I have an embarrassing confession. When I first starting advertising in Facebook Ads, I made a huge mistake.

You see, I got started in 2006 advertising in Google AdWords and Yahoo and over time I’ll admit I became a bit cocky. Then Facebook Ads launched in 2007 and I foolishly applied the same methodologies that were so successful in Google search advertising.

Bad idea.

Through a lot of costly trial and error, I eventually learned this fact…

Success in Google Ads does not translate to success in Facebook Ads.

And my goal here is to save you all that time, money, and frustration. My boneheaded mistake was that I broke the most fundamental marketing law, which I’ll talk about in a minute. Then, I’ll walk through the correct methodologies for Facebook Ads, along with the 4 campaigns every business should use.

Let’s get started with a well-known marketing law, but with a little twist…

Message to Market Match

I know, I know, this sounds too basic and I can see your eyes glossing over as you consider skipping this section of the article… But wait! I’m not going to waste your time explaining the importance of picking the right demographics or locations.

No, that’s the easy part. The mistake I mentioned earlier was not about picking the right target audience — it was about picking the right time. And I’m not talking about time of day, I’m talking about time in the buying cycle.

To illustrate this, we need to revisit our good ol’ friend, the marketing funnel.

At any given point in time, your target market is at one of the stages in the marketing funnel.

Think about that for a minute and let it sink in because it’s one of the most important factors in the success of your Facebook Ads campaigns. You can do everything right with your interests targeting, behavioral targeting, gender, age, and location targeting, but it’s all for nothing if your prospect is in a different stage of the funnel than you think she is.

In other words, “Message to Market Match” is not just about targeting the right demographics, interests, locations, etc. You also have to target the stage in the funnel.

At this point, you’re probably wondering how do you target a specific stage in the marketing funnel? There’s no option in Facebook Ads to select a stage!

How to Identify Prospects In One Stage of the Funnel

First, let’s define the 4 stages I like to use:

  1. Cold or Top of the Funnel (ToFu) = People that fit your target demographic/interests/behaviors that are not yet familiar with your business or your products/services.
  2. Consideration = People that are actively researching for information about your product/service, but may not be ready to buy right now.
  3. Hot or Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) = People that are ready to buy right now.
  4. Customers = People that have already purchased from you.

Now let’s work backwards to identify people that are in each stage.

Your Customers in stage 4 are the easiest to identify. Simply compile a list of your customers’ email addresses in a spreadsheet and then upload it to Facebook Ads as a Custom Audience. Facebook will match the data you have with Facebook user information to create an Audience of customers.

Your Hot leads may also be in a prospect list in your CRM (customer relationship management tool). If that’s the case, then upload this email list to Facebook Ads to create another Custom Audience. Plus, you can consider targeting visitors that submit key forms on your website. For example, if you have a “request a quote” form, then it makes sense to add anyone that requests a quote to your Hot leads audience. You can do this by adding an Event to the thank you page of the “request a quote” form.

The Consideration stage can be anyone that visits your product or service page, but is not in your Customer or Hot leads audience.

And lastly, the Cold stage will be anyone that fits your target demographics, interests, behaviors, but is not yet in any of the other 3 audiences.

OK, now that you have your target audiences, it’s time to create the 4 Facebook Ads campaigns that every business should use…

Campaign #1: Cold Audience Campaign

The first campaign is to target your cold audience. Again, these folks match your target demographics, interests, and behaviors, but they are not yet familiar with your business or your products and services.

Think of this campaign as your feeder to the other campaigns. In sales terminology, this is where you’re going to get fresh leads for your other campaigns to “work” and eventually “close.” Your ads in this campaign are going to have broader appeal because your goal is to cast a wide net and move as many prospective customers into the 2nd campaign…

Campaign #2: Consideration Campaign

The second campaign is for prospects in the Consideration stage. These people are already familiar with your business and your products and services, but they might not be ready to buy yet. Therefore, the goal of these ads is to provide answers to buyer questions and position your product or service as the best option.

For e-commerce businesses, you could offer a coupon to push prospects into the next stage of the funnel. For service businesses, you could offer a traditional lead magnet (free guide, webinar, checklist, etc) in exchange for an email address.

Campaign #3: Hot Leads Campaign

Everyone in this stage is ready to buy. You know this because you created the audience based on your “hot” prospect lists and/or key forms on your website that indicate the prospect is ready to buy (such as quote request, shopping cart page, etc.).

Since these prospects are ready to buy, you’ll obviously want to display ads that are laser-focused on buying. This should go without saying, but don’t advertise a lead magnet to this audience and don’t waste time explaining the need for your product or service. At this stage, your prospect knows she wants to buy and it’s just a matter of making it as easy as possible.

Campaign #4: Customers Campaign

Your Customers campaign could focus on repeat purchases or cross promotional products and services. Or you may want to focus on retention, referrals, and/or online reviews.

If you’re already generating sales and you have a limited budget, then I recommend you work backwards from this list and start with a Customers campaign. If you’re a startup with no customers and only a trickle of new sales, then you’ll need to allocate more of your budget to the top of the funnel campaigns.

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