How to Effectively Use Facebook Advertising to Gain Customers

The social media platform no doubt has plenty of users — and potential customers — but it takes a little know-how on how its advertising features work to best reach those people

How to Effectively Use Facebook Advertising to Gain Customers

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Depending on how old you are, how tech savvy you are, and how much you enjoy arguing politics, your opinion of Facebook may vary. But whether you enjoy the world’s most popular social media platform or not, don’t overlook its power as an advertising platform.

You may remember the good old days when business posts could show up in feeds for free and ad demographics were freaky specific. You want to serve an ad to a 36-year-old woman who graduated from the local high school with a 3.8 GPA, owns a home, has two kids, drives a Volvo, and swallows fire? No problem.

It’s true that getting free engagement is very difficult and ads aren’t as specific or low budget as they used to be. But it’s also true that Facebook’s audience has grown. More than 2 billion people are active on the platform each month.

Even more important, the audience has transformed. The site is no longer full of college kids with limited money and interest. Instead, Facebook has an engaged user base that spans a huge range of ages. You are just as likely to find my retired mother-in-law scrolling away as you are my youngest cousin.

Yes, the cost of ads has increased even as the ads have become less specific. According to SproutSocial.com

  • 79% of 30–49-year-olds use Facebook.
  • 68% of 50–64-year-olds use Facebook.
  • 46% of 65+ year olds use Facebook.

If you are marketing a residential plumbing company, those are your target demographics. There aren’t many other places a small business can find a huge audience in these specific ages.

Demographic targeting doesn’t stop there, of course. Privacy concerns have made options like “homeowner” a thing of the past, but you can still get pretty exact if you understand how the system works. 

Location is paramount for plumbing companies. Depending on the size of your service area, you can focus your ad campaign as narrowly as neighborhoods and zip codes or as broad as the entire state or region. One popular option for service companies is the “Distance From” tool, which allows you to define an address and how many miles away from that central location you would like an ad to show.  

Since you can’t specifically target homeowners, it takes a little creativity to define a useful residential audience. Start with age, excluding younger people who would not likely own a home. Then, think about the hobbies and interests typical with homeownership, like “Home and Garden.” Other ideas to consider are: “Recently Moved,” popular home improvement television programs, earnings percentiles like top 50% or top 25% of incomes, and prominent home and gardening shops. You can find these options under demographics, behaviors, or interests.

If you think people don’t buy off of Facebook, think again. This is one change that has arguably made advertising on the platform more powerful. Behavior change started with recommendations. Still a powerful tool for plumbing companies, recommendations normalized using the platform to find businesses. Then Facebook introduced Marketplace, which changed the perception of the platform as a place to shop. Now, Facebook is piloting stores directly on the platform for some retailers.

Buying a used baby toy and hiring someone to repipe your house are two distinct things.

Plan a three-step campaign to get an effective Facebook advertising experience:

  • Image — These are brand awareness ads. The target audience can be wider with a low-commitment call-to-action such as “Liking” your page. On their own, these ads won’t make the phone ring. But the clicks are cheap and it builds name recognition. 
  • Research ads — Inform the customer and build trust. These ads include actionable tips, things to look out for, and connect to articles that show you are an expert. Look-alike audiences or more refined audience sets are effective on these ads, since they may cost more per interaction.
  • Call-to-action ads — You want to push the most engaged users to purchase from you. These ads may only re-target people who have shown previous interest in your company. You want to narrow down the audience, because they will be your most expensive cost per click. These ads should lead to a phone call or a landing page designed to get bookings.

A note: Facebook offers Lead Generation ads. My company has tried these with mixed results. The ads are mobile only and a lot of the information auto-fills, so it is possible to get false leads. If your company has a well-defined sales process, it may be worth trying these out for yourself, but otherwise I suggest skipping them. 

Finally, we have to consider the creative side. Facebook offers a wide variety of ad styles.

Photo ads are the easiest to create. Stick to high-quality images that are bright and eye-catching. No one wants to see the gunk we pull out of pipes. They want to see cheery people, children, and pets; as long as the image applies to your services. 

Video ads are an impressive way to show your team in action. You don’t have to hire a videographer to make video ads work for you. Put together a slide show or use animation to create movement with a still picture. Even a smartphone video of your trucks rolling up to a nice house is adequate. There are a lot of free or low-cost apps out there to help you spice up the video with some music and your logo and phone number. Get creative, but remember to keep the video simple and clear. Dark, blurry, or confusing images won’t do the job of building trust.

Carousel ads hold up to 10 pictures or videos. It’s a marvelous way to show an overview of multiple services or to brag about your team. 

Writing copy for your ads doesn’t have to be difficult. Keep it short and simple. Consider at least two versions of the ad, one that leads with logic and another that shows emotion. Focus on how you will help and, for maximum engagement, give them an incentive to call now.

If you give Facebook advertising a try for the first time — or the first time in a long time — don’t forget to monitor campaigns closely. Try a few fresh ideas with small budgets and see what is getting traction before you go big. Facebook ads may seem uncool, but they still provide the opportunity to connect to a targeted audience at a relatively low cost. Well designed and managed campaigns can provide positive results for your plumbing company. 

About the Author

Anja Smith is managing partner for All Clear Plumbing in Greenville, South Carolina. She can be reached at anja@acpupstate.com.



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