Tag : ab-testing

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207: 5 Ways to Get More Clicks from Facebook Video Ads

While photo-based ads typically outperform video and slideshow ads for my clients, I have seen videos deliver significant website traffic for some auctions. If you do reminder ads to pixel traffic, a slideshow or video can add value by mixing some variety into your second interaction with potential buyers. If you’re using video on your website, anyway, it’s worth experimenting with video ads and even A/B testing them with photo-based ads. Your videos will perform much better both in those tests and in general, if they follow the following guidelines. 

Use short videos.

I know you paid a lot for that drone or for that drone vendor. There might be more than 600 lots or a huge variety of items in your catalog. But “ain’t nobody got time for that.” 

You've Got 15 Seconds

Facebook recommends videos of 15 seconds or less, and they don’t even allow videos longer than 30 seconds on Instagram. That’s probably because their study with Nielson showed “that up to 47% of the value in a video campaign was delivered in the first three seconds, while up to 74% of the value was delivered in the first ten.”1

Lead with the buyer interest.

Don’t be like most of the auction industry. Do not start with 
• your company logo (which already shows above every Facebook ad), 
• the word “auction”—let alone “real estate auction” or “farm equipment auction”
• the estate name, or 
• the auction date.

If you’ve got three seconds to grab a buyer, lead with what they care about: the asset, the problem the asset will solve, or the future version of themselves with the asset. If you feel absolutely undeterred to include all of that tertiary content, there’s plenty of room for it in the headline, sub headline, and advertising copy spaces Facebook provides for all video ads.

Don’t depend on sound.

Admit it: we’re all scrolling Facebook in places and situations where we don’t want others to hear the videos in our streams. According to Hootsuite, 85% of Facebook videos are viewed without sound. 2 Facebook reports that 80% of their users have negative reactions to videos that play loudly when sound wasn’t expected. 1 So, take advantage of captions, or use the included headline, sub headline, and advertising copy space to convey your message.

Mobile Shopping

Show the assets, not the salesman.

Unless you’re a celebrity—sorry: none of you reading this are (neither am I)—people aren’t buying anything because of our faces. You might think you’re the exception to this rule. You’re not. Neither is that car dealer that interrupts your football games. Our reputations and brands matter but not until someone is already interested in a purchase. Show people what they want: the asset or what the asset will do for them. If you’ve got the budget, celebrity endorsements do work—just typically not for selling haybines, excavators, real estate, or machine shop metal brakes.

Optimize for landing page views.

Most business people who post videos on Facebook do them on their business’ Facebook page. That doesn’t hurt anything. (I’ve been asked that question.) Boosting or promoting those posts allows you to optimize the ad for likes, comments, and shares. So, Facebook shows them to people who are likely to like, comment, and share. My clients, though—especially the ones with online bidding available—pay me to get bidders off of Facebook and over to their website. To optimize for that, you’ll want to create a Facebook ad from either Ads Manager or Business Manager. There, you can optimize the video for link clicks or—even better—landing page views. So, Facebook will show the ads first to those most likely to click or go to your website. (A landing page view requires the consumer to wait for the page on your site to load before clicking back. Landing page view optimization requires a Facebook pixel installed on your website.)

Get More Mobile Clicks

If you play with Facebook videos, play by the rules. You’ll look to consumers like a digital native and a professional brand. More importantly, your cost per click will plummet. That will allow your video content to be seen by hundreds or thousands of more people for the same cost.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

1 “Capture Attention with Updated Features for Video Ads,” Facebook.com, February 10, 2016.

2 ”Silent Video: How to Optimize Facebook Video to Play Without Sound,” by Christina Newberry, Hootsuite.com, May 2, 2017.

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204: What Happened When I Got a Taste of My Own Medicine?

Hair Club for Men

Most of us are old enough to remember the awkward Hair Club for Men TV commercials of the 80’s and 90’s. Even if not, you’ve still probably heard the spokesman’s iconic tagline: “I’m not just the president. I’m a client.” Sy Sperling was trying to combat the perception of snake oil sales by taking his own medicine. He forwent some of his dignity with the before picture for the payoff of the after picture and what it stood for.

