How to use Facebook Advertising to generate leads & sales for small local businesses

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When it comes to Facebook advertising, it simply means pressing the boost-post button for many businesses out there. Boost-post is an extremely quick and easy way for your post to get higher reach, which makes it attractive for time-scarce business owners. The downside is that the options are limited, without the ability to exclude or narrow audience. Unsurprisingly, it is also with the same group of “post boosters” that I hear complaints of Facebook not generating business results for them, or it being a “money blackhole.” Well, it turns out that Facebook advertising is actually more much complicated and powerful than just clicking boost posts. Here, in this infographic guide, I outline the steps to getting phenomenal results on this platform with 1.71 billion active monthly users.

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Targeting

Unlike Search Engine Marketing that targets people by intentions, Facebook targets people by their identify, which includes their demographics , interests and a whole lot other things. When doing targeting, advertisers are usually tempted to use the easiest targeting option. For example, I run a restaurant, I shall target people whose interests is food.
If only it is so easy.
Generally speaking, stay away from targeting broad interest categories, such as yoga, photography, food etc. Facebook tries to determine your interests from your clicking habits, but they may not be the most accurate. For example, I found one of my Facebook interests to be photography even though I am at best a smartphone photographer. (Find yours here https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences) To succeed in Facebook advertising, go the extra mile in understanding your target audience.
Before you even turn on your computer , some homework is required. Grab a blank piece of paper and begin jotting down everything about your ideal customer from demographics to psychographics. Use the infographic ( Rhyme uh?) above as a guide. Doing this brings 2 benefits. Firstly, it helps in putting your ads infront of people who have the highest chance of becoming your customer, thus reducing unwanted spending. Second, identifying your specific audience allows you to craft ad copy that speaks to the pain & desires of this group. Facebook rewards advertisers that produce highly relevant ads with cost per click as low as 2cents. This is one of my campaigns.

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Nothing is coming out of your head ?
There are some hacks to determining their interests.

  1. Go to the facebook profile of an existing customer and check out her about page. From there you can see a list of her favorites and liked pages. Repeat a few times and try to find commonalities.
  2. Use graph search to find the favorite pages liked by fans of your competitors’ pages. fb-pages
  3. Fall back on good old survey. Best yet, talk to your customers and find out their interests. If you do not already have questions to ask, check out our survey template.

 

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Also, these days, Facebook provides you with features to really home in on your niche audience. Play around with the narrow audience and exclude audience bars. Consider excluding your existing customers by uploading the list or adding pixel to your thank-you page. The more specific your group is, the better you are able to relate to them and therefore optimize your spending.

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Note: Facebook has reduced its targeting section in ads manager to one bar encompassing interests, demographics and behavior. It means that you need to know your options well since there are no prompts now; this is where the guide above comes in handy.
If you have custom audience from your email list of website visitors, they are the best group to target. I will leave that for another post for more advanced advertisers.
Of course, not all your customers will share the same attributes. I recommend that you carry out the exercise only for your Most Valuable Customer. It is also common practice to create a few campaigns targeted at different groups with a different message for each.

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Even if you nailed your targeting options, the ads will fall flat if it is not useful and relevant to your target audience. There is alot of clutter on Facebook these days. Dont forget you are also competing for attention against the friends of your target audience.
Your ad image plays a big role in stopping the track of someone mindlessly scrolling through their news feed. The general rule of thumb is to have something that STANDS out. Using strong colors , weird images(or cute kittens) can all help.
See how local startup, My laundry Box literally posted picture of a cute kitten to draw attention to their post. According to their founder, Kelvin Khoo, My Laundry Box sees a 3 times return on their spend on Facebook ads! Apparently the post worked very well with their target audience. On the other hand, a kitten post may not fare as well in the B2B niche. Bottom line; there is no hard and fast rule on Facebook, Just make sure you understand your target market by carrying out the homework above in advance!

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Showcasing your product

A study by eMarketer reveals that content with photos gets about 20times more interaction than those without. If you run a business with products that is highly visual, such as in F&B, fashion, interior design and so on, you have an advantage! You can create content that engages your audience and promote your products on a social platform at the same time. Best of both worlds!
The caveat is that you have to invest in good photography. Check out the example of Twelve cup cakes , a brand that went from one to 12 outlets within 2.5 years, using primarily social media as a channel for growth. According to Daniel Ong, its founder, “We grew Twelve literaly through social media. I reached out to the raw emotions of Birthdays, anniversaries, the hapiness, the joy, the coming together of people. I made Twelve a lifestyle brand, instead of a cake shop.”

