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Are your Facebook messages contextually personalized?

Love it or hate it, you cannot ignore Facebook advertising when you are a performance marketer. Besides its awareness ads, Facebook provides pixel-based retargeting — an easy, bankable stream to spend ad dollars. On the other hand though, the social audience is getting both choosy and overwhelmed. As a result, contextual targeting is emerging as a means to drive better conversions as well as legitimize your advertising strategy. For the uninitiated, contextual targeting matches keywords and topics in the Google PPC world (for example, you will see an ad for a local saloon in a blog about skin care best practices). 

But, the social landscape is different. Away from keywords and liberally soaked in influencer-led marketing, social audiences tend to respond better to value. Value is often the outcome of mindful targeting – micro segmentation as well as interest-based messaging. Let us then explore how you could bring in the elusive context into your social ads and derive better conversions. 

The Facebook targeting landscape is everything you would need
Imagine how differently our marketing predecessors have had to work when they had to constantly guesstimate user behavior, without data backing their numbers.  Now look at the Facebook arena. The Facebook advertising platform gives marketers the freedom to build core audiences from scratch, import custom web/CRM crowd, or find lookalike buyers. 

Facebook saved (core) audience – Some ways to target your audience using the saved (core) audience feature on Facebook include segmenting them based on – 

  • Age, gender, language  
  • Hobbies and interests 
  • Sports and groups 
  • Interests 
  • Locations
  • Life events

Besides all of this, you can use behavioral targeting to harness audience’s purchasing pattern and other interests that Facebook provides as a result of different factors.

Facebook custom audience – From your user database to website visitors, app users and Facebook page visitors, this feature lets you get laser-focused with your targeting and lets you build accurate personas. You need to either import user profile details to find them on Facebook or install Facebook pixel to track them from a source, and target them. For example, if you have built a custom audience of second-time purchasers of your services, you know that these people are likely to purchase more and add lifetime value. Whereas, the first-time purchase to second time purchase cycle can be arduous. You now know who to target and where in your buyer journey you need to work harder. This exercise may be carried out for web, app, and Facebook page audiences too. Here is a deep-dive if you need one.

Puresense web visitors are often targeted on their feed with appropriate carousels from the category they have last visited. Their Facebook engaged audience are also similarly targeted.

Facebook lookalike audience – For marketers who have narrow, well-defined custom audiences, Facebook gives the option to create a similar audience with matches on specific % factors. You can also get granular in leaving out current customers so they are not bothered again.

Old loop targets audience who have a business or match with those who have purchased their services before.

Facebook Dynamic Product Ads – Marketers can automate their catalogue as a feed for recurring, dynamic product ads that are based on your user’s interests. While the ad segments can be personalized by user behavior,  the ads themselves have very less scope for messaging creativity. Dynamic product ads are loved by scores of marketers, but they are not without cons. Besides earning you the wrath of your Brand Manager, they are also likely to put off banner-fatigued audiences looking for value, since most of the images there are basic product shots with price tags. Almost every blog on ad best practices talks about ‘mixing it up.’ Doesn’t it?

Context amidst the problem of plenty
If you have, like the rest of the world, considered a vacation to Maldives (given its pandemic-safety status), you are likely to have noticed how the island-nation’s resorts look like they follow a template. Despite their differences, it is hard to decide if you should choose X resort over Y because they all have aerial shots of pretty water villas. Our advice – don’t be Maldivian with your ads!

While the freedom to segment, fairly automate and find your dream audience is possible on Facebook, the onus is on you (dear human) to actually build sustained value. You can start by creating –

  • Personalized creative campaigns – Microsegment your audience based on the saved data or what has worked historically with your custom audience. Use those details to not only target the audience with the same generic ad, but create appropriate messages. Your ad for a food processor may naturally target home-makers and play on the fact that they can cook meticulous recipes. But the same ad may work wonders for working men/women who are pressed for time and want short-cuts. Giving your creatives the context of life events and audience interests makes your brand likable even as you uncover new sets of audience.

    This set here is personalized for a budget shopper and goes into the details of such a persona’s home interior needs.
  • Valuable nuggets that cuts down users’ uncertainty – A carousel is great. It hinges on the user’s behaviour to look for more and his/her tendency to tap on pretty merchandise. However, carousel ads often open the scope to research further- for sizes, social validation of other buyers, price ranges, colour variants and more. This means, if you enable carousels with more information or better, have a carousel series, users are empowered to make up their mind sooner. For those who clicked on your food processor ad, consider running a series on warranty, price-match, technology nuances or testimonials. You can give users the freedom to browse through other categories too. Clix marketing has a very thorough piece on getting those strategies right.

    This Guardian ad set in bright colors states the brand’s value proposition without intimidating average news consumer.
  • Testimony-backed content that is hyper-localized – People love reviews. But to have them in one’s own language is especially useful. Hyper-localized content can also mean that users in my region/ country have found value in a purchase. Yet again a fact that both connects and convinces. You could be a local business targeting people in the area, a global marketer doing local targeting or a segmentation expert.  While at it, find out what sort of a local-marketer you are and get recommendations! Dynamic Product Ads on Facebook may be used here too — the platform through its Cross-border Campaigns will localize copies for you and automate the journey, though stylistic personalization is not possible.
  • WOW-messages including videos that stand out from catalogue shots – Banner-blindness is real. You can fight it if you optimize ad frequency and play out messages that stand out. Amidst all the strategy and segmentation, it is crucial that you innovate your brand story too. Creating micro-videos that stand out is still proven to work. Lead clicks to landing pages that are personalized too. To have the bandwidth to personalize as much, you have automated and planned a creative workflow that sustains, as well as a user journey map that actually works. 

Branding, automation and the journey back to story-telling 

You must have noticed that almost all of our tips point toward creating rich visuals. Such visuals cajole users even as they let you stand out as a consistent brand that users can relate to and drive real business. This strategy often relies on automating some parts of your creative production so that you can create on-brand, segment-focused variants of core message templates as a strategic marketer. In other words, your visuals will be a super-power well within your control, and not a luxury that you rely on a few teammates for. When creating evocative on-brand visuals is independent as a process, your brand manager is a stakeholder whose heart you would have won, and your conversion metrics will be badges of honour you are proud of.

For example, Lush testifies its ‘handmade’ narrative through the in-store experience that encourages an immersive sensory experience spanning feeling and smelling their products. This expectation of a brand that merges brand ethos with that of customer experience begins with visual storytelling. The Science of Social Media Advertising study long proved this fact when it revealed, “There was a 56% increase in subscription rates among people who were exposed to the sequenced ads compared with those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads.” Experts who were a part of the research believed that even as it is natural for marketers to want to have shorter campaigns, long campaigns that build brands and narrate stories were both effective and resilient. 

An example of a lush Facebook ad that stands for their brand personality.

Humans are driven by feelings. If you want the consumer to remember your product or brand, they must be engaged and impassioned by the interaction with your company… Emotion is what really drives the purchasing behaviors…”

Brand marketing effectiveness study, Deloitte

Conversations are moving to chat (we recommend that you choose more than a monosyllable bot) and customers want conversations. The time, then, is ripe for going back to older ideas of advertising and advertorials, only geared with automation and real-time analytics. Are you prepared with your steaming cup of coffee? It is going to be a rewarding ride.

Nityashree Yadunath

Nityashree Yadunath

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