First off, it’s just awful.
Custom audiences are one of the many Facebook marketing tools we use to do thoughtful analysis that makes a real impact. The purpose of a custom audience is to target your entire list or specific segments of your list exclusively but the application of custom audiences goes far beyond that.
To create a custom audience, prepare your list (or segment) as a single column .csv and download Facebook’s Power Editor plugin. There are several options for custom audiences: email addresses, phone numbers, user IDs, and app user IDs.
Keep in mind that you can upload different list segments and do all of the below for each segment – the level of granularity is up to you. Uploading your entire list can work in ad targeting and has some practical use with custom audiences but think about trying some segments like:
Alright, Tom. I’ve got my custom audiences uploaded to Facebook and I’m ready to do this thing, what’s next? Here are some of the more creative ways we use custom audiences internally at BlitzMetrics:
If you take a look at our documentation on social affinity for ad targeting you can do something very similar with custom audiences. Instead of finding the overlap between your brand and a particular interest you can see how many of the people within your custom audience have certain interests.
After uploading your custom audience to Facebook, you can find out exactly what percentage of that list is on the social network. This is very useful for determining how social these people are and in some cases can help determine if marketing your brand on social media channels will be effective.
Did you know you can also do demographic breakdowns of a custom audience the same way you pull ad counts for precise interests? How much of the list is men? Women? What states and regions are they from? This information can eliminate up to 80-90% of wasted ad spend and help create an ad targeting strategy.
Lets say you upload your hot prospect list which only contains leads that have opted-in for a free white paper and clicked one of your ads within the last 30 days (we can accomplish this with InfusionSoft). You might find that 85% of the list is women, over 50% live in California, and 100% of the list is between ages 20 and 35. Knowing this you can target exclusively women that live in California between ages 20-35. This isn’t only useful for Facebook either, but all other channels as well.
Another feature many marketers ignore on Facebook is lookalike audiences. The way it works is you upload your list and Facebook automatically matches the demographic qualities of your list with other related users.
This helps get your brand in front of new prospects that are similar to your existing audience. There are 2 options for lookalike audiences: reach and similarity. Reach will give you a larger list of people to target but similarity will match the interest and demographic profile of your list as closely as possible, likely creating the greatest efficiency. Both are worth testing!
How well rounded is your lead nurturing program? Sales funnels, especially for high priced or high value items are not 2 steps. You need to provide value up front, then provide more value and thought leadership, then nurture your leads by staying on their radar. I don’t care what business you’re in, nurturing your leads is going to make your marketing more effective.
Then, when the time is right figure out how you can help them and take action. If you’re doing nothing more than sending a “thanks for signing up” email you need to rethink your strategy. Use marketing automation to regularly rotate in fresh prospects once the existing leads are lower in the funnel due to your nurturing efforts.
Did this post give you some ideas? You don’t have to use the tools available “as is” – think of creative uses to maximize your output, make your targeting more effective or more granular, and most importantly drive measurable ROI. If you think of any other uses for custom audiences I didn’t mention let me know in the comments!
The social sphere evolves quickly, especially in the past few years. Fabio Ricotta of mestreSEO interviewed us back in 2010, and some predictions surfaced about where Facebook was heading:
Fabio: Dennis, can you tell our community who you are and some background information about you?
Dennis: Fabio, pleasure to join you. I am formerly of Yahoo and now the co-founder and CEO of BlitzMetrics. We do Facebook advertising for big brands and franchised companies. The beauty of being a speaker on the search engine marketing circuit is that I get to see a lot of interesting places. By the way, I love feijoada and have been to Brazil several times.
Fabio: Why did you pick Facebook? Is there a main reason for your choice? What about the sources that you use to learn more about this page?
Dennis: A lot of it was just luck from being there when the Facebook platform first opened about 6 years ago and to be one of the first developers when F8 (developer platform) opened in June 2007. The ad campaigns were so effective that we just kept growing. Unlike MySpace, people join Facebook because that’s where their friends are. And the people you see everyday are local. Thus, we have believed Facebook to the secret weapon in local advertising, even though most of the advertisers are big brands.
