Many companies go after engagement in social media. Others go directly for sales. If you can get both engagement and sales at the same time, that’s the holy grail. In this post, we’ll talk about both, using a type of post that not everyone has already worn out.
Engagement itself is valuable because it:
Grabs Customer Attention: Many companies spend millions just on reach and exposure, but it’s hard these days to grab and hold attention, and the competition just for attention is fierce.
Starts a Conversation: Engagement proves you not only got customer attention, but interest, which is one level better. You can get valuable information from customer interaction that can help you sell better.
Creates an Emotional Relationship between your customer and your brand, which increases the chance you’ll get the sale and increases the chance they’ll become loyal to your brand and stay loyal to you. It’s not just about sales, but about long-term customer loyalty.
There are many types of Facebook posts that create engagement. But few companies have taken full advantage of memes, which is crazy because we want Facebook posts that get shares, and…
A meme (/?mi?m/ meem) is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”.
Or use one of the standard memes: https://makeameme.org/. This is a much better way to go, because you’re going to hit things that people recognize and that are relatable. The dangerous of creating your own new meme is: if no one understands it, it won’t succeed.
You’ll notice that it’s typical with meme images to have text at the top and bottom of the image. But if you want to promote your meme image with Facebook ads, you’ll need to put all your text at the top or bottom online to adhere to Facebook’s 20% text rule. Otherwise they will disapprove your ad. And if you’ve listened to any of my other teachings, you know that your reach is going to be pretty limited without Facebook ads.
The general idea with Facebook post engagement is to do anything fun, funny or emotion-provoking to get likes and shares.
As I said above, you can do this JUST for engagement, or you can also try to tie it into your sales message, which is even better.
Tying Your Meme Image Into Your Sales Message
While creating your meme image, connect what you’re writing to:
Your customers’s pain points and “nightmare” (the worst thing that could happen to them)
The benefits of your product
Their goals or “dream” (what their ideal scenario looks like after getting the benefits of your product)
I talk about those above elements in Facebook Leads and Sales Machine videos on Facebook copywriting. Basically, there are a few things you need to know about your offering and your customers, you need to be able to write about those things in a powerful way, and then turn that into great ad copy.
Here’s an example of how I’d use “The Most Interesting Man In The World” to promote my social media courses:
So the blueprint is:
Understand the formula of the meme.
For “The Most Interesting Man in the World” it’s “I don’t always [do some action] but when I do, I choose [product].”
Put your sales message into that meme’s format.
Post it and advertise it!
Make sure you choose a meme that is either:
Well known to most people…
– OR –
Easily understandable if they’ve never seen it before.
Some of the best memes to use are:
“One Does Not Simply… [something complex]” This meme features the character Boromir from The Lord of the Rings… he originally said, “One does not simply WALK into Mordor…” to emphasize how serious and dangerous it is, and how you need a plan. And if you get that, and like Monty Python, you’ll love this.
“That Would Be Great.”
Manager Bill Lundbergh from OfficeSpace “If you could just [do whatever] that would be great…” If you don’t get this meme because haven’t seen this movie, you’re probably also not a real American.
Skeptical Third World Kid: “So you’re telling me…[something unbelievable about America]”
Now, this one could be a sensitive topic for some people. In my opinion, it’s ok because this joke usually makes the first world lady the victim (who we guess is some kind of missionary), but the whole issue of third world poverty may be too disturbing in certain contexts.
First World Problems:
Something she‘s crying about that isn’t a problem for people in the third world.
Success Kid: all this cute kid needs is some statement of success.
Dumbstruck Dog:this one is about something shocking or confusing.
Annoyed Picard:This is for pretty much any kind of frustration or “what the heck?” kind of sentiment.
Grumpy Cat:This could be used for any complaint you want to make, or pain point your customers have.
Matrix “What If I Told You”:This can reveal any important insight, or for a humorous spin, something obvious.
Condescending Willie Wonka: “Oh you… Tell me more about…” This one is best used for sarcasm. Anything you want to make fun of or belittle.
If any of the above memes don’t make sense to you, don’t use them! I’ve been looking at memes for about eight years, so if this is new to you, you”ll actually have a better idea which ones make sense to the general audience (who doesn’t know all the memes like I do).
Always put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Will they think any one particular meme is weird or great? For example: is your customer the type to watch Star Trek? If not, maybe don’t use the Annoyed Picard meme. But if they’re big nerds, Annoyed Picard could be perfect.
Here’s the That Would Be Great Meme, for example…
Do you see how you can use a character’s voice as the excuse to say something you wouldn’t normally be able to? Or in a way you wouldn’t be able to? It frees you to be able to sell better.
And don’t forget about the 20% text rule! Put your captions all on top or all on the bottom if you want to be sure you can advertise them.
Then combine your new meme image with a call-to-action and a link in your post (to a site where they can take action, like buy something or sign up for your emails)… then promote the post with ads to your best customers!
Check your Facebook Page Insights, click over to Engagement Rate, and try to get your posts up to 3-5%, and then to 5-8%. Our best clients get 8-12% regularly.
Your cost per post engagement in the U.S. should be under $0.20, and under $0.05 is quite reasonable if you’re creating great memes. If you get down to $0.01, you’re a rock star!
Cost per link click can be higher when you’re running post promotion ads, but you can get them down to $0.10-0.20.
For leads and sales, make sure you’ve installed conversion tracking… lead gen costs depend on the niche, but we’ve seen B2C as low as $0.10-0.50 per lead and B2B $2.50-30.00 (again very niche- dependent). Cost per sale also varies a LOT but can be as low as $2-3 in B2C and $5-10 in B2B. It’s all over the map here- if you’re selling a $20,000 computer system, you might spend $3,000 on a sale and call it a success…
How to Get Great Meme Post Results Over Time
Try 5 or 10 of these over a few weeks. And it’s ok to try different versions of the same meme- it’s not like you can only use them once- I would rotate through them initially. But after a month or two you could go back and say something different with a meme you’ve used before.
