With 1.44 billion monthly active users as of March 2015, Facebook gives small businesses a remarkable opportunity to generate new business online. However, it’s no longer the free-for-all digital space it once was. Auto shops looking to take advantage of the site for marketing purposes can no longer stand out from the crowd just by creating a business page and posting haphazardly (or even diligently). These days, abstaining from social advertising will leave your digital marketing in the dust.
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Facebook advertising, though, can be overwhelming for owners preoccupied with the day-to-day operation of their shops. At best, learning the intricacies of the Ad Manager on your own can eat up hours of time, and, at worst, you can waste thousands of dollars targeting users who will never actually walk through your door.
Fortunately, while you may still earn a few minor battle scars from creating some ineffective ads at first, digital marketers have developed a wealth of best practices you can follow to ensure you make the most of your budget. Like with your other marketing efforts, following a social advertising strategy that’s akin to throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks just won’t cut it when your shop’s reputation—not to mention your livelihood—is at stake.
Use your existing customer data
How much time and effort have you already devoted to building your customer database? Likely, you’ve spent years collecting emails addresses, phone numbers and other personal data from customers already frequenting your shop. If you’re actively marketing your shop with direct mail pieces and email broadcasts, then this data is already benefiting you handsomely.
Still, you can further compound the value of the legwork you and your staff members have put in by using your database to refine your Facebook Ad targeting. Facebook’s Ad Manager allows you to upload your database to create a Custom Audience, which matches subscribers on your email list to active Facebook users.
(In addition to using your email database, you can also build a Custom Audience based on traffic data captured by a conversion pixel installed on your website or usage data pulled from your mobile app.)
While targeting your current customers with Facebook Ads has tremendous value—for example, inspiring retention and generating return visits—I’m sure you want new customers to walk through your door as well. Most likely, your target customers are similar in age, income, habits, interests, desires, wants, needs, fears and frustrations to your current customers. In effect, your Custom Audience is helping you define your ideal customer profile.
From here, you can create a Lookalike Audience: Facebook will scour its user base for individuals similar to that ideal customer you just defined and then show them your ads.
Facebook boasts that these advanced targeting features can produce results many times more profitable than options available via other ad channels. Our team here at Moving Targets has found using Custom and Lookalike Audiences produces significantly better results than solely relying on Facebook’s less advanced targeting options for our auto shop owners as well.