Stop Wasting Money on Facebook
“Most marketers are selfish and narcissistic.” -Seth Godin (interview on the Tim Ferriss Show – Aug. 9, 2016)
It’s no question that Facebook is a pay-to-play platform. Without money behind it, your content will only reach a fraction of those who like your business’s page. Even with strong content, there is a chance very few people will see it. It may not get enough attention early on, causing Facebook to bury it. It may go up the same time the next kitten video goes viral, causing you to lose out because Facebook decides the kitten video is more appealing. There are two common scenarios I see when schools decide it’s time to start paying to reach more people.
You start to click ‘Boost Post’. Facebook promises that your post will reach a much larger audience, so you buy in. You pay some money and, hopefully, set up at least some loose targeting. So they take your money and go to work, putting your content in front of (just a guess here) women between the ages of 18-26 in your area with an interest in cosmetology and beauty. Then, Facebook comes back to show you how great they have done with your money. They give you a plethora of reports; reach, impressions, CTR, CPM, likes, comments, and on, and on. Those numbers look impressive; it reached way more people than your usual posts do, and all for just a little money. But did it actually help? Are you doing anything further to nurture those who engaged with the content? Unfortunately, the most common answers are ‘No’, or ‘I’m not sure’.
You ditch the ‘Boost Post’ button and set up your Business Manager. (Pat yourself on the back, because that is a great first move!) You start to create some ads for prospects to click to your website and fill out a form to request information. The plan may never really take off. Or what seems to hurt a bit more, it may work great for a short period. Then it stops as if Facebook flipped some magic ‘Off’ switch, and nothing you do can get you back to where you started.
Both of these scenarios are painful and probably expensive. What caused the problem? Without a strong strategy and good content, your ads cannot succeed for long. With this article, I will lay the groundwork for you to run more robust paid social ads campaigns, spend money in a better way, and increase your lead count. One thing to mention before I get started, even though I’ll suggest content that has a low-barrier, meaning little focus on requesting their information, you should always have a call to action at every level of this funnel!
Reach a larger, automatically refreshing audience. Create specific ads/content for Facebook to put in front of people based on their place in your funnel. Nurture your audience and keep them engaged while they flow down to the bottom of the conversion funnel. Get as close to set-and-forget as possible with your campaigns. Show non-converting prospects new content later on and for a minuscule cost. But ultimately, the main goal should be to avoid wasting your money and your prospective student’s time. There are four areas that we will look at to help make this possible.
Without good, useful content, this marketing strategy will fall short. Videos, blogs, and how-to guides are all reliable tools to use throughout this funnel. At the top of the funnel, the content you use should be strictly introductory. You’re asking prospects to get to know you. Towards the middle of the funnel, the content should be relevant and useful in some way to your audience. Pay attention to what they need. Towards the bottom of the funnel, you want to help the prospects envision attending your school. Content at this lower level needs to have a strong call to action. Once the prospects are down at this level, you have already shown them why your school is the best choice. Now, you have earned the right to ask for the sale.
Facebook offers a large number of tools to get the most out of your ads. The Facebook Pixel can be placed on your website, allowing you to track all website visitors and connect to their Facebook accounts. You can take any email lists you have and upload them to Facebook, and Facebook will go and find any accounts they can with the provided information. Instead of using interest-based targeting, Facebook Lookalike Audiences are a great tool to get things started, particularly in the top of the funnel. You can take a group of people (page fans, email lists, website audiences, video views, etc.) and tell Facebook to create a Lookalike. They will scrub that audience and find the common psychographics and demographics of the group; then they’ll find the top 1% of prospects in your area that looks just like them.
Facebook takes pride in the strength of their targeting capabilities. If you know how to use them, it can be a powerful tool. Near the top of the funnel, you should keep the age range & geo-radius wide, stretch as far as you can, but still within your target area. The top portion of the funnel should target those who have never been exposed to your brand but fit the profile of your target market (Lookalike Audience). Near the middle of the funnel, you should be re-targeting based on web traffic to a particular page on your website, or if there is not a sufficient number to do so (minimum is over 1,000 in at least six months), video retargeting is a very reliable tool. Using a video as an ad is a great tool. The cost per view is typically within $0.01 – $0.03.
The same way you can target specific audiences, you can exclude them as well. If you set up exclusions correctly, it will cause people to feed automatically through your funnel and to the close. Near the top of the funnel, you’ll want to exclude those who have had recent exposure to your brand. If they have recently visited your site, they don’t need a brand intro, but it is time to feed them relevant content. Near the middle of the funnel, you’ll want to exclude any conversions, students, graduates, and staff to avoid wasting money. At the bottom of the funnel, your focus is on people who have read certain articles or viewed specific videos, so you’ll want to exclude those who don’t meet that requirement, along with the same exclusions from the middle of the funnel.
When one of our clients gave us the green light to set this full funnel up at the beginning of 2016, they saw amazing results. They utilized video content to build their funnel. At the top, the videos are fast paced, short, and strictly introductory. Towards the middle, the videos explain why their school is the best choice for their prospects. In the end, they have a video that helps prospects envision attending and graduating from the school. It’s paired with a simple clicks-to-site ad with a strong call to action. This drives traffic to a specific landing page, not just the homepage of their website! Below are some of their results. Your school does not need to spend as much to guarantee the same results. There are a large number of factors that can play into how much you should spend on social media. When you take the time to provide relevant content, the results can be great. If you waste people’s time, it will get expensive, and cheapen your brand.