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At the start of this month, Facebook was supposed to shift all advertising campaigns over to campaign budget optimisation (CBO). If you currently advertise on Facebook, you will be affected by this change but as far as we know, the changeover has been pushed to November with a final date of February 2020.
We’ve been testing Campaign Budget Optimisation since the middle of the year and have a few findings to share.
When CBO is activated in Ads Manager, Facebook automatically shifts ad budget to whichever ad set in a campaign is most effective. You get to control the definition of what ‘effective’ means by specifying a goal for each campaign.
Tip: NEVER use video against other asset formats in CBO if you’re not running a video views campaign. It seems to bully the other ads and feed the budget into the video.
Early reports did emerge of CBO not working as well as human-managed campaigns. However, the algorithm has developed since it first launched but there is still definitely room for more learning. Nevertheless, you will get a better return on ad spend (ROAS) – why? Your campaigns as a whole will be more effective because Facebook is optimising the best campaigns for the goal you’ve set.
We’ve found that if a campaign is set up properly and the bids are high enough, CBO will generally obtain better results than a human can but bear in mind I said “if the bids are high enough” as it seems you will need a budget increase. You will still be able to control spending (to an extent) with ad set spend limits. If you set a minimum spend for an ad set, Facebook will dutifully spend at least that amount but will not go over any maximum limit you set.
Give CBO time to work. The algorithm needs about 50 conversions per ad set, per week, before it accrues enough data to ramp up your campaigns. And speaking of ramping up campaigns, if you want to scale your campaigns, CBO is extremely effective. Especially if you keep feeding it new, high-quality audiences.
On the topic of audiences, play close attention to them. We have found that CBO works best for split testing audiences and placement but at one category at a time. If you’re creating a funnel, we have found that anything more than two ad sets isn’t as effective. The reason being, the top performing ad set will syphon all the budget and this can have a big effect on your overall funnel results. So, best practice seems to be separating each level of your funnel into separate campaigns. Also, when using CBO within a single campaign – audience deduping is a thing of the past because Facebook is now optimising on delivery, so the audiences are no longer competing against themselves for the budget.
The benefits of CBO are there, but you need to start testing now to see how to make it work well for you. You may need to run multiple week-long tests to get the hang of this new budgeting strategy. As you begin to test and measure CBO, don’t get too attached to the results of individual ad sets. Look at the campaign level for an overall view on how things are going.
You’re probably familiar with the old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Nowadays, there are a complexity of nuances in many different areas of digital marketing. To say you’re a master of all is a BIG call to make. To be honest, after being in the industry for the last 20 years, I can tell you right now there are none! Whilst an agency might claim it can service all areas, it generally means, they’re very good at one or two key areas but have someone in the office who can do a bit of the other.
Why do they do this? They’re just trying to cover all bases so when you first enquire with them, they don’t lose you to a competitor who say they can do all that you’re after. But what they won’t admit to is which of their services are generally lacklustre or ‘fillers’.
Why work with a specialist agency
If you work with a specialised agency, you’ll know exactly what they’re good at and generally if it’s their sole business driver, you can be pretty sure they’re really good at it. After all, a specialized agency should not be afraid to say what they suck at! Most will already have a bank of other agencies or businesses they’ve partnered with or at least have an association with that they’re happy to put their name to in order to fill the gaps in their offering. So, if you’re more interested in hiring the best instead of the most convenient, this is the way to go.
So, what are the pros for working with agencies that specialize?
Bigger isn’t Always Better
This is especially true as you consider that small agency clients have greater access to senior level talent, such as agency founders. Also, a lot of small, specialized agencies “punch” weight WAY above their size. The expertise they offer tops that of bigger firms. For example, do you think the global agencies just know it all because they have a big team and charge more? The answer to that is a big fat ‘no’. How do we know? Because we train some of them!
Small Shops Can Get Things Done
A smaller agency often has greater agility, meaning if you need specialist treatment, or need to get something done in a hurry, they obviously don’t have any bureaucracy to deal with and can react without delay.
Less investment for better results
The smaller the agency, the smaller the overhead. This in turn will keep costs down as there are obviously less mouths to feed.
At the end of the day, you may just prefer to put all your eggs in one basket and deal with just one agency for everything, and that’s fair enough, but just be aware; experts get better results than dabblers!
