Talking tech since 2003

With the Facebook Ads platform always evolving, when marketers and businesses understand the latest features, it can make a substantial difference in ROI and overall performance. George Thomas McCormick runs a London based social media marketing agency that takes care of hundreds of Facebook and Instagram campaigns. During an interview, he provided the following insights:

George McCormick
George McCormick

Tell us about some of the latest features you leverage?

The Facebook lookalike audience is quite useful because you get to a point where competitor followers and your own client base is just too limited – we’re already seeing great results from this. Carousel ads for e-commerce are equally powerful: especially in countries where Amazon does not exist, or where Google Shopping Ads become too expensive in relative CPC terms. We also love testimonials and other ways of incorporating social proof into campaigns, which is an old feature, but we can use it along with the latest features to solidify conversion rates.

What are some of the things you do across all these hundreds of client accounts for better conversion?

Well, clients do judge us on our ability to give better results, so we pay attention to tweaking landing pages thoroughly – and sometimes testing it with organic search traffic first before assigning a big Facebook Ads budget to it. Having great ad copy with landing page content that aligns well, backed by realistic social proof, are important aspects to cover before firing away with campaign aggression. What helps a lot, is the fact that we have an in-depth understanding of certain industries. This saves businesses a lot of school fees when starting up new campaigns. You’ll also be surprised to learn how much we can find out about competitor ads on Facebook – this enables a business to quickly roll out better, more competitive offers or something with a better value proposition.

If there is anything people should not do with Facebook Ads, what would it be?

Great question. As you share posts on Facebook, you will notice that the user-experience makes it rather compelling to go ahead and boost these posts. The problem with simply doing this, is that most people don’t understand the advanced targeting options – so they quickly set up a campaign to boost vanity metrics, but then lose money on poor conversions. Going the specialist route means that people who really know the most advanced targeting combinations and your business can help you set things up better, thereby moving the campaign to profitability. A failure to monitor ads frequently or drawing conclusions without analysis are also things to watch out for. In addition, one of the most common things we see is people going straight for the hard sell with their ads. The problem here is that if a customer doesn’t know anything about you or your business, they simply won’t trust you enough to buy straight away. We focus on building relationships with audiences first before selling them a product, depending on the price point.

What tips would you have on Instagram Ads?

Well, this is a huge new space for businesses and a lucrative one too. We take your best content or develop the best content – and then roll it out with a targeted audience in a way that it does not seem like a blatant ad. This really works well because it encourages more sharing and engagement, almost blurring the line between paid and organic. At this point, I’d say that businesses who are new to Instagram ads – should take a close look a benchmark conversion rates that we have from industry leaders who have already completed the journey with success.

What are your views on broader digital marketing strategies?

This really depends on each business. But some general comments will be this: we live in an omnichannel world where people interact with your business from a variety of touchpoints. An integrated marketing approach is assumed in every business. If your business is doing great on only Google Organic, or only Amazon – don’t rest on your laurels. Instead, always push the boundaries of diversification so you’re in a safer position when rapid policy changes in the markets occur. Besides: if you tap a channel your competitors miss out on – that is where you’d often demonstrate cost leadership and competitive advantage.

Is variety important in the types of content a business uses for social media marketing?

When you use channels like Facebook and Instagram for campaigns, it surely is. Remember that this is a great way of inbound marketing – but with impression-based advertising, spending money in cases where banner blindness exists, is hardly the way to go. It is good to publish original, authentic content that does not look like an ad, or boosting user-generated content at times. This is in addition to standard image/text ads and of course video ads. Obviously, our ecommerce clients are raving about the opportunity to have product carousel ads. This is one of the latest ways to differentiate with advertising.

Do you have a favourite case example of how Facebook and Instagram ads can make a difference?

Well we don’t talk about our clients’ business – but one example that I’m allowed to mention is that of smaller fashion brands. By helping them use the Facebook Shopping Carousel Ads, they’re now competing very effectively with the likes of Asos, Zara, and even Selfridges. They are perfectly capable to target the right demographics for their fashion, with a specific spending habit and even location-based targeting that delivers fantastic results. It is a favourite use case for me because we’re leveling the playing field between huge brands and smaller players who have to be more accountable for their ad spend.

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