Dr. Barry Marshall took this concept a step further when trying to prove to the world that stomach ulcers are caused by bacteria and not stress. The physician, who would later win the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (and eight other medical research awards), drank a solution of ulcer-causing bacteria, knowing it would lead to days of discomfort with stomach ulcers before treatment could alleviate his pain. He knew the science would work. He changed long-held assumptions by using himself as the guinea pig.

Don’t we all wish we knew our program would work that confidently?

One of the challenges of my consulting sessions over the past decade has been the difference between my business sensibilities and those of my clients. Auctioneers are much bigger risk takers than I am. I get anxious when asked, “What would you do here?” for an auction I wouldn’t have signed. I feel ill equipped when asked for direction in the frequent interesting situations where all I’ve got are educated guesses. I get nervous spending other people’s money to throw noodles against the wall to see what sticks, because I wouldn’t want other professionals doing that with my money.

At the same time, that’s why I’m bullish on the strategies you’ve read in the last several years’ worth of my blog posts. I’ve tested this stuff multiple times per week for different clients selling various asset categories in multiple geographic markets. Maybe just as important: I’ve tested this on my own company promotion. I’ve changed my advertising headlines to focus on auctioneer pain points and solutions. I’ve positioned myself as a guide to make auctioneers heroes rather than as a hero for hire.  And I’ve used the advanced Facebook ecosystem tools I use for my clients every day.

 

Biplane graphs

Biplane Productions opened for business 16 years ago this week. You can see in the charts above that this triumvirate shift not only halted downward trends but also grew my quantity of auctions and billable work far beyond my previous high points. Before and after this transition, I taught for the National Auctioneers Association (NAA). Before and after this transition, I wrote articles for state and national auctioneer publications. Before and after this transition, I blogged and forwarded those blogs to hundreds of industry subscribers.

What changed was the messaging and how I delivered that message. Those are same two things I suggest auctioneers change about both their auction advertising and their company promotion.

I’ve also long told auctioneers that their best company promotion is consistently-good auction promotion. Fantastic sale prices create buzz and confidence. Taking good care of the transaction at hand brings more transactions. Following that advice has brought me new business, especially for my Facebook services. I get tagged in comments within auctioneer discussions all the time. My clients are sharing their success stories so much now that I’m working for dozens more auction companies per year than I was just a few years ago. People who’ve not seen my actual work and even auctioneers I’ve not met in person want to hire me as a vendor—in part because now my auction advertising is blowing up their friends’ commissions and/or lowered their auction budgets.

This past summer, a schedule conflict caused me to miss the NAA’s Conference & Show for the first time since 2002. Since I couldn’t mingle or teach a class, I relied on Facebook and Instagram to keep me in front of the auctioneers in Jacksonville. I built three ads to appear to auctioneers and NAA fans within a mile of the convention center. Along with those, I designated a fourth one to appear to auctioneers and NAA fans across the country.

Conference & Show ads

I got several inquiries and two new clients out of those ads that week. (Between you and me, I rarely get new clients from Conference & Show.) I didn’t try to wow an audience with a continuing education class that took hours of prep work and days out of the office. I didn’t treat anyone to dinner or breakfast. I just succinctly spoke to perceived needs and wants in a convincing way. My acquisition cost was a small fraction of my typical outlay for travel, lodging, and conference registration.

Does this mean I drop NAA events from my routine? No. Just as with auction advertising, sometimes inefficient marketing pays long-term dividends. Not every auction can afford expensive advertising, though. Efficient advertising comes in handy when the budget is small, when the campaign requires a lot of experimentation or guerrilla tactics—especially if you know what made it efficient.

Facebook ads (and even more so Instagram ads) force us advertisers to get to the point. Ads that make that point about the consumer instead of about the auction turn already-cheap website visits into ridiculously-cheap website visits. It’s not enough just to have advertising on the right platform. You have to speak the language of its audience when you get there.

