Paid ads on Facebook is a hot topic these days. With the proliferation of sponsored stories, it seems like more and more advertisers are trying their luck on the site like it’s a Vegas casino. With the latest revenue numbers showing strong growth for Facebook,
it’s clear that advertisers have been shifting budget to test ad units for sponsored stories, paid posts, and buying likes. What isn’t clear, though, is the return value or ROI advertisers are getting back for their budget spent.
For HubSpot, Facebook ads have worked quite well; however, the main reason for the success isn’t what you may think. Of course, publishing great content and having a great value proposition helps. Of course, targeting helps. Of course, having an optimized landing page helps. But the main reason that Facebook works for HubSpot is the relationship that I have with Sales.
Let’s be honest: as a marketer, I’m not really in control of ROI from my ad budget spent. After all, I don’t work leads at HubSpot, nor do I close new deals. The members of my sales team are the ones working the Facebook leads and ultimately closing (or not closing) the leads, yet I’m held accountable. Sound familiar? This sounds backwards to me. As a marketer, it’s my job to deliver leads, and then it’s up to sales to close the deals. Or is it?
With the speed of the world today, it’s no longer up to sales or marketer but rather sales and marketing as one collaborative team. At HubSpot, we call it “SMARKETING,” but the focus of the relationship is sales and marketing working together to improve the overall business, not just the individual departments.
So how does this work with Facebook ads?
First, I met with my sales teams. We talked about testing Facebook as it seemed to be an effective medium and a relevant place for us to be sharing our content. We agreed to a 1-2 week test, and afterward we would look at all the data to see if it was a worthwhile investment. After our post-mortem in which we reviewed the data, there were three things that stood out to me – and one thing that truly stood out within the three.
1) Tracking. It was interesting to see how offers for a free software trial or free software demo performed against offers for free eBooks and webinars. From what we found, sharing our content at the top of the funnel was more effective for us. It was very important for us to see the results so that moving forward we had a clear understanding of which type of offers we’d mostly be sharing and could allocate staff time to create more of those great offers. This would not have been possible without tracking (we used HubSpot for tracking/analytics). You need to be able to see how many leads, quality leads, and sales you get from every paid post on Facebook. Without the full story, Facebook ads aren’t worth doing because at the end of the day you won’t know with data certainty what was working and what was not.
2) Targeting. This one should be a no-brainer, but if you aren’t focused with your targeting then you’re probably paying too much for the wrong type of leads. Facebook makes it pretty easy, thankfully. If you have an eBook about SEO Marketing, don’t automatically targeting “marketing” as an interest because it’s probably too broad. Target interests like SEO marketing, organic search marketing, or Google marketing. If you find that the audience size is too small, you can always go broader. If you start too broad, however, there’s a good chance you’ll blow through budget and bring in too high a percent of unqualified leads.
3) (most important) Work Rates. That’s right, work rates. This was hands-down the number-one indicator of whether Facebook ads were working or not working. Now this concept is applicable to all marketing and should be at the forefront of every marketing campaign, but I’ll just talk about Facebook today. We found that a few metrics needed to be managed very closely:
– Day of Week/Time of Day Marketing: Just as brick and mortar shops have hours of operation, so do sales employees. They are after all human too, aren’t they? They do have a personal life that consists of things other than their work and sales, right? So then at HubSpot, it made no sense to be running an ad at 2 a.m. on a Saturday. We implemented very tight management around when our ads would be showing, and for us it was only when our sales team was “open” and working. The reason for this was the results that we identified after performing an analysis on leads “time to work.”
– Time to Work: When leads come in the door to your sales team, it matters how quickly the leads are worked. It’s different for all companies, so do the research and figure it out, but for HubSpot, we found that every lead that came in from Facebook and closed as a sale was worked within “x” number of days. The data was so convincing that we also determined that if a lead from Facebook hasn’t been worked by that “x” number of days, it’s not worth working. Try this out on your own, by simply comparing the day/time that a lead came into your system and the day/time it was worked. The difference between the two is your answer. See what the trend looks like for leads, quality leads, and sales where applicable.
– How Leads are Worked: First impressions are everything in Sales, so the way leads are followed up on is vital to the sales process. The ads that we were running on Facebook were for eBooks on how to attract customers from Facebook. Users were then able to opt in if they wanted to hear more from a HubSpot sales team member. When the sales team member followed up, the conversation was 100% focused on the eBook. The sales team members, who had read the eBook and was well versed in Facebook marketing, asked if there were any questions that they could answer specific to the prospects’ business and Facebook marketing, and the conversation went from there.
This was a fantastic way to show prospects that our sales reps were knowledgeable and interested in helping them first. If the conversation shifted to our marketing software, great; if not, still an important conversation to have from a thought leadership and education standpoint.
– Dan Slagen, HubSpot