As with all of Facebook, continuous testing to find the best creative is the name of the game.
Over time, you’ll see which of them get the best engagement rates and the lowest cost per engagement, and which ones get sales and which ones don’t, just like any posts or ads.
Keep creating and keep testing. That’s how the best Facebook marketers do it!
When we do lead generation for clients- we have achieved $0.32 B2C leads and $1.82 B2B lead with quizzes! We help them create quizzes, ebooks, checklists, whitepapers, and then run Facebook ads to generate the leads.
Most people won’t buy the first time they hear about you. If you want customers, you need a list of people to contact over and over again. Those are called leads. You need to generate leads.
If you want to do lead generation you need lead magnets.
The lead magnet is why people would give you their contact info.
Maybe it’s a white paper… maybe it’s an ebook…
Hopefully it’s NOT just an email newsletter because email newsletters are BORING… and annoying.
Almost every website you go to there’s a gigantic pop up that says, “Hey, here’s my email newsletter! Jump on my email newsletter! You’ve got to get on my email newsletter if you want your life to be good! If you want your business to be good! OR click NO if you don’t want your business to be good because you’re stupid and you suck and I’m guilt-tripping you and that’s pretty obvious! WAIT WHERE ARE YOU GOING???”
So the question is what’s a good lead magnet?
Get their contact info: What’s going to spur people to give you their contact info?
Satisfy them: What’s going to make them happy they gave you their info?
Increase your conversion rate: What’s going to maximize the number people who give you their info?
Go viral: What kind of lead magnet gets shared the most?
Quizzes get shared the most overall in social media… but it’s a little bit more complicated than that.
One consideration in your choice of lead magnet is: which social network do you want to thrive on?
Most of us care about more than one.
You probably care mainly about Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, right?
Some people try to be active on all of the social networks, but usually those people spread themselves too thin, and you don’t want to be like that right?
Maybe if you have a big company, and you’ve got 25 people working on it you can do that, and that’s great.
So you are going to have to create a bunch of content, and you need to decide: “Am I going to create a books or quizzes or white papers or what am I going to create?”
Are you going to have a team of people creating it? Great, but what kind of content are they going to create? And how far is that content going to go given how these types of content do on different social networks?
My recommendation would be to choose your lead magnet type according to:
What people like and share
What people convert on
What takes the least time to create
The third factor is really important. If you take 6 months to create a 100-page ebook, and it flops… or 2 months to write a highly-research expert-collaborate whitepaper that doesn’t convert customers… how many quizzes or 5-page ebooks could you have written and tested in that timeframe?
You can get a quiz going in a week. A 5-page ebook in a couple weeks. A checklist in a week or two.
Digital Marketing mega-success comes from testing more things faster. Not just quality but also quantity. So make sure you have diversity in your lead magnets and you’re not putting everything into one hugely-time-consuming lead magnet.
If you refer back to the chart…
If you do quizzes, checklists and short ebooks, the combination of those three content types will have you doing well on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Your major social media platforms are covered, and these are lead magnet types you can get created quickly and affordably.
Here’s an example B2C Quiz:
To promote a book, we created this B2C quiz…
And with Facebook ads we attracted leads for $0.32 apiece. (It’s not running anymore, though.)
For our own marketing agency, we use a variety of quizzes. This one:
…gets us leads for $1.82 apiece. (And you can click on it to take it, if you like.)
Why the celebrity approach? Because these people are recognizable, and we’re using the identity psychological trigger… A lot of people are walking around asking themselves, to one degree or another, “Who Am I?”
If you analyze enough of the most shared content via Buzzsumo, this is one of the patterns you’ll see. Identity quizzes are huge.
“I am my sports team, my job, the style of clothes I like, the TV shows I like, my political party… etc.”
Even if your prospect is pretty sure who they are, they still want confirmation that they’re right- they look at the people in that quiz and think, “I want to be Steve Jobs, I sure hope it doesn’t say I’m Bill Gates!” or the reverse of that, depending on who they are; maybe they think Steve Jobs was a big jerk and Bill Gates is admirably altruistic. Whatever. Identity is relative, and as a marketer, you need to be neutral.
The other type of quiz is a score quiz… “Only Real Friends (TV Show) Fans Can Get 15 of These Questions Right” plays into their fandom and their pride… but of course it has to be relevant to what you’re marketing.
But how to conceive a quiz that’s relevant to what you’re marketing and qualifies the lead? Well, that’s part of our process as consultants. 😉
There’s an assumption in social media that if we get fans or followers and cultivate and invest in those relationships, that will create buyers- and possibly even loyal customers.
Well, you know what they say about assumptions, don’t you?
(If you don’t, ask somebody- I’m not going to say it here, because it’s a little inappropriate!)
What if cultivating relationships and engagement with customers doesn’t lead to sales?
Ok, so engagement probably leads to SOME sales. What if it doesn’t lead to very many sales? What if they’re really expensive sales and it’s not profitable?
The data we have from all our clients suggests that for the most part…
Buyers aren’t fans. And fans aren’t buyers.
By the way, before I show you all the data, which some of you are not going to like, let me share a story from when I used to be in alternative medicine…
I used to read a ton of research, because I had to find proof that the acupuncture and herbs I was learned and practicing wasn’t a bunch of B.S.
During all that reading, I ran across this study of medical doctors. It was research about how medical doctors read and responded to research. It turned out that, for the most part…
If the conclusions of the research conflicted with their preexisting beliefs, they would always question the study’s methodology.
“It must be wrong, so there must be something wrong with the study or data.”
If the research conclusions agreed with what they already believed, they didn’t look at the methodology at all.
“It’s what I believe so the way it was done must have been fine.”
The upshot? Even our super-smart and scientific doctor friends believe what they want to believe and don’t want to be swayed by the data when it disagrees with their beliefs.
It’s hard to be scientific and objective. It’s hard to be open-minded, because it means you sometimes have to be wrong. Being wrong means you need to change.
We don’t want to change. We want confirmation that we’re already right. We want to keep doing what we already do.
