About Talk Digital to Me:
A casual interview style show, where each of our team members provides insight into their day-to-day activities at Convince & Convert as well as insights into their professional areas of expertise.
Welcome back to Talk Digital to Me! Here today is strategist Mary Nice, and she’s brought a treasure trove of Facebook advertising advice with her.
As a strategist at Convince & Convert, Mary is keenly aware of how many brands get Facebook wrong. She’ll share the most common mistakes she sees brands make when it comes to their Facebook strategy, as well as solutions you can put into action on your next advertising campaign. You’ll also hear her tips for optimizing your targeting and conversion, getting the most out of testing, and budget recommendations for beginning Facebook advertisers.
Curious how else your Facebook ads could perform better? Watch the video for more actionable tips from Mary!
Kate: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Talk Digital to Me, conversations about marketing and customer service with the pros at Convince & Convert. I have the opportunity every episode to interview one of the pros from Convince & Convert, and today I am joined by Mary Nice. She is a strategist, and we have a really fun topic. We are talking about why your Facebook ads aren’t converting. So Mary, I’m super excited about this topic.
Mary: Hello. Me too. I’m so excited to be here. Thanks so much for having me.
Kate: So let’s kind of, before we dive right in to talk about Facebook advertising, share with us what you do over at Convince & Convert.
Mary: Sure. So there’s a team of strategists that I’m lucky enough to work with all over the country. We kind of team up, and we’re brought in to different clients to take a look at what they’re doing online, their digital marketing presence, focusing on social media mostly. Just give them advice on things that they can be doing better, where they should be focusing their efforts, and kind of helping them do some long-term planning against their digital marketing strategies. Super fun.
Kate: Awesome. Yeah. You guys have a great team over there. It’s been really fun talking to each of you. You have this love of each other which is so great. You work very well together.
Mary: It’s so fun. I mean, it’s like the access to the smartest people in the world. They’re all great. So much fun. We do, we have a lot of fun together. They’re super-smart.
Kate: You have great clients. So it’s really nice to see the collaboration that you get to use with your clients and you all love each other. You love. There’s lots of love over there at Convince & Convert.
Mary: There’s a lot of love. I will say, it’s one of the best things about Convince & Convert is you’re paired up with somebody else to work on a project. So you don’t have to have all the answers. We work so much better when we can kind of bounce things off of each other and make things better. So it’s great the way that it’s structured, and I think it’s pretty unique in that way. So it’s a lot of fun.
Kate: Awesome. Love it. Okay. So let’s dive in, because this is a topic, everyone loves talking about social media, and then when you get into the topic of Facebook advertising, there’s just so much controversy of . . .
Kate: . . . “It works really well,” “No, it doesn’t work at all.” So I just find it really fascinating when people just have this idea behind what they think works and doesn’t. So we’ll start with what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see businesses make when it comes to their Facebook ads that make them immediately say, “I did it, I tried it, and they don’t work. I don’t know what everyone is talking about”?
Mary: Yeah. Well, it’s probably that is the biggest mistake that people make. It’s this kind of like, “Bam, bam, bam, bam. We’re going to buy this, sell this, sign up for this.” It’s like all of these messages that haven’t been strategically really planned out and thought through.
So I think the biggest mistake people make are utilizing this one size fits all approach for their audience, when Facebook is so great that you don’t have to do that. Somebody who knows a lot about you as a business, has been to your site multiple times, is maybe one of your consumers already, would you actually talk to them the same way you would if nobody’s ever heard your name, nobody knows your service, nobody knows what you do? You probably wouldn’t.
So the biggest mistake that people make aren’t thinking about how to strategically bring people through the funnel, rather than, “Hey, buy this. Buy this right now. No, no. I mean, right now, and I’m going to tell you five times.” So I think that that tends to be the biggest thing that people do wrong is just this one size fits all approach that’s kind of like on for two days, off for three days, on for two days, off for three days. Having that consistent approach is really important.
Kate: Okay. So there’s no strategy. There’s no strategy behind what a lot of people are doing with their advertising.
Kate: So let’s talk through when someone is setting up an ad. What are the things that they need to consider? What are the, “Okay. Here I am. I have a small business,” first steps?
