Facebook hit a new revenue record in 2019, with companies spending almost $70 billion in paid social media advertisements on the platform. 

In a movement that shows no signs of stopping, more companies are expected to join or increase their investments on the social media platform. And that’s just the beginning. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat all offer advertising opportunities.

There’s a reason so many businesses are spending their advertising budgets on social: it works. Paid social campaigns tell your brand’s unique story in images, video, and detailed copy. They can introduce your company to potential buyers or make sure you stay in front of your target audience. Organic social media is free to make, but requires building an audience. Paid social requires an initial monetary investment, but allows companies to find potential customers without spending weeks, months or years trying to make viral posts or convince consumers to follow their accounts.

Each social media platform presents unique targeting opportunities, campaign types, ad formats and users. But no matter where you’re spending your paid social dollars, these lessons should always be at the front of your mind.

Here’s what to do, and what not to do, on your next paid social campaign

At Silverback Strategies, we’ve helped new and existing clients jump headfirst into the world of paid social media advertising. Over the years, we’ve planned and audited hundreds of paid social campaigns. Here are some common mistakes to avoid to get the most out of your paid social media campaigns. 

Mistake No. 1: You didn’t define your goals prior to launch

Much like Simon Sinek would advise, you’ll want to start with the why. Why are we running this paid social campaign? There are so many ways to answer this question. You can:

  • Drive qualified leads
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Promote event registrations
  • Recruit future employees
  • And much more!

From the beginning, you’ll want to define the purpose of the paid social campaign. This is going to help define the strategy, key performance indicators, creative, ad copy, and goal objectives.

Once you have a good understanding of your goals and objectives, the next step is to identify the audiences to whom you want to serve your ads. From the start, we would design an awareness campaign differently from a direct action campaign. In the former, we’d want to get in front of a large and qualified audience to resonate our brand messaging. In a direct action campaign, we’d only want to focus on the users that are most likely to convert.

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Recently, Silverback Strategies launched a go-to-market campaign for one of our clients. We had many many campaigns individually designed to maximize the many goals we had for this product launch. Our awareness campaigns were designed to announce the launch of our client’s products to the targeted audience most likely to be receptive to this new offering. Our remarketing campaigns were designed to stay top-of-mind to those most interested in the product. Lastly, our shopping cart abandoner ads were designed to have the users take direct action. Our overall marketing strategy was defined, and from that we were able to craft our strategy and campaigns prior to launch.

Mistake No. 2: You didn’t confirm that your landing page, tracking, and social media pixels are functional and working

Depending on your social media budget, you could be sending millions of people to a landing page. You’ll want to make sure that landing page works and has effective tracking, and that all social media pixels are applied. Without this step, you won’t be able to determine your campaign’s effectiveness.

Here at Silverback Strategies, we have a 22-point paid social checklist. Four of those points are dedicated to making sure the tracking pixels are applied. This is the simplest thing you can do to make sure a basic level of tracking is applied. You should conduct tests to determine whether:

  • The tracking is working properly from click to conversion
  • The relevant information is being relayed back to the social media platform to allow their machine learning algorithms to optimize off of the desired action 

With any test, you’ll want to measure the results. Ensure the proper tracking and URL UTMs are implemented and applied so you can to tie back conversions to the ads and campaigns that drove them. This will help measure the effectiveness of your campaign and help inform future marketing efforts. 

One more tip: take a step back and view the page as if this is the first you have seen it. Does the messaging make sense? Does the desired action make sense for the user, and is it clear what the next steps will be? As most social media users consume content on their phones, how does the page look and respond on mobile devices?

Mistake No. 3: Your campaigns, audiences and ads aren’t structured to conduct effective testing

Taking the plunge into paid social will give you more than just the chance to experiment on the social media platform of your choosing. You’ll have the opportunity to test a variety of marketing messages, audiences and even landing pages. In order to get the most out of your paid social media campaigns, you’ll want to test audiences, imagery, and ad copy. 