Are you driving traffic using Facebook and using Google Analytics to analyse that traffic?
If you are – then you are likely to see multiple referrals like the ones below:
• m.facebook.com / referral
• l.facebook.com / referral
• lm.facebook.com / referral
• web.facebook.com / referral
• touch.facebook.com / referral
• facebook.com / referral
• mobile.facebook / referral
• business.facebook.com / referral
What are these Facebook referrals?
Facebook referrals come from a powerful Facebook tool called ‘the Link Shim’ that has been built to help protect the privacy of its users or protect its users from malicious websites, content and links.
It is really a tool Facebook uses internally to manage links.
For example, when you see a l.facebook or lm.facebook it means that someone passed through a Link Shim before landing on your site (the m is just for mobile). This person would have seen a warning and asked if they wanted to continue to a website or to cancel.
Mostly, these are triggered because of privacy not because of a malicious site. You can always open one of your links from Facebook and it will show you if a site has been flagged as it will show a warning.
Do these split up referrals help you?
These multiple referrals don’t help you in any way to analyse your data and really only split your data. When your data is split – it makes it more difficult to analyse your Facebook ads and posts.
For example, if you want to segment your referrals by location e.g. cities, it is going to be more difficult to do that with multiple referrals. You really need one referral for each of your marketing platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
To tidy things up you can indeed combine all versions of FB referral within your Google Analytics and you also need to know which ones to combine. We suggest combining the following which we know come from real users:
Others, like business.facebook.com, are likely to have another source and do not come from real users.
Of course, everyone knows the traditional sales funnel and you can of course apply that to a lot of marketing avenues. So how do you apply it to Facebook? With Facebook Ads!
Created and maintained well, a Facebook Sales Funnel will do just what it says on the tin – funnel sales to your business. There is no doubt, done properly, a sales funnel will not only drive an insane amount of business, but give you a solid, measurable ROI.
Unfortunately, it’s not an easy task. If you’ve ever tried Facebook ads before, you’ll understand exactly how complicated they really are – and that doing them wrong will end up costing thousands of dollars with absolutely nothing to show for it!
Facebook Ads nowadays is like rocket science. Saying you know about Ads because you know how to create an ad and put money behind it, is a bit like saying you know the working mechanics of a car because you know where to put the fuel in and how to turn the ignition on.
So instead of just creating an advert and putting some money behind it, there’s an insane amount more stuff you can and have to do.
If you have loads of time to spare, you could of course just seek out one of the many self-proclaimed Facebook sales funnel gurus who are offering free downloadable templates. Download it, become part of their funnel (yes, you’ve just fallen into theirs) and set it up. However, what type of funnel is it, what does it look like? Where does it land? Why? Does it suit your offering, your business and your target market? Probably not. Facebook funnels are not a ‘one size fits all’ solution. For example, we manually build each and every Facebook sales funnel from scratch for each and every client of ours. There are no templates. None! Everything about the business has to be taken into consideration before you even consider what type of funnel to build.
So, you’ve now built your funnel. You now have to build your ads. Do you know all the Facebook rules and regulations regards writing an advert? Know your scoring? What about your target audience? Have you got that right, because it’s kind of a biggy! Are you re-targeting? Are you using evergreen audiences? Have you created multiple adds and formats for different devices? Do you have the ad sequencing right? Have you any automation? We could go on and on.
So, what’s next? Budget! How much are you going to invest and how did you come up with that number?
Another massive job – the sales funnel has to be continually tracked, maintained and optimised to ensure the best result possible like split testing and reducing your cost/lead etc. This again has multiple points to action – too many to mention here.
So, is a Facebook Sales Funnel all that it’s made out to be? Hell yes! Is it something you can do yourself with a bit of knowledge about Facebook ads? Most definitely not! If you outsource it to a professional company, will you generate a very healthy ROI? More than likely! But, like anything, choose carefully. If they claim they’ll double your revenue overnight and turn your business into a money-making machine without knowing anything about your business, run a mile! If they ask a million questions about your business and seem almost cautious about taking on your business, persist. They are most likely making sure they can do a good job – which indicates they know what they’re doing. However, don’t be surprised if they turn you down either. The truth of the matter is, Facebook sales funnels do not suit all businesses.