Which is why every agency or social media person that gets paid to do engagement is going to question the validity of the data I use in this post 😉
But this data is based on anywhere from hundreds of thousands of people to millions. In most cases, it’s based on more data than their beliefs will be.
If you disagree with this post- email me (brian at bcg (spell it out) dot com) and tell me what your data is, and how many datapoints or people are in your data. 🙂
Digital Marketing History: From Conversions to Engagement back to Conversions?
How has digital and social marketing evolved?
I started in 1999 with SEO and AdWords, when the whole digital marketing industry also just starting, and everyone was very focused on traffic, leads and sales.
Around 2007 and 2008, Twitter exploded and everyone got excited about engagement and relationships.
By 2010, Facebook was getting hot and companies wanted to grow fans. Initially our first Facebook ads clients back in 2010 all wanted fans. For years, they wanted more Facebook post engagement with those fans and others. Many companies still are chasing post engagement.
Both the original Twitter explosion and the Facebook fan and post engagement movements center on the philosophy that businesses need to be human and relationship-oriented; which you certainly can’t argue with…
Humanized, personable brands certainly are powerful. And relationship building and personality clearly work for one-on-ONE networking. If you’re a salesperson, building relationships makes a ton of sense. No one can argue with that.
But does one-to-MANY big-brand relationship-building create more sales and profits?
Let’s look at the data…
Diving into Consumer Data
As we’ve shifted our Facebook clients toward leads and sales, and as we’ve done Facebook Marketing/Strategy Audits for new clients using Facebook’s data (which includes data from Datalogix, Epsilon and Acxiom)…
Analyzing creative and targeting: what has worked and what hasn’t?
Investigating customers on buyer email lists: who are they?
Discovering prospects on lead lists: who are they?
Reviewing fans: who are they?
Characterizing ideal buyers: what makes them unique compared to non-buying prospects and non-buying fans?
Correlating the email addresses, Facebook tells us what it knows about these people, plus:
Acxiomhas detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide.More than 23,000 servers collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year. pigeonhole people into one of 70 very specific socioeconomic clusters (personas) in an attempt to predict how they’ll act, what they’ll buy, and how companies can persuade them to buy their products.It gathers its data trove from public records, surveys you’ve filled out, your online behavior, and other disparate sources of information, then sells it to banks, retailers, and other buyers.
Datalogix, acquired by Oracle in 2015, now called “the Oracle Data Cloud,” it helps Facebook advertisers find customers on Facebook by onboarding first-party data, target customers through relevant audiences, measure campaign effectiveness based on offline purchases; their expertise spans across all industries including; CPG, Retail, Auto, Travel, Financial Services, Telecommunications, Technology and more.Datalogix aggregates and provides insights on over $3 trillion in consumer spending from 1,500 data partners across 110 million US households… across Auto, CPG and Retail Industries;DLX Auto: 99% of all U.S. Sales Captured, 20+ years of ownership data;DLX CPG: 50+ Grocery Chains; 7,000 brands; 300+ categories;DLX Retail: 10 billion transactions; 1,400 retailers; 1,000+ categories.
We’ve looked at the data, and the data says: in many cases, buyers aren’t fans, and fans aren’t buyers.
For example, here’s the overlap (or lack thereof) between one company’s…
Facebook fan base,
Prospect email list and
Customer email lists…
Across a number of these audits, we see anywhere from zero overlap to 35%, but that 35% is the exception. The average is 1% or zero.
These are the facts…
That doesn’t mean that you can’t:
Create campaigns to get buyers engaged, or
Target your fans better to get them to engage…
But what’s more interesting is this:
When we analyze the difference between loyal buyers, non-loyal buyers, and leads who don’t buy, in many cases, we look at the Facebook activity of
Buyers vs the non-buyers +
Loyal buyers vs non-loyal buyers…
…the buyers and the loyal buyers tend to score LOW in post likes, post comments and post shares:
In the chart above, the light blue area is the Facebook average. The dark blue is what the loyal buyers are doing. As you can see, they’re:
Liking fewer pages than the average Facebook user
Commenting less than the average Facebook user
Liking fewer posts than the average Facebook user
Sharing fewer posts than the average Facebook user
They’re even clicking on ads less, so we should expect and be OK with a lower ad CTR
We’ve seen this pattern in many buyers and loyal buyer groups.
What does that mean?
Often, the more of a buyer someone is, the less of a social media engager they are.
Now, of course this is not true for every brand…
There are some brands with highly engaged buyers- depending on that brand’s psychographic or demographic.
There are exceptions, and you should analyze your own customer and prospect lists to discover the truth about your customers.
But be open to the idea that your best buyers and your most loyal buyers may not be the people who want to engage with your fan page or posts.
Think Realistically About Buyers and Engagement
When you go to Amazon to buy, are you feeling chatty?
Or do you just want to buy the danged thing and get going?
Speaking for myself, I might do some research or comparison before I select the item or the company to buy from, but I’m not in the mood to like or comment on Facebook posts- I’m ready to buy.
I’m often buying something that few or none of my friends have ever bought. I may not be in a community of people based on that thing I’m buying, so trying to get that purchase info socially is not always realistic. Not all purchases are social- and not all the people who buy them are social.
For example, I rock climb, and I even have a local climbing gym, but I don’t care at all what the guys at my local climbing gym think about my next pair of climbing shoes- I just read the Amazon reviews. That might be a form of social, but it’s not on Facebook.
On the engagement side of the equation, who are the most socially engaged people you know?
Consistently the Facebook tell us the most engaged demographic is 13-18 year old females. They’re also one of the groups with the least money! They’re high engagement but don’t have much buying power.
Facebook Audience insights won’t show us the 13-18 group, but here are the 18-24 females:
See how every interaction is above average, except for promotions redeemed- interesting… redeemed promotions requires money, and they’re only average at that.
