The Top 10 Facebook Ad Mistakes in 2017

Posted on Posted in Advertising, Facebook Advertising, Facebook Marketing, Inspiration, Internet Marketing Strategy

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It sucks when your ads don’t get results. It feels horrible.

It can be accompanied by panic about how much money you spent to find out it didn’t work.

You may not know why it didn’t work. You may not have set things up so that you learned anything from what didn’t work. You may not know what to do next.

I wish every Facebook ad was a success. I wish every Facebook ad campaign worked brilliantly the first time. But that’s simply not realistic.

Even though we’ve had a ton of successes for clients (some of them are here– and there are about ten more super cool case studies I haven’t had time yet to document)…

Michael-Jordan-Quote-1There are many failures, and that’s just part of all digital marketing.

And life, really…

Michael Jordan said, “I failed over and over and over and that’s why I succeeded.”

So your Facebook ad MINDSET is critical…

never-give-upBecause even after you avoid the list of mistakes I’m going to give you below, sometimes you still need to…

  • Gird your loins
  • Steel your nerves
  • Grit your teeth
  • Seize victory from the jaws of defeat

So let’s look at the biggest reasons for Facebook ad failure, starting with the simple and technical and graduating to the biggest and most strategic problems.

Before we get into the list, I have a special freebie for you…

CONTENT UPGRADE ADS WEBINAR

Ok so you opted into that webinar above? Great, let’s get to the list. 🙂

Hey not a big reader? Don’t want to read through this epic blog post? I mean it is 5,800 words long… Watch this video and I’ll talk you through it:

Or just want the short funny summary version? Here’s the ROI vs ROY video (ROI is Return on Investment. ROY is a redneck.):

#1 Insufficient ad testing budget

If you don’t spend enough, you have enough money to test enough ads to find the ads that work super-well, especially if your goals are lead generation or ecommerce sales.

If you really go cheap on your ad budget, you might not find anything that works.

You might run out of money before you get to your goal.

magic-tank

You need enough budget to test at least 50 to 100 ads. At least.

We had a client that we got 2,200% profits for, but it took 160 ad tests to get there, and 76 of those ads DID NOT SELL anything at all.

lafavchart

So if we had only run 76 ads, maybe we wouldn’t have had a single sale!

But one of those ads got 11,800% ROI. Every dollar we spent on it made them $11,800.

Another got 4,000% ROI.

Yes, 150 ads is a lot of work… but it’s worth it.

Sometimes when I look at someone’s Facebook ad account after they’ve said, “Facebook ads didn’t work.”

I see their account only has 10 ads in it and I say, “No, YOU didn’t work.”

You need to do more than that.

What’s the bare minimum you need to spend on Facebook ads?

Most agency folks and consults I’ve spoken to agree that a good start on Facebook ads requires at least $1,000 of spend.

How many things do we need to test? We typically need to run 50-100 ads per product to dial in what is going to work. We need to find the targeting criteria, images and copy that will sell. Some won’t work at all. Some will.

For ecommerce, we can look at your margin and cost per sale and estimate how much we want to spend on each ad before saying it isn’t going to work and turning it off.

  • The more proven the product is (already selling online) the lower that number will be.
  • The newer and less proven it is (hasn’t sold online or hasn’t ever sold anywhere), the higher it will be.
  • If you have a lot products, the more similar they are, the less ads we need to run.
  • The more different your products are, the more ads we need to run, because people will respond differently to them.

Some of your products may be more popular than others. Some may require slightly different targeting. Some may be a good first buy and the others might be better sold as follow-ups via email. None of that is clear at first. It becomes clear over time.

We won’t know what a reasonable cost per sale is until we get an ad that sells. It might be $5, $10 or $20, or more. As we run the ads, we’ll find a number that convert all at different costs-per-sale.

For lead gen, it might be reasonable to go for a $2-5 lead in the business-to-consumer world.

In business-to-business, it could be $10-50 or even higher. And that’s fine when you’re selling things that cost from $1,000 to $100,000 or more.

Running Facebook ads to see what works is kind of like day trading, but you only get info about stocks you trade, and there are no mutuals- you can only buy single companies.

As we discover more ads that are converting, we can revise that cost per conversion target number. If we think $20 per conversion is reasonable, and we need to run a 100 ads, that’s $2,000, just to give you an idea.

The more ads we run, the more we learn and the more ads we find that convert.

This process is a function of the spend more than the time. So if you spend $3,000 in a month or $5,000 in a month, you’ll get there faster.

At the Brian Carter Group, we don’t increase our fees until a client spends $1,000 a day or more (it becomes a lot more work because the ads burn out faster, because the audiences are finite and they’ll all see the ads and tire of them, and stop responding, and the cost goes up, so we have to refresh the creative).

As you might be able to conclude by now, it’s impossible to set an initial ad spend without some degree of guessing. And your budget- the amount of money (hopefully profits from other marketing channels) you have to invest in growing the Facebook channel- plays a part too.

Knowing you need to spend between $1-5k a month gives you an idea what it costs to run a bare minimum professional Facebook ad campaign.

#2 Creating the wrong ad type

I’ve written and spoken extensively and I’ve taught elsewhere about how Facebook has ten different ad types and every ad type is goal-oriented.

adtypes

You could go for engagement or video views or website traffic or event attendance or website conversions, but you have to know what goal you want from these ads and choose the right type.

  • If you boost a post, you’re going to get likes, comments, and shares, but it’s going to be really expensive to get traffic or conversions from that boosted post. If that post has a video in it and you boost it, you’re going to get engagement on that post but not as many video views as you could if you ran a video view ad.
  • If you want to get website traffic you could run the website traffic ad, but a lot of people have run that type of ad and said, “Wow. I got a thousand people to my site but no conversions, no leads, no sales.”
  • That’s because there’s another type of ad for conversions. It’s called the website conversion ad. If you run that one, you have to install the conversion tracking, which is mistake number five. If you don’t have conversion tracking running properly, then the website conversion ad will function like a website traffic ad and only get you traffic.

The reason that that’s so important is that, no matter who you target on Facebook, Facebook will first show your ads to the people within your target group who do the most of whatever your goal is.