If you’re currently advertising on Facebook, or thinking about it, STOP and get a Facebook Pixel installed on your website right now before you do anything else!
The Facebook Pixel is an essential tool you have to manually add to your website. It enables you to collect and use essential data to optimize your Facebook advertising.
It works by placing and triggering cookies that track users as they interact with your website and your Facebook ads – across multiple devices.
So, what exactly can you do with it?
- Remarketing: Re-advertise to people on Facebook who have already visited your website. You can also use the Facebook Pixel to find new customers who are similar to your website visitors by creating a ‘Lookalike Audience’.
- Conversion tracking: Ascertain how successful your adverts are by finding out what happened as a direct result of them.
- Optimise: Build better targeted ads and improve your ad spend by showing your adverts to only the people who are most likely to convert.
How you install the Facebook Pixel will depend on whether or not you’ve created a pixel in the past:
- If your pixel was created prior to 9 June 2015, you have an older version of the pixel.
- If it was created after 9 June 2015, or if you’re unsure about what kind of pixel you might have, you can check. Look for the comment tag which is located on the very first line of the pixel code. This means you have the new pixel. If you can’t see the comment tag, you have the old pixel. Both pixels are OK, but the standard events vary based on the type of base code.
Once you have your custom pixel, you can use Facebook pixel tracking to collect data on two different kinds of ‘events’. An event is simply a specified action that a visitor takes on your website. There are a set of nine ‘Standard Events’ that Facebook has predefined along with ‘Custom Conversions’ that are events you set up yourself.
Standard Events represents the types of actions people take on your website, for example when someone completes purchase. The standard nine include:
- View content: When someone lands on a page of your website (Note: your pixel will already have this on every page by default)
- Search: When someone uses the search function on your website to look for something
- Add to cart: Someone adds something to their shopping cart on your site
- Add to wishlist: Someone adds something to a wishlist on your website
- Initiate checkout: Someone initiates the checkout process on your website
- Add payment info: Someone enters their payment information during checkout on your website
- Make purchase: Someone completes a purchase on your website
- Lead: Someone signs up for something, submits personal details or otherwise identifies themselves as a lead on your website.
- Complete registration: Someone completes a registration or subscription form on your website.
Helpful Hint: Always remember to place the Event on the subsequent page that you want to track. For example, if you want to track completed purchases, place the event on the ‘Thank You’ page, NOT the payment details page as they may drop off here meaning you’ll get incorrect data.
You can use custom conversion events in place of standard events to collect more/other details.
Custom conversions use URL rules based on specific URLS or URL keywords. So, for example, you could use Facebook pixel tracking to record how many people are viewing a certain product or category on your website. For example, if you’re a financial advisor, you can track how many people are viewing your ‘debt consolidation’ page over your ‘first-time home buyers’ page.
Something else you can do is create ‘Custom Events’ by adding more details to Standard Events using additional bits of code called ‘Parameters’. This means you can customize Standard Events based on:
- The value of a conversion
- Product name, category, or ID
- The number of items someone adds to their shopping cart
- A specific search string
- The status of a registration
So there you have it! Now you’re armed with this information, it’s time to get serious about your Facebook marketing! Of course, if you need any help, you know where we are.
The term ‘friend’ has actually been diluted if not misrepresented in recent years because of Facebook. A friend of mine for example currently has 875 ‘friends’. The question is, does she really? The answer quite simply is no. A term you’re most likely not to be aware of is the ‘Dunbar Number’. This is the current agreed cognitive limit to the number of stable social relationships a primate is capable of maintaining.
To explain, these are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. So how many can humans manage? It has been proposed, found and accepted to lie at approximately 150. That’s 150 people you can know and keep in social contact with. This does not include however, the number of people known personally with a ceased social relationship, nor people just generally known with a lack of persistent social relationship i.e. one of your work colleagues from your previous job that you haven’t spoken to since you left last year. These are essentially voyeurs to your online life who have no real meaning in your day to day life.
But what about the internet and social media I hear you ask, surely that changes the goal posts? Actually it doesn’t, if anything it’s yet another way to prove the Dunbar numbers accuracy. The average amount of people each Facebook user connects with online on a regular basis is actually only 3 to 5 people.
Now you know this, when you have a bit of time, try going through your list of Facebook friends and try categorising them using this insight, it’s amazing what you find.