Tag : cost-per-click

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This Summer’s Effect on Facebook Advertising Budgets

Tomorrow, my wife and I will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. Almost a dozen times this summer, I’ve fielded a question via email or Facebook Messenger that takes me back to the months leading up to when I popped Crystal the big question. Actually, these summer inquiries have been several variations of the same question:

  • How much money would be enough for Facebook ads for this auction?
  • What Facebook budget would it take to get this stuff sold?
  • How much should we budget for Facebook to get good results?
  • Can I get a price quote on a moderate Facebook marketing campaign?
  • What would you suggest we spend on a property like this?
  • How much are we talking to find the buyers we need for this auction?

Before Facebook was invented and before my girlfriend said yes to “Crystal, will you marry me?” I wrestled with a version of this same question. Many of my friends and dorm buddies also wondered what expenditure would be enough—for our engagement rings. We couldn’t have Googled the answer, even if Google were a thing back then. We couldn’t have asked social media, even if MySpace had been online yet. Social convention said we should’ve spent two months’ worth of salary on it, but we were broke college kids. (I hung my wet laundry from the top bunk to dry it just to save the change that the clothes driers required.)

I can’t speak for other dudes, but I wasn’t worried that the value of the ring would change my girlfriend’s answer. I just didn’t want her yes to be in spite of what I handed her. I wanted her to know that I’d done the best I could do and that my best would be the precedent for her life with me. It’s the same for our sellers on every auction campaign, whether the advertising plan includes Facebook or not. We want those sellers to feel like we did the best with what we had, that the highest bid couldn’t have been improved upon. For reserve auctions—proposals where they could say no—we want them convinced they got the best the market could give them at the moment of sale.

So, how much advertising on Facebook or other media is enough to do that?

It depends on the girl. It depends on the guy. I know a coed who said yes over a ring for which her boyfriend went door-to-door in our dorm asking for donations before heading over to Walmart. I also know women who demanded rings worth more than cars currently in my driveway. I tell my clients it’s a math problem and then ask “How many website visitors would it take you to feel comfortable?” I can’t answer that question for them—or for anyone. I can help them only with the math. 

Over the past year, my Facebook campaigns have averaged 9¢ per link click across all asset categories. I usually email the auctioneers asking the questions above a spreadsheet of my past Facebook campaigns so they can see the range of variation from that average. Then, as the 1988 Delaware Association of Christian Schools fourth grade state math champion, I guide them through the equation of multiplying the web traffic they want by .05 and then by .15. That’s the range I typically use for budgeting for many asset categories. 

We can’t know what Facebook will charge in advance. The finite ad spots are sold via automated auction. The cost depends partly on how many other advertisers are vying for the same prospects at the same time. That varies from week to week and definitely from one geographic area to another. Also, the quality of the asset and the photography matter, too. Facebook will end the auctions early in your favor if your content is getting a strong response. The market and its demand for what you’re selling fluctuate, too. You can sell the exact same thing with similar imagery and headlines at a different time and get different results. Prospect density—the number of people within the geographic area who’d be interested in what you’re selling where you’re selling it—is hard to know in advance without a long and recent track record for which you can query analytics. And even knowing how big that radius should be is subjective.

Nobody can tell you in advance what your ads will cost. Not Facebook. Not me. No guru with a series of YouTube videos. What I can tell you is that right now, my clients spend about $770 per auction on Facebook ads (plus my posting fee). That’s down from an average of about $810 pre-COVID. 

I bought Crystal’s ring with the inheritance check I got from a great uncle I never met. On May 17, 1999, she said, “Yes.” On September 9, 2000, she said, “I do.” Seven anniversaries into our marriage, I bought her a serious upgrade package to the ring. Eleven more anniversaries later, I bought her a matching ring for her right hand and proposed to her again. I tell you all of that to say that you can always start modestly and add more budget later. Because we can track all ads in real-time via both Facebook Ads Manager and Google Analytics, we can determine if we want to pour more gas on the advertising fire. 

Surprising my wife during her girls trip in Italy.

All that data comes back to your comfort level, especially if the advertising comes out of your commission check. Depending on the asset value, the enigma grows even more uncomfortable. Your seller psyche can influence, that, too. Divorces and 60-year anniversary parties both occur with $200 and $20,000 rings on a bride’s hand. We’ve all seen auctions with thousands or even tens of thousands of visitors to our website that ended in a no sale or embarrassingly-low prices. I’ve seen auctions with tiny marketing budgets or ill-advised advertising result in banner commission days. 

You will never eliminate the risk or the guesswork of auction advertising. You can, however, make more educated guesses and better seller presentations based on captured, curated, and comparable data. If you don’t have those statistics, you’re welcome to borrow mine. 

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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Facebook’s “Next Best Thing” Helps Us Little Guys

The combination of the Facebook pixel and the Lookalike Audience tool is one of the most incredible marketing innovations since the Internet was invented. I don’t know of anything that has democratized business so much in my lifetime. Now, mom ’n’ pop organizations and even sole proprietors can spool their customer bases to rival that of Fortune 100 companies and then unleash Facebook’s machine learning process to hone that list into a mind-boggling resource.

Unfortunately, for many of my clients, even just installing a code into their website header is a big ask; and many new companies don’t have the few hundred customer names required to start a Lookalike Audience.