This summer, I A/B tested a client’s requested headlines, audiences, and photos against my selections for those auctions. With the same assets in the same auctions, my cost per click ranged from 33% to 55% of the costs of their ads. I was able to get 45% to 67% more people to their website on the same budget.

How did I know something like that would be the result? What gave me the confidence to bet on myself? It wasn’t that I had some secret knob to turn or switch to flip. I just knew what to expect from what I’ve observed across hundreds of auctions and dozens of my own company promotions. I’ve benefited from drinking my own Kool-Aid and taking my own medicine for the past three years. I’m a convert and a missionary, the doctor and the patient, the scientist and the test subject. I don’t think I’m the president of the club, but I’m most definitely a member of it.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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The Most Important Mailing List (That Auctioneers Aren’t Using)

For years I’ve preached that the most important mailing list for an auction company to use is their list of past bidders. But I’ve been wrong—at least partially.

The line of thinking was that the most qualified prospects are those that are familiar with the auction process and have shown past interest in a specific asset category. Also, with Facebook’s Lookalike Audience tool, you could leverage the email address column of this in-house list to find tens of thousands of similar people just like your bidders (in any geographic region). For one of my clients, that Lookalike Audience technique has led to a noticeable increase in his average quantity of registered bidders.

Here’s the problem, though: if you do enough auctions, that list is going to become unwieldy—too large to efficiently send direct mail in the entirety. I’ve worked for a handful of auction companies who regularly mail 6,000 to 10,000 pieces to in-house lists; and I’ve consulted auction companies that mail tens of thousands of pieces per auction. I’ve regularly been asked how to sort a proprietary list down to the best candidates.

You can sort that by recent participation or number of auctions to which they’ve registered. If you specialize in personal property, you could also sort by expenditure levels. The problem is that there’s no way to tell—outside of maybe the art/collectibles or charity/benefit markets—if someone who bought something in the past wants to buy more of the same.

We can’t know who the satiated buyers are on our lists. If a past bidder was searching for a specific asset at a specific time, there’s a good chance they found what they wanted at the auction and/or somewhere else between then and now. This is especially true of lists I’ve seen auctioneers curate for a decade or more—something they not only often do but also advertise as a selling point. Because of this high probability of satiated buyers, our in-house lists have only a slight advantage, if any, over a purchased mailing list or Facebook’s Lookalike Audience tool.

There’s one direct mail list I would trust more than both a purchased list and a generic “past bidders” list. Other than time, it should cost nothing to capture. It’s a list of possibly the most motivated and qualified candidates for your next auction of a similar asset.

Your recent runner-up bidders.

I don’t think I’ve ever talked to an auction company that recorded that segment of their buyers. Online bidding platforms keep this information. These bidders shouldn’t be too hard to discover at on-site auctions, either—especially real estate ones. These folks are already in your clerking software. All it’d take to pull this data is an extra column in your database to indicate that they came in second.

This list will be relatively small in comparison to your whole list.

Maybe these prospects get a bigger postcard or brochure, while everyone else gets a cheaper teaser piece. Or maybe they’re the majority or entirety of your direct mail recipients, while everyone else gets emails and Lookalike Audience ads on Facebook (and now Instagram).

Facebook just announced last week that it’ll now be better able to match our mailing lists, as it opened up its tool to search by names and addresses—not just email addresses and cell numbers. Theoretically, that means we will be able to build Lookalike Audiences from smaller lists than those it currently needs. So, small lists of backup bidders might now be large enough to have their own Lookalike Audiences.

It’s a lot harder to unsubscribe from direct mail than email. So, even a list of people who’ve signed up for your mailing list could no longer be as full of interested parties as you think. If those prospects aren’t turning into bidders anyway, how much is that one-time indication of interest really worth?

Past bidders are a better guess than the general public, but those that left with money and without an asset are even better.

At the very least, it’s worth A/B testing your mailing lists to see which ones generate the most bidders and buyers. Best case scenario: this slice of your in-house database could free up a lot of marketing budget.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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