Thursday, April 19, 2018

Turning Facebook Analytics Into Action

I’m proud of the work I’ve done to help demystify Facebook ad tools and empower thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs with detailed information and recommendations. And one of the best tools that helps all of us understand data at a deeper level is Facebook Analytics.

Jon and I taught a Facebook Analytics course last December and we received this question, which helped prompt our thinking for a future Analytics course: 

How do I take these insights and turn them into actionable steps in my campaigns?

With that in mind, this post is meant to jumpstart your campaigns and move the needle right away by covering Funnels and Lifetime Value within Facebook Analytics. We’ll take a closer look at commonly asked questions related to these reports and some potential solutions.

[If you’re wondering how to set up Facebook Analytics or generally learn more about the topic, you can read my overview post, Jon’s post on setting up events properly, or a deeper dive on reactions via Analytics. If you’re not very familiar with Facebook Analytics, I’d recommend reading those posts first!]

Funnels

Funnels within Facebook Analytics allow you to build visualized paths within your sales cycle to see how different parts of your funnel relate to one another. One of my personal favorites is using the funnel of Page View > Add to Cart > Purchase within a 90-day window.

Facebook Analytics Funnels

This funnel helps me understand how all traffic that’s come through our site within the last 90 days has behaved. I can see the overall conversion rate of the funnel, the average time to complete this funnel, and much more.

Facebook Analytics Funnels

Questions Related to Funnels

See below for a few examples of questions and answers that come to mind when reviewing this data.

Question 1:

Can I improve the percentages of people who view a page and then add something to their cart?

Here are a few potential solutions (this is not an exhaustive list!):

1. Launch an improved offer on the ad via the conversion objective, within the ad to Previous Page Views who didn’t add to cart. Perhaps instead of trying 10% off on remarketing to this group, change the ad copy to “add to cart and save 20% now,” offering an incentive to users to add to their cart.

2. Launch a Page Post Engagement Objective ad towards Previous Page Views who didn’t add to cart, thus reaching a wider selection of that audience. You could use that ad to explain more about what you do, what makes your product or service different, or launch a video describing it.

3. Launch a Messenger ad towards those who’ve added something to their cart but not purchased. The ad copy could be “what questions do you have?” and that ad drives them into a Messenger conversation. Sometimes users put something in their carts as they’re considering that product, so why not ask if you can be helpful?

4. Launch multiple ad types at the add to cart audience, such as a carousel ad, a photo post ad, a slideshow, and a Canvas ad. Gauge success over a testing period to see if you can improve the baseline percentage of those who ultimately become purchasers.

Question 2:

Some of my existing site traffic isn’t going to buy immediately, so what else can I do with that audience?

Potential Solutions:

1. Launch a Lead Gen ad at Previous Page Views, asking for that user’s email address. That way you can add them to your email list and use email to help them better understand your product or service.

2. Launch a video advertisement that gives more of your company backstory to those users. Help them understand who you are in a more complete, compelling way.

3. Launch an article for Page Post Engagement to that audience to help them see external validation of your product.

4. Showcase your products using an engaging Canvas ad, which combines video and photos to more completely describe who you are.

These are just a few examples of successful tactics I’ve launched using Funnels. There are many more.

Lifetime Value

One of the most valuable target groupings that surprisingly doesn’t get much attention is previous purchasers. As advertisers, we focus a lot of attention on brand new acquisition and sometimes we forget about the people who already know us. This group of customers shouldn’t be forgotten.

Compounding this problem, many advertisers do not properly calculate Lifetime Value. They focus on Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) instead of Lifetime Value, which can help provide more of a buffer when acquiring new customers versus only looking at your average order value and calculating at what cost you must obtain a new customer.

As competition rises and prices continue to increase, we must consider what a true value of a customer is over his or her lifetime. For example, let’s take a recent conversation I had with a client and break it down.

  • Their average order value is ~$40.
  • Their CPA goal is $20. If an ad set CPA goes above $20, they turn it off immediately.
  • Their lifetime value (LTV) is $80.
  • Their ads are having a hard time getting conversions at $20.

It’s a challenging conundrum because as competition rises on Facebook and Instagram, advertisers have to consider measuring their LTV, not just CPA. You can find this information via Lifetime Value within Facebook Analytics.

My first advice to them was “consider raising your CPA goal to $30.” By increasing it, you allow your ad sets to get a higher CPA before turning them off and you’re considering the lifetime value.

Consider these LTV graphs from Facebook Analytics.

Facebook Analytics Lifetime Value

Facebook Analytics Lifetime Value

Here are a few overall observations:

  • Over a 12-week period, the LTV has increased from $40 (likely their first purchase) to $84.
  • The week of March 7-13, you can see those users are already at $71 for their LTV in week 4.

Question Related to Lifetime Value

Here’s a sample question on the Lifetime Value topic:

What can I do to increase Lifetime Value of these customers? How can I improve from $84 to $100+ over a 12-week period?

