Facebook as an Audience Building Tool
Within the HVAC, home performance and solar industries, the business purpose and expectations from Facebook advertising are often misunderstood.
Most people understand the incredible advantage that comes from the hyper-targeting that is possible within Facebook. Even since Facebook eliminated 3rd party data sources (in response to the Cambridge Analytica situation), the possibilities for targeting people based on interests, demographics and behaviors within Facebook remain extraordinary. It is possible, for example, to hone your target audience down to people in high income zip codes in your service area, of a certain age, who have recently moved and shown interest in home improvement, thermal comfort and climate change (as a start.) Narrowing your target audience so precisely means that the cost of reaching those people is very inexpensive.
But companies frequently make the mistake of measuring the success of Facebook for lead generation, treating it as a conversion-focused advertising medium aimed at the bottom of the sales funnel where prospects are ready to buy. The reality is that Facebook’s role in your marketing mix is higher up in the funnel—where the goal is to get potential customers to know about your company (brand awareness) or about the particular service you are offering. Yes, we’ve achieved respectable levels of lead conversion with Facebook, but it pales in comparison to other options such as paid search advertising, where people who click are much closer to a buying decision.
Using Facebook to Build Your Audiences
A less well known, and very often overlooked, tactic within Facebook is the creation of Custom Audiences. Custom Audiences are made up of people who have some sort of relationship with your business, such as existing customers or people who have interacted with your business on Facebook or another platform. There are a number of ways to build audiences in this way, and when done strategically, it can produce target groups that can be used for very specific marketing purposes.
Custom Audience from Your Lists
The simplest CA’s come from uploading your email list to Facebook and then matching those with people’s FB profiles. We’ve typically been able to achieve a 50% to 70% match using this method, so a 1,000 person email list is easily converted to 500 to 700 specific contacts within FB.
Lookalike Custom Audiences
Once you’ve created an initial Custom Audience, you can then match that list with other people in Facebook who are “behaviorally similar” to your list. Of course, you’ll also narrow this list to only your service area and any other targeting criteria you might want to add. The audience expansion potential of Lookalikes is quite extraordinary. One client that uploaded an initial list of 3,800 names was able to turn that into a Lookalike audience of 350,000.
Facebook Video Ad Watchers
When utilizing video advertising within Facebook, you can build audiences from everyone who watches a video ad for longer than 4 seconds. Once again, the numbers we’ve been able to achieve are eye popping. For one client, a $200 ad spend targeted at 75,000 people produced a custom audience of 10,271 in just two weeks.
Visitors to Your Website
Another way to build your audiences is via tracking people in Facebook who have visited your website. You can do this either for your site as a whole, or for specific sections or pages within your site. A solar company seeking to break into the electric car charging opportunity, for example, could build an audience from everyone who visited their Car Charging page, their Car Charging Case Study and all of their blog posts related to the topic. For one client, we took an audience of 1,900 and created a lookalike audience of 710,000.
Facebook, as you can see, has some mind boggling opportunities well beyond its ability to target hyper well qualified people. No matter how perfect your targeting—expectant mothers interested in indoor air quality, for example—those people are still inherently strangers to your business. By utilizing the audience building power of Facebook to get to people who aren’t strangers—because they saw part of your video or visited your site—you can start communicating with people who are much closer to the buying stage.