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Let’s say you want to target moms who make more than $50,000 a year. If you boost a post, or promote post engagement, then…

Well, there are a lot of moms who make $50,000 a year (17 million in the U.S.). They can’t show your ad to all of 17 million of them at once, so first they’re going to show it to the ones that they know do a lot of liking, commenting, and sharing. Because you chose the post promoting type of ad. That’s the goal you chose.

And those heavy engagers are not the heavy link-clickers or heavy converters… if you want the latter, you need to choose a different ad type.

If you want to get ecommerce sales from those $50k+ moms, you might run a website conversion ad and send them to an ecommerce site. Then they’re going to show it to the moms who make $50,000 who’ve converted on external websites before.

Do you get the point? They’re going to show it to that subgroup of your target audience that’s done the goal that you’re telling them to do with the ad type you chose.

The dumbest thing you can do is only boost posts and expect to get more than likes, comments, and shares…

fbadmistakelinks

…because that means you’re just not aware there’s nine other types of ads and you haven’t gotten into the Ad Manager or Power Editor and you haven’t created those other types of ads.

You have to get in there and create the right ad type for your goal.

#3 Not creating enough ads (not testing enough targeting or creative)

Our best case studies where we’ve had 2,200% ROI or we’ve gotten incredible results for low-cost leads, and all those kinds of things, and where we prevail with the most difficult circumstances and where we drive the most incredible results are when we’ve created the most ideas and put them in front of customers and we see which ones customers respond the most to.

If you only create one idea, it’s a real crap shoot. The chances that you created that home-run ad is very low.

If you create a hundred ads, there’s a much better chance that you found the right combination of targeting and image and headline that people will go crazy for. Then you’re going to get amazing results.

You’re looking for an outlier…

Statistically speaking, WHEN WEIRD IS AWESOME and awesome is weird.

The way I talk about it is I say look at any sport, like the NBA, where there are some amazing athletes…. people like Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Lebron James.

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(For more cool NBA outlier charts like that one…)

These guys are freaks of nature and have drive and practice and they’re very exceptional people, but they’re only four guys out of millions that have ever picked up a basketball and out of thousands of guys that have been in the NBA.

If the NBA had only ever had four players total, the chances that we’d have those four guys is very low.

When you create an ad campaign and you have an ad account, the more ads you run in there, the more ideas you create and test, the better chance you’re going to have of having something really awesome happen.

The more ideas you put in front of your customers, the better chance you have of them going crazy for one of them.

It doesn’t have to happen all at once.

  1. You may start by testing your targeting, find the right way to target people.
  2. You might test some images, find the best image.
  3. Then you test the headlines, find the best headline.

It might happen over time, one thing at a time. Over the course of time, you’re going to test fifty, a hundred, hundred and fifty, two hundred, maybe a thousand ads at some point.

You get to stop at the point where you decide, “The results are so amazing that I don’t want/need any better.” However, it may burn out at some point, so you should always be testing.

Don’t stop with laziness in the beginning or you’ll lose.

  • You’ll cost your company a bunch of money.
  • Your customers won’t be excited.
  • They won’t care.
  • You’re just not going to do as well.

You have to test a lot of things. You’ll get results while you’re doing it, and you’ll get better and better results as you go.

#4 Putting too many ads into one ad set

The way that Facebook works, if you put ten ads into one ad set, it’s going to figure out which one is performing the best and it might only show that one. It’s going to decide on its own how much to show each ad. It doesn’t really give you any control over how much each ad in the ad set is shown to people.

Like we talked about earlier, there are different types of ads. If it’s a post promotion ad, it’s going to find the ad that’s performing the best for getting engagement and it’s going to show that one the most.

Sometimes it will show the one that doesn’t have the lowest cost per engagement, and you have to do your own optimization and pause the expensive one. That’s part of your job with the Facebook ads.

If you put ten ads into the ad set, some of them may never get enough reach and be put in front of enough people to really be tested. You have to only test two, three, four ads at a time, or they just won’t get enough reach for you to know that they were tested well.

What that means is that, if your ad set is to a certain target and you have all your different ad sets set up by different targeting, sometimes if you want to test a new ad you have to pause a good ad.

You might want to change the name of the ad. You’ve got the name of the ad itself, and then you just append to that, “Restart later.” Pause it and run some new ones and see if they do as well as the best one.

Another approach is to create a new ad set that’s got the same targeting and apportion some specific budget to the new testing.

I’ve got some accounts where we have

  • BEST PERFORMING AD AD SETS
  • TESTING AD SETS

We’ve got a specific amount of money budgeted for testing and a specific amount of money running into the best ads.

That’s a smart thing to do too, because then you’re optimizing your budget. If you were investing, wouldn’t you put most of your money in the stocks with the biggest return?

You could have 80% of your budget going to the best-performing ads and 20% of your budget going to testing new ads.

You should always be testing new ads, because eventually your ads are going to stop working. If you’re showing the same ad to a finite audience, and all audiences are finite, eventually everyone that’s going to like or be influenced to click on that ad or do something with it or watch that video, eventually they’re all going to see it. Some of the people will never respond to it, so the performance is going to go down. It’s going to burn out. The costs will go up.

If you don’t have other ads that you’ve been testing over time that are on deck ready to go into your best-performing ads group, you will have to start over from zero and you’ll have a temporary dip in performance.

It’s not a bad idea to have best-performing ad set and testing ad sets.

#5 Not installing conversion tracking properly and testing it ahead of time

If you’re going to run website conversion ads, you need to have conversion tracking set up with either standard events or custom conversions.

That’s a little technical. I’m not going to explain how to set that up here. Facebook has some great help screens.

I will tell you that we found custom conversions to be more reliable overall than standard events.

You do need to get that set up so that you know which ads are working and which ones are not.

It’s not good enough to track Facebook ads in Google Analytics. You need the conversion tracking from Facebook in your website or landing pages to:

  • Tell Facebook ads which ads are working,
  • So that you can optimize at that level and only run the best-performing ads and
  • Stop the ads that aren’t performing well.

