Facebook Advertising in Q4: Is Your Business Ready for the Competition?

Social is really the only digital channel that allows brand advertisers to target shoppers at every stage of their buying process.

“Whether they want to get new customers, or re-engage past ones – Facebook is the hub,” Sarah Rogers, Senior Social Strategist at CPC Strategy said.

FREE GUIDE: Facebook Consumer Survey 2017

facebook audience networkThat being said, when Q4 hits, there won’t be any time to test strategies or theories. Retailers who don’t have a clear Facebook Ad strategy leading into Q4 won’t maximize their ROI.

Although some of the biggest shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are months away, retailers should already be testing and gathering data about their audience and building out creative.

To help retailers prepare, we’ve created the essential checklist for Facebook advertisers who want to capitalize on the channel throughout the holiday shopping season.

But before we dive in, let’s take a closer look at what we learned from our client data in Q4 last year.

What We Learned From Q4 2016:

[CPC Strategy client data 2016]

  • Dynamic Ads had the highest ROAS last year. According to our data, we saw 165% higher ROAS for Dynamic Ads than Conversions/Clicks to Website.

  • Right side ad placement saw an 81% better ROAS (on average) against all other placements. Audience Network also had strong overall return and low CPCs.

  • Excluding Dynamic Product Ads, Carousel ads were the most successful ad creative type and lifestyle images were the most successful creative ad style. Although lifestyle images had better ROAS, style should still be taken on a case by case basis, as imagery differs from one brand to another.

  • Thanks to our landing page tests, we discovered that driving traffic to category pages also proved to be the best ROAS and highest AOV for our clients.


Actionable Tips For Your Q4 Facebook Advertising Strategy

1. Test Call To Actions (CTAs)

Call to Actions create a sense of urgency. In Q4, it’s absolutely critical to pair your products with the right CTAs to drive sales (especially with existing customers).

Call-to-action buttons link to any destination on or off Facebook that aligns with your business goals. Retailers should include a call to action (CTA) within the first 90 characters to guide customers to what they want them to do.

For example: “Check out our latest SALE. All items 50% off.”

Page admins can also select from a group of call-to-action buttons — like Shop Now or Sign Up — to add to the top of their Page.

The seven calls to action available are:

  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Use App
  • Play Game
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Watch Video

Take Action:

  • Test various CTAs with your target audience (starting NOW through October)
  • Identify 2 to 5 successful CTAs that you can rotate throughout your Dynamic Ad campaigns during Q4

Pro-Tip: If advertisers have already tested themes and CTAs they can be somewhat assured that the ads they put in front of these segments are going to perform well during the holiday shopping season.

2. Allocate Budget Properly

Once you’ve established the winning CTAs, focus your time and energy on shifting spend among your ad sets and segments that perform the best from your catalog in terms of conversion.

Prior testing allows advertisers to focus on the second phase of their strategy: to shift budgets accordingly as opposed to figuring out what CTA to use and wasting valuable advertising dollars in the critical Q4 period.

Data gathered from the performance of campaign segments (against the same creative) can help advertisers make informed decisions on where to allocate spend based on the metric they are trying to drive (For example: ROI vs. Traffic vs. CTR).

Take Action:

  • Start budget planning early
  • As conversion data rolls in, shift daily budgets to segments that perform better in terms of conversion
  • Plan ahead and be prepared for high volume shopping days (Black Friday / Cyber Monday)

Expert Feedback:

“You’re essentially starting off with an even budget across all your ads and as you begin to see some ads perform better or worse, you want to shift the budget appropriately, Stephen Kerner, Manager, Retail Search at CPC Strategy.

“If one of your ads is performing well – you want to expand the reach of that ad, give it more dollars to spend so you can get a better return. On the other side, if you’re seeing a poor CTR, then you want to take money away from that ad because it’s not giving you the return you need.”

“By shifting the budget around, you really give the ads an opportunity to get in front of more people and drive a better conversion rate and better ROI.”

BLOG POST: How To Prepare Your Q4 Facebook Advertising Budget

3. Focus on Audience Targeting

An ad is only as effective as the person reading it perceives it to be. Your copy can be perfect.  Imagery can be vivid and attention grabbing. You can have the highest bid and an outstanding relevance score. But none of that matters if it’s being read by the wrong person.

facebook custom audiences

Custom Audiences on Facebook assist in making sure your ads are placed in front of the right people. Whether it’s targeting existing customers or putting together a cohort of prospective buyers, Custom Audiences on Facebook simplify the process of marketing toward specific groups with scalable ads.

Last year, we saw Amazon jump into Product level display ads carousel extensively. Amazon increases the cost per impression for everybody–we can expect that more retailers are going to do the same thing. Which means it’s even more important to be in tune with your audience.

Take Action:

  • Start testing audiences (NOW through October) so you know which demographic and interest target(s) work best for you.
  • Then, build a Lookalike Audience off email addresses and layer in the best performing interest and demographics.

Pro-Tip: Lookalike audiences are one of the most interesting options in Custom Audiences on Facebook – although, this audience type is not specific to Custom Audiences alone. They allow advertisers to target consumers who mirror or look similar to former or already existing customers they may have.

BLOG POST: An Overview of Custom Audiences on Facebook

Expert Feedback

“Prune and create those custom audiences. There are two axises you should care about–the frequency and the recency of a previous purchase,” Nii A. Ahene COO, Co-Founder at CPC Strategy said.nii facebook group ads

“Recency could vary depending on the product you sell. Create a matrix with people who have never purchased, those have purchased once, and those who have purchased 3x or more, then couple that with the recency of those purchases.”

“For those retailers with longer latency periods, there’s power in creating Lookalike Audiences using the information you already have.”