Now, think about the no-nonsense rich powerful guy in his 50’s; does he want to sit around and engage with you on Facebook? No! He barely even wants to be ON Facebook! He want to get in and get out, because he has more important things to do. The following chart is the activity level of the over 50 guy with a net worth over $1 milion:
As soon as I switched it from both genders to men only, the activity dropped. And by the way, in some of our audits, we find that the loyalty groups are more men-predominant… so there you go- loyal buyers not wanted to engage on Facebook!
Early in our Facebook marketing days, we had a client whose customers were all action sports dudes- they all wanted to buy GoPro helmets, but none of them wanted to interact with Facebook posts. They just wanted to go outside and do stuff. They weren’t into social media engagement. Make sure you know your audience.
There are some exceptions- some of the female demographics are very engaged- but again, this engagement doesn’t always lead to sales. I recommend a healthy dose of skepticism, measure your engagement tactics and monitor very closely whether they’re actually converting.
So many social campaigns are called successes based solely on engagement metrics- yet here’s no proof they’re leading to any bottom-line results.
Is It Because of How Facebook Ads Work?
There is actually a really good reason about why buyers would not be fans and fans would not be buyers- and it’s baked right into how Facebook ads work.
The ad type you choose adds another level of targeting to the ad- so
When you do a page like ad or a post promotion ad, your ad is shown to the type of people who engage, but not necessarily those who click links or buy.
When you do a conversion ad, you’re shown to the type of people who buy, but don’t necessarily engage.
The fact is, some people are more likely to do one or the other, and the Facebook ads display algorithm picks the subgroup based on your ad goal.
So, if you want to beat that, you’ll have to
Do conversion ads targeted to fans (but stop them if they’re not cost-effective)
Run post promo ads that get conversions (but often these are not cost-effective)
You’ll have to keep an eye on the costs of both. In our experience, they are not the most profitable approaches.
The Most Cost-Effective Facebook Strategies
We find that the best approach is not this strategy:
With every step in a digital funnel, most people drop out, so longer funnels are not good.
Reachpocalypse happened, and now organic visibility on average is only 2.6%. You have to pay to get fans, pay for visibility, and then post promotion ads don’t tend to lead to affordable link clicks.
The entire process is very expensive, and you spend a lot of time with fans who may be more interested in engaging than buying.
The fan marketing is the strategy the entire industry started with, and it wasn’t until we tried other methods with multiple clients, the data convinced us this wasn’t the most efficient method.
This strategy is better:
Here we’ve cut out three steps, which means losing three failure points.
We can still target fans, or email audiences, or totally new cold audiences, but we send them directly to the website right away. If they don’t buy right away, we retarget them.
The website retargeting ad guarantees a higher quality visitor that’s more likely to buy (this is a second level of targeting I’ll explain on further slides).
Cost per sale is as much as 90% lower with this method than the fan marketing method.
We recommend you use conversion ads to go straight for sales.
And if you’re doing lead gen before sales, use this:
Facebook video is huge- Facebook reported seeing 100 million hours of daily video watch time near the end of 2015. And with the newer “related videos feature,” where people are automatically served another video after their current one, you can bet video views have grown dramatically from there.
There are a lot of Facebook video options:
Facebook video in your personal or page posts
Facebook video ads
As you might know, I am a big believer in advertising everything you can on Facebook, even if you have a small budget…
Before you run away- let me explain!
What happens if you don’t use ads with your videos?
No certainty you get views. They don’t get viewed much. You may get lucky if your video is super awesome and goes viral… but unless you’re already a celebrity, you probably won’t get more than a couple thousand views. Even if you’re super interesting and talented, most videos don’t go viral- they get a few hundred views and fizzle out.
No certainty of target audience. Organic videos don’t necessarily reach who you want them to. Who sees them is not under your control. It’s whoever happens to be on Facebook right then, however the algorithm works, whoever likes or shares, whoever their friends are, et cetera.
No certainty of reaching your target buyer. If you’re doing this video for business, you might not reach your target customer. Or out of your several hundred views, maybe only a few dozen are your ideal buyers.
No certainty of traffic, leads or sales. Even if you have a link somewhere in that video or post, the percentage of those who watch that click is not 100%; it’s going to be between 1-10%. So if 200 or so watch, maybe 2-20 people click to your site. And what % of visitors do things on your site? Maybe 1% buy and 10% opt into an email list? So very little action comes from this.
But when you advertise your videos, you can:
Reach exactly the right audience (your best buyers, not just anybody, not just friends family employees)
Reach them right away (not like whenever… maybe… but NOW)
Reach enough potential customers to discover how they respond to your content- or don’t
Get more detailed stats and metrics from the ad manager than you do from Facebook Page Insights
The last thing is critical. If you don’t run ads for your videos, you won’t get a lot of analytics or insights about them. And you won’t learn much. The video analytics you get when you don’t run ads are pretty limited.
Trust me, you’ll be surprised by what you learn. You need to know
How many seconds people are watching your videos on average
Which audiences watch them the longest
Which ones convert
Which ones don’t
There are four ways to run video ads on Facebook, and all produce different results.
The first thing you absolutely MUST understand about how Facebook ads work, that many many people don’t know is that the ad goal determines who FB shows the ad to based on their most common FB activities which ensures you mainly get that response and very little of the others…
In other words,
Choosing an engagement ad shows the ad to people who engage a lot, but these people don’t necessarily click to websites…
Choosing a video view ad shows the ad to people who view a lot of videos, but these people don’t necessarily like posts or click to websites…
So your actual Facebook targeting is:
Not just the targeting you choose, but also
The subset of those people who most do the thing that you’ve chosen as your ad goal.
The five ways to advertise video on Facebook are:
Video in post, promoting the post (whether boost or a post promotion ad from ad manager/power editor): gets you in front of the subset of your audience who likes, shares and comments on posts, so you get much more engagement on the post than video views, link clicks or conversions
Video view ad: gets you in front of the people who watch a lot of video, so you get a lot of video views, more than post engagement, link clicks or conversions
Website traffic ad with video instead of image: gets you in front of people who click off FB on links to other sites (but not necessarily the subset that converts), so you get a lot of link clicks, more than video views, engagement or conversions
Website conversion ads with video instead of image: gets you in front of the people who click AND convert BOTH, so you get conversions, but less clicks, video views and engagement.
