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A Guide To Social Advertising Success

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A Guide To Social Advertising Success

Getting started with a paid social media strategy can be daunting and time-consuming.

As a social media advertising agency leader (say that three times fast), we often get clients asking if we can fix their existing campaigns to improve return on investment.

The problem?

They haven’t taken a step back to focus on an overall strategy.

They jumped into social advertising with an audience they thought was right, a platform they thought was right, and creative that they thought fit both this maybe-audience and maybe-platform.

Gathering data before creating ads is just as important as setting up and perfecting the ads themselves.

There are two primary data sets I recommend gathering to create an overall strategy:

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  • Understand the landscape of social media advertising.
  • Understand your audience and how they relate to each social platform.

Once you understand the social media landscape and identify your ideal audience, you can create a social ads strategy with realistic goals that complement your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

First: Understand The Landscape Of Social Advertising

Your target audience will not necessarily fall perfectly in line with the number of total social users. Still, some social networks have so many more active users that it may help sway you to include them in your strategy.

For example, if you know your target audience is on TikTok, start there.

Then, when it’s time to expand and test, you may want to consider Facebook because of the sheer number of users (and maybe you’ll learn something about a “new” target audience, after all).

Below is an insightful chart from Search Engine Journal that lists the top 10 social advertising platforms and their monthly active users worldwide:

Image from Search Engine Journal, August 2022

And here is another helpful chart from Accion Opportunity Fund that breaks down a few of the basics of the top social networks we’re seeing today.

Next: How To Get Started Crafting A Social Advertising Campaign

As discussed above, when getting ready to start social advertising, you don’t necessarily just want to choose Facebook, for example, because it has the most users.

On that same note, you don’t just want to assume your audience isn’t on Facebook because you think your target audience is younger.

The good news for advertisers is that each platform provides detailed audience insights that you can use to match your ideal audience without spending much money blindly testing. (More on this later.)

There are three major points, each with subsections, that matter when it comes to a paid strategy.

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Audience Personas: Establishing Your Audience Demographics, Interests, And Behaviors

Audience personas give you an understanding of your ideal audience, including demographics, interests, and behaviors.

This step is always the first step for us, and there are a few different ways we gather this data:

Dig Into The Analytics

Google Analytics, to be exact.

The Audience section within Google Analytics is a great starting point since it has valuable insights that can guide your social advertising strategy.

It will show you who is currently interacting with your website, but more importantly, who is contributing to the conversions/transactions.

This data includes age, gender, location, and more.

For example, if you see that the age group of 18–24 is converting at a higher rate than 45–54, you may want to optimize your campaign for the younger age group.

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Go To Where You Think Your Audience Is, And Interact

Believe it or not, some of our clients come to us with an idea for a social advertising campaign, but they aren’t actively engaging with their audience on that social network!

For example, with the rise of TikTok, it can take a while to build a presence.

So we always recommend building up your social media account first and getting out there to see what people are talking about – you may be surprised at what you learn.

Research Your Competitors

Observe where your competitors are active on social media and how they market their products or services.

This is an easy way to ensure you aren’t missing any opportunities and is usually a good starting point when beginning to craft a social advertising strategy.

You can learn more about how to research your competitors here.

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Audience Segments: Understanding Where In The Customer Journey They Are (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Etc.)

Next, it’s essential to realize that while you may have one audience in terms of demographics, that audience can (and should) be further segmented down into where they are in the journey.

We usually segment an audience three times:

  • Those who have never heard of your brand.
  • Those who have engaged with your brand in the past, but only with blog posts or educational resources (which means they’re still learning).
  • Those who are ready to buy, which is often shown by having items in a cart or having spoken to someone at your organization on the phone and expressed interest in buying.

While these three segments are general, you can think about your business specifically to come up with more defined segments that you may want to target, often called “audience personas.”

This is a big topic, so you can learn more about creating audience personas here.

Audience segmentation usually coincides with prospecting, retargeting, and remarketing campaigns (more resources on different campaign types later).

Audience Personalization: Developing Content And Messaging Specific To The Audience At The Proper Time In Their Journey

In short, there should be different content and messaging for someone who hasn’t heard of the company versus someone who has previously engaged with it.

Once you’ve defined your segments, it’s time to start personalizing content, and the type of content you write depends on the platform.

The next steps include:

  • Match your audience with two or three platforms, and then expect to produce different ad creative based on your audience personas. By this point in your journey, you should have already analyzed the landscape of the social media options and researched where your audience is!
  • Advertise on each of these platforms to see what works. You may only want to focus on one social platform, but we recommend at least two, as they can complement each other well. Also, since each platform has unique ad formats, we suggest creating ads specific to each channel while keeping the same look and feel for consistency.
  • Refine your ads. Once again, this is a big topic. Tweaking your audience segmentations, your content, the time of day you post that content, etc., is an optimization skill all of its own. Keep in mind that you don’t want to make too many big changes without collecting enough data.
  • Expand your strategy. Don’t be afraid to try other networks as you grow and refine your ads. You’ll start to see what’s working and what isn’t – and while this won’t be identical on every social network, you will start to get a baseline for where to begin your tests. This will help you save money and time in the long run as you expand.