Potential Solutions:

1. Launch a series of ads for twelve weeks, introducing them to new products in your store.

2. Launch a Dynamic Product Ad utilizing a new product set they’ve not yet been exposed to before.

3. Do a Facebook Live showcasing new products and advertise it only to previous customers via the conversion objective.

4. Create a custom discount code only for previous purchasers to use, asking them to come back and try another product.

5. Launch a series of different objectives, such as Page Post Engagement and Reach at the previous customer audience to see if you’re able to touch a wider segment of that core audience.

Raising the LTV has a lot to do with storytelling, so the more you can turn customers into advocates the better.

Learn More

If you want to learn even more or if you have questions about how to dive deeper into these topics, join us on April 24 and 26 for our upcoming master class on Facebook Analytics.

The post Turning Facebook Analytics Into Action appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Facebook Responds: No More Partner Categories Targeting

The first shoe drops. In a very brief statement, Facebook announced that they will be shutting down Partner Categories (a way for advertisers to target users based on information provided by third parties) during the next six months.

Let’s take a closer look at what Partner Categories are/were, what this means for advertisers, and why this is happening now…

What Are/Were Partner Categories?

I first wrote about Partner Categories in 2013, so this form of targeting has been around for more than five years now.

The easy explanation for Partner Categories is targeting that Facebook can’t surface itself without the help of data mining companies. These partners have information on people based on their activities away from Facebook that can be used (anonymously, of course) in ad targeting.

An example: A car dealership wants to reach people in the market for a car. Partner Categories can help an advertiser reach those who are not only in the market for a car, but those who currently own a particular model.

Facebook integrates Partner Categories into “Detailed Targeting” within an ad set. Facebook calls out these options when highlighting the source.

Here’s an example…

Facebook Partner Categories

There are hundreds of these Partner Categories, but only within seven countries.

  • Australia: Acxiom, Experian, Greater Data, and Quantium
  • Brazil: Experian
  • France: Acxiom
  • Germany: Acxiom
  • Japan: Acxiom and CCC
  • United Kingdom: Acxiom, Experian, and Oracle Data Cloud (formerly DLX)
  • United States: Acxiom, Epsilon, Experian, Oracle Data Cloud (formerly DLX), TransUnion, and WPP

Examples of Partner Categories targeting include the following:

  • Automtove shoppers
  • Company size
  • Charitable donations
  • Credit union member
  • Corporate executives
  • Retail purchase behavior
  • Likely to move
  • Business travelers

Here’s how it works…

You perform a certain action away from Facebook. These data mining companies collect this information. They then pass it on to Facebook. Facebook matches it up to your profile. Advertisers can then target you based on that activity.

Why are Partner Categories Being Removed?

It should be easy to read between the lines here. This announcement comes on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook took several actions in response, including shutting down app approval and improving access to privacy controls.

Partner Categories hadn’t become a focus of scrutiny… yet. But it’s a targeting capability that is difficult to describe to non-advertisers. It’s easy to see this stuff as being a little creepy — if not an invasion of privacy.

See this as Facebook getting ahead of a potential problem.

Remember, though, that Partner Categories are not new. The reality is that they’re rather archaic in marketing age. And if you ask 10 advertisers what kind of success they’ve seen with them, I’d bet most will give you less-than-glowing reports.

It’s a targeting option that always sounded potentially amazing. But the results rarely matched up.

While Facebook doesn’t say it, it’s a good assumption that these are being removed due to the creep factor and the expectation that, while it’s not unique to Facebook advertising, this would likely come under scrutiny soon given the current environment.

Combined with the fact that Partner Categories aren’t particularly innovative, new, or effective, it’s probably an easy decision for Facebook to remove these now before they become a new PR problem.

Now What?

First, this primarily impacts targeting in the United States, though some Partner Categories exist in six other countries as well.

Second, you can continue to use this targeting for now. It will be phased out during the next six months.

Note that this not only impacts advertisers accessing this targeting directly through Ads Manager, but also those advertisers who work directly with ad reps to get special Partner Categories access.

Most advertisers didn’t rely heavily on Partner Categories. But there are exceptions. Check for interests and other Facebook categories that are similar or related to the Partner Categories that you were using.

Worst case, this creates a challenge for advertisers to experiment more. Rely less on what you’ve always done and try something different.

Your Turn

Do you use Partner Categories for your Facebook ad targeting? What are your thoughts on this update?

Let me know in the comments below!

The post Facebook Responds: No More Partner Categories Targeting appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Two Strategies to Scale Your Facebook Ads

If you ask a dozen different Facebook advertising experts how to properly scale accounts, you’ll no doubt receive a dozen different answers. Scaling effectively doesn’t follow an easy-to-follow recipe.

But if you’re someone who enjoys multivariate testing, monitoring campaigns closely, and moving potential customers along your sales funnel in creative ways, scaling will be very rewarding. You’re also probably a super nerd like me.

That said, if you’re someone looking for a “set it and forget it” plan, scaling will prove difficult and tiresome. Scaling techniques change frequently and with just a minor algorithmic shift, your ads can quickly turn to dust after performing perfectly the day before.