Start with your goal, then choose the right ad type.
Awareness boosting ad with video instead of image: this is interesting, because in our initial tests with this, it actually beats the video view ad at its own game!
Here’s how those shake out:
NOT PICTURED: The awareness boosting ad gets you larger reach and at times can get you more views and longer duration than the video view ad.
But just beware- both the video view ad and awareness boosting ads can get you a lot of exposure but won’t necessarily get you interaction or conversions.
What do I recommend?
I like the awareness boosting ad and the website conversion ad with a video in it. I run them in separate campaigns with separate budgets.
That way you can get exposure AND conversions. Best of both worlds.
But it’s going to be different for all of you- if you have someone looking over your shoulder who expects to see interaction on your Facebook post that has a video in it, you probably should run a post promotion ad (similar to a boosted post)… remember, it’s all about your goals!
This is the first case study interview in the relaunch of my podcast. And yes, a lot of my podcasts start as videos. 🙂
Real companies, real campaigns, real results.
One of the biggest problems we struggle with these days is an overwhelm – too much information, too many ideas, too many platforms, too many strategies.
What actually works?
That’s what we’re going to talk about in these case studies.
I think it’s time for social marketing to mature. We’re going to talk to companies that are doing big things in social media, and getting quantifiable, measured results.
Jonathan Leake (Director of Digital Marketing for DirectBuy): In the first six months of doing Facebook, we drove our cost per lead down by 84%, which is massive. I mean, we’re talking in dollars and cents, we’re talking – prior to initiating the Facebook campaign, we were well over $1,000 at a cost-per-member perspective, and now we’re sub $400 on average.
Brian Carter: That’s crazy.
Jonathan Leake: Yeah, cost-per-member is crazy. Our cost-per-member across all our media spends, and all our channels – and this is a very generalized number, so we can get very finite based off of channels. Prior to really initiating social, we were over $1,000. Today, if you look at all of our channels combined, we are generally lower than $200.
Brian Carter: We got to work with DirectBuy on this stuff, and what we’re going to talk about today is some great attribution stuff, right? Jonathan has done a great job with all of your data partners, your analytics partners of identifying what’s really going on. So many people use social, and no matter what they’re doing, they don’t really know what effect it’s having.
Jonathan Leake: That’s totally true. I mean, a lot of people just – they have a lot of money and I think it varies by the size business that you are. Generally, the larger business that you are, the harder it is to attribute things so you use tools like Adometry, which is a wonderful tool to use, but in my experience with different brands, you’re making huge financial decisions with 10-15% of data. That’s a lot of data that you’re missing. The opportunity with that other 85% of the data that you’re missing on is huge.
Where we were struggling as a business, is that we didn’t really have a really good attribution path or report to really tell us what channels were pushing and pulling. If you think about media, you want to push and pull different levers based off what’s working. Sometimes you actually want to push a lever further out, that’s actually not working for brand reasons. A billboard is a perfect example in every day.
We’re like, “Why do we want to put a billboard up on the street?”
“Because Coca Cola is on the other side of the road, and I’m Pepsi.”
You just need to be there.
When you want to get down to conversion and lead gen, it’s another ball of wax. Where do I want to put my efforts in? In this case, for us, it was social. It was an area that we knew, based off our experience working together. We knew that we could drive a lot of brand-awareness. We knew that we could drive leads at a really efficient cost. It just was a question of, “How was it going to impact our business?” And the results are huge.
Brian Carter: Let’s go back. What was Direct Buy doing before with social, if anything?
Jonathan Leake: Previously, we were really community. It was about engaging members, getting them to work with our page. We’ve had a brand reputation issue in the past, so we try to make sure that we put customer service first. We want customers to come to our page. We want them to ask questions, and have our customer service team answer those questions. It really was not about a membership conversion vehicle. We didn’t use Facebook as that. We were using it as an engagement tool with our existing membership. Some of the type of content that we put out there is inspirational for folks that like to do things by themselves, like DIYers and things of that nature.
I would say the opportunity – and as you and I know – that Facebook and social in general has become a pay to play kind of space. If you want to actually drive your member engagement up, if you just want to drive your page engagement up, you have to pay just to get your post shown. If you want to use social as a lead acquisition vehicle, then you can also do that too, but you also have to pay. Your organic stuff, that you can do, can certainly help that but it’s an assisted conversion. It’s a question of, “How does pay change the algorithm for you, within social?” It can certainly do a lot of good things, and that’s where your team helps us out a lot.
Brian Carter: We did several things. Number one, we identified who is the best buyer. We took all Direct Buy’s e-mails, we uploaded them. We looked at members who stuck versus members who didn’t stick versus people who didn’t become members. Then we looked at the difference between who those people were. That helped us target the ads better. I always tell people now, I’ve summarized it. Advertising is instant- targeted- visibility, whereas organic is like, “Uhh, we might reach some people. We don’t know who, and we don’t know when.” That’s the problem with organic.
The other thing, too, is that there’s this black box. You identified through the attribution study that social is often the first touch. Google is often the last touch, but in between what was it that increased all the Direct Buy searches? Was it the brand reputation stuff we did? We did a number of different awareness and engagement campaigns. We know they all helped, we just don’t know which one helped the most.
Jonathan Leake: Right, and that’s actually what we’re working on right now. We’re working with our analytics partner to get better attribution. Out of every dollar, if you’re thinking about a linear attribution model, that’s generally a 40/40/20 split. First click gets 40% of your dollar. Last click gets 40% of your dollar, and the remaining channels get 20, so you spread 20% across all the other channels.