A lot of what you learn is just from experience and working with Facebook directly. Developers.facebook.com and facebook.com ads have good information, but a lot of stuff is just not documented yet.
Fabio: We have a problematic scenario here in Brazil where every company whats to create social profiles as many as they can, telling the community that they are “cool” and “listen” to their clients calling this as “social media”. Do you have any tips to the companies that what to listen their audience and get the most from them? Do you have any sucess case to share with us?
Dennis: Creating a bunch of social profiles on Facebook is about as effective as just creating a bunch of websites or creating a bunch of email addresses. Without traffic, Facebook pages, twitter profiles, wordpress sites, or whatever destinations are useless. This is especially true in Facebook, where the number of connections you have matters—it drives how often you show up in the news feeds of others. The quality of your posts, measured by engagement rate, is also critical, as described by Facebook platform engineering
Here are a few good case studies, covering a range of big brands to small businesses:
Fabio: One of the latest ComScore press releases shows that Orkut still leading the Brazil’s social network market, but it shows that Facebook still growing. Do you think that this is the right moment to focus on Facebook and to build a community on Facebook because there are less competition? If you were working here in Brazil, what would you do?
Dennis: You want to be where your users are—to spend resources in direct proportion to that. If you are targeting just folks in Brazil and want to place more emphasis on Orkut, great. Open Social allows you to build some great apps if you have the expertise. But if you don’t, you might want to use social widgets from Facebook and build some Facebook pages. That’s very easy to do. If you’re targeting a worldwide audience, then consider what the right mix is there, also based on traffic.
Fabio: What you think about this recent partnership between Microsoft and Facebook? Do you think they can beat Google when we talk about social signals to power the organic results? Is there any special value to Facebook when we see a huge company like Microsoft creating a partnership with an young company?
Dennis: I don’t see Google and Facebook as direct competitors. Rather, Google is competing against the yellow pages (which is about direct search intent), while Facebook is competing against the TV set (which is where people go to hang out). Do you see anyone on Facebook searching in the search box for “discount automobile insurance”? Do you see folks on Google looking for what their friends are up to? The bigger picture is that offline media is shifting online, not that online players are fighting one another.
In the case of search, I think that Microsoft is sharp and well-funded. They are not trying to “beat” Google, in my opinion, because they aren’t competing head-on. Microsoft wants to be the “decision engine”, which would imply influencing people based on recommendations and conversion relevant information. Considering that people rely upon friends as a purchase filter, incorporating social results into search makes a lot of sense here. Google has failed here in the past.
Fabio: Some websites are already using terms like “Facebook SEO”, is it soon to talk in this direction? If the answer is “no”, what are the main strategies to work with?
Dennis: It’s true that a well-optimized Facebook page will index well in Google. I wrote an article about that here. Some SEOs are talking about keyword stuffing Facebook pages or injecting keywords into content. That is misguided, as the search analogy doesn’t work in social. Social is about people that are connecting to one another, as opposed to websites that are linking to one another. The dynamic is different. In Facebook, we’re looking for gathering dominant influence, which is independent of page titles, backlinks, keyword density, or whatever else. You need rabid fans who frequently talk about your business—and to gather a LOT of them.
Fabio: Concerning groups and fan pages, Many users and companies have doubts which one to choose. Is there a simple guide to make things easier for them? Do you recommend the use of both in case of a company, for example?
Dennis: Easy. Use pages if you have a business or cause. If you have a person association (a group of buddies with a hobby), use the new groups. If you have or anticipate having more than 250 members, use pages.
Fabio: Do you see any value on Facebook ads? How they can help a company to get more conversions? Are there any good reasons move the money from Google Adwords to Facebook Ads?
