Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist. She runs Identify Marketing.
OPINION: There have been many times over the last two years where I’ve shaken a metaphorical fist at Meta (previously known as Facebook) and their overwhelming desire to add to our constant change as business owners, marketers and humans.
I reckon all of us have had it tough, and small business owners have borne the brunt of so much change, upsets and unpredictable happenings. I’ve been helping small business owners and creators with digital marketing in some shape or form since 2006.
Looking back at those early days, the strategy was so simple, and predictable. It used to be that you could whack up two to three posts on Facebook and be done with it. Now there are multiple platforms, using them is more and more complicated, and as soon as you get used to something, the algorithm changes.
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Working with a huge range of business owners, from some who are not confident using Facebook for themselves, let alone for their business, to others who bathe in the dopamine hit and love building a community. Whatever the stage and level of confidence, one thing is certain:
Being able to do your own marketing just gets more complicated and time-consuming.
We made a decision as an agency to focus on strategy, action plans and training. I want you to keep your marketing in house where possible.
Employing people is expensive, and you need to have a certain return of investment to make it viable. Engaging an agency is even more so. It’s why we love training, sharing new insights and helping you upskill. (For the record, freelancers, and agencies can do incredible work. However your business needs to be at a stage where you can afford the investment.)
Along with strategy, we focus on training business owners on how to run their own Facebook ads, especially for ECommerce and retail. So this week, on my MAP IT Marketing podcast, one of our Facebook Ads strategists Susie Klaver shares what’s working, what has changed and what you need to be aware of when running your own Facebook advertisements.
Before we jump in, eagle eyes may notice she has the same surname as me. Susie’s one of our two adult children who work at our business Identify. She started in 2019, and now has moved to part-time as she completes her degree at Victoria University.
I’ve loved watching her growth in marketing and can confidently say her knowledge and talent in design and Facebook ad funnels far outstrips mine.
One of the biggest mistakes online retailers make is creating one or two ads or “boosting” a post, and then expecting that will draw in a huge supply of ads.
If the product is really innovative, and timely this can work, but for the vast majority of retailers, you need to create a series of ads that take people from “oh what’s this” to “take my money”. This called a Facebook funnel.
Susie explains what this journey looks like. “You have to take your customer on a journey. You can’t talk the same way to people who are right about to buy, as you would to people who’ve never heard of you. We go from people who have no idea who you are. They’ve never been to your website. They don’t follow you on Instagram or Facebook.
“They’ve never heard of you, but they might be vaguely interested in something that you do. You have to get this group of people and transition them to be really to buy. They may visit your website, and add stuff to their cart.
“These people need a different type of message to get them ready to buy. Then people who’ve bought from you before or love you on Facebook need another message completely. The ad creative needs to reflect each stage.”
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With the growth of design solutions like Canva, it’s become simple to create your own branded ad copy.
“I spend a lot of time on Canva I really like making kind of unique and specific to the brand but kind of unique and creative, creative and kind of having the opportunity to play around and create beautiful ads I really like making ads with a pretty aesthetic,” say Susie.
While designing, it’s a good idea not to get too attached to your ad creative as what you think is going to work might bomb. This is often because there’s a mismatch between what you like, and what your audience wants.
As Susie creates she’s reminding herself that “not all businesses are marketing to me. In fact, quite a few of them aren’t, I’m not the target. I’m not the one who’s looking at the ads, and I’m not the one who’s got to be clicking on them.
“So what I think is beautiful, doesn’t really matter. Sometimes ads that are really simple, basic colours, really easy to read, works really well. And that’s very frustrating. Sometimes beautiful ads just don’t resonate.”
Because of this, Susie recommends creating at least three or four different types of ads at each stage of the customer journey. We’ll often create far more, so if you want to try different styles, don’t hold back! It’s also a good idea to test whether your audience wants short captions, or long stories.
“I think there’s a really interesting balance between the images and the copy. Because some images kind of speak for themselves.
“We also don’t want to overwhelm the person seeing the ad with a lot of copy. There is an important balance in using a mix of long-form copy and short form. For example, a reminder ad so for really “hot” audiences don’t really need much at all.
“You are just reminding them to come back to you, unlike with cold audiences. Cold audiences function better with a long-form copy in my experience.”
If you’ve created a range of ads to try you need to give them time to work. It’s tempting to turn them one off after a day or so, but Facebook tests them for a minimum of seventy-two hours, and sometimes for up to a week.
Prosper marketing columnist Rachel Klaver.
As Susie likes to describe it, “as much as Facebook is like a social media platform, it’s kind of like a grumpy cat. You poke it too much, and it’s just not gonna want to deal with you. If you are sitting in your bed, and then you move to your desk, and then you go to the kitchen, that cat’s got to be done with you. Facebook is the same. They don’t like frequent changes, or big changes frequently.”
With the IOS14 changes this time last year, Facebook ads have become more complicated to measure accurately. Facebook Pixel allows you to track behaviour off Facebook. This gives you the “God moment” Even if you know it’s how ads work, it’s hard to be immune to its power.
“Sometimes I’ll find some like shoes and think they are beautiful, but they’re $300. That’s a little bit much for me. And then you’re on Facebook the next day, and they come up in your feed and you’re like, Well, this is a sign from the universe,” laughs Susie.
The impact has made it harder to measure results, sometimes it takes up to four days for a sale to be reported in the Ad account, and you have to check your results alongside actual sales and Google analytics.
“The accuracy of your reporting correlates to several things, including how many of your customers tend to use and shop on a phone with IOS14 or IOS15 installed, how engaging your social media is, whether you are using the organic marketing well on Facebook and Instagram, and how effectively you are using email marketing.
If you’re doing your own Facebook ads, and aren’t getting the results you expected, it might not be the Facebook ads at fault. Susie suggests checking the following before blaming a lack of sales on ads.
- Does your website look trustworthy?
- Do you have testimonials and an about us page with a real person on it?
- Are your product images clear?
- Do you have informative and interesting descriptions of your products?
- Is your website accessible and simple to use?
- Is the checkout process uncomplicated?
- Are you converting between 1-5 per cent of your visitors to your website to purchasers?
- Are you using Facebook and Instagram organically?
- Are they growing without paid ads?
- Are people commenting on your posts or sharing them?
- Are you using video, and reels to increase your reach?
- Do people feel they are building a relationship with you and your business?
- Do you have the shop linked up on Facebook and Instagram?
- Are you using Instagram stories to share about your products?
- Are you emailing your existing customers?
- Are they buying from your emails?
Having strong social media engagement has become so essential in terms of Facebook Add success, that we’ve now made the call to only help train small business owners in Facebook Ads if they already have an engaged social media presence on Facebook and/or Instagram.
If you are still building up your engagement, and still want to give advertising a go, we recommend holding off on the full Facebook ad funnel and setting up a simple traffic ad to get more people to your website.
It’s one of the cheapest ways to pay for more people to come to your site, and they are simple enough to set up for yourself. If it’s all new to you, I’ve got a free video tutorial on YouTube on how to do just that.
Then, when you’re ready for it, give different types of ads a go.
“When I am speaking to anybody who wants to run their own ads or needs to get started, my biggest piece of advice is don’t be afraid to play around with it and test stuff out. Facebook also has a really detailed help centre to help you learn new skills”, encourages Susie.