What we know from our experience, is that sometimes it’s non-branded that actually influences people to come into Facebook. Doing a search for a product on non-branded might just be for furniture in a particular location – let’s say furniture in Charlotte, NC – and then they go into Facebook and they see our ad, because that influenced what happened in Facebook. All of a sudden, we show up because we targeted furniture. Then, they engage with our ad. Then the go back out online, and they’re like, “Oh, who is this Direct Buy?” Then they do a search for Direct Buy Furniture, and then they learn about our business and they come to our website. That’s a general path for our business, and how someone learns about us.
We’ve done a good job with content online. Pinterest helps us out a lot with getting other content out there. Inspiration Moments, our blog, does a lot of good work there too. The search team that we work with has really put together a lot of good content on our blog about things like a man-cave – how to make the perfect man-cave. I know it’s a cliché type thing, but let’s be honest here. We all want a man-cave in some way, shape, or form – or I want a really awesome garage. Take your pick, which it is.
Content is what’s driving people into the other channels, in addition to paid. Paid just influences where people go organically. It’s being able to have the right content in place across the other channels that drives them back in. Maybe it’s through another paid channel, but often it’s direct. When I say direct, I mean people literally just type in your domain name in their address bar. That’s the ultimate goal, at least for us because that allows us to tell our best story.
Brian Carter: Why do you think Facebook had such a big effect on the cost-per-lead, cost-per-member?
Jonathan Leake: I think the targeting is the best element. You can do targeting in other markets. You can do targeting in Google, but you have to pay a lot in Google’s world to actually utilize all the functionality that’s available. It takes a really heave media spend to be able to target what you want. Say, for example, that you want to target people with a FICO score, which is something that you do. It’s a cohort, of sorts, that you definitely want to hit if you’re in our market. If we can target people by FICO score, that would be fabulous. It helps us make sure that the people that want to sign up for membership can continue to be a member of us and also have disposable income to be able to take advantage of the savings that we offer every day.
Facebook was huge for us because we were able to look at demographic information that’s not normally available in other sources. Household income is one. That’s generally something that you would get through a business that does FICO scoring – like an Experian. We could take household income, geographic locations – if they happen to be within a territory that we have a club located, which helps amplify the social footprint, and the digital footprint of the business. These are all things that are relevant to what we have going on.
What’s also great for the member profile is that we can actually pull sales data, as in if a lamp happened to be the most popular selling item, then we can change our creative up in Facebook very quickly to identify people that like lamps. You have people that are just very passionate, and I always call them passion-points, and Facebook allows you to really tap into those passion-points really easily. That just amplifies your ad work – what you’re doing within advertising – really well. It’s creative and target all in one.
Brian Carter: I was thinking about brick with “I love Lamp” when you said that.
That’s true and I don’t know if everybody knows that. You can find out people’s income-level from Facebook, on insights. Or that you can target people with Facebook ads by income, by net-worth, or by the value of their home – which have been huge. Like you said, we discover things about – It’s interesting because maybe it’s not the type of furniture that they end up buying, but we discover the type of furniture that leads them to enter their lead information, which may be different from the coolest-looking furniture. It may not be what you expect, and we get to find that out.
Jonathan Leake: Yeah, I’m always amazed that we’d like to think – I personally like modern furniture, but I’m always amazed at how much Americana is out there. When I say Americana, there’s a lot of tattered American flags that are ordered all the time.
Brian Carter: Yeah, and there’s a lot of brown furniture, and comfortable stuff that looks like I could lay down on that and it would be comfortable, as opposed to – We’ve even had people on the Facebook posts go – I don’t know if they’ve said this but they’re like, “It looks I could actually injure myself on that furniture. It’s too sharp.” Or “It’s too white. I’m going to spill juice on it immediately.” We learn a lot of stuff from the posts, and we’re showing them to the best target customers so we’re actually learning what the ideal customer thinks – which is great.
Jonathan Leake: I think what was really interesting, when we first started as a business you do your research and you identify who your customers are. We have four different sets of people that we like to look for. I think what was interesting, though – there’s this argument in the marketplace that you should always be going after millennials. I think millennials are phenomenal people – lots of wonderful ideas, but I have to tell you; millennials right now, today, they’re not our core customer. That’s one of the things we were able to identify. There is a millennial customer that is right for us, but most millennials haven’t experienced the life-moments to really take them to a place where they could really take advantage of our membership in the best way that they could.
Brian Carter: Yeah, and they haven’t had the opportunities. They had the millennial story. We came out of college, there was no jobs. They economy was horrible. That’s what I tell people. “Hey, yeah I’ll give you some millennial data here. The data shows that they don’t have a lot of money.” Maybe they will be the next big customer. There are a ton of them, and they’re going to inherit their parent’s money. So in ten years, fifteen years, maybe they’ll have some money for a while. But right now they’re not a good customer for a lot of different things.
Did you want to share any of those slides, any other thing we haven’t covered yet on those?
Jonathan Leake: Yeah, let me pop up the slides real quick.
Brian Carter: We had Jonathon present at Social Media Marketing World. I had two panels. I had a Facebook panel, a Twitter panel – all corporate stuff. It was a lot of fun. I’m going to have some more of those people in interviews like this.
Jonathan Leake: This is a quick thing. We we are able to identify in a super quick way is, here is our 84% reduction we attributed directly to Facebook because we were only doing advertising in Facebook. We’re not spending money on Twitter, or LinkedIn, or any other place that we could acquire people socially. On the flip-side, what we were able to do is really target the fact that our most inefficient channel, as a result of this, was non-branded pay-per-click. What we did, is we actually cut out our non-branded pay-per-click and it reduced our overall cost-per-lead by 60-70% in just four months. What we talked about originally was 84% reduction in our cost-per-lead. Our member acquisition costs dropped by 80% as well.
Brian Carter: That’s huge.
Jonathan Leake: This is how we did it. In month one, we set benchmarks – super duper important. If you don’t have benchmarks, you should set them now. Even if you don’t have any research, just set them. I’m sure you have some data to establish them. When we went out of the gate, we were looking at trying to get a $40 lead. This gives you an idea, in our lead generation, how it works. We started out, in month one, at $164 a conversion. Month two, we ended up figuring things out a little bit more in our targeting. Our spend ratios and everything we were doing. We ended up with $25. And by month three and month four, we literally were able to achieve a $4 conversion. It’s completely outstanding to see what you can do just by focusing in on the data, which is really important.
