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Paid Social vs. Paid Search

At Harvest Growth, we use paid social media for growing our clients’ business as well as our own.

Paid social delivers measurable results in sales, leads, and branding. It also enables to reach a large number of people at a low cost. Facebook is reaching 2 billion monthly active users very soon, if not already. Moreover, more than 500 million Facebook users watch Facebook videos every day. The world of social media networks is dynamic and in constant change.

However, paid social is not a medium you just “set and forget”. Unlike print, outdoor, and even TV advertising — paid social gives you loads of data so you can optimize your campaigns and product offerings in order to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Similar to paid search, the data obtained from launching paid social campaigns allows you to make adjustments in real time to grow your results. However, paid search is a completely different animal than paid social.

While they both provide an aspect of market research via the campaign data, how you use that data and the overarching strategy of the two mediums are vastly unique.

Essentially, paid search helps prospective customers find your business, while paid social helps your business find prospective customers.

So if you have a product or brand that consumers are not familiar with, it is important for you to make the introduction to them before expecting them to come and find you. And unlike AdWords or Google Shopping campaigns, you’re not completely limited to a small set of specific key phrases, or slugging it out with the competition to reach those few searchers.

Paid social allows us to target by personal, professional, demographic and psychographic segments which allow us to reach the people who are most relevant and able to purchase from us. By leveraging the immense wealth of data Facebook has about its users, we are able to find consumers instead of waiting for them to you.

Then, we are able to use that data to scale the campaign as well as grow the marketing mix to include additional channels, such as paid search. The delivery of the right marketing message, to the right person, at the right time pays huge dividends.

The question is —

What data do you need to be looking at in order to understand the full story and how can you spot opportunities within campaigns to strengthen them?

At Harvest Growth, we created what we call our “13-point Paid Social Media Analysis” that includes 3 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and 10 Key Opportunity Indicators (KOI) for analyzing Facebook metrics.

3 KPIs:

These are the 3 “high-level” metrics we use to determine how an ad is performing. If we see all 3 looking strong, we know we are on to something. If we see only 1 of the 3 performing, there may be a disconnect somewhere.

ROI - Revenue divided by ad spend. <1.0 = Need to dive into the data and figure out what is going wrong. 1.0-1.9 = On the right track, just need to optimize a bit further to get above a 2.2.0 = Our goal ROI. You made it - now keep trying to grow or maintain it at this level!2..0 + = This campaign is really working! Perhaps going viral even! Keep it up.

Conversion rate - orders divided by visits (or unique clicks)<1% = Typically this means we either 1) are targeting the wrong audience, 2) our message is clear and consumers were led to believe clicking would take them somewhere else, 3) we need to optimize the landing page. 1-2% = On the right track, but could put efforts toward making even stronger. 2%-5% = Our goal conv. rate.

Click-thru-rate (CTR%) - clicks divided by impressionsThis number really depends on the product/campaign as we don’t really see a “standard” across the board for all products because so many factors come into play (audience, spend, promotion, placement, etc.). So once you build a benchmark in this metric, keep track of that and always try to grow it. However, be weary with this number because a good CTR% on it’s own isn’t enough. You need ROI and Conv. rate to match — otherwise you are likely speaking to the wrong audience and/or have the wrong message.

10 KOIs:

These metrics help us identify where we can grow a campaign and where potential root causes of an unsuccessful campaign.

  • CTR%: ​The percentage of times people saw your ad and performed a link click. By looking at this number we see how much our message is resonating with our audience. A low CTR% may mean that we are not enticing consumers to learn more, or visit our website.

  • Reach: ​The number of people who saw your ads at least once. Reach is different from impressions, which may include multiple views of your ads by the same people. While this metric will always vary from client to client, we keep an eye on it to help us better understand response generated. A low reach, but a high conversion rate means we have a very specific and qualified audience. A high reach with a low conversion rate means we may need to narrow down the audience so it isn’t so broad. There are over 1.65 billion users on Facebook and you probably don’t want to advertise to all of them. You want to advertise to specific people who are likely to become your customers.

  • Frequency: How many times a consumer, on average, is seeing your ad. Frequency is a leading indicator of performance. So when it starts creeping up to a certain point with a valuable audience, you'll want to start backing those campaigns off and implement a refresh as performance will most likely begin to decline. (Exception = remarketing campaigns.)

  • Relevance score: ​Your relevance score estimates how well your ad is resonating with the people you want to reach. The higher your ad's relevance score, the better it's considered to be performing. When your ad's relevance score is high, it's more likely than other ads to be shown to your target audience. If you have a low score, consider changing your audience or message. A low score can also cost more money (bids are more expensive) — so this is a good metric to consider when trying to get a lower CPC!