Mary: Yes. Okay. So I’m going to totally say this probably with every question that you ask me. But it’s totally dependent on what you’re trying to achieve, what your business is, all of that.
Kate: Well, let’s do a little disclaimer . . .
Mary: We’ll do a disclaimer up front.
Kate: . . . a disclaimer that it always depends.
Mary: It always depends. But I’d say pretty much for everybody, the first thing that you have to think about is what you’re trying to achieve. It sounds like, okay, no duh. Like of course, you would. But in reality, everybody thinks that every ad should be, “Buy this. Sell this product. This is it.” At the end of the day, that’s just not how people work. It’s why ad banners aren’t doing so hot anymore. It’s because it’s not about that ultimate, “Buy, buy, buy.” It’s about, “Okay. So what did you do to bring them there?”
So at any point in the process, thinking about what you’re trying to achieve. Ultimately, if you’re trying to achieve the sell or the sale of this certain product, what are the steps that it’s going to take to get there. So thinking about your consumer funnel, and then thinking about the actions within the consumer funnel that it’ll take to get there.
For example, if you want to sell a product but you don’t have a big, built-in audience, the first thing you have to do is gain awareness. So how do you gain awareness? Things like video ads, things like website click ads, there’s all these different kinds of ads based on your objective. So that’s kind of the first place to start is think about what’s your objective.
Then, thinking about, okay, so who are all the different segments of your audience. This is another place that people go wrong is that everybody’s your audience. Right? Like, it’s kind of a Marketing 101 problem, when you ask somebody, “Who’s your target audience?” and the answer is, “Everyone.” Then, that’s not going to get you very far. But who are the segments of your audience, and then thinking about how to target the segments of those audiences. So those are kind of the first couple places to start without getting too technically like in the weeds of Power Editor.
Kate: Oh, yeah. No. That’s a whole different webinar.
Mary: That’s a whole different webinar.
Kate: All right. So let’s talk about the targeting. Because it’s so crazy awesome how Facebook allows you to target people so specifically now.
Kate: So talk through a little bit, if somebody is setting up an ad, I think, it’s how broad should you try to be? How specific should you try to be? What are some best practices?
Mary: So it depends on where people are in the funnel, I think is the first kind of point to make. So if you are trying to bring a new audience in, I tend to focus more on higher, kind of broader-level targeting. Because you’re kind of casting the net wide, and then seeing what sticks around. The things to look at there, or that I tend to look at an upper funnel are interest targeting. Which I will say, interest targeting on Facebook is fine for kind of broad awareness. I wouldn’t use it in lower funnel, because if you go on Facebook there’s a way to look at like what interests are associated to you.
It’s a little bit like, “Hmm. Really? Do you really associate me with, I don’t know . . .” If you go on and you look at what’s associated with you, you’ll kind of get why interest targeting is hit or miss sometimes. But I start with interest targeting, and then I do a lot of look-a-like targeting.
Kate: For someone that hasn’t done it yet, what’s an example of interest targeting?
Mary: Okay, great. So an example of interest targeting is, “Mary Nice, she has interests of food, travel, sports,” and there’s a whole graph of what Facebook maps as my interests, and that is based on a number of different things. It’s based on your demographic. It’s based on content that you’ve engaged with on Facebook, and it could be based on data points that they’re getting from their advertising partners.
So we kind of have this interest graph, if you will, within Facebook, and every individual has that. It could be something as broad as sports. It could be something as specific as, “She’s interested in wakeboarding,” which I’m not, but if I were. So it could be anything in between. It’s great, because it kind of narrows down your audience.
The challenge is that there’s so many data points that sometimes it’s not completely bang-on correct. But I wouldn’t get too caught up in trying to target a bunch of different interests. Pick a handful that really are associated to your business to just kind of cast the net broadly.
As you’re getting more kind of granular and specific when you’re getting people down the funnel, the best place where you’re going to get the highest kind of conversion at the best cost is for website custom audiences. What that is for those that aren’t familiar, Facebook allows you to put a pixel or a series of pixels, which is just a piece of code that goes on your website that allows audiences to build. So anybody who’s visited your website, you can then retarget on Facebook based on their behavior on the site.
