Tag : lookalike-audience

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Being in the Right Place at the Right Time Isn’t Enough

This year, I’m intentionally reading nonfiction books from people with a different worldview than I hold: different life stages, different ethnicities, different belief systems, etc.

Recently, I read Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, an in-depth look at dating in the age of texting, social media, dating sites, and hookup apps. The current realities struck me as daunting. It made me thankful to already have a committed relationship wrapped up. (The day this post releases is the nineteenth anniversary of the day my wife first told me that she loved me.) So, I’ve been out of the dating game for a long time.

Well, I have; and I haven’t.

You could say I’m a professional matchmaker. Everyday, I help my clients court buyers. We’re trying to find people who want what they’re offering. We’re hoping someone out there finds what they have is attractive.

Just as with today’s dating scene, much of that wooing starts online—through Facebook in particular. It turns out that the realities of successful online dating apply to our commercial courting.

Being on the right platform at the right time doesn’t guarantee a match.

Currently, around forty million Americans use online dating sites, but fewer than 20% of these site users find their true-love needle in those haystacks. The percentage is much lower when the criteria is upgraded to marriages. So, being in the right place at the right time isn’t enough.

Facebook has about 1.5 billion users, but just having your advertising there isn’t a guarantee for success. Facebook rewards ads that get quick and frequent interactions and practically hides the advertising that doesn’t (and makes it more expensive). If you don’t know what you’re doing on Facebook, your haystack can grow that much more intimidating.

Unlike the passive lead-qualification process of dating sites, Facebook matching is more active. With the capabilities of its lookalike audience tool, expanding the perfect selection is not only possible but easy. If you’re boosting posts instead of strategically launching targeted ads or posts to custom audiences, you’re
(1) not benefitting from many of the free, premium tools available,
(2) not taking advantage of advanced targeting options, and
(3) wasting money.

Content matters.

Successful online daters know how to appeal to specific candidates, and they adapt their photos and descriptions to appeal to those potential matches. Apparently, the people who get the most dates and the best matches avoid generalities. They don’t hide realities and eccentricities. They pre-sort out the unqualified candidates by candor and specificity of their content. They take strategic pictures from specific angles. They don’t overshare details but instead create intrigue.

The most successful Facebook campaigns I manage for my clients focus on the recipient’s needs and wants instead of the generic auction construct. Instead of cliches and generalities, we highlight specific aspects or items. We tailor the message and/or photos from one ad to the next—for the same auction—according to who will see it. We use only enough content to get people to take the next step.

Right Place Right Time insert

I regularly hear from auctioneers who believe they’re giving their sellers the best marketing possible just because they use specific media like Facebook. They assume the ensuing bidders they register and the prices they achieve are the best the market has for their sellers. I’ve also talked to auction marketers who previously thought they were successful—and were by relative standards—but who’ve recently seen their sales numbers jump after they changed their media mixes and their advertising content. (Twice, I’ve received emails that reference “blowing up our website.”) These professionals didn’t change what they sell, just how they sold it.

Like our American culture that has adapted in how to meet potential romantic partners, these progressive auctioneers have evolved according to cultural realities and consumer demands. If you’re trusting that being in the right place at the right time is enough, know that those pragmatic auction marketers are connecting with more and better prospects than you are.

They might even be stealing your dates.

Sources consulted for statistics in this post:
“5 Facts about Online Dating,” by Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson (Pew Research Center), February 29, 2016.
“Online Dating Statistics,” by Statistic Brain, July 1, 2016.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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166: Get Better Results From Your Facebook Advertising

I talk to auctioneers who don’t see Facebook as a vital marketing tool, because it hasn’t worked for them. After asking a few questions, it’s clear why their Facebook campaigns have reaped subpar results: they’re advertising to the wrong people.

“I posted the auction on my Facebook.”

While it probably doesn’t hurt for you to share your auction with your Facebook friends, few people on your friends list are potential buyers or even referrers to potential buyers. Also, Facebook doesn’t show your posts to all of your friends, anyway—only the ones who interact most with your content.

“I did a Facebook post on my business page.”

This is a baby step forward, but it makes several incorrect assumptions.

  1. Those who like your Facebook page are likely buyers.
  2. People who liked your page in the past because of a specific auction or asset are interested in others.
  3. Facebook shows your business post to more than 10% of your page likes.

For more successful campaigns, you will most likely need to post multiple paid ads. Each will have its own headline and copy, its own photo(s) or video, and it’s own audience. Here are some audiences my auction clients use to see fantastic results from their Facebook ads.

Locals (general public nearest the auction or asset location)

Most real estate—especially farm real estate—sells to someone local. The same holds true for estate sale assets. Facebook allows you to circle your advertising around a specific address. If you know the neighbors or locals won’t be buyers, Facebook also allows you to exclude specific geography.