Like I said earlier, if you’re trying to run website conversion ads and you don’t have conversion tracking set up they will run like website traffic ads. Often you will get traffic with no conversions, which is a waste of money.

When you set up the conversion tracking, then you need to test it before running the ads. You don’t want to waste any money, so you need to get the pixel in. You need to check the pixel dashboard and make sure that it’s firing. You need to make sure it’s firing on the URLs that you have it on.

pixeldashboard

You need to, if you do custom conversions, to find that custom conversion by the thank-you page, or whatever confirmation page shows up after the conversion is complete.

If they complete a lead and then they go to a thank-you page, or they buy something and go to a confirmation page, the URL of that thank-you page or confirmation page is your custom conversion URL. You need to set that up, define it, and then make sure that you’ve gone to it again, and then that the custom conversions dashboard says that it’s active.

customconversions

Once you’ve done that, then you can create and run ads that are website conversion ads that work. Make sure you’ve got all that stuff set up and verified ahead of time.

#6 Pushing on what you want rather than following the customer’s lead

This is a mistake I see a lot of businesses make on Facebook, is…

  1. they post something and nobody responds,
  2. the response is very low, and
  3. their reaction is, “Well, we need to advertise that more, because this is an important thing and we want to make sure we hammer this into people.”

That’s the exact opposite response of how you should look at these things.

Facebook is a customer laboratory for you, where you can put things in front of customers and see what they like and see what they’ll respond to and what they won’t. Whether it’s engagement or videos or leads or sales, you can find out what works and what doesn’t.

You’ll do better if you go in the direction of what customers love and what they respond to. If you do that…

  • Your costs are going to decrease
  • Your profits are going to go up
  • Your customers are going to love you more

If you go the opposite direction, where you say, “No. This is our initiative. This is the thing we’ve decided is important. We need to hammer this into customers even though they’re not responding to it.”

  • It’s going to be more expensive
  • You’ll get less results
  • Customers won’t like you as much
  • You’ll seem out of touch because you’re not following their lead

The second one is like having a conversation with someone and not listening. You say something to someone, they don’t like it, and you say it again louder? That’s not how relationships work.

Follow the customer’s lead.

This is a really cool time to be marketing, because for years and years and years we’ve wanted to know, as businesses, what customers like and don’t like. There have been a lot of ways to try to figure that out- through surveys and focus groups and all that kind of stuff.

Every one of those customer discovery methods has flaws.

One of the biggest flaws they have is the customer knows that they’re being asked these things. That’s very different.

How a customer or a person acts when they don’t think they’re being watched, what they will buy, what they will do, is different. It’s more true and it’s more accurate than when they’re in a focus group trying to impress the other panelists or the person asking the question. Or when they’re taking a survey talking about who they wished they were instead of who they actually are.

You want to know how they actually behave, not how they wish or intend to behave.

When we put things in front of customers and they don’t realize it, they’re not really thinking about how we’re monitoring whether they did or didn’t respond to the post or the ad, but we are.

It’s like a top-secret survey they don’t even know we’re doing on them.

While we’re getting Facebook results, we’re also constantly learning from them without them realizing that we’re surveying them.

That’s what Facebook posts and ads do for us, is that they are a huge source of customer intelligence and they’re much more accurate than some of the other methods we’ve had for a long, long time.

#7 Bad copy

That means copywriting. Copywriting is a fundamental marketing discipline.

It’s very important to understand that different phrases and different words affect people differently. There’s been work in this area for over eighty, almost ninety years. People in marketing have been trying to write things that get bigger and better results from customers.

You need to understand the fundamentals of copywriting. There are many books out there, many courses out there, about copywriting.

Beyond that, there’s even psychological research about what words people respond to the most, what words are positive for people, negative, arousing, stimulating, which ones men like, which words women like. There’s a lot of good research out there too.

There are places like BuzzSumo that analyze blog posts that work and don’t.

There’s a lot of data out there, and then you can create your own data. You absolutely should because your customer group is going to be somewhat unique and is going to respond uniquely to your offer and brand, so ask yourself:

  • Which subject lines get them to open your emails?
  • Which blog posts get the most attention?
  • Which ads get the best results?
  • Which posts get the most engagement?

If you’re smart about it and you’ve learned the basics of copy writing, you have thought about what are the benefits of my product or service, what is my unique  selling proposition… there are a whole bunch of fundamental copy things you need to know about your business. If you’ve figured those out, you can test them with Facebook ads and find out what works the best for your customers.

You may start with bad or mediocre copy, but you don’t have to stay there.

Facebook is a customer laboratory, and testing is the process that saves us from ourselves and our bad ideas and our office politics, and it helps us get better results.

#8 Not split-testing landing pages

Fundamental thing to understand about getting results online is that a landing page is anywhere you send somebody. It could be your homepage. It could be a leadpage. It could be a click funnel’s entry page. It could be any webpage. A landing page is the first page they go to. You want them to do something when they get there. Maybe you’re trying to get a lead. Maybe you’re trying to get them to sign up for your email. Maybe you’re trying to get them to register for an event. Maybe you’re trying to get them to buy something. Whatever it is, you’re trying to get them to do something.

You can split test that landing page to see which page gets a better result. What’s the conversion rate? What percentage of people who went there did the thing you wanted them to do?

It’s not as smart to do sequential testing, which means we’re going to have our website look like this for a week, and then we’re going to change it and have it look like something else for a week. Because who knows what happened this week versus last week? Maybe there was a holiday. Maybe there was a national crisis. Maybe the economy went up or down. Things can change in time.

Split-testing allows us to see how people responded to different things at the same time, which eliminates a lot of variables that could screw up our results.

Split-testing is really important. There are a lot of different platforms that allow you to do that. There’s lead pages, click funnels, Unbounce, Optimizely. There are WordPress themes. There’s a WordPress plugin that lets you split test your blog post titles.

Split-testing is a fundamental part of digital marketing. It’s really very similar to testing multiple Facebook ads. You need to have this understanding that the cost per conversion, whether that’s a lead or a sale online, comes from a couple different things: the cost per click, how much did that traffic cost to get there; and then how many people did you have to send there per lead or sale, that’s the conversion rate.