Dennis: Facebook ads are great to drive awareness and interest in the AIDA funnel. Done right, it can drive extreme ROI on e-commerce or lead gen sites. People make decisions based on the trust of their friends. If one of your friends is a fan of a particular restaurant, wouldn’t you be more likely to eat there? That’s what Facebook does to help increase your conversions—to expose that endorsement. Advertising is a quick and effective means to do this, if done right.
You should allocate budget based on ROI and we find that Facebook advertising is significantly stronger than general display advertising. If you’re not getting ROI, then you’re doing something drastically wrong.
Fabio: Segmentation is a keyword in Facebook Ads. What are your advices to invest in this area to promote a fan page or a profile in the social network?
Dennis: Make your ads social. In Google PPC, you align keywords with ad copy and landing pages. In Facebook PPC, you align interests with ads with applications. Most of the folks who complain about Facebook ads not working are not creating tight targets, nor are they sending traffic to a Facebook app (they are sending traffic to a website).
Fabio: With Microsoft (Bing), Skype, and other partnerships… What do you expect for Facebook in 2011? Can you imagine some big changes that can affect us?
Dennis: Watch for a stronger rollout of Facebook Places and more tools that enable advertisers to link their ads and pages together. Consider what is available in the Google AdWords Editor and that is my prediction of what will be in the Facebook ad interface, except with some social twists. We also believe that 2011 will be the year of “gamification”, where Farmville-esque dynamics will play into the real world.
Readers, what do you think? Did the predictions come true?
One area I wasn’t expecting to gain much knowledge in from attending Conversion Conference Chicago is Facebook marketing. I’m not talking about more fans or people liking your cat pictures; I’m talking about measurable ROI.
These tips will supercharge your Facebook marketing:
Match your existing customer base (email list) to Facebook and create a lookalike audience. This will build a targetable audience of new prospects based on the demographic data of your existing customers.
The more granular you are with targeting the better the results.
Don’t target by only interests or demographic qualities. Use combos of different demographics, interests, partner categories, connection and other targets. We call this “onion targeting.”
Using onion targeting you can create a few broad ads with larger audiences and dial in your demographic then multiply each audience that works.
Start with an ad that targets a few interests with an audience somewhere around 10,000. This is a good rule of thumb to minimize testing cost while still having enough data to make statistically significant decisions.
If that ad does well, filter it using a different target like age, gender or a broad category. Keep multiplying out combinations using the Power Editor to see what the most effective combo is.
Keep in mind you can be as granular as targeting 35 year-old men that drink energy drinks, drive a Ford pickup truck, and live in Kansas – take advantage of this!
To take it to the next level run unpublished page post ads in the newsfeed that only your targeted audience will see. These are also known as dark posts.
Traditional right hand side (RHS) ads just aren’t effective anymore – 7 small ads crammed on the side all competing for your attention. Running ads in the newsfeed costs around 5X more per impression than RHS ads but you will often see a lower CPC because a 2-3% CTR is achievable.
My favorite part is that this ad unit is so new that banner blindness isn’t a concern and
CTR’s have been phenomenal for well-executed campaigns. Most people don’t even realize these are ads but the ones that do get militant if bombarded; limit your ad frequency to 3 to avoid this.
People unsubscribe from your list; reconnect with them on Facebook and get them back into your lead nurturing program.
How to get them back?
Offer a “welcome back” discount or a special piece of content or free consultation. Why might someone unsubscribe from you in the first place? Build your campaign around these reasons.
Really want them back?
Set a retargeting pixel so you can follow them around online – multi-touch conversion at it’s best!
FYI: This is considered “gray hat” because all custom audiences must be opt-ins. So you can’t do things like rent a list or scrape Facebook user ID’s, this probably isn’t enforceable but it is in the Terms of Service.
Tom Lambert is a full-time Internet marketer on a mission for more efficient online marketing and less wasted conversion opportunities. When he’s not busy reading and doing he writes an Internet marketing blog focused on the topics of conversion, optimization, and usability called Conversion Juggernaut.