  • Cost per click (CPC): The metric is calculated as the total amount spent divided by clicks. Once you have optimized a campaign, focus on this metric to find out how to get the biggest bang for your buck.

  • Engagement rate: ​The percentage of time people engaged with your post (i.e. clicked, liked, commented, shared, etc.). This metric helps us understand the “viral-ability” of a campaign. Once a campaign goes viral, we often see 50% or more of impressions to be organic/earned. Who doesn’t love free media?!

  • Video views: ​The number of times your video was watched. This metric is important when looking at total reach vs. video views — are you capturing your audiences and stopping the scroll? If not, might need to rethink your creative. A caveat to this thinking is if your 3 KPIs are measuring strong! If so, then perhaps you have convinced your user right off the bat to leave Facebook and go engage further with your brand. If that is the case, don’t fix what isn’t broken (unless your goal is video views, of course.)!

  • Avg. video view length:​This metric helps you understand on average where the drop off of watching your video lies. Perhaps you have a low CTR%, Conv. Rate, and ROI — well if you also see you have a low average video view length that may be one of the root causes. Thus, a new video would be a wise move. Perhaps even just remixing the message in the video to put a more attention grabbing message first.

  • Demographics:Once you are in a campaign, you can see what age and gender are responding to your ad. This is imperative information because it allows you to create more relevant content to consumers. For example, if you see that a campaign is achieving actions from all males, you will likely want to focus on speaking to males only in future campaigns.

  • Device: ​Are your consumers responding on a mobile phone vs. desktop? Most of the time that answer is yes. However, you may find there is strong performance coming from a specific device, and low performance coming from others. Finding out how you can optimize and ultimately create each device experience to be a smooth as possible will help your campaigns in the long run.

Make an effort to examine the metrics available for each of your ad types and compare the performance of the different ad copy, images and targeting to draw conclusions from the data. Also try breaking down your data in new ways for additional levels of detail. Lastly, explore the different metric columns and read their tooltips to get familiar with what they reveal and your Facebook ad optimization efforts will be a breeze!

Additional tips:

  • Lookalike audience:​Quality matters when you’re looking for new customers. Patrick Campbell, CEO of Price Intelligently, says that careless customers acquisition leads to “garbage in, garbage out.” Getting high-quality leads can be hard if you don’t know where to look. But Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences save you the trouble of looking and put them right in front of your face. A Lookalike Audience is an audience that Facebook creates to be similar to a source audience of your choice. Keep striving for the best quality leads and look to connect with the people who have a real need for your product.This is how you’ll continue to reach enthusiastic and valuable customers.

  • Remarketing:​ Often times, our remarketing campaigns generate the strongest ROI and lowest CPC! Today's consumers get distracted easily. Maybe they were on your site, added items to a shopping cart, but then got a text message that all the sudden became more important than completing the purchase. Plan to remarket and remind consumers why they NEED your product or service. Sometimes it's just a simple reminder, and sometimes they are truly "seeing it for the first time" (even though they saw the add 5 times before that).

  • Landing Pages: You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink! Without the right landing page, you could be wasting dollars sending traffic to a site that simply doesn't convert.

  • Ad formats (Cavas, video, image, carousel, messager):​Different strokes for different folks, people! Test out various formats to see how you can engage consumers with your brand.

  • Notifications: Don't send an ad off into the world and ignore interactions! ​One bad comment on a sponsored ad can derail the entire campaign! Stay on top of comments to either respond (nicely!) or hide. If someone likes your post, invite them to like your page! If someone shares your post, show them some love by liking it! These simple actions can aid in the performance of a campaign and overall brand perception.

Facts don't lie! More reasons why you should be advertising with paid social:

  • 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. (Source: Ambassador)

  • Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. (Source: HubSpot)

  • In 2015 Facebook influenced 52 per cent of consumers’ online and offline purchases, up from 36 per cent in 2014. (Source: The Drum).

  • Video marketing is a powerful tool that personalizes your brand and increases conversions. There were over 4.4 million videos uploaded directly to Facebook in February 2016, generating over 199 billion views. (Source: ReelSEO)

Launching a new product is hard. Even with the perfect product, if you make a misstep with the pricing, the messaging, the packaging or the advertising, it may never get off the ground.

We developed the Perfect Launch system that combines our experience from 15 years of launching products that now total over $2 billion in sales. When you follow this approach, on average, your results can be 20 times better versus traditional marketing campaigns. Click HERE to learn the 9-step Perfect Launch System and to see how it was implemented in two example case studies...


Contact our office today to learn how the Perfect Launch System can help your business grow. We are happy to answer questions, or we can help you implement the entire 9-step process to ensure a flawless execution.

To your success! The Harvest Growth Team


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