To help you better understand scaling, let’s look at the difference between vertical and horizontal scaling before jumping into a couple of common scenarios…

Vertical vs. Horizontal Scaling

To scale successfully and sustainably, you can’t just increase your budget, leave it, and see amazing results. This method of scaling, also known as vertical scaling, depends entirely on the budget being the only lever you can pull for improved ROI.

Instead of using only one lever, I prefer utilizing horizontal scaling. In this case, an advertiser spreads testing across multiple ad sets, audiences, and types of creative with the overall purpose of building a more stable account structure for long-term, scalable success.

So let’s dive in with a couple recommendations that you can use right away. In regards to successful horizontal scaling, here are two common scenarios that Jon and I are often asked about…

Scenario #1: Scaling a Lookalike

Problem: “I have an ad set targeting a lookalike of my previous customers that’s performing well with more than a 2X return on ad spend (ROAS) and I want to grow it. What options do I have?”

Solution: Try launching ads to two new lookalike audiences based on pixel events. You can group them into one ad set or separate them, depending on the amount of audience overlap between them.

Most advertisers test a 1% lookalike of previous customers as their first prospecting audience. This is a great start, but as a next step try building lookalike audiences from pixel events. Customer lists work well, but pixel events are dynamic, meaning the core audience updates in real time and the lookalike audience regenerates every 3-7 days.

Scenario #1: Set Up the Audiences

After thousands of tests, a couple of favorite audiences to create lookalikes from are add to cart last 30 days and 2X page view last 30 day audiences. Here’s how to get them going…

First, set up the add to cart audience pool for the last 30 days.

If the site gets solid traffic volume, meaning at least 5,000 uniques per month, I’ll also create a 2X add to cart audience, from which I create a lookalike audience.

Then create the lookalike for that audience.

Then create the Page View Audience.

The 2X Page View last 30-day audience is preferred because these people viewed at least two pages on your site in the last 30 days. They are more valuable than those who came to your site once and left.

This audience is very similar to a top 25% time on-site custom audience but it generally performs better for lookalike purposes. (This recommendation is purely from my own testing. Please let me know in the comments if you see better performance with other audiences!)

Scenario #1: Overlap

Now that you’ve built these audiences and their lookalike counterparts, you can use them in either separate ad sets or group them together, depending on how they overlap with one another. You can uncover this information with the Audience Overlap tool.

In some instances, visitors who simply browse your site might have many different qualities and behaviors than those who actually add something to their cart. However, they can also be similar, so ensuring the audiences are different will help you in the Facebook ads auction so you’re not competing against yourself.

It’s important to keep in mind that you can only obtain useful overlap information from audiences with at least 10,000 people, so remember that fact when selecting audiences to compare. You can use Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, and Saved Audiences.

To get started, head into Audiences.

Second, select two or more audiences to compare.

Then select “show audience overlap.”

Your overlap will be displayed.

Smart advertisers will try to avoid any overlap north of 20-30%.

If the overlap is higher, you can group those audiences into an ad set to avoid bidding against yourself.

Scenario #2: Avoiding High Frequency

Problem: “People tell me I’m bombarding them with ads. I have Website Custom Audience remarketing ads set up for anyone who has come to my site in the last 90 days. It has done well and produced a 3X ROAS in the past, but the frequencies are above 10 and performance is going down. What should I do?”

Solution: Most advertisers have a super simple remarketing program running on autopilot. They need a more sophisticated approach.

Consider this: if you saw something 14 times in 30 days, would that encourage you to buy it? That level of frequency would most often lead to annoyance.

So in most cases, the mistake that’s being made is lumping all remarketing traffic into one ad set with the same pitch going to the same group. If you visited a website 90 days ago and you’re seeing the same message as someone who came to the site yesterday, this is clearly a problem.

Remember: effective remarketing is about quality, not just quantity.

Scenario #2: Set Up the Audiences

The solution to this problem is to set up different time windows with different ad creative/copy pitches going to each grouping. You don’t have to get super complicated from the get-go; you can start smaller and work your way up.

Begin by creating different windows for your remarketing ads. When starting to scale an account, I drive new traffic into my top funnel and hope they stick with me for a longer journey.

At a minimum, I like to start with a 3-day, 10-day, and 30-day audience pool via the Custom Audience creation tool.

If you’re an e-commerce retailer and you have Dynamic Product Ads running, you can also customize those time windows.

Each of these pools then gets an ad (or a personal pitch) that is a little bit different from the next. Someone who came to your site 30 days ago might need a little bit bigger of an incentive than someone who visited in the last three days, for example. You can customize these pitches with different offers, promo codes, and more.

The different time windows allow you to scale sustainably because you’re showing a variety of value propositions to your audiences, thus helping you learn what exactly is resonating and what isn’t. You’re diving deeper into customer data, ad optimization, and creative/copy testing–in other words, the true essence of horizontal scaling.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: You should exclude the 3-day audience from the 10 and 30-day audiences (and 10-day audience from the 30-day audience) to prevent audience and messaging overlap. You can view a complicated approach to this with evergreen campaigns.]