Current or recent visitors

If you’re selling something to tourists—vacation real estate or boats, for instance—you can target people in a geographic area that don’t live there but are currently visiting. You can also target those who just left that area.

Demographic selectors

Facebook gives you scores of options from net worth and household income to pastimes and priorities. You can pull people who like specific brands, who work in specific trades, who speak specific languages, or who collect specific items. You can also exclude any of the selectors, like recent home buyers (who probably won’t respond to your real estate ad).

Fans of publications

Don’t want to pay to advertise in expensive publications? Can’t make an early deadline? Does the magazine publish after the auction? Does the publisher allow only the advertisers who use their online bidding platform? Then target people who have liked or mentioned the publication. That won’t equal the total circulation, but it’s a lot better than nothing. Not all publications are available, but the current selection comes in handy for a number of asset categories.

Business executives

Whether you’re selling commercial real estate or business liquidations, you can target people based on their executive status. That goes for positions like president, vice president, CEO and others; but it also works for business owners and founders. You can also target executive and management positions in educational institutions and government offices. Facebook won’t grant you 100% saturation, but even a fraction is a good start.

Brokers, investors, and management professionals

Because you can target specific job titles, you can appeal to those who would benefit by bringing you real estate buyers. You can also select Facebook users who attach to the national associations for REALTORS, home builders, and mortgage lenders. For you commercial real estate pros, yes: you can select CCIM members, too. You can also target the investor class to supplement your end-user campaign.

Past bidders and lookalikes

Upload your list of past bidders’s email addresses or mobile numbers, and Facebook will allow you to serve ads to those it can match. You can take that one step further, and let Facebook find you people who look demographically just like your past bidders. This is a free service from Facebook. You pay only for the ads, not the matching.

Email subscribers and lookalikes

Likewise, you can match up to 50% of your email subscribers and direct ads to them. This allows you to reinforce your email and/or direct mail campaign with Facebook promotion, giving potential buyers more interactions with the asset and its headlines. Facebook can build a lookalike audience from these folks, too—again at no charge for the matching, just the ads.

Website visitors and lookalikes

After you install a free bit of code on your website, you can advertise to people who visited any page of your website. So, if you’re selling an asset similar to one you’ve recently sold; you can advertise to people who visited that former auction’s page. Using the lookalike audience tool, you can serve ads to people who look demographically like the people who visited that page. Taking that one step further, you can run (1) reminder ads for the auction at hand to people who already investigated it and/or (2) ads to a lookalike audience of people who’ve already visited this auction’s page.

Combinations

Finally, you can segment almost all of these lists by any of the other lists. You can also take any of these lists and sort it further by age, wealth, gender, geography, language, and much more. And you can save the lists for future use.

While there are groups or lists of people you can’t find on Facebook, there are a lot of specific audiences readily available to make your auction advertising more effective and efficient. Not all buyers are on Facebook; but there are more buyers there on any given day than in newsprint, magazines, or any TV channel. The specificity to which you can market on Facebook is unprecedented and unparalleled.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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165: 5 Reasons to be Wary of Automated Marketing

Most of the folks that attend my seminars represent sole proprietorships or family-size businesses. Based on the feedback I get before and after my talks, I sense that many auctioneers feel unable to keep up with the growing media landscape. In particular, they tell me they don’t have the time, energy, or expertise to manage their companies’ accounts for Facebook and other social media.

Auctioneers aren’t alone in this. Many small business folks struggle with this important part of the operation.

To capitalize on that great need, a bevy of startups and major corporations have created automated marketing tools and programs. Constant Contact will post your email content on Facebook. Hootsuite will publish free to up to five of your social streams with one click of the Autoschedule button. ZipRecruiter promises to reach hundreds of sites and post to social media for you—with one click.

These automated services deliver on their promise of ease but can’t and usually don’t promise efficacy. They’re wise not to promise that, too. The current social media landscape makes robo-posting incredibly less valuable than native interactions.

1. Organic reach is a thing of the past.

Most automation tools focus on posting on your behalf and assume that your followers will engage because they follow your brand. That assumption is optimistic at best, especially on Facebook where less than 5% of your Facebook fans see your unpromoted posts. Just posting isn’t enough anymore.

2. Each media has its own culture.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and email each operate in different ecosystems with different formats, different purposes, and different audiences. Savvy marketers leverage the unique characteristics of each medium and adapt their messages to each. They know that the same statement auto-translated in all languages at once will inevitably cause part of your message to get lost in translation.