This gives you an example of what we actually set. When we put the program together, we worked with you. We ran a full digital audit across all our channels. We looked at what we are trying to actually achieve. These are the four things. We’ve got engagement – 20-50% pulls-per-lead in month one. We were already able to achieve that goal. We were able to achieve the engagement rate that we wanted. As you can see, in month four, that went up in terms of our engagement rate. That’s great.
Then you get down to leads. You have, $40 was our benchmark. Month one wasn’t so good. $106, but by month four, we’re down to $7.45. That’s fantastic. One of the biggest challenges that we had was trying to figure out how to get quality leads in the door. We were able to get a lot of leads, but the question that we had was – of the people that give us phone numbers, how many of those people actually show up at the door?
That’s kind of a big deal. At the end of the day, we really need to make sure that when people become a lead, they actually want to follow through on the appointment that they made with us. It’s a pretty common experience these days to not have that happen. People literally just don’t show up for their appointment. It was top of mind when they actually became a lead, but you didn’t give them a conversion event to do anything other than become an appointment. That’s not what they wanted to do. Maybe they just wanted to sign up right now. That happens all the time, and now we’re trying to refine that process to make sure that the lead that’s coming in the door is the best quality lead to enable our phone sales team to actually work with a lead and convert the lead.
On the flip-side, if you don’t happen to want to engage with actual people, which is more and more common. You just want to text, and you just want to chat. You really just want to be digital. You don’t want to have human interaction, but you want digital human interaction. If that’s how you want to convert into a customer for someone, then we need to give them that opportunity. That’s what we’re working on actively as a business – to make it easier to become a customer.
Brian Carter: That’s the next frontier. Cool. Awesome. I think that pretty much covers it. Thanks for sharing all that info. Test everything. Track it. Analyze it. Do better. Any final words?
Jonathan Leake: One of my mantras is – Launch, measure, rinse and repeat. You’ve got to fail fast, and you have to learn quickly. The only way you’re going to do that is you’re going to dive into the data, and make sure you’re measuring things. Make sure you’re setting benchmarks. If you’re not doing that stuff, find a way to do it. It’s really, really hard but it’s also super easy. It’s the same way that you’re going to grow in life. If you don’t ever say that you’re going to graduate high school, you’re never going to graduate high school because you’re not challenging yourself. You want to graduate college, well set the goal and you’ll make it happen. It’s not easy. No one said anything is easy, but you’ll make it right and you’ll figure out what works to get to where you want to be.
Brian Carter: Awesome! Jonathon Leake, Direct Buy. Thank you very much.
Jonathan Leake: You bet.
Some of our main take-aways from this are
Number one, Facebook audit can be huge to help you identify who your best customers actually are.
That can be super valuable for a couple reasons. Number one, once you know who your best customer is, in terms of the data, then you can ensure that you’re not targeting the wrong people, and that everybody in your organization is focused on the ideal customer. Then you can use that information to target your ads to the right people. You can make sure your content gets in front of the right people. Then, you can also make sure that when you get feedback about your content, that feedback is coming from your ideal customer, not just from anybody. You don’t want to go crazy with, “People don’t like this or that info-graphic, or that blog post,” and they’re not even your ideal customer. That’s a huge thing to start with.
This Direct Buy case study, for us, is one of our first huge end-to-end things where multiple strategies, multiple tactics, all in place and we saw that having everything going together created a gigantic lift in a lot of ways, for the entire business.
The second thing we saw was that posting in a lot of different ways – for brand reputation, for engagement, and getting across the brand’s value proposition and unique selling proposition really helped soften up the target.
That led to more searches for the brand name. It led to a lower cost per customer acquisition overall, and also allowed us to even stop running certain other types of advertising – certain types of Google ads that were very expensive. We decreased our awareness costs. We decreased other costs. We created more customer awareness. We got them ready to buy sooner. We really made Facebook the most efficient and effective first-touch channel online.
The third things we did was, we found out that Facebook, again – as it has been for many, many of our customers, both B2C, B2B – is a very, very effective, low-cost way to get leads.
Not only can you get customer sales, eCommerce, members, but you can also get a ton of leads for your sales people to contact.
What was really most interesting to me, though, was that by doing everything – from the audit at the beginning, to the posting engagement, the customer targeting, the lead gen – doing everything together had a gigantic effect for their business. We have other clients who sometimes engage us for just one thing. Maybe it’s just the ads. Maybe it’s just the audit. Maybe it’s just posting. They don’t do the entire system of things that is Facebook marketing. We got to see the gigantic effect for using all of the different strategies that Facebook has available. It had a gigantic effect, so we’d love to do that for more businesses – to put everything into play.
What can you do with this information?
I definitely encourage you to check out Facebook audience insights. Upload your e-mails, if you have them – your buyer e-mails, your lead e-mails. Analyze the difference between your buyers and your leads, and your fans, and people who just like your competitors, or people who like things in your niche. Find out who your ideal customer is.
Do a lot of posting to your ideal customer. Learn what they like and don’t like.
Make sure you use ads, because Facebook is pay-to-play. You have to use ads, and like Jonathon said…
you’ve got to test. That’s fundamental to everything we do. While we’re getting results, while we’re getting engagement, leads, and sales, we’re also always learning because we’re trying different images, different messages, different ways to target that ideal customer. You always want to be learning.
That’s what you should do with this information from this case study.
I hope it was useful to you and I look forward to bringing you the next one.
You’ve got to test more ideas in digital marketing and social media.
Because if you only text one post or one post a day or one ad a week, you’re only going to discover so much stuff and you’re only create so much stuff and you’re only going to get a certain level of results.
The more stuff you create, the more ideas you force yourself to have, the more likely you are to find that idea that your customer goes crazy for.