So within the last couple of months, Facebook’s done a great job of really expanding this. So you don’t even have to treat everybody the same who’s been to your website. If somebody’s been to your website once within the last 30 days, you can target them one way or you can message them one way. You could message somebody a different way if somebody has been to your website 10 times in the last 7 days. So those, you’ll start to see, are kind of key indicators that this person may be further down and ready to buy, and those are going to be your best opportunity to have the highest conversion for the lowest cost, in my experience.
Kate: Okay. So this is good stuff, especially about where they are in the funnel, and creating different ads depending on where those people are. Let’s give an example for Convince & Convert, an example of an ad to let’s say a custom audience. So people who already, they know Convince & Convert. They probably have heard of Jay Baer, maybe read one of his books. So how would that ad look a little bit different than an ad that you are putting out to people who may not know you.
Mary: Yeah, sure. Okay. So if you take Convince & Convert as if they were the client, per se. For an awareness ad for Convince & Convert, it may be a video of Jay or it may just be a slideshow of static slides almost that says, “Here’s who we are. Here’s who our clients are,” and kind of give the creds of Convince & Convert. So you’re kind of building that broad audience. Or it could be if Jay was trying to sell Hug Your Haters. It could be an overview from Jay of who he is, what his creds are, and what Hug Your Haters is. Then, the next message to that person may be something that moves them to the website so they can learn more.
But if somebody is starting from a place where they already know a lot about you, maybe the message is more, “Hey, have you signed up for our e-newsletter?” It may be a lead gen ad that shows right on your Facebook newsfeed that’s targeted only to those people who have been to the website before, or in the past 30 days. “So we saw that you liked this, or you read a lot on our website. Why don’t you sign up for the email list so you can get it straight to your inbox?”
Kate: Awesome. Okay. So we wanted to definitely dive into Facebook ads not converting. Before we do that, though, I wanted to ask you about Facebook ads versus boosted posts.
Kate: Because I know you can do a lot of very great targeting with boosted posts as well. So what’s the difference between a Facebook ad and a boosted post, and why would you do an ad versus one or the other?
Mary: So I pretty much never do boosted posts. You don’t really need to anymore. The Power Editor within Facebook just allows you so much richer targeting options than you would boosted posts. Also, it allows you to reach kind of a broader audience in a more specified way with broader, kind of objective options. So you just have tons more options within the ad platform when using Power Editor. You don’t really need to boost posts anymore, and that’s just my opinion. Somebody could tell you completely differently. But because of all the different options and the way that you manage them, the ad platform when using Power Editor is just so much more powerful than just kind of clicking Boost Post.
When you’re boosting a post, it’s more for engagement, so likes, comments, shares, and at the end of the day that can be great. But what’s it really doing to drive your business? It’s hard to say. So an ad allows you a more specific call to action. It could be “Sign up,” “Click here,” “Get directions,” something like that. Whereas, a boost is really to drive more likes, comments, and shares on your content. Does that make sense?
Kate: Yes. So let’s go into conversion. Let’s talk a little bit about numbers. When someone’s doing an ad, they set up an ad, they do the targeting, and they’re going into the dashboard and they’re looking to see the clicks. What are some numbers they should be looking at? What does the success look like for an ad?
Mary: Again, totally dependent. But what I will say is, you’ve got to have a pretty good sense of what your customer is worth to you. So one of the things that I recommend before people start just throwing ads out there is to do some analytics work on the backend to really value what your customer is. What’s the average lifetime value of your customer to you? What’s the return that you’re expecting to receive? Because if you’re trying to get an average person to buy $100 worth of product or to sign up for X email list, you kind of have to determine what’s that worth to you so you can start developing some KPIs. That’s going to be different for everybody.
The higher kind of costs, like your more luxury items, your vacations, things like that, you’re obviously going to pay more for a conversion than you would a pair of sunglasses or a signup to your email list. So having those, somewhat kind of a frame of reference, is important so you have something to start with.
Now, the other thing that’s important is that every ad shouldn’t necessarily have and won’t have the same objective. So you want to make sure that you’re looking at it, yes, individually to see how kind of the creative is performing, how the ad itself is performing. But make sure that you’re looking at it kind of from a 10,000, 30,000-foot view so you can see how things are working together.