Training Program

These are just two scenarios when it comes to scaling; there are many others. If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to have you join us next week for our training program

When it comes to scaling, there are countless nuances and unlimited “what if” scenarios. This results in a great deal of confusion, which is exactly why Jon and I are focusing on scaling for this month’s training program.

Another reason why we wanted to build this program is because so much of the expert advice about scaling is just plain wrong, misleading, or outdated. I’ve successfully scaled accounts from spending $2,000/month to $200,000/month, but I didn’t do it overnight.

I’d love to share some of these experiences with you!

Your Turn

What have you learned about scaling? Anything else you’d add?

Let me know in the comments below!

The post Two Strategies to Scale Your Facebook Ads appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Facebook Ad Bid Strategies: Lowest Cost and Target Cost

Advertisers often complain about cost stability and an inability to scale. There are Facebook ad bid strategies that may improve these results.

Are you not getting the cost per event that you’d like? Are you having trouble maintaining a stable cost when raising your budget? Bid strategies could help.

Let’s take a closer look at these bid strategies, how they work, and how you might use them.

What Are Bid Strategies?

Facebook distributes ads based on an auction format. The costs that you spend to reach a user will depend, at least partly, on the bid that you make to reach that user.

In most cases, Facebook automates bids (this is the default option). But advertisers can choose to manually bid in an effort to better control their costs. The primary goal of a manual bid is to get cost per desired action (typically a conversion) down.

Facebook offers two bid strategies that can help advertisers achieve lower or more stable costs: “Lowest Cost” (the default) and “Target Cost.”

Facebook Ads Bid Strategies

These two options perform very differently.

Lowest Cost Bid Strategy

Facebook designed the lowest cost bid strategy, formally known as “automatic bidding,” to get you the lowest possible cost per optimized event while spending the entirety of your budget.

Facebook Ads Lowest Cost Bid Strategy

BENEFIT: The primary benefit of the “Lowest Cost” bid strategy is efficiency. Facebook tries to get you the lowest cost per event in the short-term.

DRAWBACK: The primary drawback of this bid strategy is that achieving those low costs may be short-lived. Results may be unstable as you spend more or competition increases.

Lowest Cost: Set Bid Cap

You can also set a bid cap if you want to control how much Facebook will spend for an event while using the lowest cost bid strategy.

Facebook Ads Lowest Cost Bid Strategy Bid Cap

Note that when using a bid cap, Facebook may struggle to spend your budget if you get cute and try to set it too low. However, setting a bid cap can help prevent an ad set from overspending for an event.

For example, if a particular conversion is worth no more than $2 for you, it prevents a cost per conversion of $2.50 or more. In that case, not spending your full budget may be a good thing.

When setting a bid cap, keep in mind that this is the most you want Facebook to bid for a single event. Since a bid is the most you’ll spend for that single event, you’ll usually spend less than that. So a bid cap can stand to exceed the value of an event to your business.

How to Set a Bid Cap

Facebook recommends using an average cost per result from prior campaigns as a starting point. Also consider the most you can pay for an event (not target, but maximum) while turning a profit.

Finally, Facebook recommends a daily budget that is at least five times higher than your bid cap. This is because Facebook needs at least 50 events (the learning phase) within a week to properly optimize.

After completing the learning phase, you may decide to raise the bid cap if you’re having a difficult time getting the distribution that you want.

Whether you set a bid cap depends mostly on the results you’re seeing. Facebook doesn’t know the value of an event to your business. If you need to prevent Facebook from overspending for an event, this gives you control. At the same time, you may want to set a higher bid cap to increase distribution on a high-value event.

Target Cost Bid Strategy

The target cost bid strategy, formerly known as “manual bidding,” is only available for the following campaign objectives:

  • App Installs
  • Conversions
  • Lead Generation
  • Catalog Sales

Facebook recommends using this bid strategy for achieving more stable results as your spend increases.

Facebook Ads Target Cost Bid Strategy

In theory, this is the bid strategy you should use when planning to raise your budget as your costs should scale better.

When using this bid strategy, you are required to set a target cost based on the chosen conversion window (7-day click or 1-day view by default).

What should you use for your target cost? As a starting point, use the amount you’d like to average on a cost per event basis. Find the lowest possible costs by lowering this amount until you are no longer able to spend your entire budget.

BENEFIT: The primary benefit of this bid strategy is cost per event stability. Especially useful when scaling.

DRAWBACKS: You may see higher fluctuations in cost until the learning phase is complete (50 events in a week) using this approach. You might also find that your overall cost per event is higher when compared to using “lowest cost.”

Additionally, Facebook will always try to get you a cost per event around your target cost, even if they could have found you lower costs. This can result in significant waste if you don’t set this target cost judiciously.

What Should You Use?

As always, it depends. There is never a universal strategy for all situations.

