In our previous entry in the Online Auction How To series, we touched on some of the best practices to boost the online presence of your auction business naturally, ranking higher in search engines with SEO. However, if you really want the right bidders to find your auctions, it’s going to take more than good SEO practices.
For better or worse, online marketing is largely a pay-to-play field now, and this trend only strengthens every year. If you want to guarantee that your content is going to be seen, you’re going to have to spend some money.
Luckily, even a little bit of a marketing budget can go a long way. Today we’ll be looking at the biggest market for digital advertising in the game today: Facebook. How to make your ads, how to target them to the right people, and how to get those people to pay attention.
While there are certainly other ways of advertising your auctions online (syndication services such as AuctionZip, GlobalAuctionGuide, and our own BirdDog.bid, which should all be considered in addition to FB), Facebook is the most frequently used advertising platform on the web for auctioneers and all other e-commerce businesses. Aside from Google and YouTube, it is the most frequented site on the web, and the one where most people spend most of their time online. As such, the marketing potential for the platform is extensive. But you can’t just go in advertising blindly, or you’ll risk losing your money. It is important to be selective with what you show people, and who you show it to.
Define your audience.
Facebook has over 1.3 billion users, over 60% of which log in every day. This, obviously, means that there is a huge potential audience for you, but it also means that it’s easy to get lost in the noise. That’s why it’s important to define exactly what type of people you want to see your ads.
Luckily, Facebook lets you get pretty specific. You can not only choose the age range, gender, and geographical location of your audience, but also select them based on their interests, pages they like, and even their purchasing habits. Defining your audience will be one of the first things the Facebook Ads manager will prompt you to do. Let’s go through the whole process.
First, you’ll need to make sure you have a business page on Facebook. It’s a pretty easy, straightforward process that can have some benefits on its own, but you will also be posting your ads via this page.
Once you’ve made your page, click the arrow icon in the top right corner of your Facebook page. A list of options will drop down. Select “Create Ads.” Please note, this whole experience will probably be easier from a desktop or laptop as opposed to a smartphone or tablet.
The first prompt Facebook will give you will ask what your goal with your ad is. There are several options:
Depending on which you choose, Facebook will use a slightly different algorithm to deliver your ad to people, and may slightly change its visual format. While you may want to do some A/B testing by running concurrent ads with different objectives set to see which does better, for now let’s just go with good old-fashioned “Traffic.” After all, we’re mostly wanting people to head to our auction site.
Once you’ve chosen your objective and given an internal name to your ad, you’ll be directed to the ad designer.
The first part of this process is choosing your audience. If you have an Excel spreadsheet of pre-existing customers, you can upload it now and then choose for Facebook to make a “lookalike” audience based on the collective characteristics of those people.
However, if you want to be more direct, you can build a custom audience in the module. The first factor it will ask you about will be location. Obviously if you are conducting a live, on-site event, you will only want your ad to be seen by people within your area. You can type a city or town into the “Location” section, and then choose how wide of a radius around this area you want the ad to be shown. Only people accessing Facebook from an IP adress within that region will see your ad.
Next you can choose the age, gender, and language of your audience. Generally you’ll keep this pretty open, although you may choose to not show your ad to teenagers or anyone else who is unlikely to be interested in what you’re offering.
The next section is where it gets interesting.
If you click “Browse” in the search bar under “Detailed Targeting,” you will see the above drop down menu appear. Each of those categories have many more drop down options, allowing you to filter your audience based on education level, buying habits, recent life events, and a whole other host of things.
While you can get as creative as you want with your targeting, the main relevant factors will probably be under the “Interests” category. You can sift through the options they provide you, or just search for specific things. Perhaps you want to target people who like certain pages, or frequent estate sales. All of this can be selected from this module.
Once you’re done, you can save this audience for use in future ads.
Set your budget.
Further down on this same initial page you’ll be prompted to set your budget. You can know exactly the max amount you’ll spend on your ad, so you know things won’t run away from you. You can put a daily budget, or a lifetime budget for your ad, and also choose how long it will run. Your grand total should display in this module. Your credit card will not be charged until the end of the month.
Predictably, the more you pay, the more people will see your ad. To give you a rough idea of what your money will get you, we recently ran an ad that had a daily budget of $20, and by the end of the week it had been viewed by over 30,000 people. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean every one of those people clicked on the ad and went to our site. They just saw it on their Facebook newsfeed. In fact, you can probably only expect 1-3% of people to click through, although this could of course vary considerably depending on how targeted your ad is, and how enticing it is.
This 30,000 after a week of $20 a day is also not at all a hard, set number. Facebook’s algorithm does not always use your max budget every day, and even when it does, it may be more or less efficient with your budget depending on a variety of factors in its delivery algorithm. The better your “relevance score” (the specifics of which are a little nebulous, but somewhat covered in that link), on a scale of 1-10, the wider your ad will be delivered. If people start interacting with it early on, Facebook will take this as a clue that more people will continue to want to interact with it, and it will spread it further for cheaper. The more properly targeted your audience, the more likely your ad will do well.
Design an eye-catching ad.
Once you’ve got your audience and budget set, you’re ready to move on to the next step, which is designing the actual ad. Facebook gives you a preview right in the browser of what exactly your ad will look like in its various forms, so there’s no guesswork here. It will look slightly different on phones vs desktops, in the sidebar vs the main feed, etc. If you go with automatic placements (which we recommend), Facebook will utilize all of these formats for you as needed.
First choose your business page at the top of this screen to post the ad from. Next you will choose which visual format your ad will follow:
The carousel option is best if you’re advertising an auction with several highlight pieces. You can include a photo of a few of your best items for people to scroll through directly from their Facebook page, giving them a good idea of what you’re offering. This is also probably the easiest solution.
If you go with a single image, try to make it an attractive, banner type ad that encapsulates your whole event and entices people to click. If you look too unprofessional, people will probably skip over you.
Luckily, there are free resources on the web to help make decent quality images without Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Websites like PicMonkey give you a basic photo editor, and Pexels provides a large database of free, high quality stock images. Just be careful not to put too much text in the actual photo, because Facebook will penalize your ad for this.
Of course, if you’re in doubt about the quality of your banner image, just go with the straight photos of your items in carousel mode. It’s better to have these than an unprofessional-looking designed photo.
To finish up, paste the link you want to direct people to, and fill in the various fields for the text descriptions of your ad. Double check to make sure you don’t have any typos, and avoid typing in ALL CAPS, because this can come across as very amateur, and will probably discourage people from taking you seriously. Be sure to click through the previews of the various versions of your ad and make sure all the info you want to convey is present in each. Some formats don’t show every last bit of text you typed.
Related Article: How to Increase Bids with Better Pictures
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