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Doesn’t it make you salivate ?
Lesson here, do not skimp on the quality of your photos.

The secret sauce- human pictures

Better yet, include pictures of real people in your ad image, along with your product. We human beings have this thing in our brain call the mirror neurons that causes us to catch on emotions unconsciously. Remember the time when u were tearing non stop in a movie theatre ? While images alone are unlikely to make one cry, it can definitely evoke emotions strong enough to make your prospects take action. it is no secret now among marketers that emotions drive action, and logic merely justifies it. In the post below, Brain Pickings skillfully evokes sentimental feelings using a well-chosen image.

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Co-founder of Crazy egg, Neil Patel got to 220, 593 fans on Facebook by adding an image of a face to many of his facebook posts.
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Why does it work so well? Neil shares that facial expression is the only universally understood language, and the human brain is wired to process facial cues far more easily than written word.

Ad copy

While there are a thousand ways to write your ad copy, the general rule of thumb would be to write as if one would on a social platform. Even if your target audience are CEOs, stay away from corporate tone. CEOs are also humans , and Facebook is where they interact with friends. Be conversational with them. Copywriting principles apply here; use headlines that evoke curiosity and promises a benefit. Telling stories and asking questions are some of the ways to do that. Just make sure that you deliver on your promise in your landing page.
Check out this Facebook post by OCBC bank telling the story of one of its customers. The number of likes and shares it garnered is testament to the power of storytelling ! While it is ahead of many other companies in the Facebook space, there is still room for improvement. I would include more details to the ”story” and add a stronger hook to attract more attention.
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Power words

Don’t have time to learn copywriting from scratch? A quick hack is to incorporate power words.
No one on social media has enough attention span to read your ad copy word for word. Our mighty mind has the ability to pick up dispersed words to form meaning just by skimming through the text. Thats where power words comes in. It short-circuits your mind and grabs the attention of prospects.
Check out this Facebook ad in which I incorporate a number of the power words. (Hint: it generated a ROI of 400% to date!)
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CTA

By default, your facebook ads do not come with CTA buttons. Without CTAs, your ads can be totally fascinating but bring in zero business results. If you want people to take action, you got to make it easy for them by telling them whats the next step, especially in a channel like Facebook where people are in leisure passive mode.
What are the best CTAs ? Facebook marketing strategist, Jon Loomer categorizes them into hard sell and soft sell buttons. The former includes: Shop now, download, signup, book now. The latter would be :Learn more. Soft sell button tend to yield a higher clickthrough rate since it implies a small commitment. On the other hand, hard sell buttons have the benefit of allowing you to filter off the less-quality clickers.
While there’s no best answer, I tend to drift towards ”Learn More”. In the example above, even though I was using ”Learn More” as CTA, my conversion on landing page was about 40-50%.
In regards to that, I buy into the stand of the founder of Elite Digital Group, Kim Walsh-Phillips who said that Facebook is the land of shiny objects and your goal should be to entice the user to click through to your landing page to find out more. Thats where you do your selling. Dont be overly ambitious with what you are trying to accomplish with the ads.

Ad formats

The list of ad formats provided by Facebook is ever increasing. Caurosel and video ads used to be non-existent. These days, videos are the fastest growing form of content shared on Facebook, as told by Buzzsumo.

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With each new ad format, there are guidelines to bear in mind. Facebook automatically plays your video on silent mode as a user scrolls down his newsfeed. So if your video features you rattling non stop about your product without captions, it shouldnt come as a surprise why it gets ignored.
In this video ad we created for our client, a Malaysian security door seller, the video is a short 45secs clip showing one of their guys using a hammer to whack their own product(crazy, uh?). The shock factor is apparent even without any voice over. The demonstration speaks for itself, bringing alot of organic exposure. The good byproduct? leads come in every other day through the campaign. Make sure you choose a good thumbnail too.