Most advertisers should stick with the default “lowest cost” without a bid cap. But consider applying a bid cap to prevent Facebook from spending more than the highest cost that would still be profitable.

In theory, you should use “target cost” when planning to run a long-term campaign or look to scale and raise your budget. This would establish a more stable cost per event. When doing so, experiment with the lowest target cost possible that will lead to spending your budget.

I say “in theory” because it’s very easy to overspend and get poor results with the “target cost” option. In my opinion, this option is best for the smallest group of advertisers who are the most sophisticated and dealing with the highest budgets.

Scaling Facebook Ads for Success Training Program

These bid strategies will be part of the discussion within my upcoming training program, running on March 27 and 29 (hosted by my friend Andrew Foxwell). The goal is to help you understand how best to scale your advertising efficiently, strategically, and without waste.

Those within Power Hitters Club – Elite, the highest level of my exclusive membership, will get automatic access to this training. If you read this post after the dates of the program, you can sign up for PHC – Elite to get access to the replays.

Your Turn

What’s been your experience with these bid strategies? What do you use and when?

Let me know in the comments below

The post Facebook Ad Bid Strategies: Lowest Cost and Target Cost appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

New Facebook Ads Placement: Marketplace

Facebook has opened up a new placement for advertisers to reach their potential customers: Marketplace.

Let’s take a closer look at what Marketplace is and how to utilize this placement…

[NOTE: This placement is not currently available to everyone. There is no word on when is will be rolled out globally.]

About Marketplace

Facebook first announced Marketplace in October of 2016. Facebook positions Marketplace as a “convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.”

Consider Marketplace Facebook’s response to Craigslist.

The focus is on local, allowing Facebook users to browse items for sale by category in their area…

Facebook Marketplace

Click the “Sell Something” button and you can quickly post your own item for sale.

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Ads for Marketplace

Up until now, Marketplace has remained ad-free. The Marketplace placement allows advertisers to place their ads into Marketplace when users are viewing it from the mobile app (no desktop yet).

I checked Marketplace from my mobile app, and I am seeing ads there. It does take some scrolling to see the first one.

Facebook Marketplace Ads on Mobile

Note that this isn’t a matter of promoting the item you’re selling on Marketplace. This is simply running ads that you are otherwise sending to Facebook news feed, Instagram and Audience Network to users in one additional place.

Using the Marketplace Placement

To utilize the Marketplace placement, advertisers must first select from Traffic, Conversions, or Catalog Sales objectives. No other objectives are currently eligible.

Facebook Marketplace Ads

Facebook says that for Traffic or Conversions, must first have a “Shop Now” button on your page.

Facebook Marketplace Ads

While I don’t have a Shop Now button on my page and I have the option to select Marketplace as a placement, I can’t confirm whether I am still allowed to use that placement. As of this moment, I haven’t yet seen impressions in that placement.

If you have the Facebook Marketplace placement option, you will see it when choosing to edit placements at the ad set level.

Facebook Marketplace Ads

The Marketplace placement can only be selected in addition to news feed. For the time being, you can’t run ads only to Marketplace.

Ad creative options are a single image or a carousel — videos are not yet eligible. Specs are the same for the Marketplace placement as for news feed:

  • Single Image: 1,200 x 628 pixels recommended, 1.9:1 aspect ratio
  • Carousel: 600 x 600 pixels recommended, 1:1 aspect ratio

At this time, you aren’t able to upload unique creative for Marketplace only.

View Marketplace Performance

This question always comes next: Should I use the Marketplace placement?

The answer, as always: It depends on your results. You should test it!

If you’re curious how this new placement is performing, just a reminder that you can isolate performance by placement within your ad reports using breakdowns.

Facebook Ads Breakdown by Placement

Thoughts on Marketplace Placement

Will this placement be effective? I don’t know. But we can’t assume that all placements are created equal.

The reason there’s potential here is that the typical visitor to Marketplace is looking to buy something. That’s a big deal. Normally, that is not the case when simply scrolling through news feed.

Understand that in order to reach someone when using Marketplace, they still need to be in your target audience. Nothing changes there. This isn’t a matter of reaching a different audience in a new place. You’re reaching the same audience you were already reaching but in a different place.

In a vacuum, it shouldn’t matter much whether you reach someone within news feed or Instagram or Marketplace. It’s the same person, different place. But context, competition, and costs will impact results.

My hunch is that conversion ads looking to sell products will perform better than traffic ads promoting content. Conversion ads will fit in with the other content. Traffic ads will stand out as not belonging.

Again, that’s just a hunch. Always test!

Your Turn

It’s way too soon to evaluate the effectiveness of this new placement, but I’ll be excited to try it out.

What do you think about this update? Let me know in the comments below!

The post New Facebook Ads Placement: Marketplace appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Facebook Ad Metrics Updates: Clarification and Removal

Facebook announced several changes to Facebook ad metrics that will impact the results advertisers see and how they see them.

