Facebook Loves Direct Marketers (Really)

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A great myth about social media marketing has been that you shouldn't sell via social media. Instead, you were supposed to engage your audience. The thinking, at least early on (and by “early on” I mean 2009), was that social media was a forum for brands to build affinity and trust among their customers and prospects. You just didn't give the hard sell when there were so many tweets to respond to and Facebook fans to engage.

All of that is starting to change. Facebook is fast becoming a high-performing direct response platform. It has introduced a number of performance-based advertising offerings in recent months, including cost-per-action (CPA) ad buys that should make any direct marketer happy.

Far from “failing marketers” as Forrester Research preposterously claimed recently, Facebook's shift from affinity- to performance-based ads marks an important turning point in the evolution of social media.

It marks the end of an era of outdated advertiser perspectives of what makes for a successful social advertising campaign. Affinity and ad performance now have equal standing in the Facebook advertising ecosystem. The latter should be on the minds of marketers that want to gain more performance from their Facebook advertising.

Here are three direct response-friendly Facebook ad solutions worth exploring:

Lookalike Audiences

Facebook's Lookalike Audiences, an offshoot of its popular Custom Audiences ad solution, enables advertisers to reach new users who are likely interested in their business because they are similar to a customer list already cultivated. This ad offering is crucial to finding and targeting the right consumer on Facebook.

Lookalike Audiences is great for customer acquisition, whereas Custom Audiences is a preferred Facebook ad solution for consumer reengagement.

Here's an example of how Lookalike Audiences works: A retailer uploads to its Facebook account a list of users that bought high-end TVs in the last five years. The retailer instructs Facebook to generate a list of users that display similar commonalities to those from the retailer's list. Facebook finds users that display overlapping interests and characteristics. This increases the likelihood that the retailer will be able to move users further down the sales funnel since the list has been built by Facebook around users that display similar commonalities and demographics to users that have already made a purchase with the advertiser.

In short, Facebook does the hard work of finding and targeting the right audience for enhanced customer acquisition.

Unpublished Page Post link ads

These are large-form Newsfeed ad units that appear in a way similar to Facebook page content. The difference is that the content is not published to the page; it's specifically engineered for advertising purposes. Most of the area of the ad unit, including the large image, is entirely clickable through to a landing page URL, making it perfect for customer acquisition. The ad unit also includes Facebook's standard functionality for page content (like, share and comment), offering a secondary engagement value.

Compatible with all available bidding models, including CPA, Unpublished Page Post link ads are an ideal ad format for direct response marketers. They can form the basis of a smart, strategic mix of Facebook page engagement and customer acquisition, helping improve the long-term ROI of your Facebook campaign.

Custom Audiences

Facebook's Custom Audiences is a dream come true for direct response marketers. Custom Audiences let advertisers find their online and offline customers on Facebook. Using email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs or mobile app user IDs to make the match, Custom Audiences lets you find the exact people you want to talk to and serve specific offers to them that match their customer profile.

The days of Facebook being only an affinity or engagement platform for advertisers are, thankfully, coming to an end. Facebook now offers advertisers a growing set of ad solutions that will help them generate real, measurable business results. By implementing these direct response-friendly ad types, Facebook advertisers will start to realize the full customer acquisition potential of the world's largest social network.

David Serfaty is director of social advertising at
Matomy Media Group, a global performance marketing company. He can be reached at david.s@matomy.com.

DMNotes is DMN's around-the-clock blog. Yes, a blog in 2016.

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