If you can increase the conversion rate or lower the cost per click or both, you lower your cost per sale cost per lead. You increase your profits. These are your two biggest levers.

We’re back to copy writing, images, all those things you put on a landing page, the format, the layout, whether there’s a video or not, what kind of video it is.

Let me add one thing here. When it comes to testing ads, testing copy, testing landing pages, the research says it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a marketer, you don’t get better at guessing. Your guesses do not get more accurate. You can get better at writing copy. You can get more disciplined at the testing process. You can get more creative. You can get better at understanding customers, but you can’t get more right. You still have to test a lot of different things.

Testing is liberating, too, because not only does it increase our chances of getting higher profits, it’s a profitable activity, but it liberates us from the personal opinion, feeling, emotional, messy side of creativity, where somebody’s attached to the image they like or the headline they wrote, or whatever. If you can get everybody on board with science and say, “Look, these are all great ideas. Let’s see what the customer likes. Using a scientific process, we’re going to find out.”

Then everybody on the team is free to have good ideas and bad ideas. No one has to say, “I’m a good person or a bad person because I had a good idea or a bad idea.” That’s not what it’s about. It’s about a process, trying to understand the customer, and create things, and test things, and get better and better results. It’s just a conversation with the customer where we serve them better and better. Landing pages are a big part of that.

#9 Too many steps before conversion

One thing to understand about digital marketing is the more steps people have to take to get anywhere, the fewer people will get there.

The longer the journey is, the more people die on the way. That’s a horrible analogy.

If you think about email marketing, for example, to get people to buy something  you’d have to get them to open the email, that’s step one.  Before that you have to get them to sign up for your email list.  You have to get them to go to your website to sign up for the email list…

  • Go to the website,
  • Sign up for the email list,
  • Open the email. That’s three steps already.
  • Click on the link. That’s four.
  • Then however many steps it takes to buy the thing on your site. Maybe five, six, seven steps.

That’s email marketing.

How many people open the email? 20%? 30%? That means 70-80% didn’t open the email.

How many people that opened the email click through? Maybe it’s 20%, 30%. Again, you lose another 70-80%.

When they get to the site, how many purchase? A good ecommerce conversion rate is 1% or 2%.

98% or 99% of the people that clicked on your email, went to your site, didn’t buy.

Wow.

You lose most of your people at every step you make them take.

With Facebook, if you have to get a fan, get them to see your post, we know Facebook reach is a problem, get them to click the link in the post, that’s a lot of steps to get them to your site.

You can cut out some of the steps just by having a Facebook ad that sends them directly to the site. You cut out two steps. You didn’t need to get them to be a fan. You didn’t need to get them to see the post. Just running the ad got them to see it.

We know website conversion ads, get better people there to convert. Your conversion rate’s going to be higher. That’s even better.

That’s why fan marketing is broken. It’s partly you might have the wrong people. They might not be buyers. It’s also extra steps.

Having too many steps in your funnel

  • Reduces your conversion rate,
  • Increases your cost per sale,
  • Lowers your profits.

Simplify the customer journey and you increase your profits.

#10 Custom programming and generally reinventing the wheel

Sometimes I see entrepreneurs hire a programmer and have the programmer create things that are not as good as stuff that’s out there. There are a lot of software-as-a-service apps out there. Landing pages are a big one. Have a programmer create a way to buy something on your site instead of just using lead pages or click funnels and plug it into PayPal, or something. You’ve got two obvious SaaS’s that are bulletproof and they always work, as opposed to having a programmer create something that might be buggy.

The problem with programmers is you never know if they’re going to be really good or they’re going to do things on time or they’re going to hold your code hostage or what. There’s a lot of problems there. You don’t know if they’re going to provide good customer service. I heard so many nightmare stories with programmers.

It’s better to find an existing service out there that does something you want them to do than to custom program it.

The other problem with custom programming is that sometimes the stuff you program can conflict with, say, Facebook or Google JavaScript code that’s used for conversion tracking. We’ve had issues where a custom program lead form wasn’t even trackable because the JavaScript conflicted with the Facebook conversion tracking code.

You create a lot of problems for your self by reinventing the wheel and hiring programmers to do custom things that are already out there. Don’t do that. Check and see what’s already out there before you hire somebody.

Uh oh, there’s one more!

THE BIGGEST mistake that will cripple your Facebook Ad Campaigns…

OFFERING SOMETHING NO ONE WANTS

We have sometimes have clients who are entrepreneurs who have a new idea.

It sounds great, it looks great, but we don’t realize until we put it out there nobody wants to buy it.

If it’s a product that no one’s ever bought before, you can test it with Facebook.

Facebook is very affordable- more affordable than Google ads. If it’s a totally new thing, nobody’s searching for it, so AdWords doesn’t make sense.

It might be a new category of things. Nobody’s searching for it, so Facebook makes sense.

Reach the right people, tell them about it.

People go, they check it out.

IF… no matter how you explain it, no matter what you do, you get influencers, you create awesome videos… No matter what you do with it, nobody wants it….

not interested

Sometimes you have a business or a product idea and it’s just a DUD.

The good news is that you can pretty affordably test your new product or business or service idea with Facebook ads.

You can even use Kickstarter to test a product idea without putting out money to create the product… because if no one wants to fund it and buy it ahead of time probably nobody would buy it.

Facebook ads and Kickstarter are really good ways to test an idea ahead of time and not commit a lot of time and money and emotion to something that no one’s going to want to buy.

It’s a tough thing, because

  • You could totally love the idea.
  • You could be super-passionate.
  • You can be convinced your logic is sound that people should want it…

But there’s still a chance that they won’t buy it.

I’ve seen numerous situations where it just totally made sense people should want this thing, but nobody wanted to put money out for it.

I’ve even seen products created from customer surveys where people said they wanted it, but when it came time to purchase, nobody bought.

What people say they’ll do and what they’ll actually do are very different.

Until the cash register rings, you don’t really know for sure.

Save yourself some heartache and some money and use Facebook ads to test the idea.

