To advertise on Facebook, or not to advertise on Facebook?
There’s still plenty of debate about whether advertising on Facebook (or social media in general) is worth it, and whether it’s more useful as a lead generation tactic than a direct driver of sales. But as anyone on Facebook can see from the sheer number of promoted posts and sponsored stories, that businesses large and small are opening their wallets.
We wanted to learn what’s actually working on Facebook for startups, so we asked a panel of successful entrepreneurs which Facebook advertising strategies they find most useful — and what kind of ROI they’re seeing so far. Here’s what they had to say:
- Using Facebook Paid Ads With a Darwinian Approach
We primarily use Facebook paid ads for ultra-targeted user acquisition for our freemium product. We are Darwinian in our approach in that we experiment with hundreds (if not thousands) of different images and copy combinations that go to a plethora of landing pages. We double down on the ones that convert at a high rate (assuming the costs are reasonable), and we quickly kill those that don’t.
- Using Facebook Ads to Grow Email Lists
We’ve used Facebook ads to grow our email lists at very affordable rates. The steps we’ve taken? 1) Define your target. 2) Find out what your target wants. 3) Advertise what your target wants to your target and offer it to them for free or at a discount in exchange for their email address. One example is we identified that an author’s audience was closely aligned with our business philosophies. We ran Facebook ads at the author’s audience and offered our target a free download of the author’s presentation slides in exchange for the target’s email address. By giving a little to get something in return, we spent about 10 cents for each email address, which is something we were happy with.
- Working With a Growth Hacker
We have a great growth hacker working on our team. He uses Facebook in combination with PR to drive traffic to a specific target and has used this for events. Instead of trying to send Facebook traffic to a sales page, he might just send Facebook traffic directly to the article in the press publication. In the past, this resulted in a 7 percent conversion rate and a sold-out event he was promoting.
- Boosting Mobile App Installs
We have successfully used Facebook ads to drive installs of multiple iOS apps. One great thing about Facebook is the degree of targeting you can employ. By getting laser focused with our targeting and rigorously testing our ads, we were able to drive app installs for less than 49 cents.
- Retargeting on Facebook Exchange
Retargeting on Facebook works the same as other retargeting. It’s a cost-effective way to market to potential customers who have been to your site but did not make a purchase. You bring the visitor back to your website, and you get a second chance to prove how great your product or service is and keep your brand top of mind. With retargeting on Facebook exchange, we are seeing a 200 percent ROI.
- Hitting Specific Targets
Our company has used Facebook marketing to directly target users we want. We found that the Facebook app Install Ads is showing amazing results in certain markets. It’s a newer feature that they have rolled out, which is how they are planning to monetize their mobile users. But while it’s new, it’s pretty affordable on the conversion rates and relatively easy to use. I can tell you without disclosing too much information that it is a very good medium for now, and the pricing will increase probably four times the amount over the next two years. If you are smart and know your user and your budget to pay for your user, it’s an amazing platform for app installs.
- Buying Advertising to Find Discussion Group Members
Hands down, the most effective Facebook advertising money I have spent was on finding people to participate in our Facebook discussion group for college parents. We did a sponsored story to people who were not currently our fans. We spent $199 for nearly 200 members. Although this isn’t a ton of people, the real value for me is in having our team see firsthand exactly what issues parents are facing. It really opened our team’s eyes to the emotional difficulties and challenges that our company is focused on solving. This made it worth every penny! Because our company produces a website, we don’t often see the impact we have on families. This group has made our impact real for the team.
- Offering Contests
We have used Facebook to promote contests run on our site. Facebook ads got us a ton of entries at a cost below 49 cents per entry, and for each entry, the customer was required to submit his or her email address. This was a very affordable way to grow our list.
Image: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images