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221: 8 Things to Cut From Your Facebook Ads to Improve Their Performance

Last year, Facebook really did the auction industry a favor. I don’t mean that sarcastically. It definitely helped me serve auctioneers better. In July of 2019, Facebook drastically reduced the amount of text that would fit into their ads and would show on posts in user newsfeeds. Facebook’s internal analytics showed that ads longer than their new limits were less effective than those with short copy. So, it forced advertisers to cut to the chase in a way they aren’t required to do in direct mail, email, and newsprint. Those restrictions made it easier for me to convince auctioneers to cut superfluous copy for only the most important sales copy.

Here’s a list of a few of the common items I regularly cut to make room for what actually attracts consumers.

Seller Name

Unless the seller is (A) a celebrity or (B) a vendor from which our target audience already purchases the items you’re selling, your seller’s name is not sales copy. Sure, a buyer might pay more for a tractor because they knew that specific farmer always took care of his stuff; but they don’t care about the condition of a gravity wagon unless they’re already interested in a gravity wagon. That minister or teacher or veterinarian may be a beloved member of your community, but nobody outside of their family will buy their three-bedroom ranch because they owned it. Put the seller name and even an auctioneer’s note about them on your website. But do that seller a favor, and get people to that website first.

“Estate”

Facebook’s bots often flag this word to make ads comply with their real estate restrictions. That alone is worth avoiding this word. But we don’t sell estates. We sell items. Kill phrases like “an estate filled with” and use that space to add more item or category mentions. On your website, I’d replace “estate” with a substitute like “lifetime collection” or just “collection” to keep those bots at bay and let your personal property ads use the full gamut of Facebook’s targeting tools.

“Real Estate”

If you have to tell someone the asset you just adequately described is real estate, they aren’t a likely buyer. Even if (1) you’re selling both real estate and personal property and (2) the Venn diagram of the likely buyers of both is the same, you should be advertising the real estate and equipment separately. If you’re advertising a business liquidation in which the intellectual property, real estate, and contents sell together, use “commercial building” or “retail location” or “3,250±SF facility,” or “warehouse” instead of “real estate.”

“Only”

On the text below the photo, slideshow, or video in a Facebook ad, every single character counts. Even if that weren’t true, you don’t need the “only” in “online only auction.” If it’s a simulcast auction, I use “Bid on-site or online.” If the bidding happens exclusively online, the absence of a mention of offline bidding says “only” for you.

“-“

I just straight refuse to hyphenate online to on-line for clients. When you look at the Google Trends comparison of the use of “online” vs “on-line,” you would never use “on-line” ever again. It’s 2020, we’re all online. Even people still using AOL email addresses.

Open House/Inspection Information

The date of an open house often influences when I schedule ads to run, but I don’t mention previews & property tours in the ads. People don’t care when they can view something if they don’t first know what they want to view. Sell them thoroughly on the assets, and get them to your website. If they don’t have enough motivation to click to your website for a few seconds, they don’t have the motivation to drive to your inspection. If you want more people at your open house, take better pictures and headlines, and then get that better content in front of the right people. Trust the interest of the buyer, and leverage it with actual sales copy. 

Auction Time

Whether you’re advertising an online or offline auction, stop your Facebook ads before the auction ends. Then, you don’t need to wedge the time into your ads. I could argue that you don’t need the date at all (and I have clients who agree with me), but I won’t die on that hill. An auction’s opening or closing time is needed only by interested parties, and every interested party should have visited your website before registering to bid. “Now” is more important and more effective than date or time. I’ve been told my whole career that auctions create urgency. They absolutely do. Ironically, auctioneers trust that urgency in their auctions but not their auction advertising.

“Auction”

Dozens of auctioneers reach out to me every year to help them get results for their Facebook ads and their auctions like they see my clients get. I’ll tell you one of my secrets, and you don’t have to hire me to benefit from it. I use the word “auction” in less than half of my ads and in hardly any of my ads that achieve cost per click below 9¢. I don’t hate auctions. I just know that “bid now” is the closest thing auctioneers have to ”buy now” in the fast-paced consumer culture in which we live. Most of my best-performing ads also use “Buy it at YOUR price!” as the bold headline below the photo, slideshow, or video. We don’t sell auctions, because people don’t buy auctions. They buy items.

After you get used to cutting these eight things from your Facebook ads, I’d consider weaning most of these from your other advertising—especially your outdoor signs and classified newspaper ads. I’d edit most of these out of your direct mail, too. The objective for every offline media you create and distribute for an auction is the same as for Facebook ads: get people to your website. That’s where we can capture data. That’s where you can pull buyers into your sales funnel, where you can learn about them in your Google Analytics, where interested parties can trigger your Facebook pixel for re-marketing and lookalike advertising. Oh, and where they can bid or register to bid. Your website has practically-infinite room for all the tertiary content you’re currently trying to shoehorn into your advertising.

If I had to choose between my instinct and the billions of advertising impressions that fed Facebook’s seismic shift in available text space, I’m going to rely on the behemoth’s deep and wide sampling of our buying culture. Advertisers don’t make the rules. Consumers do. We advertisers either break ourselves upon those rules or play within them for more and better traffic to our auctions.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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