Just seeing if people will click through at a high rate on the ads for it. If they won’t click through a newsfeed ad, a 1% or a right-hand column ad at 0.1% for it and it’s the right target audience, there’s just not enough interest.

You could do a beta, do a website that’s like, “Check this out. Sign up. Put your email in to hear about it when it’s available,” or, “we’ll give you 20% off when it’s ready.”

If you’re not getting a lot of interest from that, then you got a good indicator there’s something wrong. Something’s not right.

It’s good to know that as soon as possible. You don’t want to invest a lot of time, money, heartache into something that no one’s going to buy.

CONCLUSION

It can be challenging, because there are a lot of mistakes people make. And I see so many businesses make the exact same mistakes over and over. That’s why I write posts like this.

It’s frustrating, because I think a lot of people get excited about things.

They say, “Oh, Facebook ads are going to be great! Snapchat’s going to be great! Live video is going to be great!”

They get very excited about the opportunities, but they don’t see all the traps and pitfalls and mistakes ahead.

I’ve seen so many people make the exact same mistakes and fall into the exact same traps.

My passion is to just tell you guys, as difficult as it might sound, “Here’s some problems ahead of you that you need to avoid.”

I want you guys to succeed. I want you guys to profit. I want you guys not to waste your money.

Please don’t make these mistakes. That is my message to you.

But at the same time…

  • There’s never been more opportunity in business.
  • We’ve never had better data about customers.
  • It’s never been more affordable to try new ideas and get new customers.

So if you’re smart about it, you can succeed with digital and social marketing.

CONTENT UPGRADE ADS WEBINAR

My Story Arc: From Socially Anxious Introvert to Funny Keynote Speaker

Posted on Posted in Improv, Inspiration

Arc Story

My good friend Kathy Klotz-Guest interviewed me about how I went from super shy introvert to comedian to keynote speaker… what dream have you pursued even though you had to overcome big internal obstacles and transform in order to get it?

Check Out Art Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with kathyklotzguest on BlogTalkRadio with The Keeping it Human Improvised Marketing Show on BlogTalkRadio

RANT + PODCAST: “Do Whatever It Takes”

Posted on Posted in Facebook Marketing, Inspiration, Productivity, Social Media ROI, Social Media Strategy, Strategy, Thought Leadership

Do Whatever It Takes

This is a blog post that began as a podcast- feel free to listen instead, or listen AND read along below.

Today, I want to talk to you about something I think is really important for success for business and something we see all the time with marketing.

You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get better results, and to avoid your competitors eating your lunch, or your entire industry being disrupted!

Companies run into a lot of different obstacles. Sometimes, companies hire us because they just need help with something they can’t do, like we’ll do Facebook ads for them, and they can’t do it, and we can get them the results. Other times, they just have a problem, and they don’t know what it is.

Sometimes, we have really complicated clients who have a ton of problems.

Sometimes, they have reputation problems. And, sometimes, we can do certain things.

We’ve got a client who has a big reputation problem. We can do certain things for them, but they also have some issues with customer service. The level of customer service is not high enough. They set expectations for customers they can’t possibly meet. They’re not really clear how to describe what they are compared to other companies.

There’s a lot of issues that have, so, when you start trying to market to solve some of these problems you discover, some of them you can solve, and some of them are internal company problems.

You’ve got to give them feedback, and I wonder if they think they think it’s weird…

  • “The marketing guy’s telling us to improve our customer service!”
  • “The marketing guy’s telling us we don’t know what our company is about!”
  • “The marketing guy is saying that it’s not okay that our IT people are telling us that something is impossible!”

…and that last one is the one that gets me the maddest. Because right now, everything is internet-based. Everything is programming-based. Everything is computer-based.

And it’s a gigantic opportunity, it’s been a gigantic shift in our economy and in business, and the world is completely changed. I mean the new thing with Amazon, you’re seeing those buttons where you get a Tide detergent button you put in your kitchen, and, when you’re running out of Tide, you would just push the button, and it orders it through Amazon. It shows up to your house 2 days later.

Very dangerous. You don’t want to have that for candy with you if you’ve got kids in the house, right? 🙂

Technology is everywhere, and so many companies have come out of nowhere, like Uber using smartphones to disrupt the entire transportation industry, not just taxis but they’re going to be competing with FedEx and DHL and UPS.

They’re running the Uber Eats thing in Houston as a test, delivering food. I wouldn’t be surprised if they start delivering groceries and either Amazon or Uber disrupts the whole grocery business.

You always see, anywhere that technology can improve convenience, new companies win and old companies lose. Companies like BlockBuster go out of business because of Netflix. The list is super long. Borders went out of business. Not only did Borders send traffic to Amazon rather than having a web store, which is just idiotic, but they didn’t adapt like Barnes & Noble did. Barnes & Noble copied the Kindle, created the Nook for an e-reader, right? And so Barnes & Noble has survived. They’re profitable. Borders went away.

Now, my point about this is is that, if your company, and we hear this sometimes, has an IT department or programmers who are saying, “This can’t be done,” or, “We can’t do it,” or they’re just slow or they’re just stubborn or they’re just difficult.

I grew up a geek. I’ve programmed some. I’ve hung around programmers. I know programmers. And I understand. They’re different, and they’re great. I love programmers. They’re different, so sometimes they struggle a little bit with some of the social things that other people in your company don’t struggle with, and sometimes they have different priorities, and sometimes they’re hard to deal with. Sometimes they’re difficult.

But the thing is I think you have to be willing to go nuclear on your programmers and say, “Look, you guys are problem solvers. You have to be willing to solve these problems. I’m not interested in you saying you can’t solve this problem. Don’t tell me you can’t do it. I don’t ever want to hear that. Solve the problem or you’re fired.” It needs to be that simple.

If you don’t have a culture of programmers and IT people that will solve problems quickly and see themselves as quick problem solvers… the overall topic I want to talk about today is willing to do whatever it takes, because there’s a lot of disruption, and there’s a lot of change, and there’s a lot of opportunity.

Millennials get it. They’ve grown up in a time where everything has changed frequently.