“The Facebook algo is extremely powerful. If you input a sample size, they can find individuals who look like your VIPs (most frequent/recent buyers), and it’s up to you to create campaigns that draw them into that funnel.”

4. Implement A/B & Split Testing Strategies

Facebook does a good job of providing retailers a way to build from top-of-funnel to bottom-of-funnel with their various objectives if used correctly. This will also teach you a lot about your target audience & what type of messaging resonates best with them.

For example, lifetime value customers (LTV) might respond well to a carousel ad, but your new customers might convert better using Dynamic Ads or video link ads.

Take Action:

  • Start with simple A/B testing to improve your ROI

Pro-Tip: A/B testing your Facebook ads can dramatically affect your ad performance. And doing it before the holidays means you’ll skip out on the headache of guessing whether something’s wrong with your ad copy or your audience when ads fail in mid-December. Learn more here.

  • Implement Split Testing for additional insights

Pro-Tip: Similar to A/B testing, Facebook Split Testing gives advertisers on the platform the ability to implement different versions of their ads to see what works best and how to optimize campaigns for better results moving forward.

BLOG POST: The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Split Testing

Expert Feedback:

“Facebook Split Testing has the potential to be a really great tool for advertisers. While it’s similar to A/B testing, the value Split Testing offers shouldn’t be overlooked,” Sarah Rogers, Senior Social Strategist at CPC Strategy said.

“Previously, if you wanted to test anything, you had to either create different ad sets that had the same audience in it or create entirely separate ads; and there was no way of being certain of any existing overlap”.

“Now, instead of having to test multiple groups against different sets of creative or something along those lines, you’re literally splitting an audience in half. The users in your groups are completely different people and there’s no overlap whatsoever. It’s a true A/B test.”

5. Maximize CRM Audiences to Attract Repeat Buyers

The customer is already a retailer’s most valuable asset. Because those buyers have bought before, that retailer likely has their shipping info and credit card info stored, which means a repeat purchase is far more likely.

Advertisers should lean heavily on their CRM list, and build that up leading into Q4. Those customers have raised their hand and shown interest in your brand, so if you have promotions going on, you’ll have a better chance to re-engage with them.

Take Action:

  • Use special deals and promotions to turn repeat buyers into “VIP” buyers. It doesn’t work for every type of vertical–but for giftable products, it’s especially valuable.
  • Target cart abandoners with ads. Shoppers are constantly facing distractions while shopping online, and it’s easy to abandon the cart, especially on a mobile checkout. Cart abandoners are going to be low-hanging fruit, so make sure to take advantage of those opportunities.


6. Geotargeting & Device Segmentation

Utilizing Geo-targeting, coupled with device segmentation & Dynamic Ads gives retailers the ability to target potential & past customers.

For example, a user that views a product on the website can now be retargeted with that specific product when that person is within proximity of the physical store.

Take Action:

  • Use Local business promotions to find new customers by showing ads to groups of people who are near your business’s neighborhood.
  • Create a promotion from your Facebook Page via the Promote button on the left side of your Page. Set a budget, choose a photo and create an engaging message for the people in your area.


7. Offer Discounts & Promotions:

Promotions performed significantly better than full price messages in 2016. On average ads featuring a promotion on Facebook saw an 87% higher ROAS, 51% increase in CTR, and 31% decrease in CPC.

Typically, site wide promotions perform well, as it doesn’t confine customers into only purchasing a certain item type – makes targeting easier, as consumers may not be in the market for specific items.

Take Action:

  • Take a look at people who are already on your loyalty program–your VIP buyers–and provide offers and discounts.

Pro-Tip: If you’re already sending most of your deals via email, remember social and email are cousins, if not brother and sister. Email’s great if you can get into the inbox, but you’re at risk of getting in that spam box. A percentage of emails get ignored/filtered out. Social allows you to get in front of consumers who already have some loyalty.

8. Lead With Your Best Creative

Last year, on average (according to our client data) Facebook CPCs increased by 78%. Surprisingly, CPMs did not increase as expected, rather there was an influx of ads and promotions leading to the more expensive CPCs.

So what can advertisers do to reduce CPCs in 2017?

According to our experts, one of the most important aspects is to make your ads stand out and implement your best creative, promos and text overlays. Think about what is going to make your ad stand out among competitors.

Take Action:

  • Utilize what has worked well for you in the past and repurpose (images, copy, and product types) against new audiences.


9. Leverage Your Mobile Traffic

Last Holiday, Facebook saw mobile conversions grow from 45% to 53% of total online conversions from the 2015 Holiday to the 2016 Holiday.

Because the majority of the traffic on Facebook comes from mobile, retailers have to really consider mobile buying behaviors in relation to Facebook, and look at attribution more.

Most ad traffic for FB starts on mobile, but many conversions tend to end via another source elsewhere. It’s important to know where Facebook mobile sits in your customer’s journey.

Although Mobile drives the lowest CPCs, it doesn’t necessarily drive the highest ROI (at least not yet).

Regardless, mobile is still a great way to get a lot of traffic/eyeballs on your site and be able to re-engage those people with desktop ads.

facebook audience targeting

Take Action:

  • Make sure your website is optimized for mobile traffic and conversions.
  • Break out your ad set placements so you can optimize your spend towards mobile.
  • Ensure your creative and copy is optimized towards mobile viewing (i.e. shortened copy, readable overlays, shortened headlines).

For more on Facebook advertising Q4 preparation, email tara@cpcstrategy.com

About the AuthorTara graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Journalism / Business. Her passion for creative publishing and quality reporting landed her work opportunities at several companies in Massachusetts, New York and California. She is a leading voice behind CPC Strategy’s Blog. See all posts by this author here.