was also super happy to see a lot of the talk on the panel switch to Instagram 😉 So here are some of their thoughts and comments on my favorite platform:
- Use user-generated content on Instagram to boost engagement (for both you and the original user)
- Use custom branded (the panelist referred to them as "internal") hashtags
- Find relevant hashtags in your industry or niche and like as many posts in that hashtag gallery as possible. This draws in new users to your account.
- You have to give love to get love on Instagram
- Different demographics on Instagram compared with Facebook - use this to your advantage
- Your Instagram content has to be awesome or you won't gain followers. Really focus on what you're sharing.
Are you exhausted yet? This is a lot of info, right? Oh, but there's so much more!
I sat in next on the Growing Online Sales session (there was a concurrent session on Growing Instore Sales). This was presented by two Facebook employees who work with the Small Business Team in Texas and featured examples and information from various Facebook pages.
First, you have to realize that the path to purchase is very complex. We may see something on our phone on our way to work but forget about it as we get dragged into daily work functions. Then at lunch you remember you saw that item in the morning so now you go to the company's website and research cost and availability before actually making a purchase.
So when it comes to online sales, there are three aspects of Facebook ads to consider:
Primarily, you are likely looking for website clicks (clicks to your website) or website conversions (require taking an action once on your website).
Link ads are great for these objectives because they fall right in the news feed with other stories, they are completely clickable (anywhere on the ad), they drive right to your website (designated URL), and you can include a direct call-to-action in the ad.
Link ads generate a 30% higher conversion than other types of ads.
It's important to have compelling text and quality images to run successful ads. Facebook will even help you run A/B testing on this to make it more effective more you. You can upload up to 6 different images to see which one will work best for your audience.
A new feature is Carousel ads (yes, like we have seen on Instagram lately). These ads allow you to upload up to 5 images per ad with each image being able to link to a separate URL. For example, they used the example of a cookie dough company. The first photo is the raw ingredients which links to a website page with the nutritional information and ingredients in the cookie dough. The second image is of baked cookies linking to a website page with baking instructions and tips. The third image is of a store front linking to a website page detailing where you can buy the cookie dough.
To create Carousel ads, when you are in the ad generator, when you get to the "How do you want your ad to look?" section, choose "multiple images" and this will unlock this type of ad. All images are square so you can use the crop and repositioning tool to fit your images. The ad also "learns" as it goes, testing your creative content and automatically moving the most effective ad images to the front of the carousel.
Optimized bidding is highly recommended for best results.
A third type of ad that works well for those with product catalogs is a Dynamic Product ad which will allow you to retarget your entire catalog to your audience, showing the most relevant items based on their demographic details.
If you have a mobile app for your business, there are also ads and tools designed specifically to boost downloads and use of your app.
When it comes to targeting the right people on Facebook, there are a few things to consider.
First, you can use native targeting which requires you to know your customers interests.
Or you can create custom audiences which are based on your email list (you can upload via CSV or link directly from most major email management systems). You need to have at least 100 people on your list for this function to work.
You also want to use the Facebook pixels on (they recommend EVERY page of your website) in order to be able to understand behavior and retarget appropriately.
When you remarket your business, you want to do so across your marketing objectives. You want to remarket to potential customers, not just existing customers (you can choose to exclude existing customers) in your parameters. You can also set rules for various factors like people who have only visited certain pages of your website or people who haven't visited in a certain period of time.
Again, we talked about lookalike audiences. It's important to set a good "seed" audience (your starting existing audience) - this can be based on best customers or most frequent purchasers. You want to select a specific audience size and layer your standard targeting on this lookalike audience.
Finally, you need to be measuring your ads to really determine their effectiveness.
You want to measure your conversion tracking. Facebook's ads reporting section will give you details on your ads effectiveness. You can also generate custom reports to see performance breakdowns, who is seeing the ads, and where they are performing.
Phew! I'm getting all excited about all this stuff again just retyping it all! 😉
Ok. so that wrapped up all the Facebook learning! But, believe it or not, there's still more. I told you it was a valuable day.
I chose to sit in on the MailChimp session for the final portion of the day. I'll admit I was personally hoping for more MailChimp specific tips on using their platform and tools, but the content was more generic in terms of what makes good emailing practices. It was still really good information, and better for me to share with you, so I hope you find this info valuable.
First of all, 91% of all US consumers use email daily. Email should complement social media - they don't need to be mutually exclusive of each other. And you might not know that Facebook is the second most popular source for email opt-ins (websites are first).
So, why should you use an email service provider? Here are they're top reasons:
- Sending restrictions avoided (gmail only allows you to send to a max of 500 recipients)
- Reporting tools
- Branding opportunities
- Campaign management and automation
Some of the tips for optimal success with email marketing included:
- Knowing your business goals to set an email strategy (you know how much I love a good strategy! 😉 )
- Use an editorial calendar to manage your email strategy and ensure you stay on track
- Incorporate an email checklist to ensure all emails have all the necessary components and stay consistent
The best tips for writing your email include:
- Focusing on your message
- Creating a hierarchy in your content - the most important content first - write for scanners (use bullets, headers, sub-headers, paragraphs, etc.)
- Be concise
- Consider your reader's frame of mind when they're reading your email
- Use a conversational tone
- Read it out loud before you send it
And when it comes to subject lines - one of the most popular questions - here are some helpful tips:
- Tell, don't sell, what's inside
- Avoid repeating subject lines (ie. Newsletter March, Newsletter April), instead, write something compelling about the content inside
- Use localization and personalization
- Keep titles to 50 characters for optimal readability on any device
- Avoid using all caps or excessive exclamation marks (it looks like you're yelling)
- Subject lines that are timely and relevant work best
- To stand out, include emojis in your subject lines
A case study example involved using segmented lists to drive results. A music management company sent an email to their whole list about a specific band. Everyone who opened that email was put on a separate list of "first catch". Every time anything related to this band was to be shared, it was shared to this email group first. Every person that opened this email was put on a secondary list of "super fans" and they consistently receive all band info and emails first. These emails average over 70% open rates and drive social media and email marketing for the company because these super fans share all the content as exclusive first hand knowledge.
Finally, make sure you are measuring your email campaign results. You can utilize ecommerce reports to view purchase activity. View your open rates, click rates, and activity over time to see which campaigns are working best for your audience.
Some additional MailChimp features to consider include putting a call-to-action button directly in your email campaign. It inserts as a nice button for easy conversion. They also have the MailChimp mobile app now which allows you to send photo campaigns super quickly and easily directly from your phone.
Ok, believe it or not, that was the whole (half) day recap! Yup, all that and some networking crammed into 4 hours. Overall, yes, I totally got value out of this session. For me as a business owner, I learned some valuable tips and insights to help me and my business. But I also enjoyed being able to recap all of this for you as I hope you can get some valuable takeaways for your business too!