A new business can come out of nowhere and they no longer use the old business, whereas people who are over 50 will have stayed loyal to a company or business model for 10 or 20 years or whatever. That may seem weird to them, and, basically, you may take your customers or business model or advantage in the industry for granted. You ignore problems, assuming you can.

Another younger, faster, more agile, more motivated company comes along with programmers who do want to solve the problem you’re ignoring- and suddenly it’s too late for you.

The biggest enemy for companies that are going to get disrupted is an internal culture of laziness and procrastination and just barely good enough instead of ambition.

You really need hungry people, because there are so many start-ups, and many of them fail, but a few of them completely disrupt industries, and that’s the problem, right?

You have to be willing to do whatever it takes.

We see this on other levels too. When we work with clients sometimes, some of our clients are still getting used to the whole fact that we can test a whole bunch of different messages with customers, and we can test a whole bunch of different images. They’re so used to the old marketing paradigm of, “Let’s decide what the ad and the marketing images and all that stuff are before we put it out.” They decided on the basis of personal preference, like, “I just feel like this is good.” They’re accustomed to making these decisions on, very little knowledge about the customer.

Often, they think they know the customer better than they actually do. Often, the data we as their digital marketers come up with about the customer when we run a bunch of different ads is surprising to them. We learn about the customer. And there are some great tools, Facebook Audience Insights, with their data partners and all the information we have from all those retail loyalty programs, gives us net worth and income, and shopping behavior info, and all these things that we can learn about your customers, especially if we upload your email list and we profile those people or we profile the emails of your buyers versus those who don’t buy. That’s gigantic, and we learn a ton about your audience, then we learn more when we run all those different ads.

If your internal culture is not willing to do whatever it takes, they’re not willing to let go of their preferences about messages, they’re not willing to let the customer tell you which ones they prefer. 

Instead of having an internal counsel at your company that decides what messages should go out… Yes, you need legal, yes, you have to have brand parameters, but I’ve seen companies make a lot of arbitrary decisions that are above and beyond those things. Creative decisions that don’t have anything to do with their branding.

The thing is, if you do that, if we’re just doing it with guesses and with, “It’s my opinion,” what the data tells me from having run, 10-15 years now of ad tests and experiments is that, even when you have the data on your customers, EVERYONE’S guesses about what your customers are going to like are often wrong.

Being personally attached to your ideas is a liability in digital marketing. It’s a huge liability. It’s why some companies are losing at marketing.

There are some great books out now, the Freakonomics books, the Daniel Kahneman… books out there about the biases that we experience. We have great science now about basically the ways in which our perception is often wrong. The ways in which we fool ourselves, the ways in which our ego basically screws up our chances of success.

So when we get so attached to our own opinions, or when your company has a system that allows that… The way around it, I love this whole digital marketing laboratory approach, because the older thing was you’d have like a boss who has a great marketing idea, and, if you have a marketing director who isn’t that strong of a personality, then they’re always getting bulldozed by the boss who has a marketing idea, which may be good or bad and often may be bad.

They’re not trained in marketing, and, when you’re a CEO, you’re basically getting told you’re awesome all the time, so anybody that’s in that situation starts to believe it, whether they are awesome or not, right? So you’re putting out these marketing ideas thinking that they’re awesome because you’re awesome, and, if they’re not working and especially if you’re not tracking, you don’t really know if they’re working.

But, in a digital marketing laboratory, where we can see where each ad, “Does this ad get us leads?” “Does this ad get us sales?” Then you can tell, right? The boss can have an idea, the marketing director can have an idea, the marketing assistant, the marketing interns, they can have ad ideas, and we can see which ones work the best. Now, that’s a democratic situation where we get to see what works.

If you’re still attached to your ego there… Then, when your ad doesn’t work, you feel bad, you feel ashamed, you feel like you lost, you feel like you’re a bad person, you feel like something bad is going to happen, but that’s not what we’re doing. We’re not trying to prove we’re good people by having good guesses. That’s not what we’re doing.

We’re trying to put enough ideas out there to let customers choose the best one so that we have a better chance of succeeding.

Because the fact is like there is a research study that showed that, after 10 years or more, marketing experts do not get better at guessing which creative ad marketing message or image is going to work the best. They don’t get better at it.

You don’t get better at it. What you can get better at it is being disciplined about the process of putting out more ideas. And, yeah, you don’t want to put out stupid ideas. I think you get better at finding some best practices, but there’s often things that break the rules. A lot of people I know, including myself, who’ve run conversion optimization on landing pages find that, when you put a video on the landing page, it doesn’t convert as well as when you just have an image, which is counterintuitive, and there’s a lot of counterintuitive stuff in digital marketing. That’s why you have to test.

All the people who are going by their gut are going to fail on the counterintuitive stuff. All the people who are testing are going to find a counterintuitive thing that works awesome and the super-performing outliers, and they’re going to find the things that work super duper well that you wouldn’t have found if you didn’t have an open mind and you didn’t test a lot of stuff.

The companies that aren’t willing to do whatever it takes… They aren’t willing to put aside their ego, they aren’t willing to make their program solve problems, they aren’t willing to test a lot of ideas, they aren’t willing to go with the analytics instead of opinion, those companies are going to lose.

It’s simple as that. They’re not going to get as good of results. They’re not going to have as big a profit margin. Their spend is not going to be as efficient. So they’re not going to do as good.

For a public traded company as well, you can only go so far on all that cash. There are plenty of companies that are huge that fail. And that get bought up. And there are plenty of troubled companies that get acquired, disassembled, et cetera by better companies. Being big is not good enough. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes.

That’s what I wanted to say today. It is kind of a rant.

I’m amazed that people don’t do it, but I think that, for me, it comes from just a insatiable desire to get results for whatever I do.

And I do that in comedy, I want to get laughs, and I do it in business, I want to get clients, leads, and sales, and whatever results they want. But I go with the data, and, when the data tells you what’s working and what’s not, that’s when you have to make the change, right? It just doesn’t make sense to me when you’re not willing to go whatever direction the data, which really is what the customers are telling you through the data, which direction to go.

