Content is not enough: How to use Facebook ads to get the most from your posts

Kyle’s note: We have had a series of guides and case studies on Facebook advertising over the last few weeks. This post by Andy Baldacci ties all of the concepts together and gives you a framework to build it in to your overall content marketing strategy. Over to Andy:

What the gurus forgot to tell you about content marketing

Content marketing has exploded over the past few years. According to WP Curve’s recent survey, 89% of startups interviewed use content marketing, but only 34% of those were “very satisfied” with the results. What’s wrong with that picture?

The reality is, most people think about content marketing all wrong. They think of content as the end instead of just the means to get there. You need more than epic content to grow your business. You need a system that leverages your content marketing to attract, retain, and grow your audience and your bottom line.

How most people think about content marketing

The typical content marketer pumps out article after article thinking they are on the road to riches, because that’s what everybody else is doing, but the results don’t come.

Does your content marketing strategy look something like this?

Underpants_Gnomes_Strategy

“Marketing doesn’t need to be complicated to work but you do need a plan” (CLICK TO TWEET)

The single biggest failure of the content marketing movement.

The reason you create this content to get more customers. But just like you can’t expect your writing to attract readers on its own, you can’t expect content to sell your product itself.

If you want somebody to do something you can’t just sit around and hope they come to you. You are hoping your readers take an action that you never ask them to take. You need to stop leaving things to chance.

Think of your marketing efforts as a system with multiple stages. The goal of each stage is to move your reader one step closer to becoming a customer. You need systems in place to act as the conveyor belt that automatically moves your prospects from one stage to the next until they ultimately become customers.

The 3-stage marketing system

Before we get into the details, let me address the elephant in the room; paid advertising.

This system relies on Facebook ads. You can make parts of the system work without them, but if you want to maximize the potential of your content marketing this is the tool you need.

I will admit that Facebook advertising isn’t a good match for every business. If these qualities describe your business, Facebook may not be for you:

  • You sell a commodity product
  • You have a complex sales cycle
  • Your customers don’t fit well defined categories
  • Your average order size is small

Despite the articles that seem to pop up every few months, Facebook advertising is not dead. It is thriving for real businesses just like yours, but to make it work you need to have a system in place that reliably converts traffic into customers. This is that system.

Draw people in with your content and distribution

In the attraction stage, you are going to be using Facebook newsfeed ads to share your content with a wider audience. Your goal at this stage is to get people onto your website and reading your content. Nothing else.

Step 1: Create your ad

AdEspresso published The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Advertising and they did a great job of laying out the step-by-step process of creating your first ad and the best practices to keep in mind. I’ll just give you the key points to remember when creating an ad:

  • Ad Image: By far the most important part. Spend the bulk of your time testing this
  • Text: This is where you want to hit directly on your target audience’s pain point and let them know you have the solution
  • Headline: Follow a simple formula for high performance headline writing
  • Subheadline: Communicate ease of use

Related: 5 tools to write killer copy that gets shares and leads

Step 2: Upload your custom audience

If you already are getting some traffic on your blog but want to grow beyond that, Facebook has a feature called “custom audiences” that makes it quick and easy to do just that.

The way it works is you upload a list of email address, typically your mailing list or list of customers, and then Facebook combs through their 1.2 BILLION users to match up your list with Facebook users who you can then target with your advertising. Depending on the quality of your list, you can expect a 30-70% match rate. For B2B lists, it will likely be on the lower end of that range, while B2C will be on the higher end.

Step 3: Build a lookalike audience

Once you have this list created, you can then use Facebook’s “lookalike audience” tool. When creating a lookalike audience, Facebook analyzes their mountain of data to find similarities amongst your custom audience and then finds the people that most closely mirror those qualities. The end result is a group of new people to advertise to that are very similar to your original audience.

When creating this audience Facebook can optimize for two goals, similarity or reach. While having a potentially audience is appealing, it doesn’t matter much when most are outside your target audience. I suggest always optimizing for similarity.

Step 4: Add a layer of targeting

In 6-24 hours your new lookalike audience will be ready, but that doesn’t mean you should fire up the ads just yet. Just because you created a lookalike audience doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find ways to further dial in the targeting. The better your targeting, the better your results. Facebook’s ad platform gives you tons of targeting options to help you create the most hyper-focused audience possible. Put those features to work.

Related: Facebook Ads Case Study: Design Pickle Increases MRR by $5.8K/mo

Distribution_Is_Queen

Since you typically only pay for people who click on your ad, you may think that having a huge audience should be your goal because you won’t have to pay for the people who aren’t interested. There are two problems with this thinking:

  1. The lower your click-through rate (CTR), the less likely FB is to show your ad and the more you will have to pay for each click. Facebook can only show so many ads, so if 2 ads are competing to be shown, they are going to pick the one that gets clicked the most, because it will make them the most money.
  2. Even though most people who don’t need your services won’t click your ads, there are still going to be people who are interested in what you have to offer, are curious enough to click through and check it out, but will never become your customer.

If you don’t have much traffic yet and can’t create a lookalike audience, then you need to really dial in your targeting. A few things to pay attention to:

  • You can layer demographics, interests, and behaviors on top of each other to create hyper-targeted audiences
  • You can layer multiple demographics on top of each other
  • You CANNOT layer multiple interests
  • You CANNOT layer multiple behaviors

Facebook_Targeting_Options

Targeting is one of the biggest pieces of the Facebook ad puzzle, and just like with your ad images, you never want to take anything for granted. Always test new ideas.

Facebook makes it easy to test different ads, so take advantage of that. BUT, and this is a big but, don’t get caught up in testing the small things. The image alone drives upwards of 70% of the clicks, so worry about making sure you have that right before anything else.

