Recently, I was in a plush downtown office pitching to a client in the competitive travel and vacation’s industry. While most clients I meet are tacky baby steps towards online marketing as as important component of their integrated promotional strategy, this one was on the ball, complete with an in-house paid and organic search team. Having worked in an in-house SEO capacity before, I was impressed on how tight they ran their ship.

Curious as I was, we talked the usual SEO, SEM operations, and then the focus shifted to Social Media. The client in question runs a lot of promotions during our frigid winter months, targeting university students, young single executives, and families for vacations in the Caribbean, Domincan Republic and Cuba.

That got me thinking, and I asked him how he measured the performance of his campaign. As I’d expected, most of the promotion was through the Adwords Search Network, so I had two important suggestions for him.

  • Use the Content Network to your advantage by strategically targeting Canadian travel sites.
  • Use Social network ad placements to figure out what target market best converts for you.

I won’t go into how to make the content network work for you, but I will talk about how to use Facebook to test ad copy, conversion rates, and demographic targeting for seasonal, and inherently, social marketing campaigns.

But Aren’t Facebook Ads Absolute Crap at Converting?

My answer : It depends on the type of offer you’re promoting. Folks like Slighty Shady and Nicky Cakes have made a killing promoting affiliate offers on Facebook because they have a knack for understanding what offers ‘fly’ and what doesn’t.

Three reasons Facebook ads are a good testing bed for your social campaign:

  • Facebook ads are dirt cheap. The CPC on desirable keywords is FAR less than that on Google Adwords.
  • Facebook ads have better targeting than Google adwords for specfic demographics. You can target by Age, Location, Company, Interests and more.
    • Do you know of a company that encourages its employees to take lots of vacations? Perhaps you’re running a campaign that is targeted to young execs from that ‘fresh and oh so web 2.0’ company everyone keeps buzzing about – Target them by company.
  • Facebook Insights (Analytics) provides some interesting demographic data that cannot be found in Google Adwords.

Bottom line, I got the client interested in approaching their vacation promotional campaigns for this year in a different light. George, if you’re reading this, you know who to call.

To summarize how to use Facebook ads to test social marketing campaigns:

  • Setup a ad on Facebook’s advertising network by targeting multiple ad variations around Age, Location, Interests, and other Demographic variables. Be sure to use different ad copy versions for each target market in order to ensure good Split A/B testing setups.
  • Analyze your results over a week or two to project an idea of what needs tweaking in your campaign.
  • Replicate your findings for Google Adwords the best you can, and watch your conversion rate skyrocket.

Photo credit: digitalhead!

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Tagged with: A/B Testing, AdWords Search Network, Facebook, Facebook Ads, Nicky Cakes, SEM, seo, Slighty Shady, Social Ad, Social Ad Copy, Social Media

About Dev Basu

Canadian SEO & Inbound Marketer. Founder at @PoweredbySearch. Professor @SenecaSoME. I love startups, fast cars, & smart people. Helping brands with #DemandGen.