Thankfully, Facebook invented the next best thing within the past couple months. I’ve been experimenting with it on behalf of several clients, and it’s killer.

Within the Custom Audience menu—where you upload lists and/or connect to your website pixel traffic—advertisers can now create an audience of people who recently interacted with your Facebook content. You can even indicate specific interactions, though I don’t.

Custom Audience Facebook interactions

For auction companies who sell the same or related asset categories, this audience is extra valuable. It functions similarly as the pixel, except that you can’t create lookalikes from website traffic that originates from other digital and offline sources. Also, you can’t create an audience that got to a specific action on your website like a pixel can. This new audience allows you to get people who interacted with your advertising but didn’t go to your website. As of right now, that’s something the Facebook pixel can’t do.

In only a few weeks of testing, I’ve found it to help both click through rates and cost per click. For one auction company, we recently had two auctions within a month for the same seller with the same inventory. Our average click-through rate jumped from 3.1% to 4.7%—with one ad hitting 7.8%. Our average cost per click dropped from $.47 to $.34.

These gains don’t cost anything, either. Like all of the other audience tools, Facebook gives this one away for free to help your ads be more relevant.

If you sell an asset category where your buyers might be sellers, this tool allows fantastic cross-marketing opportunities. In my early testing, this new audience has been successful for consignment auctions. For one of my clients who works a lot in agricultural real estate and equipment, I used to achieve really good results serving ads to people who liked their company Facebook page. I’ve switched those ads over to this audience—since recent activity trumps a one-time thumbs up.

You can designate this interacting audience for up to 365 days in the past or as short as you’d like. For auctioneers, you can create timelines that capture traffic going back to specific auction campaigns.

So, here’s to us small business marketers getting even more access to Facebook’s users! Here’s to us capturing our advertising traffic in a new way. And here’s to the marketing and re-marketing potential now available at our fingertips.

Stock photo purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

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173: 6 Things That Make Your Facebook Ads More Expensive

I regularly get asked to estimate the cost of a potential Facebook campaign off the top of my head. That can be difficult because the cost of advertising on Facebook can vary greatly depending on a multitude of factors. (Even in the same campaign, some ads are drastically more expensive than others.) Because what my clients and I advertise ranges greatly in category, value, and geographic market, the audiences vary accordingly.

Facebook advertising is billed in terms of cost per click (CPC), but that price isn’t uniform. CPC is determined by algorithms and invisible auctions. Ads compete for eyeballs, as Facebook allows only a certain number of ads during a user’s time on the service. Facebook wants ads to be appeal to its users, so that they aren’t annoyed off the platform. Because of this, the world’s largest platform wants paid content to match user interests as much as possible; and engaging ads are rewarded with lower cost per click.

But enough with the ambiguous factors, here are six specific reasons some of your Facebook ads cost more than others.

Unattractive asset

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t buy what you’re selling. You’re just crossing your fingers it sells. Or maybe the item at hand is less attractive to its local area (like a snowmobile in Orlando) or in the current season (like a motorcycle in December). If someone is less likely to purchase something, they are less likely to click on an ad for it. This isn’t a matter of asset value—just asset appeal. I’ve seen ads for small, rural estate sales significantly outperform expensive commercial real estate.

Unappealing copy or photos

You might have a fantastic asset, but the ad copy doesn’t evoke interest in potential buyers. The fault can be the wrong message, too many words, or a missing call to action. Also, the photography could be unprofessionally captured or otherwise underwhelming. It’s not that all images have to be snapped by commercial photographers; they just need to appropriately match the current, reasonable expectations of the consumer public for that asset.

Compressed time frame

Because ads compete for space, forcing them into a small window of time means that Facebook has to push your ads ahead of others with longer timeframes. To win the auction, you have to outbid every other advertiser. So, cutting line costs more. Sometimes, it’s very much worth it, if you are advertising to people at an event: say during the Super Bowl, a car show, or even a competitor’s auction.

Highly-competitive time frame

Certain times of year attract more advertising, because more retailers are advertising their wares. Think: Black Friday. I haven’t tested it, but I would imagine the week of Mother’s Day and Valentines would be more competitive. If you’re going hyper local in a metro area, there might be more advertising during festivals or perennial times of tourist activity.

Your prospect pool and its Facebook habits

Some desired audiences don’t interact with Facebook as often as others. That might be a factor of age, Internet availability, population density, or something else. Or you might be chasing a frequent Facebooker from a specific demographic or geographic area that a lot of marketers are chasing. Either way, supply & demand will make getting in front of them more expensive.

How the ad is optimized

Facebook offers multiple formats for your paid content to be presented. Each is inherently optimized by Facebook for different types of interactions—only one of which is getting people to your website. Also, even those intended for website traffic can be optimized for largest viewing audience, multiple views per prospect, or people most likely to click on links. So, even premium content can be more expensive from a cost-per-click standpoint due to how that content is ordered.

While we should all pursue more relevant ads, it’s important to note that efficiency is a secondary goal to effectiveness. Regularly, in my Facebook reports to clients, the ad that is most effective (got the most clicks) isn’t the most efficient one (lowest cost per click) we used in a campaign. Again, I regularly have huge swings in cost per click in the same campaign, using the same images and headlines.

Some audiences are worth their heftier cost. It only takes one click from the right person to have a buyer and two website visitors to have an auction.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

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