Let’s take a closer look…

Labels on Metrics

In an attempt that Facebook says improves transparency, certain metrics will be labeled as “estimated” or “in development.” You’ll find these labels within tooltips that provide more information.

ESTIMATED

Facebook says that estimated metrics are “calculated based on sampling or modeling,” and are therefore “hard to precisely quantify.”

Facebook uses Reach, the most famous (or infamous?) Facebook metric among marketers, as an example for explaining estimated calculations.

For example, reach is an estimate of the number of people who saw an ad at least once. In order for us to report reach, we analyze the number of people who see an ad multiple times, de-duplicate them and then calculate the total number of unique people in real time. To do this quickly, we sample the data and will therefore label it as estimated.

I’ve always considered Reach an inexact, low priority metric. This is the first time, however, I’ve seen Facebook describe it as being an estimate.

Facebook Ads Metrics Estimated

There is a LONG list of estimated metrics. See the entire list here. But following are a few highlights:

  • Various mobile app actions
  • Amount Spent
  • Estimated Ad Recall Lift
  • Frequency
  • Negative Feedback
  • People Taking Action
  • Positive Feedback
  • Reach
  • Relevance Score
  • Social Reach
  • Store Visits
  • Many of the “Unique” actions (clicks, CTR, Landing Page Views, Link Clicks, etc.)

To clarify: Being “estimated” doesn’t mean that a metric is wrong and can’t be trusted. Instead, I’d simply see these metrics as those that add to the story and provide context but are lower on the priority list.

IN DEVELOPMENT

There are also several newer metrics that Facebook says they are testing and are therefore labeled as “in development.” Since these metrics are new and in the process of being tested, they may still change.

Facebook Ads Metrics In Development

Facebook uses Estimated Ad Recall Lift as an example:

For example, estimated ad recall lift is a metric used by brands to understand the differences between people who can recall a brand after seeing an ad compared to those who have not seen an ad. This kind of automated measurement is still new and requires both polling and machine learning. Because we use sampling to determine this metric, it will be labeled as estimated, and since we’re still gathering advertiser feedback on it, it will also be labeled as in development.

The metrics currently in development are as follows:

  • Card Views
  • Cost per Estimated Ad Recall Lift (People)
  • Cost per Landing Page View
  • Cost per Store Visit
  • Cost per Unique Landing Page View
  • Estimated Ad Recall Lift (People)
  • Estimated Ad Recall Lift Rate
  • Landing Page Views
  • Store Visits
  • Unique Attention Impressions
  • Unique Attention Impressions Rate
  • Unique Landing Page Views

Similar to the “estimated” metrics, understand that these metrics are being tested and may be imperfect.

Removing Metrics

In July, Facebook will be removing several metrics (19 by my count) that they feel are redundant, outdated, or rarely used. Interestingly, six of these metrics are those that were also labeled as “estimated.”

The following metrics are those Facebook plans to remove (metrics in bold are those that are also estimated):

  • Actions
  • People Taking Action
  • Cost per Any Action
  • Amount Spent Today
  • Button Clicks
  • Canvas Component Time Percentage
  • Carousel Card breakdown for conversion metrics
  • Link Click Destination
  • Mobile App Actions Conversion Value
  • Page Mentions
  • Cost per Page Mention
  • Page Tab Views
  • Cost per Page Tab View
  • Positive Feedback
  • Negative Feedback
  • Social Reach
  • Social Impressions
  • Social Clicks (All)
  • Unique Social Clicks (All)

Facebook explains why they are removing each of these metrics and also provides recommendations for what you can use instead in this post. Following are the groups of metrics being removed and what Facebook recommends using instead…

Instead of Actions, People Taking Action, Cost per Any Action: Customize your own composite metric reflecting actions that are meaningful to your business.

Instead of Amount Spent Today: Select Today for the date range and use the Amount Spent metric.

Instead of Button Clicks: Link Clicks, Event Responses or Offers Saved.

Instead of Canvas Component Time Percentage: Canvas View Time and Canvas View Percentage.

Instead of Carousel Card breakdown for conversion metrics: Link Clicks metric broken down by Carousel Card and see conversion results without the Carousel Card breakdown.

Instead of Link Click Destination: Outbound Clicks and Landing Page Views.

Instead of Mobile App Actions Conversion Value: Specific app event conversion values (ex: Mobile App Purchases Conversion Value).

Instead of Page Mentions, Cost per Page Mention: Page Likes or Page Engagement.

Instead of Page Tab Views, Cost per Page Tab View: Page Likes or Page Engagement.

Instead of Positive Feedback, Negative Feedback: Relevance Score.

Instead of Social Reach, Social Impressions, Social Clicks (All), Unique Social Clicks (All): Reach and Impressions.

Your Turn

Do you see think these are positive changes? Any metrics that you don’t want to see go away?

Let me know in the comments below!

The post Facebook Ad Metrics Updates: Clarification and Removal appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

5 Reasons Your SEO Consulting Project Is Failing and How to Turn It Around

5 Reasons Your SEO Consulting Project Is Failing and How to Turn It Around was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

The relationship between a business and its SEO consulting firm is a delicate balance of give and take.