You could google and say there is an average customer click, I’m sure. But it really is going to be dependent based on what your business is. So what I recommend for people who are just getting started is don’t throw a lot of money into it. Take a small budget, take $400 a month, take $500 a month, and test. Test a lot of different things so you get a baseline of what to expect before you’re dumping a bunch of money into Facebook.
Then, you’ll start to learn what’s working. The only way you can really get a good sense is if you’re doing it, and if you’re doing it kind of at a high volume.
Kate: That is a really good point, and so we’re going to talk a little bit about A/B testing. I mean, when you talk about testing an ad, how should people . . . Should people run a couple ads a time? Should they run one, and tweak it and change it depending on the results?
Mary: Yes. I definitely think you should have kind of this testing mentality. I will say, you can kind of get into the like analysis paralysis area. Because for each creative iteration, I think Facebook now allows you like 50 different variations and by no means would I recommend testing 50 different variations of creative. You get into this place where you can’t really tell what’s working and what’s not, because you have so many things going. So what I recommend, especially for smaller businesses, take two to three creative options.
I’ll give you an example. I was working with a big Southeastern therapy company, and one of the things creatively that we wanted to test, one of their demographics is kind of the 60-plus, getting into balance therapy and stuff like that, and one of the things we wanted to test was, “Okay. Creatively, really what drives them?” So is it kind of getting in on that fear of therapy and showing really pleasant therapy experiences to kind of break the fear? Because there’s a lot of fear of going into therapy. Is it showing the results of therapy? An active lifestyle, showing them walking with their friends, or biking with their partner, or whatever it is. Or is it playing with grandkids and being able to be healthier to experience life with grandkids? Well, definitely the most successful, up to 40% to 50% more successful was the images of the grandkids was what was motivating to them.
So you think, “Okay. It’s a therapy business. We should show therapy.” But maybe not. Being able to have that clear . . . The point of the test was which kind of conceptually would they respond to, so making sure you have a clear thing that you’re trying to test. Then, don’t overdo it. Don’t have six different iterations. “Well, is it one grandkid versus five grandkids?” You can get into it too much. But you’ve got to go in with a clear idea of what you’re testing, and then just make it manageable so you know that you can tell what the result is.
Kate: For that particular client, so you were testing the image, not the copy.
Mary: Yeah. Well, we tested image and we tested copy, as well. The copy wasn’t as variable as the image was in and of itself. The copy actually, it kind of followed the same structure. What we did was we eliminated the therapy image, because that was just bombing. The grandkids did way better. The active lifestyle did pretty well.
So we killed the therapy image. We went with the two other images, and then we started doing some copy testing on those. So it can be a totally different approach based on opinion or kind of resources, things like that. I started with creative, because we wanted to understand conceptually what motivated this audience. Then we got into some of the nuance kind of copywriting testing.
Kate: So let’s talk about where people are being taken from some of the ads. I think that has a lot to do with conversion. Let’s talk a little, how can people improve where they’re going? I mean, it’s less and less, but I still will click on an ad and it’ll take me to a homepage of a website or some random link that’s broken sometimes. It’s just beyond me. I’m like, “You’re wasting your money.”
Mary: You’re wasting your money. You’re wasting your time. It’s interesting that you say that, because we’re going through that some with this client that I was just talking about. But yes, one of the most important things is when you have an ad that is talking about one thing and somebody clicks on it, where they go should be talking about exactly the same thing as what you’re talking about on your ad. So, A, for consumer experience, you want your consumers to stick around. If you’re sending them to kind of your homepage or a page that doesn’t make any sense in the story, then they’re going to bounce.
But the other reason is Facebook scores your ads. If you are asking somebody to click to a site that doesn’t match your ad, Facebook knows and is going to penalize you via the relevance score. So your ad is not going to get served like it would if you had a really high relevance score, because Facebook’s goal is to get your ad to the most relevant people for your business. If your ad isn’t going to the right place, Facebook knows that and they’re going to say, “We don’t want our users to have that experience. So we’re not going to serve it like we would if it was a good experience.”
If your ad is, let’s use Convince & Convert, “The Top Three Things You Need to Do to Improve Your Customer Service,” and we take them to the homepage of Convince & Convert, or we take them to a page that says, “Hey, here’s our services. Let us help you in a consulting gig or a speaking gig,” or whatever, Facebook doesn’t like that and your audience doesn’t like that. So you’re not going to convert and you’re going to be penalized in the Facebook algorithms for crappy relevance.