In order to properly conduct these tests, you’ll need to properly structure your test to make sure your results are accurate. When launching a paid social media campaign, we’ll often run a test to determine which audiences are most likely to take action after seeing an ad. You can segment the audiences into multiple ad sets to determine which audience you should be focusing your marketing spend on. You can also segment your audience by how they have interacted with your website. People who have been to your site will interact with your ads considerably differently than those who have not.

Read more: The Flaws in Digital Marketing Attribution Models and What to Do About Them

You’ll want to segment these users into a dedicated campaign, often called remarketing, to see how their performance differs from the users who have not been to your site. Furthermore, you can segment users who have been to your site into more granular audiences, including those that have taken specific actions, or by how long it has been since they have last visited. A user who has placed something in their cart is going to behave differently from those who have not, and someone who has been to the site within the last 3 days will behave differently from someone who hasn’t been in 30+ days. It’ll be important to segment these audiences to test how their performance differs, and take action by adjusting bids according to their value. 

Ads and messaging are important to test with any marketing campaign, and you’ll want to test with intent. This means planning what you want to test prior to launching the campaign, and structuring a clear A/B test prior to launching. You can A/B test certain features or benefits to see which is leading to the most traffic, leads or sales. This can help inform not only future social campaigns, but also email, SEO and website copy.

Mistake No. 4: You didn’t properly consider the design elements of your paid social campaign

If you’re advertising on Instagram or Pinterest, design could play an enormous role in determining your paid social media campaign success. But even on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you shouldn’t dismiss the importance of the imagery accompanying the social copy.

A few tips from Amy Zepf, Director of Creative at Silverback Strategies:

  1. Design hierarchy is crucial. “It’s important for designers to construct a hierarchy where information is digested in the correct order of importance — keeping the focus on the value proposition and call-to-action,” she says
  2. Choose contrasting colors for your call to action. “Differentiate the CTA from your main content to ensure it stands out.

“A designer’s No. 1 priority should be to create a design that urges the user to convert,” Zepf says. “One way to achieve this is through a structure that is clear and easy to follow with distinguishable CTA’s.”

Mistake No. 5: You didn’t properly evaluate the results of your paid social campaign

As a marketer running a paid social campaign, you have access to a whole lot of data. Use it. So much of the preparation for your next paid social campaign starts with examining the previous one. At a high level, you can compare campaign performance, but you can also go much deeper than that. On Facebook, you can break down the placement distribution of your ads. For example, you can find how often your ad was shown on the Instagram news feed compared to the Facebook news feed, and even evaluate how your conversion rate may differ between the two. This insight could help you determine the placement to focus on for your next campaign. Additionally, evaluating the winner of an A/B test will help provide you with a benchmark for your future marketing tests. 

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The paid social media campaign you’re running won’t exist in a vacuum. You’ll not only want to compare results within the paid social test, but also existing digital marketing campaigns. If the cost per conversion is considerably lower than other paid media campaigns, that might be a sign you should reallocate more of your spend to paid social. Within the paid social campaigns, you can look at frequency to determine how much more you can spend without annoying users too much. Lower frequencies indicate an opportunity to get in front of your audience more often. Higher frequencies indicate you may already be getting everything you can out of your audience. A detailed and thorough evaluation of the paid media campaign helps marketers come to those conclusions.

Silverback Strategies designs structured paid media campaigns that match today’s complicated customer journey

As with any marketing initiative, Silverback’s paid search and social marketing strategies have our clients’ goals at the center, and data and collaboration in the driver’s seat. Our team maps out exactly where our clients’ audiences venture online to ensure that every aspect of the campaign is coordinated.

From ad placement and keyword targeting to creative and copy, each component is designed with our clients’ growth goals in mind and optimized regularly to achieve results.

  • We constantly test the latest platform capabilities — including new advancements in smart-bidding tactics that create efficiencies and leverage AI to maximize performance.
  • We work in lockstep with the Creative team to A/B test and push the boundaries on design to translate great creative into performance.
  • Complete tracking and measurement fuels the evolution of our paid media marketing strategies. We work closely with clients to implement attribution models that credit the right touchpoints of a customer journey. 

Interested in finding out more about our services? Let’s chat.

Silverback Strategies

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