spend more time on Facebook than any other website.
But online marketers and advertisers are reluctant to learn Facebook marketing for a number of reasons. I believe the chief reasons are:
- Google has been so dominant that we have come to define internet marketing according to the search marketing paradigm
- Many agencies and consultants make most of their money doing search marketing (SEO and AdWords,) so social media marketing is, consciously or not, a threat to their livelihood
Let me compare and contrast the two types of marketing, and I hope you’ll consider expanding your skill set (or agency services) to include Facebook.
One of the strengths of search marketing is the ability to target buyers when they’re ready to buy. This tends to show impressive ROI numbers to clients. It’s easy to make the ROI case to clients and CFOs in favor of search marketing.
However, the number of such keywords (and the searches for those keywords) is limited, and thus the sales volume for positive ROI search marketing is also limited. Once a company has optimized the keywords in its niche, how can they efficiently expand higher up in the sales funnel?
Another downside of focusing only on the buying-intent keywords is that you end up competing on price with other companies engaged in the same strategy. Price wars are deadly — just ask Kmart. If you’re not Wal-Mart, or you can’t shift your positioning like Target did, price wars are a risky business to be in.
Facebook marketing allows you to turn prospects into fans based on their passions and interests. This allows you to own them much as you would an e-mail list, and then develop a relationship and awareness of your brand before they enter into the evaluation of providers. You get a leg up on your competition before your prospects know about them.
Facebook’s Ad Platform is the most powerful in digital marketing. It reaches 670 million people worldwide, and 149 million Americans. Though instead of keywords, we have interest-targets, we also have targeting options Google can’t touch: age, gender, relationship status, workplace and education.
If search marketing is the only kind of marketing you’ve ever done, you may think these other targeting options are antiquated. But TV and radio advertisers have used them for decades to evaluate and reach audiences. And many customers do have demographic intel about their best prospects, but we haven’t been able to use that in Google marketing. It may be something new to learn, but it empowers you to be even more precise with your targeting.
Smart targeting is critical to getting an ROI in Facebook. Many businesses try to grow fans without Facebook ads, and so their fan base may be filled with people who aren’t great prospects. This limits the ROI of the Facebook page and seems to confirm some people’s skepticism about Facebook’s overall ROI.
But there are publicly available case studies of businesses getting a positive ROI on Facebook, and several third parties with access to many companies’ Facebook data have released information showing the value of Facebook Likes and Shares.
I have seen Facebook ROI for Fortune 1000 companies, but unfortunately I am under NDA and these companies don’t want their competitors to know that they’re succeeding — they want to preserve their advantage for as long as they can. There are barriers to entry for Facebook marketing, but their competitors would be more willing to overcome them if they knew the profits were there.
I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses. Some companies have more trouble making Facebook work than others, just as some companies struggle with SEO and AdWords. No digital marketing channel is one-size-fits-all. All of them are experiments, and you should test all of them. I have seen one company that got positive ROI from Facebook but could not achieve that with AdWords.
The fact is that some businesses are profiting from Facebook, but companies that avoid growing fans through Facebook ads are not as likely to succeed.
You can use Facebook ads to send prospects straight to an e-commerce site, and some companies get a positive ROI that way. If you go the fan marketing route, that can be a super-cheap way to own prospects (as low as from one to fifteen cents per fan in B2C,) however there’s an extra step involved.
Many search marketing consultants and agencies are unprepared for the labor time involved in Facebook page posting. They may already have the copywriting skills you need to get the interaction which keeps your posts visible to fans. You don’t have to provide this service if the business you’re serving has someone who can do the posting. In many ways, it’s better this way because the business should know or get to know their prospects and customers, and they are often better suited to deal with questions.
Costs and ROI
The average CPC in AdWords is $2.50. The average CPC I’ve seen across clients in Facebook is $0.50. For B2C campaigns, it can be as low as $0.05 and for B2B, as low as $0.40.
If you get quality prospects, they will buy at some point — though since you got them higher in the sales funnel, it may be longer than a Google prospect.
If you understand the math involved in digital marketing ROI, you know that lowering your ad costs by five to twenty times means that even with lower conversion rates, you’ll get as good or better ROI. And I’ve seen e-commerce conversion rates from Facebook ads and fans as high as 4.25 percent. Conversion rates from quality Facebook fans rival search marketing conversion rates.
Facebook marketing is a paradigm shift. If you do fan marketing, there’s an extra step, but it’s not unlike the e-mail acquisition and marketing process. This is definitely a new and different approach for search marketers, but it’s well worth learning to do it.
More and more consultants and agencies are offering Facebook marketing and advertising services, so it’s up to you whether you want to expand and keep your customers or start losing business and revenues to others who can perform these services.
Brian Carter is chief marketing officer at BrianCarterYeah.com. Read Brian Carter’s full PubCon speaker biography here.