3. Targeting and measurement is platform-dependent.

Automated posts can’t be targeted, tracked, or analyzed like native posts can. Almost every business needs to reach new customers—people who have not yet done business with them or engaged with their social media accounts. To reach those people and to more efficiently interact with more of your ideal customers, you need the native platform tools.

4. Authenticity is more attractive.

The best social media marketing is less about broadcasting and more about providing something for the viewer. That could be entertainment, a solution to a problem, or something for their wish list. Social media users can tell when a message is generated for multiple platforms at once, and that content looks less organic, less personal.

5. Customer service can’t be automated.

While immediate responses can be set up with autoresponders, full problem resolution typically works only with communication between two humans. With Facebook’s immutable rating system and with hashtags making social media instantly searchable for negative reviews, it’s more important than ever to monitor and address the concerns from social media in person.

You have to go where your customers are.

When auctioneers and small business people used to tell me they don’t have time for social media, I told them to just skip it altogether. I can’t do that anymore. 78% of American adults are on social media. Infodocket claims that one out of every five page views on the Internet are on Facebook. With lookalike audiences and tracking pixels—both of which are free tools—small businesses can find new customers like no time in human history.

Statistic of Facebook Users

Take advantage of education.

So, the bad news is that you need humans running your social media. The good news is that there are fantastic resources to train you or your staff how to do it—not just to make sense of it but to thrive with it. You can find a lot of tutorials for free or cheap online. You can find education tailored to the auction industry in the Auction Marketing Management designation, too. I volunteer to teach in that environment (and pay my own travel expenses), because I strongly believe that targeted marketing and adapting to cultural trends is what will keep my clients and companies just like them in business—if not thriving in their marketplace for years to come.

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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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A Powerful New Use for Your Bidders’ Email Addresses

Most auction companies maintain a list of their registered bidders—for email and direct mail. Some go further and sort those lists of buyers according to spend levels, frequency of auction participation, and/or particular asset categories. Those segmented lists become almost mandatory tools for attracting a company’s core auction buyers.

The rest of their auction budgets then typically go to educated guessing, trying to find more people who are (1) interested in what we have to sell and (2) comfortable with the auction method of transaction. That educated guessing might or might not prove efficient, depending on whether or not past bidders have been asked what media informed them about the auctions in which they participated.

Now there’s a tool, though, that falls in between your proven bidder lists and your educated guesses. It’s called a lookalike audience, and it’s a service of Facebook.

Here’s how it works. (You can watch the introductory video here.) Start with your in-house database of email addresses and/or phone numbers. Export any part of that list into a .CSV or .TXT file—with each prospect’s information on a separate line. Under the Ad Manager area of your company’s Facebook business page, you can then import that list. Facebook then takes from 30 to 120 minutes analyzing the profiles they find for the people on that list, comparing them across thousands of datapoint Facebook users create with their likes, shares, and posts. When that data crunching is complete, you will have a unique list of people who share a lot of common denominators with the people who already bid at your auctions. You can tell Facebook how strict you want to be with the sifting. In other words, rather than being connected by a few generic common denominators, you can require more datapoint to match.

Here’s the cool part: you can then have your Facebook advertising targeted to that list. More importantly, you can apply that demographic profile to any geographic area. So, if you want to find more people like your current bidders in the area you already cover, you can go after them more efficiently. If you’re conducting an auction in a new geographic area, you can overlay those common denominators there, too. You can pick a radius from a single city or multiple cities. You can select entire states, if you want to canvass a wider area.

John Schultz, one of my clients and one of the instructors for the new Auction Marketing Management designation, has found that Facebook can locate about 40-50% of the people on his bidder lists (because people like me use different emails for their Facebook than they do other purposes). From that 50% of your list, Facebook can find common denominators about 50% of the submitted contacts. So, you’re looking at roughly 20-25% of your list that will become the basis of your Facebook list. That means that the bigger your initial list is, the more accurate Facebook will be at finding matches. That low percentage isn’t a hurdle—unless your in-house list is small—because you’re going to be multiplying it later, anyway.

If you sell different asset categories, you can create and save different lists for each one. You can use the lists as often as you want, and you don’t have to pay extra for this service. Facebook looks at it as just another list selector.

You can still run your promoted posts for the general population, since Facebook makes finding outliers cheaper than in newsprint, direct mail, and other media. Now, though, you don’t have to rely on guessing through the demographics you individually select—for Facebook ads or for purchased email and direct mail lists.

Another benefit is that people who already see your marketing message in email will probably see reinforcing impressions when they check their Facebook. That’s one more interaction that could trigger a click to your website and eventually a bid.

Facebook isn’t the first company to offer this demographic extrapolation and replication service. They are, however, the first to do it for free. Also, with more than a decade of consumer data and more than a billion users, they have more datapoint to use for comparison.

Photo purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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