Lastly: Setting Up Ad Campaigns

While this article focuses on the strategy for social advertising, being able to set up your ads successfully isn’t always as cut-and-dry as it should be because there are so many different campaign types.

Pro Tip: When setting up the campaigns, I recommend starting with three campaigns (prospecting, remarketing, and retargeting) to ensure you engage with your audience at the right time along their journey.

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Below is an example to help get you started:

Prospecting (Awareness)

  • Audience segment: Those who have never heard of your brand.
  • Campaign objective: Reach, awareness.
  • Messaging: Focus on the user. What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Content types: Educational articles, industry news, research stories.

Retargeting (Consideration)

  • Audience segment: Those who have engaged with your brand in the past, but only with your website, social media, or educational resource.
  • Campaign objective: Engagement, clicks.
  • Messaging: Focus on the benefits of using a product or service to solve the problem.
  • Content types: Ebooks, whitepapers, company events.

Remarketing (Decision)

  • Audience segment: Those who are ready to buy, which is often shown by having items in a cart or having spoken to someone at your organization.
  • Campaign objective: Conversions, purchases.
  • Messaging: Focus on why they should choose your solution to solve their problem versus your competitors.
  • Content types: Testimonials, reviews, case studies.

For step-by-step instructions for each individual social network, see the resources below:

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, creating an effective paid social media strategy will take time, and you will consistently be reiterating, revising, and optimizing.

As with anything, a successful business is about testing, but researching before jumping into paid media – and then using paid media as another part of your testing – is crucial for a successful overall strategy that complements your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

Always define your goals, consider the engagement you want and expect, and then use the steps above to make it happen!

More resources:


Featured Image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

Google hosted its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28th.

The event announced numerous Search updates revolving around these key areas:

  • Visualization
  • Personalization
  • Sustainability

After the event, Google’s Ad Liason, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on the announcements, as well as how they may affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and gained valuable feedback from the industry.

The roundtable of experts comprised of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez, and myself (Brooke Osmundson).

The Struggle With Images

Some of the updates in Search include browsable search results, larger image assets, and business messages for conversational search.

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, mentioned “Desktop was never mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment, that many of their B2B clients rely on desktop searches and traffic. With images showing mainly on mobile devices, their B2B clients won’t benefit as much.

Another great point came up about the context of images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by multiple roundtable members:

  • How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to portray what they do in an image?

Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and general eCommerce businesses. But for B2B, they may be left at a disadvantage.

More Uses Cases, Please

Ginny asked the group what they’d like to change or add to an event like Search On.

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The overall consensus: both Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.

Greg Finn said that the Search On event was about what he expected, but Google Marketing Live feels too broad now and that Google isn’t speaking to advertisers anymore.

Marvin acknowledged and then revealed that Google received feedback that after this year’s GML, the vision felt like it was geared towards a high-level investor.

The group gave a few potential solutions to help fill the current gap of what was announced, and then later how advertisers can take action.

  • 30-minute follow-up session on how these relate to advertisers
  • Focus less on verticals
  • Provide more use cases

Michelle Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even just screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them immensely. Providing tangible action items on how to bring this information to clients is key.

Google Product Managers Weigh In

The second half of the roundtable included input from multiple Google Search Product Managers. I started off with a more broad question to Google:

  • It seems that Google is becoming a one-stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Will we expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to compete for that coveted space?

Cecilia Wong, Global Product Lead of Search Formats, Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they do focus on Search. Their recommendation:

  • Manage assets and images and optimize for best user experience
  • For B2B, align your images as a sneak peek of what users can expect on the landing page

However, image assets have tight restrictions on what’s allowed. I followed up by asking if they would be loosening asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in its image assets.

Google could not comment directly but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content is a need for B2B advertisers.

Is Value-Based Bidding Worth The Hassle?

The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said that they want advertisers to embrace and move towards value-based bidding. While the feedback seemed grim, it opened up for candid conversation.

Melissa Mackey said that while she’s talked to her clients about values-based bidding, none of her clients want to pull the trigger. For B2B, it’s difficult to assess the value on different conversion points.

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Further, she stated that clients become fixated on their pipeline information and can end up making it too complicated. To sum up, they’re struggling to translate the value number input to what a sale is actually worth.

Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have moved back to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all the values and signals to pass back and forth.

Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He emphasized that Google has not brought forth anything about best practices for value-based bidding. By having only one value, it seems like CPA bidding. And when a client has multiple value inputs, Google tends to optimize towards the lower-value conversions – ultimately affecting lead quality.

The Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig into overall best practices to leverage search in the world of automation.

Closing Thoughts

Google made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B companies, it may require extra creativity to succeed and compete with the visualization updates.

However, the PPC roundtable experts weighed in that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, they need to support advertisers more – especially B2B marketers. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.

Marketers are relying on Google to make these Search updates relevant to not only the user but the advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is a great step to bringing back the Google and advertiser collaboration.

A special thank you to Ginny Marvin of Google for making space to hear B2B advertiser feedback, as well as all the PPC experts for weighing in.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/T-K-M

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