Facebook ads. Facebook ads are what bring us here today.
While there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the effectiveness of Facebook ads lately (you remember the whole GM thing, right?), Ford and Coke recently gave their seal of approval in a Wall Street Journal article about Facebook ads, with both saying they were finding value in Facebook ads, and with Ford planning to expand its use of Facebook's advertising platform.
Since HubSpot has personally experienced success with Facebook ads and we're now seeing two Fortune 500 companies publicly back the channel, we thought it was a great opportunity to take a look at some examples of Facebook ads and why they're effective. Obviously, we don't have access to the targeting, back end parameters, or metrics of these particular ads, but if our gauge of 'effectiveness' is based on online advertising best practices, we can get a good sense for which Facebook ads are destined to be winners.
What Makes an Ad 'Effective'?
If we're talking about 'online advertising best practices,' exactly what makes an effective Facebook ad? First, let's consider how the success of online ads are generally measured. Typically, ads are measured based on click-through rates, although advanced ad tracking can also allow you to measure ads by leads or sales. So before we look at some Facebook ads we think are effective, let's quickly examine best practices on AdWords, as it's been the standard for so many years, and then we'll compare and contrast against Facebook. When advertising on Google AdWords, for example, the following three elements are crucial for high click-through rates.
1) High Relevance
When a user types in a specific query, ideally, an effective ad would be 100% relevant for the query. So, for instance, if I search for red running shoes, I should see search results for red running shoes:
Take a look at the example above. The first two results don't even address my needs indicated by my search query. Thankfully, Target came close by showing me an ad for red athletic shoes. Close enough, right? Well, let's take a look at the landing page I get directed to, just to be sure ...
Eek! Not quite, Target. You delivered on the ad, but the landing page isn't specifically showing me red running shoes. An effective ad needs to deliver relevancy throughout the entire process, from the ad to the landing page.
2) Compelling Call-to-Action
The call-to-action of your ad should motivate a user and generate a sense of urgency to click on your ad now. AirCanada does a nice job below, calling out the price of its flights today and making a compelling sense of urgency to book online now.
3) Value Proposition
Why should users shop at your store -- or online, for that matter? There needs to be a value proposition to encourage them. Zappos does a nice job of offering free shipping and a 365-day return policy, which saves consumers money and puts their mind at ease about a potential return policy. Old Navy has also done a nice job by putting its low prices right in the search results and also creating a sense of urgency with its call-to-action, calling out the end date of the sale, June 27th.
The Challenge With Facebook Ads
Pretty simple right? High relevance, a compelling call-to-action, and a solid value proposition -- the recipe for an effective ad on Google. When advertising on Facebook, however, the crucial elements of 'effective' ads change a bit. While relevance, a great call-to-action, and highlighting the value proposition are all important, the main different between Facebook and Google is that the messaging strategy is push versus pull. On Google, users are actively searching for something and then browsing the search results to find the content that best suits them.
On Facebook, users are there to check in on their social lives, which means that the element of disruption comes into play. Your ads now need to be louder and grab the attention of a user so they stop doing what they had initially set out to do on Facebook, and change their course of action to pay attention to your ad. And for Facebook advertisers, that's a big challenge.
That's why it's even more important to keep those best practices of relevance, calls-to-action, and value proposition in mind, in addition to the distraction factor, when creating Facebook ads. And if we do that, here are 10 Facebook ads we think are representative of effective Facebook advertising, and we'll break down exactly why.
Relevance: This ad was served on the Facebook homepage of a recent college grad. What better time for a vacation?!
Value Proposition: In a world of social reviews, what better way to determine the perfect vacation destination than by viewing recommendations from friends.
Call-to-Action: We think the ad could have been a bit more aggressive, but the call-out is to use Bing's sidebar for those ready for some vacation exploration, so perhaps the ad identifies with users further down the vacation purchase funnel.
Disruption Factor: Advertising vacations on Facebook is the perfect disruption for this medium. As users are seeing what their friends are doing, places they are visiting and vacations they are taking, it is only relevant that an ad pops up to entice users to take a vacation of their own.
Relevance: This ad by Clairol came to us by a female Facebook user in her mid-20s, so the targeting appears to be sound.
Value Proposition: The value is very clear, offering up $1,000 for 50 lucky winners.
Call-to-Action: The call-to-action here is a mix of the offering and "enter here," as the user has been told what they can win and where they should go to enter.
Disruption Factor: The disruptive part of this ad is that "ENTER HERE" is in all capitals letters. A seemingly frowned upon approach in AdWords; however, on a site like Facebook with so many other things going on, the capital letters works well to draw the eye. As soon as the eye meets the ads, of course there is then a cash prize offering generating excitement through a contest, which is also a recommended strategy.
3) West Elm
Relevance: This West Elm ad was submitted to us by one of our female college interns, which makes the targeting spot on.
Value Proposition: It's very clear: 10% off if you are a college student.
Call-to-Action: This is one area that could use some improvement. However, the message is that if you're in the market to shop and you're also in college, you can save 10% off now through this ad.
Disruption Factor: The ad uses words that a college student would recognize and responds to well, including ".edu," "college," and a percent discount.