Kate: Don’t get Facebook mad at you.
Mary: No. Don’t mess with an algorithm. Don’t mess with an algorithm.
Kate: So are there any tools that you use that you can recommend for businesses that are, whether it’s just kind of looking at the data or creating ads?
Mary: Yeah. Sure. I mean, the biggest, best free tool that you can use is Power Editor. So many people are still using the kind of first variation of Facebook’s ad platform. Power Editor can be scary, but there’s so many great trainings out there from Facebook in and of itself has a great training tool. John Loomer is doing some great trainings for beginner, intermediate, and advanced. So you can learn how to use Power Editor through a lot of different sources out there.
The other one that I use quite a lot is Audience Insights from Facebook. That allows you to really start to understand what people’s interests are that may relate to your business. So that can give you a starting point if you’re saying, “I don’t really know what kind of interests to target. I’m a therapy business, but what does my audience really care about?” Or, “I’m a sunglass business. What are the interests of people who follow Ray-Ban, for example?” You could start segmenting what some of those interests are. So those are probably the top two tools that I would say.
We don’t much recommend getting into some of the more kind of in-depth, paid tools like a Sprinklr, or like a Drift doc., or something like that, until you’ve got a really kind of robust Facebook ad program that you’re running. So I would just start with the Facebook tools.
Kate: Cool. So for someone that is watching this that’s like, “Okay. I’m running some ads,” really it’s start. It’s start and just throw. Do you have a recommended budget that you would potentially tell people to try and test?
Mary: Yeah. If you’re just starting, I’d say a few hundred dollars, like between $300 to $500 as a start. I mean, you can even do less. You’re going to get learnings no matter what. You don’t have to spend super-heavy. So I would say start with $300, $400 in a month’s time and see what it does. You can run one campaign for $50 and see what it does.
It’s not going to take thousands of dollars of investment. But for a small investment in the grand scheme of your marketing efforts, you can really start to learn what’s working and what’s not. What I would say is don’t invest a lot until you have a good sense of, for your business, what’s going to work. Don’t give up if one thing doesn’t work, because there’s 1,000 other options of what could work.
Kate: That is great advice for anybody that’s running ads. It’s interesting, because it’s hard as a business owner to take yourself out of your CEO role and look at an ad the way that your consumer looks at it because we think it’s great. We think it makes total sense.
Mary: Totally. Totally. Look at it together, as a whole. Don’t look at it as one individual ad, because that can’t tell your story. Develop things sequentially that are going to tell your story, and so don’t give up if you’ve just got one that you’re trying to tell. I recommend looking in the stages that we’re talking about, and build an experience and test the experience, rather than just testing one singular ad.
Kate: So when you say that, when you talk about . . . Explain what that means, as far as not testing the one ad.
Mary: Test is theories. Right? So test what the actual experience could look like from somebody who doesn’t know your business. Start with an awareness ad, which could be anything from a video engagement ad, to a website click ad. Then, test the retargeting of that website custom audience that you’re building or that video engagement audience.
So test an awareness. Then, test a retargeting message. Then, test a conversion message. Test it together so you understand, “Okay. Where are we going wrong? Are we getting a lot of people in the upper funnel, but not a lot of people are clicking through on the website? Or are we getting a lot of people on the website, but nobody’s actually converting?”
So you can start to see where things may break down, and really where you need to focus on, rather than, “Okay. Does this picture work, or did that picture work?” So you don’t need to get so much into that until you’re looking at the experience as a whole.
Kate: Awesome. I love that. That makes a lot of sense. It’s easier for people too, because then you’re not so focused on trying to find the tools. I find that people are very interested in the tools. They just want to know, “Oh, because I think if I get this tool it’s going to make everything better. That’s it. That’s all I need.” Instead of, you have to have the right message. You have to have the right walking through. It’s interesting, because when you really do sit down . . . I do this in my own business. I need the help of sitting down, “What am I trying to say with this?”
Mary: Right. Right. Who cares? You’ve got to ask yourself, “Okay. How am I going to make somebody care about this?” Because telling them to buy something isn’t the answer.
