Just like any traditional PPC campaign, Facebook PPC isn't a "set it and forget it" medium. PPC basics still apply. Testing, monitoring, and reporting are crucial to achieving the best possible ROI.
Testing Is Crucial
Testing is possibly more critical in Facebook than in traditional PPC. In traditional PPC, intent is clear -- the mere fact that someone searched on a key phrase related to your business indicates a strong possibility that they're interested in what you have to offer.
Facebook, however, is a totally different animal. For one thing, users spend a huge amount of time on the site -- an average of seven hours per month in February. That's triple the average of the other top sites for that month.
Also, more than 75 percent of visitors in a given week are repeat visitors. While Google, Yahoo, and Bing also have a high number of repeat visitors, chances are those visitors aren't seeing the same ads time and again.
Facebook ads are targeted by age, gender, and user profile data (interests, marital status, etc.) -- not by search keywords. This means Facebook ads hit the same users over and over. And this means that even an A/B split test isn't enough to generate great results.
Rather, it's necessary to test many different images and ad copy combinations. Ideally, advertisers should test combinations in rapid succession -- seven days per combination is probably too long.
Have at least 15 to 20 different images ready to go before launching your campaign, and at least four or five different ad text ideas. Set up a matrix and systematically test the winners against a new competitor. Create a "loser's bracket" and back-test those ads against one another. Rinse and repeat.
Reporting Is Crucial, Too
Facebook provides a surprising amount of data in its reporting interface. You'll want to familiarize yourself with the reports right away so you can tweak your campaign accordingly.
Of course, Facebook provides traditional campaign stats: impressions, clicks, CTR, and conversions (if you're advertising your fan page, or if you've installed their conversion tracking script). This is the report that will tell you which ad is the winner, and whether your campaign is successful overall.
Demographic and profile reports will provide even more insight into optimizing your ad campaigns.
Facebook's demographic report breaks out campaign impressions and clicks by demographics: gender and age, and geographic area. If you're targeting the U.S., the geographic data will be broken out by state. Age and gender data is broken into traditional media buckets: females 18-24, females 25-34, males 35-44, etc.
Analyzing this data will tell you which pockets are responding best to your ads. Consider this example, for a campaign targeting males and females age 25-54:
Impression data (in blue) mimics the overall demographics of Facebook: primarily female and skewing younger. Click data, though, tells a different story. Females ages 35-44 and 45-54 are much more likely to click on the ads in this campaign, as are males 45-54.
Based on this data, it might make sense to eliminate the 25-34 bucket, or move it to its own campaign and test separately to find a message that speaks more loudly to this group.
Facebook also provides profile data for visitors who clicked on your ads. At first glance, the data may not seem to be actionable.
Looking at the table above, what action would you take based on the fact that people who responded like the Bible and "The Notebook"?
Maybe you won't do anything with this info. But you should take a closer look.
In this example, three of the top 10 interests are related to sports. Is there a sports tie-in you could include in your ad?
Photography is also on the list -- maybe testing some great photography images in the ads would work.
As far as books go, "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" appear several times in different forms. Could you find a fantasy angle to test?
Depending on your business, you may even want to create separate highly-targeted campaigns around one or more interest areas, with different images and messaging in each campaign.
Bottom line: be creative! Facebook provides targeting and reporting options that don't exist on the big three PPC engines. Use it to your advantage, get creative, and test some new things -- and watch the ROI improve.
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