In order for an SEO strategy to deliver the best results, the SEO consultant must give accurate and useful recommendations, and the client must take that guidance and implement those recommendations.

This is a team effort where the consultant solves problems and mentors the client, and the client then learns and implements.

Seems fairly straightforward, but it’s not always so.

You have no doubt experienced this in your business. A project can have great energy at the outset. But as time passes, progress can be delayed and momentum stalled for a variety of reasons.

Here’s the good news: We’ve observed that there are five common roadblocks affecting SEO consulting projects that can absolutely be surpassed — once you know how to identify and push through them. Many potential failure points can be addressed even before the project starts, for maximum results.

In this article, I’ll list five common issues that threaten an SEO consulting project’s success AND how you can overcome them:

 

  1. Misaligned expectations
  2. Time constraints
  3. Budget constraints
  4. Lack of SEO knowledge
  5. Website back-end and architectural issues

 

goats-in-road-blocking-seo-project-success

What roadblocks stand in the way of your SEO consulting project’s success? We’ve seen five common types (goats not included).

1. Misaligned Expectations

Misaligned expectations are a huge reason why consultants fail with their SEO projects.

This situation leads to scope-creep and client-satisfaction issues. It often disrespects the SEO team, and sometimes disregards the client’s desires for extra services.

Some clients — especially those that are already knowledgeable about SEO — may want to retain unyielding control of their SEO project. This is understandable when you’re a company that had an SEO team and strategy in place already. Issues arise, however, when that in-house team thinks they are better than they are and the consultant is ignored.

Generally, our favorite consulting scenario involves working closely with the client’s in-house SEO team.

But sometimes conflicting efforts or opinions between the consultant and the client’s SEO team lead to mishaps. A large amount of time may be lost due to drawn-out discussion or inaction. Eventually, the project may see little success. And even worse, with two cooks in the kitchen, sometimes neither can get things done.

At the end of the day, both the SEO consultant and the client want results. The challenge for the SEO consultant is to create a list of recommendations that will have the greatest effect while aligning with the client’s expectations.

Challenges on the client’s side may be that they have no power over the IT implementation team, or their influence is weak. But once they see and evangelize results within their organization, client teams will be more receptive to future recommendations.

The SEO consultant can sometimes help their client contact make progress within their organization.

Example: A national auto service chain we consulted for had a site speed issue, but their IT department didn’t think it was a priority. IT’s lack of cooperation was hindering the project. We finally included their IT team in a conference call, where we demonstrated how much faster competitor sites were compared to their own. Soon after, our speed recommendations were implemented and that project roadblock was cleared.

Solution: Ultimately, the best way to avoid misaligned expectations is to speak candidly about each party’s role in and ideas for the SEO project. Do this up front, followed by often. Keep focus on the KPIs for the project.

Clients should be sure to communicate their major pain points and goals. And they should celebrate wins.

Meanwhile, consulting firms need to create strategies that address these pain points. Remember, an SEO consultant becomes an important part of the client’s digital marketing team.

Taking unilateral action can alienate you. Instead, create a partnership between yourself and the rest of the team, so you are working together to achieve the business’s goals.


At the end of the day, both the SEO consultant and the client want results.
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2. Time Constraints

Clients want the biggest bang for their buck. As such, they often don’t want to spend their staff resources to follow recommendations that appear minor or insignificant. Makes sense to me — focus on what drives the most traffic first.

For instance, clients often discount the value of editing meta tags — a page by page task that can seem time-consuming and trivial. And time consuming it is, but certainly not trivial.

Those who do see the value usually have seen positive results from optimizing titles and meta descriptions in the past. We have never seen it hurt, and almost always see solid improvement. What is especially helpful is if the client’s team understands how SEO really works at an advanced level.

Providing recommendations to a client with time constraints is difficult because, as with the budget barrier, everything must be justified in terms of the resources they are spending on the task.

Solution: Clients can request conversations, instruction and deliverables that show how SEO proves its value in terms of time commitment.

On the SEO consulting firm side, here are a few ways to justify value:

  • Make the recommendation and its explanation thorough. This gives a sense of confidence to the client that the work follows the best SEO practices.
  • Perhaps propose a proof-of-concept test that will prove the recommendations are valid.
  • Reference Google, Bing or other expert resources that align with the recommendations.
  • Have confidence in what you say and the client will, too.
  • Provide a comprehensive training class that shows the consulting agency’s expertise and teaches a proven methodology.

The best way to avoid misaligned client/consultant expectations is to speak candidly about each party’s role and ideas. Do this up front, followed by often.
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3. Budget Constraints

No one likes spending money on what they believe is useless. And let’s face it, any project that takes months to see substantial results requires a leap of faith. You just must be a believer that SEO will eventually pay off.

A microscopic focus on the ROI of every individual recommended task, however, can disrupt an SEO project. By scrutinizing the cost and return on investment of each individual task that the consultant recommends, some business clients miss the big picture.