Kate: Yeah. That is true. Okay. Awesome. So do you have any last minute tips that you want to share when it comes to Facebook advertising? Anything that you discovered or did, or tried, that you were like, “Oh my gosh. We made this one tweak,” or, “We did something, and it just shifted the whole experience”?
Mary: Yeah. I think the two things I would say, one is like I said throughout, is just get in there and try, and just try and try, and try, and keep trying. Find the experts, and just ask them. Because most people are super-happy to talk about why something would’ve worked or wouldn’t have worked, or what they thought about one thing or the other. I’ll tell you, knowing the value of what your kind of max is in your bidding systems was really critical for me.
When I started asking that question of clients, it became a lot clearer of from a budget standpoint where we should be, or to not get too caught up in a $0.20 cost-per-click versus a $0.30 cost-per-click, because their lifetime value is X. So really understanding that ultimate analytics question is important too. They’re not very sexy answers in terms of, “What’s the one thing you learned?” but that’s kind of the truth.
Kate: Yeah, and it’s important. It’s definitely important. So okay. Awesome. Well, these were really great tips, Mary. Thank you so much for sharing all of these fun things about Facebook advertising and why people’s ads aren’t converting. So we need to be testing. Before we go, of course, I have to ask our fun Bonus Round questions. We will start with my favorite one, which is what is your marketing superpower?
Mary: Okay. I would say, this is so dorky, but it’s true, is being hyper-curious. So I have been told by multiple bosses in my past that I ask way too many questions, which I just refuse to accept that. I still ask just as many questions, if not more. In fact, we were on the phone with Andrew Foxwell yesterday, who’s a good friend of Convince & Convert’s who is great at Facebook ads and all things Facebook. I sent him an email and was like, “Can I just ask you a bunch of questions?” He’s so gracious like most people in this industry are, and just let me pick his brain for 100 hours on the phone yesterday. But that would be probably the ultimate thing that I feel like kind of drives me.
Kate: Awesome. Okay. What digital marketing trend are you most excited about?
Mary: Okay. I would say, probably the hyper-personalization that we are starting to be able to get to. So it’s not just on Facebook, although Facebook is a great place to do it. But we have the ability now through technology, through things like Facebook, and through things like data management platforms and all these really cool kind of products that are now coming on the market that we can really be relevant. There’s no excuse to not serve exactly the right content that people are looking for because there’s all these things that can really connect us better to the consumer. So from a consumer standpoint, it should make for a better experience with brands. From a brand standpoint, there’s really no more excuse anymore to kind of blast this large message to everybody that may not be relevant. So I think that that’s probably what I’m most excited about.
Kate: It’s kind of creepy too. It’s creepy.
Mary: Totally creepy. It’s super-creepy when you really get into the backend of it, as a person, as a consumer. You’re like, “Oh, really? Really?”
Mary: “You can do what?” Oh, boy.
Kate: “They have what information? What’s happening?”
Mary: Exactly. Exactly. I’m totally in that team of like, “Just take it. If it’ll make my experience better, you can have whatever you want.”
Kate: That’s exactly how I am, and some people just are . . . They’re like, “I don’t want to be on Facebook or any of these things.” I’m like, “Just give in. Just let it go.”
Mary: Yeah. If it makes life easier, I’m like, “What? You want my blood, my fingerprint? You can have whatever you want.” My parents are mortified.
Kate: Okay. If you could only have one mobile app, what would it be?
Mary: This one’s hard.
Kate: I know.
Mary: I looked at this from a future state perspective, because I’m a dork. But it’s Facebook. I think because Facebook has all my friends, number one. But I think soon it’s going to be the buying engine for things. You can buy concert tickets now off of it. I think they’ll probably integrate all the other things that you have on your phone, your weather and your traffic, and your maps. I bet one day it’s all just going to be wrapped up in one little, pretty picture.
Kate: Taking over the world.
Mary: Taking over the world. Totally.
Kate: Well, Mary. Thank you so much. This was a really great discussion about Facebook advertising. I so appreciate it. Again, your team at Convince & Convert are so awesome to chat with and learn more about. Thank you for taking the time. I so appreciate it.
Mary: Thank you, Kate. Good to talk to you.
Kate: You too. Everyone, have an awesome day. We’ll talk to you soon.