“The ad image drives 70% of clicks, make sure you get it right before testing anything else.” (CLICK TO TWEET)

If you want a deep dive into all things Facebook marketing before getting started, I highly recommend Perry Marshall’s book, Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising.

Capture more visitors with lead magnets

Your website isn’t converting enough of your traffic

If you look at your website’s analytics, you will probably find that the overall conversion rate of first time traffic is around 1-2% max. If you want to build a business with those kind of numbers, your content needs to drive a ton of traffic. While you could make it work, why not make your job easier by increasing that conversion rate?

The reason the conversion rate is so low is because you are asking people to start a relationship with your company before they even know who you are.

  • They don’t know if they can trust you
  • They don’t know if you can solve their problem
  • They might not even know that they have a problem
  • And they don’t even know if solving their problem is worth their time and money

If you are looking to build a relationship with somebody, you should probably take them on a date first. You want your customers to use your product for years, so it makes sense to spend more time developing rapport and building trust.

Lead magnets solve the problem of conversion

A lead magnet is something of real value that you offer to your readers for free in exchange for their contact information, allowing you to reach out to them in the future instead of just hoping they visit your site again

Forms of lead magnets include:

  • Education Email Course
  • Case studies
  • Reports
  • White papers
  • Quiz results
  • Discounts

How to effectively use lead magnets

For B2Bs, I recommend educational email courses that go out over 1-4 weeks and give the reader valuable information that will actually make a difference in their business.

“Though your email course will pitch for your product, your focus needs to be adding value.” (CLICK TO TWEET)

This is NOT a way for companies to spend all their time talking about themselves; the cool features of the software, the awards they won, and overall how great they are. That is the traditional marketing mindset which you need to break away from.

If you have a low cost product or something that is simple to understand and sell, then you could experiment with a less detailed lead magnet, like a report or quiz.

Every startup can do this. You know what problems your customers commonly face in their lives, so build something that helps them find a solution, even if that solution doesn’t directly involve your product.

Why this works

This works because you are continuously providing value, establishing trust, building rapport, and position your company as an authority, so that when the time comes for them to make a buying decision, they wouldn’t think of going with anybody else.

Sound a lot like content marketing? That’s because it is, with one main difference; you use your lead magnet to segue into a pitch for your product. You’ve done everything content marketing preaches, so now it is time to ask for the sale. Lead magnets make it easier for you to do that.

Re-engage the people who dropped out along the way

Not everybody will sign up their first visit

If everyone who read your blog signed up for your email course, then this post would be pretty short and you would be making a lot more money.

Unsurprisingly, that isn’t the case. The best converting blogs get around 10% of their visitors to take advantage of their lead magnet and hand over their email address. Put another way, the best blogs are wasting 90% of their traffic.

Retargeting gives you a second chance

Retargeting is an advertising technique that allows you to reach out at a later time, on another site, to people who visited your site in the past.

By visiting your blog, they have already shown they are interested in what you have to say, so they’re going to be responsive to getting more of your great content, especially when it is something as valuable as your lead magnet.

Retargeting used to only be available to the largest enterprises spending millions a year, but Facebook has leveled the playing field by making it cheap and easy to do for as little as $1/day.

Related: The step-by-step Facebook retargeting guide: Get more conversions from your existing traffic

The process is simple:

  1. Create an ad targeting people who visited your blog but didn’t sign-up for the lead magnet
  2. Use the ad to promote your lead magnet with a link to your landing page promoting it

To do this, first follow Facebook’s instructions for installing a “custom audience pixel” on your site. Instead of uploading an email list to create a custom audience like before, this pixel will add every person that visits your site to an audience that you can then later target.

Repeat this loop of sending traffic to your blog and then retargeting those that didn’t sign up a few times with different offers and you will have a much, much larger share of opt-ins from your traffic than the original 10%.

The best part is this all happens automatically. The marketing system acts like a series of conveyor belts constantly moving people towards a sale, and Facebook gives you a reliable source of fuel to keep it running.

Now are you starting to see the power of having a marketing system?

You owe it to yourself to give your business the shot at success that it deserves, and you can’t do that when you leave everything up to chance.

Your system doesn’t need to be complicated:

  1. Draw people in with your content and distribution
  2. Capture more visitors with lead magnets
  3. Re-engage the people who dropped out along the way

Take control of your business by putting this system in place, leveraging all of the work you already are doing while giving you some breathing room to focus on actually running your business. It won’t be perfect in the beginning, but that’s ok, even a basic system is better than none at all. What matters is getting started.

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About

Andy Baldacci is a marketing consultant who helps SaaS startups get more customers using tactics just like the ones taught in this article. He just finished writing a book, The SaaS Marketing System, and as a special offer for WP Curve readers is giving away a free chapter from his new book. If you are struggling to grow your SaaS, you need to check this out.

2 responses to “Content is not enough: How to use Facebook ads to get the most from your posts”

  1. Tony Rulli says:

    Great write up, Andy!

    The part about layering in targeting on top of the lookalike audience is crucial. I’ve found that’s how you turn a mediocre campaign into a kickass one 🙂

    Once people get their campaign’s up and running, I’ve found my best performing lookalike audiences are the ones built off of FB conversion pixels. You have to wait for FB to record enough conversions for this to be accurate, but once it is, you’re basically telling Facebook to go find more people like the people who already converted through FB… it works well!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Andrew Baldacci says:

    Great point, Tony! Lookalike audiences are such a powerful tool, but you are right, once you have enough conversions, instead of creating a lookalike audience of your *traffic* you want to create one based on your buyers.

    Like you said, this is telling Facebook to go find more customers, instead of just interested prospects.

    Thanks for the comment!

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