The most effective marketing can be insanely simple: push the right people to your website, give away useful, valuable and relevant content, add effective calls to action. Do that and you will generate new enquiries.
However, identifying the right strategy for increasing your website traffic – the first part of that equation – is not as easy as it sounds.
Search engine optimisation? Doing anything more than the fundamentals here (which I always recommend) is expensive, with no guarantee of results. In my experience, budgets and patience tend to run out before results are seen.
What about building a database and sending relevant, targeted content? That is certainly a viable and effective solution in the long term but do not expect short-term results.
Google Adwords, perhaps? There are times when it is the right option but you are reliant on search volumes (often lower than you think) and the cost per click for certain keywords and phrases is eye-wateringly expensive.
That brings me to Facebook ads. Based on tests we have run recently, I am excited by the opportunity this social network offers.
I know what you are going to say – “My clients aren’t on Facebook” – so let’s deal with this old canard first.
There are 7.4 million users of Facebook in the UK aged over 55, many of whom are your clients or prospective clients. Even Aston Martin has a page. If they believe they can reach their target audience on Facebook, so can advisers.
Convinced? Good. Here are my three reasons to be excited by Facebook ads.
1. Targeting and testing
Facebook allows you to be very specific about who your adverts are shown to.
For example, one of our clients wanted to target first-time buyers. To do this, we wrote an informative guide and added it to their website. We then ran adverts on Facebook targeting a specific geographical area. When deciding who we wanted to target, we could select from age, gender, location (nothing remarkable so far) but also people who had an interest in buying their first property. The ability to be so specific is hugely valuable, helping to cut the cost of wasted clicks.
Facebook, which often is not the easiest of platforms to navigate, does make it reasonably simple to test the effectiveness of different adverts. We started with three identical adverts, differentiated only by the image we used, that showed us which was the most effective image. We can then test other variables and so on until we arrive at the most effective combination.
Our campaigns have so far shown us that the cost per click on a Facebook ad is measured in the 20-30 pence range. That is just 5-10 per cent of the cost using Google AdWords.
In other words, you can send between 10 and 20 people to your website from Facebook for every one from Google AdWords.
Cost is not everything, of course. Return on investment is more important. But that calculation includes the cost of the original click and our research shows the quality of visitor from Facebook is better than that from Google.
That said, Google AdWords does still have a part to play. It works well for brand searches if your business does not appear on the natural search results, local searches for financial advice or very niche searches.
A combination of the management information provided by Facebook, along with Google Analytics and your own in-house data will allow you to measure the success of your campaigns. Work out the following:
- The exact cost of an enquiry generated from pay per click advertising
- Conversion rates
- Average income by client
Such data is invaluable and allows you to understand the effect on the bottom line of increasing the pay per click spend.
To be truly effective, Facebook ads must be part of a wider marketing strategy, including an effective online presence and truly valuable content. If it is, I am excited about the opportunity they offer to most advisers.
Phil Bray is a director of The Yardstick Agency