Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes for all the millions of Facebook ad campaigns that compete for the attention of targeted users? What tricks do agencies use when dealing with hundreds of these accounts? We spoke to George Thomas McCormick, the legendary founder of a Facebook and Instagram advertising agency in London to get some insight into some of the latest opportunities in digital marketing.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities for companies to boost their revenue from Facebook advertising?
The reliability of Facebook ads has improved a lot in recent years and the interface is constantly evolving. Now with 3rd party tag integration, it really positions Facebook as an “easy to integrate” solution that we can get up and running overnight. The Audience insights have been upgraded to help you target new customers in ways that were not possible before – saving money by avoiding unnecessary users with enhanced targeting. More importantly, budget control & optimization has been improved too – and that is a plus because many SME’s who did not understand the platform lost money easily. Overall, the platform improvements enable highly experience marketers to hit a home-run with targeted advertising in a formidable way.
From running up to 500 campaigns for various businesses at the same time, what are the most valuable things you’ve learned?
Knowledge can be transferred from one industry to another, for example, the targeting criteria we use for people who rent luxury homes, buy high-end cars and do impulsive luxury travel is almost entirely the same albeit that these are different industries. What we analyse from different industries and the conversion data that comes in – benefits almost every job we work on. The lesson? Customers should go with agencies that touch on multiple industries and not just their little segment. Then, I have also seen time and again that the virality of a campaign is not merely related to budget or follower size. In fact, campaigns running on a smaller budget with exceptional images and text copy that connects with the user emotionally can yield a better ROI. The lesson? Do not be stingy on other aspects of marketing and creativity. Split testing multiple different creatives and variations is the key to finding a winning audience. Never have ‘tunnel vision’ on one creative just because you like it because the truth is, your audience might not. Of course, I can spend all day sharing tips and tricks on how to use the Facebook Ads platform itself – as we may discuss later.
It is said that more B2B budgets are shifting to social, what can you tell us about this phenomenon?
Correct yes. When a company runs a good blog and can track their conversions from posts that are shared organically on social media, it demonstrates a clear path to scale up. So the paid social advertising campaign is actually informed by organic activity. The ace up our sleeve is that even if we work with a business that does not have a strong blog and follower infrastructure, chances are that we know their industry and have research tools that can back them up. Besides all this, role-based targeting, combined with interests on Facebook, generally beats the poor performance of Linkedin Marketing Services: we generally seem to triple the ROI when using Facebook for B2B over Linkedin and people love it.
Where are we currently at with video ads?
In the competition for eyeballs, video engagement is a way of increasing the amount of information a user consumes – and providing them with a different reason to engage. Live videos are also something many of our clients are experimenting with in their marketing mix. Here is the thing with video ads: you need to have a reasonable budget to justify a video campaign, for example, nobody will spend $200 to produce a video for a $700 campaign, but for a $4000+ campaign it starts to make sense. Another approach for a “shoestring” budget, is to produce a video that will have a long shelf life and not just aimed at one campaign, This way a portion of each months’ budget can be allocated towards the same video for the next 12 months. Some Pizza companies in the US are a prime example of how this can be done with ease and in a way that delivers a great annual ROI.
What do you see as the biggest problems with the Facebook Ads interface?
SME business owners are tempted to boost posts on their mobile phones because it seems so easy to administer. The problem here is that it is knee-jerk emotional behaviour that lacks strategy and targeting. Most non-professional marketers do not fully understand the targeting and budget settings that are rather advanced features of the platform. This leads to losses, not gains. Actually, this is a huge complaint about the platform – but I’d say it has more to do with people who make elementary efforts but expect exceptional results.
Any final words of advise for businesses who want to scale up with Facebook Ads and Instagram?
Test an agency with the same budget you spend yourself – if they can beat your performance, hand over the task to them and sit back. If they can’t you know you’re on the right track. Don’t underestimate the speed of change – these platforms will burn your budget with a “set and forget” approach, due to rapid changes. On the other hand, if you work with a digital marketing agency that is hot on social and understands various industries, there is an opportunity to really see substantial growth.