SEO often requires that many tasks reach completion for the needle to move, and often an individual task is little more than a piece in the puzzle.

For example, budget-wary business owners might incorrectly believe that:

  • Editing meta tags, rewording main navigation links and other detail tasks are too time-consuming and unnecessary for SEO strategy.
  • Their content is fine as is, which is really very seldom the case.
  • Their main problem is not having enough backlinks to their site.

Since SEO success or failure results from a combination of efforts over time, it can be complicated to quantify (although some have tried to measure KPIs for SEO).

While SEO consultants understand SEO as a long-term game, client teams may not. They’re often more concerned with their monthly investment and how that translates to immediate results.

Solution: Budget-conscious clients almost always want recommendations to be justified in terms of ROI. On the client side, it’s important to remember that data analytics aren’t yet able to completely track customer journeys across the wide range of digital marketing touch points available.

SEO consultants, on the other hand, can help clients to feel more comfortable by presenting a clear, concise project plan. The consultant should be able to explain the value of each step of the SEO strategy — even when the costs and results cannot be precisely tied together.


SEO often requires that many tasks reach completion for the needle to move.
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4. Lack of SEO Knowledge

Many clients don’t understand the art and science of SEO — after all, it’s not their only job.

They know they have a problem with their website and want more online visibility. And they’ve hired an expert to fix these problems.

However, a client should never feel “in the dark” about what the consultant is doing on their behalf.

The expert consultant should be willing and able to explain complicated topics in an easy-to-understand manner. You, as a client, should be comfortable that you can ask questions and receive clear answers that increase your knowledge of SEO. The consultant should be able to cite credible sources like Google and Bing to give more weight to their recommendations. And if the SEO consultant refrains from using unfamiliar industry jargon to explain processes, even better!

Lack of SEO knowledge can often be at the core of other common roadblocks, such as the time and budget constraints I talked about earlier.

Solution: Besides finding an SEO consultant who is able to provide the kind of Q&A described above, clients could also become familiar with at least the basics of search engine optimization. This will help them ask the right questions and see the value of the recommendations — and help prevent the marketing consulting project from failing.

For our own SEO consulting clients, we provide formal SEO training. Each new client gets a seat in the Bruce Clay SEO Training course at the start of their project. We’ve found that providing training is one of the best and fastest ways to get a client up to speed on how SEO works and why we recommend the things we do.

5. Website Back-End and Architectural Issues

Terrible content management systems don’t discriminate.

We’ve seen some of the world’s largest brands have a content management system (CMS) that is either outdated, broken or cumbersome to use. This is a problem because SEO implementation often requires flexibility to make proper changes.

In addition, sometimes the way a site is structured or designed does not allow the SEO consultant’s recommendations to be fully implemented — and sometimes they cannot be implemented at all.

For example, sites using the Magento CMS often experience structural issues when organizing product categories. As a result, the CMS often creates duplicate content — two identical categories with links pointing to both pages. In the end, these pages compete for rankings and confuse the search engine and user experience.

What happens in cases like these is that the client usually won’t be receptive to the SEO consulting firm’s (our) recommendations because they simply can’t implement them with the current CMS in place. Understandably, the client may even get annoyed when the SEO consultant repeats the same instructions. The client often believes that there’s nothing that they can do about it.

As a result, the SEO consulting firm ends up backlogging important but not implemented SEO tasks. To-do lists for the client switch to smaller, more actionable changes that may not make as big of an impact but which reduce the friction of the project.

Solution: Discussions about the client’s CMS and potential implications to the project’s success should occur before the outset of the project. Both parties should be fully aware of what can and cannot be accomplished with their SEO consulting project within the limitations of the existing CMS.

Sometimes, the full scope of the limitation is not known until after the project begins. However, the proposed solutions should be on the table so that the client knows in advance that they may have to upgrade their CMS to fully realize SEO success.

Summary

Both the client and the SEO consulting firm want the project to succeed. So it’s in everyone’s best interests to work as a team and see results.

Unfortunately, misaligned expectations, time and budget constraints, lack of SEO knowledge and other problems may crop up. An experienced consultant can often identify the weakness and steer the project back on course.

For example, one of our clients, a beauty-products retail site, came to us with a small budget. We took them on as a client because we saw opportunity for them to expand their market. However, right away we had a scope-creep issue. They had big plans, moved fast, and wanted us to be involved in every move they made. For about two months, our analysts were working double what the contract paid for. In month three, we nailed down a project plan for the next 90 days that included goals and deliverables. Regularly we show the client this rolling 90-day plan so they know what to expect. Now, if they throw in a new request, we ask what part of next month’s project plan they’d like to table to make room.

If your SEO project seems to have stalled, you may be experiencing one of the five common roadblocks I’ve outlined for why consultants fail. Whether you represent the consulting service or the client, I hope these observations will help you to turn things around.

If you’re ready to find an SEO consultant who understands the challenges and is committed to success, contact us to request a quote — we would love to discuss how we can be a great team member.