As Otto von Bismarck once said: “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
I don’t know if they had the term “competitor research” back in Otto’s time, but he seemed to understand the concept well. (Don’t worry, this isn’t a blog about Prussian history).
Facebook advertising really is the long-distance road trip that you thought you were completely prepared for, but suddenly there are roadworks that your sat nav had no clue about. There are dead ends, road changes and another Co-op that you swore blind was once the pub you drank in on your 18th birthday.
Basically, you can go into it with a plan, but learning from your errors and, more importantly, learning from other people’s errors will bring you along the road of success.
Today, read about what you can learn from spying on other financial advisers and financial firms as they navigate the world of Facebook advertising. What have they done well, what can we bring to our clients’ digital presence? Also, what are they not doing which they absolutely should be?
1. Too many hashtags
“Too much of a good thing can be taxing.” – Mae West
Facebook introduced hashtags nearly a decade ago now and they have been extremely popular ever since. Whilst Instagram has a 30-hashtag limit, Facebook has no such limit, meaning you can go to town on your hashtag usage. But just because you can, does that mean you should?
On several ads we found that quite a few of them included many a hashtag in the copy. One financial consultant had 13 in their post!
We completely understand the desire to add a lot of hashtags, with the assumption being that the more hashtags that are included, the more people will see your post. But, sadly, this isn’t the case.
Nowadays, Facebook sees this attempt at engagement to be manipulating and will suppress your post’s reach on the platform. The more you try to fish, the less Facebook will allow you to reach. Your attempt to try to reach more people actually backfires.
If you feel that a hashtag would really add value to your ad and is extremely relevant, then you can add one or two. The sweet spot for hashtags is three to five, as posts with more than five hashtags seem to achieve much less of a reach the more you add.
If you are going to include them, keep the hashtags extremely relevant to your post and not too niche. Make sure they are hashtags you can genuinely see people searching for, not just a hashtag for the sake of it. It’ll only clutter your post and devalue your message.
2. Add lead generation forms within Facebook, not on your website!
“Don’t make the process harder than it is.” – Jack Welch
I spoke in a previous blog about why lead generation ads are a firm favourite here at Yardstick and one we always recommend to our clients.
So, it came as a huge surprise to us just how many of the ads we reviewed were using a standard traffic campaign (where a user simply clicks a link in the ad and is taken to a URL of the advertiser’s choice) which then lead the Facebook user to a form on a landing page on the advertiser’s website.
Only 4 out of the 13 adverts were using a lead generation form within Facebook.
A guaranteed way to lose a potential lead is by requiring them to visit a second website when they click on your advert. This is especially true for an individual with a mid/high net worth, which many of our clients seek, as these are often busy professionals on the go or bouncing between meetings.
A quick break on their phone is precious time, so to be taken out of Facebook to a new location is often something they don’t have time for. They don’t know how much they will have to do on this website or how long it will take to load, especially if they are on the move and their phone signal fluctuates.
Facebook lead generation campaigns are absolutely essential as the data collection form is situated in the app – they keep the user within Facebook. This provides a much easier user experience and increases the chance of you gaining their data, but it doesn’t require too much effort on their part.
3. Using a Facebook form to its full potential
“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.” – Claude Levi-Strauss
Within the lead generation campaign is a vital asset: the instant form.
The data collection form created by Facebook not only works seamlessly but it can also be customised to suit your campaign. You can ask for a range of information which goes way beyond the user’s name, phone number and email.
There is also an option to add your own question with a free flow answer box, which can help you to understand the lead potential.
We were very surprised to see that only 2 of the 13 ads were making the most out of this feature. In the past, we have found this feature to be unbelievable helpful to understand a few factors about the person filling in the form – how much is in their portfolio? In how many years are they planning to retire? How many years are left on their mortgage?
You can gain important data about the person so once you make that initial contact, you are better prepared to learn about their goals and objectives.
4. Ensure your main image is engaging and inviting
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at.” – Leo Burnett
Facebook recommends that your advert hero image should be an image of your product. This is extremely easy to do if you’re selling a physical object, such as a T-shirt or a lawnmower.
For financial advisers, and planners, this is quite difficult as you are not selling a physical object. Your sell is the service you can provide, but how can you show that?
It’s an issue faced by other industries – the fragrance industry comes to mind. How do you sell a smell? You show the lifestyle it gives you, hence all the rather unusual adverts of attractive people in hotel rooms and parties. The advert is saying “these people use our product, you want to be one of these people”. We can apply the same principles.
Your image must be not only easy to understand, but eye-catching and inviting. One ad we looked at had an image of a document. As someone who undoubtedly deals with many documents daily, you will know that a literal document is not very interesting. A picture of a sheet of A4 paper is not likely to coax someone into acting!
Your hero image is an extension of your branding, which is why the colours and subjects are vital. What part of your brand ethos can you convey in the imagery? If there is a pattern to your clients (same age range, same race, same location) choose people who look like them in the advert.
Our brains are hard-wired to process faces, so we’re able to find faces at least twice the speed of other stimuli. This heightened attention will strengthen the memory, so find an image of someone in your target audience and get them in that advert!
In terms of colours, Facebook’s brand colours are blue and white, so it goes without saying that those two should be avoided as much as possible. A blue image will just fade into the news feed, making someone much more likely to scroll past your advert. A high quality, bright image is much more likely to be noticed.
5. It’s hip to be square
“Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.” – Brian Reed
This recommendation is a short but sweet one, and it was brilliant to see most of the adverts following this rule.
Facebook recommends that you use an image with a ratio 1:1 for your hero image. In other words, use a square, like you would on Instagram. This looks the cleanest on the news feed and will maximise compatibility on both desktop and mobile screens.
6. Every word of your copy must be there for a reason
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy
Once you’ve created the perfect image (a beautifully bright square), the next beast to tackle is your copy. It’s extremely tempting to write a Facebook advert like you’re on stage, selling your services to a large room full of people. That might be a long, detailed explanations of what your service represents, what you can offer people and why they’d be a fool to just scroll past this advert.
However, this is not the best approach.
For the most part, the adverts we reviewed were very short and concise. This doesn’t mean that long ad copy is a bad thing, however. A split test we often conduct for clients when they sign up to advertise on Facebook with us is a copy test.
Which message will resonate with your audience the best, a long prose-style text or maybe a short and snappy bullet point style caption?
The results vary. But the important rule for both copy styles is that you should not waste any space on your ad. Every word on your advert must be there for a reason. The recommended text length, from Facebook, for most placements, is:
- 125 characters for the primary text field (the main text above the image)
- 40 characters for the headline field (the bold text underneath the image)
- 25 characters for the description field (the small text under the headline).
Some people like to add text to their images. This can work well, especially for quotes/reviews or small headings. However, it’s vital to remember that, for the most part, people will be viewing your ad on a mobile – a much smaller screen than a large desktop monitor or laptop screen.
Nothing ruins a sleek looking advert more than tiny text that no one can read. Don’t ruin a brilliantly crafted advert with some terms and conditions that would work just as well on your landing page or in your instant form.
Get in touch
If you’d like to explore how Facebook advertising can work for your business, get in touch for a chat. Email email@example.com or call 0115 8965 300.