If you find yourself agreeing with the 62% of small businesses surveyed by inc.com last year who said Facebook advertising doesn’t work, listen up. Facebook advertising is too nuanced to simply say ‘Facebook ads don’t work.’
What is true: The ‘same ol same ol’ generalized ad won’t work for Facebook because social media is dynamic. That’s like using a hammer and chisel when you should be using a laser. You must understand how to create a successful social media ad, which differs from a regular print ad. Otherwise, yes, Facebook ads ‘won’t work.’
First, let’s talk about the ONE area where traditional rules do not necessarily apply. Facebook is all about images…it’s the FACE in Facebook. You need a great visual that attracts attention, first and foremost. Untypical of usual ad rules, your image doesn’t have to relate directly to your text. But it does have to be good.
Consumer Acquisition reports that 75% to 90% of your ad’s success rests on your selected graphic. That’s a huge percentage, but it makes sense.
If your image doesn’t draw the attention of your prospects, they won’t read your awesome ad copy. But if your graphic delivers attention, then your terrific headline, text and offer can seal the deal.
Go for a clean image so the eye can see at a glance just what you want to communicate. Ideally, your entire ad should instantly communicate to your reader:
Alternatively, your artwork can be cute or humorous or even unusual so the brain does a ‘double take’ to verify what it sees. But these are riskier strategies (albeit there are ways to reduce your risk that we’ll address in a moment.) The style of image you chose must fit your brand. If your brand isn’t edgy, don’t try it. Go for something that visually arrests or appeals, even if it’s not fine art.
Back in the days when direct marketing was king, no successful advertiser would even consider rolling out a big campaign to his entire mailing list without testing the heck out of his package. Printing costs, premiums, postage – it was much too expensive to make such a gamble.
So why would you gamble your campaign on an untested image? It took direct mail companies weeks before they knew which package beat their control. With the speed of the Internet, you’ll know right away what adjustments to make.
Use the same type of A-B split testing to identify which image resonates best with your audience. Test a dozen or so images with a portion of your audience, keeping every word of your headline, text and layout the same except for the image. You’ll determine fairly quickly which image out performs the others.
Once you have identified the best image for your purpose, split test other components of your ad. Test heads, test layouts, test copy or colors until your ad performs the way you want.
Do all this work and you still can’t expect a winning Facebook ad campaign if you don’t have a great offer, one that can’t be ignored. So let’s talk about that.
Copywriters make their living using the ‘power of one.’ Simply put, they look for one big idea for their ad’s appeal. They don’t want two ideas, only one.
Why? Two ideas — however great — dilute focus and confuse your audience. Confused people don’t buy. Nor do they give their email addresses or book appointments. They click away.
You can advertise price. You can advertise convenience. You can advertise function. But you shouldn’t advertise price, convenience and function together. Pick one.
When you are excited about your product, it’s natural to explain its features. But people don’t buy products for features. Rather, they buy benefits they expect to receive from those features.
Good copywriters know we make decisions with our hearts, with our emotions. We then use ‘logic’ to reinforce our decisions, causing many people think their decisions are logical. They are not. They are still emotional. Try to write your ads with both in mind.
Speak to the emotional need then provide enough details for the head to agree with the ‘click’ the heart wants to make.
Think this is hogwash because you sell industrial equipment not jewelry?
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All the decision makers in a company – The fleet manager, division manager, CEO – these are all people first who have deeply-seated emotional needs to make good decisions, and to not look foolish by making poor ones. Buying industrial equipment involves a lot of money. It can feel risky. Risk registers as emotion.
So how do you uncover those emotional needs? The old rule is to come up with all the benefits you can think of for every special ‘feature’ your product/service has. But don’t stop there. For every benefit you list, ask yourself SO WHAT?
Imagine you sell used motorcycles. Your Suzuki VStrom 650 has a gas tank that holds 5.8 gallons of fuel. That’s a feature. What is the benefit of that feature? As your prospective buyer, the benefit is that I won’t have to stop as often for fuel. “So what?” Well, I can ride my motorcycle to more ‘out of the way’ places without risk of running out of gas. “So what?” So, the adventurer in me has no restraints… See? Now you are getting down to something that resonates emotionally with me, your would-be buyer.
When you know what your customers really care about, you’ll know the emotional words to pack into your ad.
Now let’s think about your offer. Facebook ads are brief by definition. You aren’t going to be selling an actual car through a Facebook ad but you can gather leads, pique interest, build familiarity with your dealership, announce sales and special events and even book appointments for test drives. But that’s all about your business needs.
To write a successful ad that speaks to your potential customer, ask yourself:
How will my offer improve my reader’s life? You’ll know because you’ve drilled down every benefit to get to the underlying benefit and the emotions it evokes.
The copywriter’s ‘power of one’ secret is also a reminder to write your ad with just one client in mind. Don’t speak to the world. Speak to the one. Know all you can about your ideal customer and what action you want him or her to take.
The magic of this ‘power of one’ is that many ‘ones’ will feel as if you understand them personally, and they’ll respond to this uniqueness in droves.
Whatever your amazing offer is, write it with ‘the click’ in mind. In any sales copy, the purpose of the headline is to get your prospect to read your lead. The purpose of the lead is to get them to read more. Every sentence must deliver the reader to the next sentence. If it doesn’t, you fail.
Facebook ads must do the same, just with far fewer words. Every word counts and every word must propel your reader to the next.
The sweet spot is about 40 words of text. Facebook limits you to 90. Make every word count. You may have 90 words but don’t be tempted to use your allotment. Remember, your ideal ad communicates your message at a glance. Fewer words, the better.
Facebook has also been known to cut text short of 90 words when screens are small. Make sure you use your preview feature to make sure everything is just as you want before you publish.
The ad itself has but one job: to get the click. A simple flick of the thumb or forefinger doesn’t sound like much. We think that if we write a compelling ad and have a great offer, people will automatically exert this little bit of effort. They don’t. You can improve your results by telling people what you want them to do next. If it’s click through to a landing page, then tell them to click.
If it’s to call for an appointment, tell them (in no uncertain terms and with urgency) to call. Remember to make it easy for them by providing your number. Ads without the appropriate mobilizing information are wasted spaces.
For the most part, everything we’ve discussed today is solid advertising gold. No other media platform offers the kind of targeted exposure that Facebook does. Rightly so, it remains the darling of small businesses and entrepreneurs who learn to take the creative steps to make Facebook ads work for them.