4) Bud Light
Relevance: This ad showed up for a man in his 30s, and it's about Bud Light and the NFL. Makes pretty good sense!
Value Proposition: There is a solid value proposition here, as this ad is answering questions that fans specifically asked, presenting them with exactly what they wanted from Bud.
Call-to-Action: The ad is updating fans by telling them that their questions have been answered and that they can now review the results.
Disruption Factor: "EXCLUSIVELY" for Bud's Facebook fans means that this ads was created for Facebook fans and Facebook fans only! The image is also well done, as it attracts users with the promise of a video.
Relevance: This ad was shown to someone who has an interest in online marketing, so the SEO offering is definitely relevant.
Value Proposition: The value here is very clearly stated with the free, 14-day trial.
Call-to-Action: The offering here is that, in just 5 minutes, you can have the SEO dashboard of your dreams, and there is a 14-day free trial.
Disruption Factor: The image showing graphs (always relevant to a marketer) coinciding with the "SEO dashboard of your dreams" initially helps to draw the eye, and is then nicely followed up by "5 minute setup" and "14-day free trial" bonuses.
Relevance: This Fiverr ad was shown to an online marketing professional, so the targeting seems reasonable.
Value Proposition: The value proposition is well stated here, as Fiverr is offering an all-in-one marketing services destination for just $5.
Call-to-Action: It's a bold statement, but that's what it takes on Facebook to get attention, with the ad closing with "Check it Out Now!" using both capitalization and an exclamation point!
Disruption Factor: Fiverr does a great job leveraging imagery here in regard to its logo. The bright red, almost zombie-like logo does its job here, which is to draw the eye by being loud. It also helps that SEM and SEO are in all caps.
Relevance: This ad was shown to an active and athletic female in her late 20s, so the targeting looks to be right.
Value Proposition: The value proposition here is a bit hazy, but the keyword in this ad is "support." The ad is meant to appeal to those people who want to get behind their country and show a bit of national pride during the Olympic Games!
Call-to-Action: "Get yours today!" This call-out is designed to make people click NOW while they're "in the moment."
Disruption Factor: The disruption here is that the ad is calling out the Olympics, which is right around the corner and something that is in the news every day.
8) Samsung Mobile
Relevance: This ad was shown to an online marketer in their mid-20s, so the targeting could be a bit tighter perhaps by additionally targeting phone interests, but Samsung seems to be casting a wider net with this ad.
Value Proposition: There is a great value proposition here, as not only will Samsung take your old phone off your hands for you, but they will also give you $300 toward the purchase of a new phone.
Call-to-Action: The call-to-action here appears to be the flow of the entire ad. Trade in your old phone for $300 toward the new Samsung S III, targeting users who are further down the funnel and looking for either a new cell phone or specifically a new Samsung phone.
Disruption Factor: The disruption here is a combination of the visual and $300. There are 4 phones featured in the image with bright colors to draw the eye, and then an immediate call-out of $300, which attracts users to the value.
Relevance: This ad was shown to a marketer engaged with SMBs in their early 30s, so the targeting was well executed.
Value Proposition: The value prop is well stated here, as the offer is the ability to grow your business through pinning (on Pinterest).
Call-to-Action: If you'd like to grow your business, the ad does a nice job of using the word "advantage" and using all caps on the word "HERE," which is meant to make the user want to learn more.
Disruption Factor: Ah yes, the old 'sex sells' approach. You may think to yourself, "Huh? I've never associated an attractive blonde female with webinars," but we've seen this approach since the dawn of advertising (and every year during the Super Bowl thanks to Go-Daddy). You just have to ask yourself, "Is this a method you want to take for your business, and can you make it relatable to your offering?" If so, go for it!
Relevance: How could we not share a HubSpot example? This ad is quite relevant, as it's targeting SMB marketers who have expressed an interest in lead generation.
Value Proposition: The value proposition here is driving leads with Facebook. SMB marketers (our target) are on Facebook, and they've been hearing all about how Facebook doesn't work from GM. But now, thanks to the folks at the Wall Street Journal, they're getting assurance that Facebook ads do work from big names like Ford and Coke. So as thought leaders in the industry, we at HubSpot wanted to be sure that SMB marketers know that HubSpot is here to answer all of their questions and help make Facebook an efficient medium for their business.
Call-to-Action: Since we know our software will help you drive leads and improve your business, we want you to start today!
Disruption Factor: Since the ad was targeted specifically at SMB marketers, we opted to go with our logo for the visual, which stands out thanks to the orange sprocket. We then looked to draw the eye further by starting the ad out with a data point that is 100% relevant to SMB marketers.
Well, there you have it. Relevance, value proposition, call-to-action, and disruption: the four key elements to running effective Facebook ads. Don't afraid to try something new, be loud, be bold, or be controversial. Your main objective is to draw the eye away from all of the other distractions on Facebook, and there are a lot! Whether you're new to Facebook ads or a seasoned pro, things that are considered relevant are constantly changing (e.g. current events like the Olympics), so there is always good reason to update your ads regularly and test something new.
What are some examples of Facebook ads you've stumbled upon that you think are great?
Image Credit: birgerking