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With caurosel ad format, companies can now present their offerings using more than one image, without having to pay more! However, before you lump everything in one ad, dont forget your advertising 101- do not confuse your audience with multiple messages. If you were to do a products showcase, put products in the same category catering to the same audience group in one ad. If you do storytelling, make sure all images fall under the same theme. Less is more.
According to search engine watch, Foodpanda used the carousel format to promote its app and measured an increase of CTR by 180%and reduced the cost per install by 39%.

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Good old image ads still has its appeal, bearing in mind that it is the most common form of content in the newsfeed. It blends in well with the other posts put out by normal facebook users.
Whichever ad format you use, testing is a must. Test different variables from your ad format, your image to your ad copy.

What offers to promote on Facebook

Sometimes, the problem is not with your targeting or ad copy, it is with your offer ! By offer, I don’t mean your product/ service. So don’t worry, you don’t have to start overhauling your entire business model just to do Facebook advertising. Instead, offers refer to something unique and exclusive for the Facebook audience. You can get to it by simply repackaging your existing offerings. Again, the decision on your choice of offer hinges on your understanding of your audience. Generally speaking , for B2B market, free demo/consultation/ebook/trial can work. While for B2C , event/workshop/samples/discount/contest can do its magic.
Another reason you need to use offer is to leverage the power of scarcity. Think about it, your products are usually offered all year round. Since they can buy your product anytime, why would Facebook audience be compelled to ditch their cat video on Facebook to take action on your product ?
Unless, you have a limited-time offer!
Scarcity is one of Dr Robert Ciadilini’s famous 6 principles of influence. In the words of the persuasion expert, human behavior is such that we are likelier to purchase something if we’re informed that it’s the very last one or that a special deal will soon expire. In short, people really believe that they’ll be missing out on something they have to have if they fail to act quickly!
Facebook is the perfect platform to execute scarcity. Just make sure that you make it scarce by really ending the promotion as claimed!

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Objective

Selecting the right campaign objective is no less important than choosing the correct targeting options. Based on what you choose, Facebook would show your ads to the segment of your target audience that can best meet the objective. Get it right and Facebook will work its magic. Facebook’s algorithm is pretty smart in that regard.
If your goal is to garner leads and sales from Facebook, the most popular objectives to choose from would be ‘clicks to website’ and ‘conversions’. Using conversion will require some setup – adding pixel to your website, but it is a one-time effort. As a company that provides lead generation service, getting this piece right is critical to our success.
Rick Mulready, Facebook ads coach, wouldn’t even recommend using objectives such as “Reach people near your business” unless you are going for awareness.
Personally, after trying out several objectives, I have had the best results with conversion and website clicks. That is even if I’m using videos or offers.

ROI

Now that we are on this topic of marketing objective, most of you reading would be wondering, “How on earth do I measure the success of Facebook ads beyond likes & shares?” Well, you can! and you must!
That is why I stressed the importance of conversion tracking using Facebook pixels.
If you ever find yourself asking the question “how much should I spend on Facebook? ” , thats means your ads campaign is not giving you enough insights. Your goal should be to build a scalable campaign that turns $1 into $2 and more. Your tracking system will provide these information for you.
Some people obsess over the number of fans they have and resort to buying page likes. There is very little practical use in it, apart from it being a social proof. if you dont have deep pockets, stay away from that.

 

Costs 

Of course, your costs of advertising on Facebook is an important factor in the equation. Some people boast about making millions from Facebook. It is not a full picture if we do not know the costs invested in running the ads. We did a separate article on how to calculate the Facebook advertising costs in Singapore.

Conclusion

You would have noticed that some of the examples above are that of organic posts, instead of facebook ads. That is essentially the whole point of this guide. The world has evolved in such a way that the line between organic posts and paid ads is blurring. Native ads are the norm. Therefore, your facebook ads has to appear as organic as possible. No one likes to be sold to, whether on Facebook or in person. On the other hand, people like to check out useful or interesting stuff. Our job as advertisers is to get into the minds of our audience and serve relevant and value-adding information to them, while contributing to our bottom line at the same time. If you can do that, you win in the social media game.
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Download this 10-point questionaire

to nail your facebook targeting & copy.

Ted Chong
Ted is the director of Ice Cube Marketing. His insights on marketing has been featured in AsiaOne Business, Singapore Business Review , e27 and TechinAsia. He graduated with a 1st class honors degree in Business IT from NTU. While not planning campaigns for clients, he enjoys a good read on books related to psychology.
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