Making Sense of Facebook in 2021

Doing business in the 2020s is proving to be tough. For starters, 2021 hasn’t wiped away the global pandemic (which we were all hoping would magically happen), and now online marketing has had a major spanner thrown into the works with Apple deciding to go to war with Facebook. This recent privacy change is drastically affecting how Facebook Ads are run.

Before you dismiss this as simply another algorithm change that we can easily overlook, you need to understand what it really means. It could be very much make-or-break – and that’s not just our opinion. All over the world, marketers are panicking because targeting is less specific, remarketing is more labour intensive, ads keep getting disapproved, and clicks and leads are now more expensive! Yep, this is serious!

What used to work six months ago, you can now forget. It’s time for more than a rethink and a tweak. Put this one up on the hoist, because it needs a complete overhaul.

It’s a jungle out there, and now there are booby traps, too! Only the strong will survive.

So let’s put on our armour, grab our broadswords, and slay the Facebook dragon …

Detailed targeting will eventually become history

Because such a large proportion of online traffic comes through iOS devices, a pretty meaningful chunk of Facebook’s audience is impacted by the new privacy terms. At the very least, audience category and accuracy has been reduced.

Buying data and tracking user behaviours via apps is now a thing of the past. And, the availability of personal data (a.k.a marketing gold) is destined to be shrinking.

For example, just 24 months ago in Australia, you could target people based on their actual income range, job titles and segment based on renters vs homeowners (rumour has it Facebook used to buy data from Sensis). Now those options are all gone.

Even things like location tracking are bound to be less accurate now with the iOS restrictions. Campaigns that are leveraged on people’s travelling behaviours are predicted to be less advantageous.

You see the trend here?

Unfortunately, Audience Targeting has to be, by definition, less targeted. From here on it needs to be broader and more generic.

Who knew that Facebook would hook us in, then gradually reduce how much of its extremely valuable data it would give away?

So, what’s the solution, I hear you ask?

It’s pretty simple: time for you to build your own database using a simple sales funnel!

An email list is something that sits on your platform. There are no advertising restrictions, you can market to your list for free as often as you want and you own it for life.

An email database is any company’s biggest marketing asset.

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Does Facebook now hate the question mark

If you’re a seasoned Facebook marketer, you would have recently come across disapproved
ads with the following error message:

The reason? It’s creepy. It looks spammy before you even get past the headline.

While we’re pretty confident that the problem-solution formula will forever stand as the ultimate sales pitch, framing it as a rhetorical question is just not a natural way of communication. Regular people simply don’t talk like that. You can picture the smarmy salesman with his shiny European car pushing his foot through the door whenever you come across messages such as:

“Are you struggling with…?”,
“Are you in the market for…?” or
“Is (your problem) making you…?”

From day one, Facebook has tried is to make the platform’s experience as human as possible. Whether or not they have been successful in doing that is a debate for another time. But they have finally caught up with the fact that starting your ads with a question is perceived to be artificial, awkward and, hands down, cheesy. What used to work for TV infomercials in the 80s isn’t going to resonate with a modern audience.

While it’s still fundamental to communicate your customers’ problems from the get-go, you need to turn your questions into statements. Examples:

Instead of: Ladies: Are You Struggling with Skin Tone?
Try: A lot of ladies don’t make the most of their beautiful skin. (Our product) will make your face glow for the next 24 hours.

Instead of: Can’t Keep Up with Housework?
Try: Most families are constantly playing catch-up with housework. Stop exhausting yourself every weekend and save time and effort with (our product).

Instead of: Looking for fun piano lessons for your kids?
Try: Music is an art form to be enjoyed, not homework to endure. Our upbeat lessons will make your child fall in love with the piano. In just 12 weeks, he or she will be so eager to practise you won’t believe it!

The trick is still always open with the problem. Remember, if you stop talking about customers’ problems, people will stop paying attention to you. But by changing your ad copy from rhetorical questions to bold statements, you directly stimulate your customers’ deepest desires, and they can see your product as the solution to their problem.

For a deep dive to come up with effective Facebook copy using bold and concise statements, watch the StoryBrand Messaging Framework on Business Made Simple University.

Move quickly, as retargeting is limited to 7 days

Traditionally, marketers run retargeting campaigns to chase after people who have landed on a webpage but have not yet engaged or purchased. The logic is to use these ads to keep “reminding” people that they are interested in something but haven’t bought it, hoping they just need a little more prodding to bite the bullet.

This has been the internet’s biggest gift to marketers. It has been working like magic. You hear this all the time: “I was just vaguely thinking about this product, and boom! It appeared on my news feed!”.

The problem with this magic formula is that it reached a tipping point and became extremely annoying, more often than not.

Example: You checked out some sneakers but decided they’re not for you, after all. Decision made. Yet two months later you’re still seeing the same ad showing you the same pair of shoes, even though you moved on long ago.

What are you going to do next? Hit the “I am not interested” button. And if you’re having a bad day? “Report spam”. Feeling like a keyboard warrior? You start badmouthing the company and take it somewhere it didn’t need to go.

So, what was intended to enhance the human experience of technology has morphed into a dysfunctional machine that’s jarring for human users.

The new Apple/Facebook move attempts to restrict this disruption by limiting retargeting to a maximum of seven days. That means instead of indefinitely bombarding your audience once they’ve fallen down your website’s rabbit hole, you are now given just seven days to stimulate their interest level to the point where they make that all-important buying decision.

Seven days. That’s a real test of how good a marketer you are!

You don’t have to settle

The conventional solution would be to keep running direct-selling retargeting ads and put up with the much shorter buying window. You want to play the game, so you have to abide by the rules. Even when they change. Even when they seem to be making your job harder.

But what if you stopped playing by their rules? What if there was a workaround that might actually serve you better for the long haul? Fortunately, there is.

If you’re running direct traffic to your website, we suggest running a sales funnel as your retargeting campaign.

A sales funnel consists of a lead magnet offering FREE value (eBook, free course, product sample, etc.) in exchange for an email address, followed by a nurturing email sequence urging the people who have already engaged to take things a step further and buy from you.

The good thing is that you don’t have to start the relationship with a sale, or even an attempted sale. You just want to get to know each other first – or, at least, the potential customer wants to get to know you a bit more before they decide to hand over any cash – so you create an introduction to see if you are compatible. At the same time, you get to convert “semi-interested” social media traffic into a solid email database.

It’s a much softer approach than suddenly reappearing and asking: “are we there yet?” … repeatedly!

“Are you not ready to get married yet?”

“Let’s just read each other’s profiles first, then decide if we actually want to go on a date!”

The step-by-step approach gives you a much better chance of eventually making babies!

To learn how to build a sales funnel, watch Marketing Made Simple on BMSU.

Yes, Facebook marketing is utterly confusing

But with timely strategy shifts and the right management, there is still tons of money to be made with Facebook Ads. At the end of the day, Facebook has the biggest piece of the personal data pie, and it is no secret that the company is constantly finding ways to make this huge data pool available for purchase in different shapes and forms.

If you’re in a position to build a sales funnel or capitalise on Facebook marketing, book a discovery call with us and we’d love to help you drive results and grow your business!

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