I’m talking about…
Gigantic engagement rates,
Gigantic click through rates,
Incredible conversion rates.
Here’s my analogy. Let’s say, in any sport, like my sport is the NBA. I love basketball. When I watch these guys, I’m like “Wow, there’s some amazing players.” Historically we got Michael Jordan, we’ve got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, we’ve got Magic Johnson, we’ve got Shaq, we’ve got LeBron, Kobe, Durant, Steph Curry, Steve Nash, all these guys are one in a million, one-in-a-billion, right, because they’re freaks of nature in one way or another.
There have been thousands of guys in the league over the years but if we had only had 10 guys in the league, if the NBA hadn’t been so big and hadn’t been so popular and hadn’t been so much money going into it, probably wouldn’t have that many guys and those guys would have done different things with their lives. They wouldn’t have been basketball players. We never would have found those genius basketball players.
If you don’t put enough money or time into your content, you’re never going to find that exceptional outlier of content that performs super well.
I’ve got this post that has a crazy dog in it that gets me 6 likes per penny I spend on it, because I’ve tested hundreds and hundreds of posts.
The more stuff you create and the more you test, the more likely you are to find that exceptional, you know, the Michael Jordan of Facebook post, the Michael Jordan of Facebook ads.
It’s probably not the one expect it is. That’s the other thing that’s weird about it.
There’s research that shows that marketing experts, even after 10 or 15 years of experience, do not get better at guessing which content is going to win with the customer.
You could say, “Brian Carter’s a great marketing mind. He’s amazing.”
He still can’t guess which one is going to work with your customer.
All he can do is say, “I think I analyzed your audience and I understand ’em pretty well and based on what you’ve said, you and I are going to figure out some ideas. We’re going to put them in front the customer and we’re going to see which one it works.”
If we only put 5 ideas out there, our chances of success are much lower than if we put out 100 ideas.
Then we’re going to find one or two that really perform amazingly and your customers are going to go nuts for them. That’s not only going to drive down your costs…
Cost per engagement
Cost per lead
Cost per sale…
It’s also going to:
Create much more enthusiastic customers
Who will love you and your brand more.
More excitement and loyalty
But you don’t get that if you don’t test enough ideas.
So many companies out there are just doing the bare minimum. They’re doing checkbox marketing. They’re like, “Yep, we put out our content calendar. Yep, we ran an ad.”
It’s really easy to do. I know. I’ve done it myself. You get tired, you get busy and you’re like, “I created an ad. I’m done. I’m going to go watch Netflix,” you know? “I’ve got so many meetings today, I don’t have time.”
Okay, but you got to figure out how in your process to make this possible.
And if you’re a manager, you got to figure out how to make this possible for your marketing team, give them more time to brainstorm. Figure out how to help them create more ideas and get more stuff out there. You’ve got to do it.
This is a competitive advantage, to be able to create:
More unique, different ideas.
It’s very important today because the better your ideas are and the more you test, the more likely you are to win.
Here’s the problem with LIVE VIDEO, which yes is a huge opportunity for those who use it well:
Most live Facebook videos I see make me say, “Ah, well that’s why you’re not on real TV…”
Be careful that, with your broadcast, you’re not saying to everyone, “My narcissism makes me believe that OF COURSE you will want to watch me now that I can broadcast to anyone! Why? Because it’s ME!!!”
And make sure you pay attention to how long people watch- video retention time is the most important metric and the biggest reality check. People DO NOT watch your entire videos.
Here’s the problem with live video:
Most people are not interesting enough, or
Trained on being on camera, or
Have any on camera experience.
And if they don’t care whether they’re interesting, then they’ll never fix any of that.
Yes, you’ll easily get a small number of people with a ton of time on their hands who love you who will watch, but if you want to reach more than say 5,000 or 10,000 people, you need to heed this…
There’s actually a whole industry for quality video- two in fact- TV and movies. And if you hadn’t noticed, it’s not easy to succeed in them.
The whole local news anchor trying to become a national news anchor thing… it’s tough.
Moving to L.A. and struggling to get into the movie business. The struggle is real. It’s hard. A lot of people never make it.
Why? Because even people who get on air or get into movies don’t all succeed.
Why? Because you have to be extremely likeable and talented to rise to the top.
The fact that you can broadcast is not some magical thing.
You still have to be interesting.
More interesting than the video of people snuggling with elephants that’s below you in the newsfeed, more interesting than the trending news about the new movie trailer that I want to watch.
This is why I think edited video is better than live video: edited video is shorter and quicker and it respects the viewer’s time and attention. It cuts from one shot to another every few seconds. It’s interesting.
If you do live video…
Do something that grabs attention, on purpose.
Re-grab attention every 30 seconds, on purpose.
Deliver value and tell them what that value is and why they should care and what it will help them with.
Continues to deliver value and make sure they know what it is every minute.
Be a pretty charismatic individual.
Try adding sexy people, funny people or explosions.
One of the few compliments I’ll give Gary V is that he is very attention-grabbing.
But not everyone naturally is.
If you’re not an extrovert from New Jersey who’s constantly dropping F-bombs (which is not only inappropriate for most of us, but I agree with Seinfeld: it’s cheating), you’d better be interesting in some other way.
Why should I watch?
Why are you interesting?
Why is what you’re saying valuable?
How are you entertaining?
Are you making eye contact?
Are you smiling?
Are you likeable?
Are you engaging?
Be honest with yourself (your best friends won’t be, because a lot of times people think being supportive means being positive even when that means lying).
If you aren’t getting big engagement and views, you might need to make some changes.
Try stand up comedy
All three of those will make you better.
Everyone starts somewhere, and you can get better.
The point is, realize where you really are at, and work at getting better!
I was interviewed on Blab by some folks with a show on Blab… but then Blab went away! A lot of social media folks put a lot of time and emotion and hope into the platform, and ultimately, it didn’t gain traction, and the company that started it gave up and did so in a way that angered their devotees.
That’ll teach you to focus on super new unproven platforms!