If you’re not willing to go the direction the customers are telling you to go, well, you’re missing a gigantic component of business. You’re in business to satisfy the customer so they will part with their money, and you’re there to satisfy them to make them happy so they’ll continue to give you their money, and everyone will be happy. The data tells you what to do to do that. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to create and sustain that relationship.

That’s it. I’m going to go to Las Vegas and talk in the Amazing.com Conference. It’s like 4 days with a thousand customers who have bought courses from Amazing.com, which I call them the Mercedes-Benz of course creation. Udemy I call the Wal-Mart of course creation. Nothing against Udemy instructors, et cetera, Udemy’s got a lot of great stuff, and they’ve been doing great things for a long time, but Amazing.com takes it to another level. They’ve got an instructional design person on staff. They treat instructors like really well. They flew me out to Austin to film parts of the videos.

I’m creating a course called Social Marketing Profit System. It’s got 4 and a half hours of video, 25 videos on the basics of Facebook marketing advertising strategy, how to not choose the wrong strategies, because, again, this is a counter-intuitive thing. A lot of people, the first things they choose to do are actually not the most effective ones, and everybody’s making the same mistakes instead of getting a little bit of training and avoiding that heartache, avoiding losing that money, right? Save some money, save some heartache.

Some people do their own things, and then they conclude that Facebook marketing or advertising doesn’t work. Well, that’s just dumb. You didn’t get any training. It’s a very complicated system. There’s a big learning curve, so, just like anything that’s complicated, you need to get some education before you try, or you’re likely to fail.

And then there’s a whole bunch of stuff on how to get better likes and shares and comments on your Facebook posts and a ton of information about Facebook advertising, how to get better results. We’ve got all kinds of results. I mean one of the big things that’s different about me from other Facebook marketing instructors is I’ve worked with a ton of real companies getting them real results, leads, and sales. I don’t just go out and teach people to be social media consultants. I don’t just run retreats where we talk about personal growth.

I love personal growth, but I work in the real business world helping real companies get profits and leads and sales and stuff, right? And I’ve done that with all sizes of businesses: small business, medium, Fortune 500, all over the world, talked to all kinds of different audiences. I know what works and doesn’t work for real businesses. The first people that got profits from Facebook marketing in 2011 were students of mine, we’ve been succeeding like that for 4 years.

I used to hate to bang my own drum, but, right now, I hate to see people go get training that doesn’t come from that kind of experience. I was talking about data. We’ve got a ton of data from companies showing what does and doesn’t work for business to consumer and business to business marketing on Facebook. It’s the most powerful platform in the world. I think it’s the most powerful marketing platform ever. I could go on and on about it, and often do.

I love Google, and Google’s important, and you’ve got to do Google ads if they’re profitable for you to a degree, but then you’re going to get limited sales volume. So, after that, if you want to expand, reach more people who are potential consumers, convince those people to buy, Facebook’s the most affordable way to do that. And they just put out new stats: 1.55 billion people on Facebook. I’ve spoken in a bunch of different countries, and, in most countries, at least 50 percent of the population is using Facebook.

It’s super viable, and the ads are super affordable. You just need to know how to do it right. If you use the system that I teach, you’re going to cut your ad cost by 50 to 90 percent, and that means your spend is going to go twice as far to ten times as far, okay? So you’re spending maybe 500 bucks a month? Maybe you’re going to end up getting 5,000 bucks worth of advertising out of it. Or, if you’re spending 1,000 bucks, you’re going to get 2,000 to 10,000 dollars of value out of it because you’re probably doing some things wrong right now.

For example, if you’re trying to get people to go to your website by putting a link in a post on a Facebook page and then you’re boosting that post, your cost-per-click for that link is probably a dollar or two or more. That’s ten times higher than it needs to be because you’re using the wrong kind of ad, right? You need to be using a website conversion ad or a website traffic ad from within the Facebook ad manager or Power Editor.

Little mistakes like that, there are a ton of them, and I’m going to share those with the 1,500 people at the Amazing.com Summit. That’s going to be exciting. I’ll be in Las Vegas for 4 days, and I’m going to be doing a lot of webinars to promote this thing, this course. It’s going to be a big push for me. It’s going to be good, because I’ve done a lot of webinars for other companies, some of them had paid me, some I’ve done it for exposure, but I haven’t done it for myself because I never had the right product, and now I’m with a company where we’ve got a great product, and I think it’s the right time. I think it’s time to tell people, “Look, you’ve got to demand results from Facebook. You can do it. This is the system.” So I’m going to promote the heck out of that.

I hope that was all helpful to you guys. If you have any questions, you can always contact me through the contact form on this site. We do a ton of different types of services for people and companies as well, and you can check those out there.

That’s it. I’m running out of steam, and I got to get ready to get on the plane, so I hope you guys are doing well and your business is doing well and your family is well. I wish you guys all the best.

A Facebook-Powered Father’s Day: Woman Finds Long-Lost Dad on Facebook & He’s an Elvis Impersonator!

Posted on Posted in Inspiration, Interview, Social Media

This is why I called my vidpodcast Brian Carter’s Brain- my brain is interested in all kinds of things- and this is a story of a woman who found her long-lost Dad via Facebook… just in time for Father’s Day! I met Melonie Dodaro at Social Media Marketing World in 2013, and she’s an amazing LinkedIn expert… we’ll talk to her about that in the future, but for now, here’s an awesome Father’s Day story:

How I Beat The Odds and You Can Too

Posted on Posted in Branding, Inspiration, Internet Marketing Strategy, Small Business, Social Media, Thought Leadership

I want to tell you a short story about how I beat impossible odds and ended up a thought leader with a fair amount of brand fame… and how you and your company can do that too.

If you like, you can watch the video about it instead of reading:

If you watch the video and don’t scroll down… here’s a buy link for The Awareness Blueprint. Or, if you’d rather, you can try three videos for free, first!

Now to the story:

Back in 2004, I was like a lot of people: just an untrained guy who wanted to have his own business doing something he was good at that would help other people. I wanted to get enough consulting clients to get paid and do my part bringing home the bacon.

But I struggled because there were so many blogs and competitors out there. I just couldn’t get enough attention or leads or clients to make it. It was hard. I was frustrated! Have you felt like that?

