The Anatomy of an Effective Facebook Ad
The business value of social media—and of Facebook advertising, in particular—is increasing rapidly. Jim Byron saw emphatic proof of that a couple years back.
In late 2015, Byron, the longtime owner of Patterson Auto Body in Patterson, N.Y., saw to it that the annual holiday gift drive his business took part in was advertised via Facebook for the first time. Lo and behold, gift collections promptly quadrupled.
“That amazed me,” Byron says. “People saw that and it sparked a nerve, and it sparked an interest to participate.”
Byron used to plan newspaper ads for weeks in advance as a chief means of spreading the word about Patterson Auto Body. Now, the shop owner and the local marketing group he uses, Blue Stripe Creative, can post an effective ad on Facebook in mere moments.
Simply put, Facebook advertising can be a game-changer for body shops, getting hundreds of hits to a website—and legitimately grabbing consumers’ attention—at little cost.
FenderBender spoke with multiple industry experts to get their tips on how to produce an effective Facebook ad campaign.
1. Know who your audience is.
It’s an eternal issue for body shops: How do you gain loyal customers when people go years between accidents?
“You’re marketing to a mass population, in hopes of capturing about 7 percent,” says Byron, whose shop produces Facebook ads bi-weekly.
“It’s always planting seeds, and you never stop,” he adds. “Keep your ad out there in front of the general public. And the larger the general public you can keep your name in front of, the better it’s going to be for you.”
When Alex Beard, digital marketing strategist for Moving Targets in Perkasie, Pa., helps create Facebook ads for clients in the collision repair industry, he focuses on consumers in the relatively lucrative 25- to 54-year-old demographic. And, Beard typically zeroes in on consumers within 3–5 miles of a client’s business.
“You start with … a local awareness ad, for example, to give them the rundown of who you are, what you do,” Beard says. “Facebook ads allow you to reach out to more people in a given geographical area, or people who, say, are on your email list.”
Facebook collects an immense amount of demographical data from its users. And, while Facebook ads have existed since early 2004, they’re regularly being refined, as the social networking service looks to make its notices as smooth and unobtrusive as possible.
“Not only have we seen them work,” Beard says, “but we know they are constantly changing, and it’s in Facebook’s interest to make them as good as possible.”
2. Have a clear purpose.
Beard says one key to any effective advertisement is a call to action, which could be a message asking users to redeem a coupon by going to the site’s landing page. That especially holds true in the digital world, where countless outlets are fighting for consumer attention, leaving businesses precious seconds to capture their audience.
Byron makes it a point to drive customers to his shop’s Facebook page via incentivization.
“We have these little cards—‘Find us on Facebook’—and then we give a little gift when you like us on Facebook,” Byron noted. “We gave away 2,500 stainless steel mugs through Facebook—within a month they were gone.”
It’s also never a bad idea to promote a piece of informational content from your website, such as a blog post, Beard says. Those types of value posts can help your shop build a connection with customers.
Facebook ads need to be concise, but nonetheless serviceable. An ideal ad message is something that’s timely, upbeat, and captures the attention of a local audience. It’s best to choose a headline that clearly and succinctly explains what online visitors will be clicking on.
“Effective ads think through the whole cycle for the consumer,” says CIO of Automated Marketing Group Will Johnson, who has studied digital marketing closely for over a decade. “Most Facebook ads link to something—a blog or a page on your website. Do you make it easy for the person to become an actual customer?”
Facebook makes it relatively simple to carry out a business’s advertising purpose.
“It isn’t like putting up a billboard,” Beard says, “where you’re just kind of hoping people drive by and remember it and notice it and call on that when they need some type of repair. We can track the number of people that have seen an ad, the number of people who have clicked on an ad.
“So they’re trackable. And they’re based on performance, so if they do well, there will be a bigger return on your investment.”
3. Entrust marketing experts.
While utilizing online advertising is a reasonably streamlined process in 2017, it can be overwhelming for a body shop owner. After all, there are a fair amount of decisions to be made, tasks to be done, and stats to track.
First of all, there’s the main digital outlet you need to choose for your advertising. Google AdWords, Bing, Twitter, and Pinterest are all options in addition to Facebook, for example. Beard prefers Facebook advertising for body shop clients, though, due to the ample customer data that service provides, and the overall power of that platform (Facebook surpassed 1.7 billion monthly active users by mid-2016).
The technology of online advertising is always evolving. Thus, it’s in a business owner’s best interest to devote someone to the shop’s online presence in a virtual full-time capacity, if possible.
“Collision repair is a tricky business; you’re approaching people in a time of crisis,” Johnson says. “Your Facebook ad, and any marketing message, must respect that. It’s really easy to get it wrong, which is why it’s so important to have someone managing your marketing who knows how to get it right.”
Shop owners also need to have a firm grasp of their online advertising budgets. Marketing groups, or a full-time marketing employee, can help monitor costs. Beard and Moving Target’s main online advertising campaigns with regard to Facebook ads, for example, cost $50–$100 per month.
Byron says one key for choosing your shop’s designated marketer is simply finding someone with a true interest in the digital medium and letting them “run with it.”
4. Make sure your ad looks appealing.
If you want to pry people’s attention away from Candy Crush notifications while they’re scrolling through Facebook on their phones, you’d better produce advertising that’s eye-catching.
“It’s got to look good,” says Beard, who adds that his firm often develops ads that earn a 2.5 percent click-through rate (1.8 percent or better is considered ideal). “The ads themselves, they slide pretty nicely into a Facebook timeline; they’re supposed to look like they belong there. So it has to stand out.”
Beard says the most important element of a Facebook ad is selecting an image that opens eyes.
Another key element to keep in mind: Facebook has unveiled tighter restrictions in recent years to make sure ads don’t have the feel of visually arresting pop-up ads. Beard notes that, historically, Facebook stipulations have demanded that less than 20 percent of an ad’s image can be filled by text, for example. If a shop owner isn’t a Photoshop expert, this is yet another reason why they may want to seek assistance with setting up Facebook ads.
Aesthetics are everything when it comes to Facebook ads, according to Byron.
“Everything you want to sell, and everything you want to put in front of people on Facebook,” he says, “you have to put it in a visual video, or still photo, to grab their attention."