If you're in need of cash, then social ads are a great way to generate some sales and accrue working capital.
Social ads are seen on sites and networks like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Unlike traditional banner ads, they look like they're part of the social network.
Social ads perform two functions: First, they build a targeted list of potential customers by their interactions with your ads. You can use these “lists” in social networks to show other ads to them again in the future.
Second—and most importantly for building working capital—social ads can provide a jolt of sales in a short amount of time, with a small barrier of entry.
Your ad will work best when it's eye-catching and inspiring. This means going beyond the tired and well-worn stock images of people laughing, or two businessmen shaking hands.
Social Ads' Appeal
Unlike longer-cycle marketing channels like SEO and link building, social ads allow you to send targeted people directly to a product page where they can buy your product.
The process is fairly quick. Because the ads blend into the surroundings and appear native to the social network, there is less to design.
Once you create your ad and determine the audience, you can start sending targeted traffic to your website after a brief wait period.
Creating High-Performing Social Ads
If your business is needing a jolt of working capital, social ads can potentially provide it.
But like any marketing channel, social ads have a learning curve. It's advisable to follow a few best practices to ensure that these ads are a profitable venture.
1. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly.
If you don't have a site that looks and performs great on mobile, the ads just won't perform well.
Instagram and Snapchat are almost entirely mobile-based social networks. Pinterest's current demographic data says that 80 percent of their users access the platform through their app. If your website isn't optimized for mobile, you can waste a lot of money advertising on social networks.
Google has created a mobile-friendly site tester that will critique your site on how optimized it is for mobile, and give you some ways to improve it. Bing and mobiReady also provide tools to test your site's mobile-friendliness.
2. Scale slowly.
I've seen businesses start using mobile ads and scale too quickly, dumping tons of money into the system only to see the ads falter and flatline.
Because social networks often need time to understand the demographic that they're showing ads to.
These ad networks usually learn over time who best to show an ad to, but it takes a while to scale these audiences. By opening the ad spend floodgates before the system is ready, you'll run the risk of showing the ad to the wrong people, as well as showing the ad too frequently to the same people.
There are multiple ways to scale social ads outside of just increasing ad spend for a single ad. You can test different placements, targeting, audiences and many other variables. Facebook has a guide for scaling ads, and many of these practices translate to other networks as well.
3. Improve "ad scent.”
Of the social ad campaigns I've worked on, the ones that have performed the best had ads that looked similar to the landing page. This is known as “ad scent,” or the continuity between the ad and the landing page.
A general rule of thumb with advertising is that you don't want to give the customer something unexpected or jarring. When someone clicks on an ad, they expect the resulting landing page to behave, look and feel similar to that ad.
I've found great results using the same image or imagery from the ad on the landing page, as a visual cue of continuity. You can use the same fonts, heading types, colors, images, videos and any other visual element.
The same holds true for the ad copy—using the same words or phrases from the ads on the landing page gives a sense of continuity, easing the prospective customer.
The best results seem to come by creating a page specifically for that mobile ad. That way you can really tailor the page to the ad, and vice versa. This takes more upfront time and effort, but it might make all the difference in the results.
4. Use compelling product videos and media.
Social networks are visual by nature. Think of how you use Instagram or Pinterest, scrolling through image or video streams until you tap on something that catches your eye.
Ads work best when it's eye-catching and inspiring. This means going beyond the tired and well-worn stock images of people laughing, or two businessmen shaking hands. Put the emphasis on your company's products in a compelling way with imagery.
I recently saw an example of a great ad by a men's boot company on Instagram. The ad was a quick video showing a stream of water running over the top of the boot, showcasing its waterproof capabilities in a unique way. The video was artful and intriguing, and it compelled me to click through to the boot manufacturer's website.
Creating compelling ads on social networks is a great way to potentially boost short-term working capital with little barrier and quick setup time. The results can be relatively quick, as you're sending targeted people directly to your website, landing straight on your product pages. Not many advertising forms that can generate revenue quickly require so little work up front.
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