Now, I’ve always believed in and been grateful for freedom, for the American dream of being in control of my own business, and for the opportunities we have with capitalism and to decide on our own career. I didn’t want to work for somebody else. I wanted to be “the man”, not work for the man!

I just wanted to build something special that helped other people, something they appreciated. Isn’t that what we all want?

And then I saw opportunity: the Internet. This was it. A huge phenomenon that suddenly gave us all the opportunity to easily do business with people all over the country- even the world!

I was excited because it seemed like the Internet would change everything in business- and I wanted to get in on that! Wouldn’t you?

But the odds were stacked against me because I had no schooling in internet marketing, I had no savings to bank on, and there was no reason for people to come to my website or business instead of anyone else’s.

I had done a lot of different types of work in my life, but I wanted to focus and get good at one thing. I was married and my wife had been the bigger breadwinner and I wanted to make more money to help her out and feel better about myself.

The internet was growing and people were making lots of money, but not me. Ever felt left out like that?

I was going up against much bigger companies, like training companies that had dozens of bloggers, and internet marketing teachers with a 3-4 year head start on me. I didn’t know anybody who had succeeded at this. I had no connections at all.

I had to get trained. So I got on the Internet and took some online courses. I went and had coffee with the marketing guy in my local San Diego networking group. I read tons and tons of blogs.

And at first, I made A LOT of mistakes. I was super-excited to make some money with Google AdSense, putting their ads on my alternative medicine site, but then the Google search algorithm changed and I lost most of my traffic. That was depressing. Don’t you wish Google was easier?

I started an AdWords consulting business but I couldn’t get enough clients.

Feeling a bit beaten, I took a job as an eCommerce manager for an outdoor store and spent a year building their online store, only for them to tell me, “Brian, we just don’t want to invest in buying enough inventory for the online store to succeed.”

Back to square one, dang it.

Again I went into solo consulting but I wasn’t getting enough clients, and my wife said, more or less, “Get a job or else maybe we should separate for a while.” Wow, that hurt!

So I took a risk on a job where I would build the internet marketing part of a regional agency in South Carolina. I had to move and be away from my wife for a couple years, which was tough, but I worked super hard.

I was initially not very smooth with clients, but my coworkers taught me a lot about account management and successful business relationships.

I was getting better at the Internet business:

  • I got results for our clients.
  • I started blogging and got attention.
  • I got to speak at a conference, then two more conferences.
  • I got a column writing for a big search engine blog.
  • We built the internet marketing part of the agency from $100k revenue to $650k revenue in less than two years.
  • I brought them in new clients from other parts of the country.

Then, to my surprise, the company laid me off!

It turns out I had TOO good a compensation deal with them. I was making too much money. And they didn’t want to expand beyond their region, so they didn’t much value my national networking and speaking.

But by now, I had become an industry thought-leader. I was known and read as a blogger on search marketing and social media. People enjoyed the talks I gave. By traveling and networking, I had made solid friends in the industry. And I had found a professional speaking mentor.

Wouldn’t you love to have a successful mentor in what you’re pursuing?

Because of all that I was able to write a Facebook marketing book, which quickly turned into two published books, and I started getting paid to keynote speak for companies. I and my small new agency got to work with great companies like Carl’s Jr, Universal Studios and The World Health Organization.

Next thing I knew I was on Bloomberg TV in New York City, and getting to work with companies like Microsoft, NBC, Salesforce, GoToMeeting, Dramamine, PrideStaff and others.

Wouldn’t you love to have more opportunities and clients?

It felt amazing to be an author, to be a respected authority, to be someone companies would pay thousands of dollars to come and speak or give consulting opinions. It’s flattering to repeatedly show up on lists like “The Top 50 Marketing Experts in the World”.

Oh and by the way, now I bring home ALL the bacon and my wife works for me, and she’s a brilliant Facebook advertiser. 🙂

During that journey I learned a ton about what does and doesn’t work for building brand fame and awareness. And I’d love to teach you what I’ve learned.

That’s why I created The Awareness Blueprint. It’s only $97 in 2014, but goes up to $399 in 2015. Students and peers tell me it’s too valuable to charge $97 for it, but I wanted to give people a chance to hear about it and- it’s my holiday gift to you, $302 off!

Hope you buy it. If you’d rather, you can try three videos for free, first!

All the best,
Brian Carter

The Most Surprising Advice Ever on Success & Happiness

Posted on Posted in Career Guides, Inspiration

successfrankl

“DO NOT AIM FOR SUCCESS. The more you make it a target, the more you’ll miss it. Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it only comes as the UNINTENDED SIDE EFFECT of your personal dedication to a cause greater than yourself or as the by-product of your surrender to a person other than yourself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. Listen to what your conscience commands and carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run — in the long-run, I say! — success will follow you precisely because you forgot to think about it.”

– Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

The Most Surprising Advice Ever on Success & Happiness

Posted on Posted in Career Guides, Inspiration

successfrankl

“DO NOT AIM FOR SUCCESS. The more you make it a target, the more you’ll miss it. Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it only comes as the UNINTENDED SIDE EFFECT of your personal dedication to a cause greater than yourself or as the by-product of your surrender to a person other than yourself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. Listen to what your conscience commands and carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run — in the long-run, I say! — success will follow you precisely because you forgot to think about it.”

– Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

This Kind of Teamwork Will Make You Cry Then Laugh Then Wonder Why We Worship The Individual

Posted on Posted in Inspiration, Teamwork

Hear it from Magic, Shaq, Pop and more. This isn’t about an underdog winning by himself. This is the pro sports version of Hoosiers, which is all about the kind of victory that can only come from a group. If the Spurs win this year and the Heat lose, it’s because the Heat aren’t the team they used to be.

The NBA is the best basketball in the world. And at this level, one star can’t win it all. Not even two stars. It takes a ton of talent AND sacrifice AND practice learning to play together to win in this league.

The question for us, my friends, is can we enjoy and celebrate this? Can we create a culture where no one shines at the expense of the others? Do we have the guts to stop supporting egotism and narcissism? Or is individualism too deeply rooted in us?