While Facebook ads have not been known for their persuasion value (this is changing as the social network moves to larger ads and possibly video), one thing is certain: Facebook fuels word-of-mouth. If you’re only focusing on click-through rates and not overlook things like reach—including the extent your followers’ friends see content related to your page—you’re missing some of the most important metrics.
Conversely, when driving engagement of a website, ad impressions become less important. Depending on how you’re buying the ads, even CTR may not be a good metric.
Instead, focus on the cost, quantity, and quality of the traffic. How long are people staying on your site and what are they doing when there? Anyone can drive traffic to a website; it takes skill to deliver the right traffic. Think about it this way: An attractive ad casts a big net, but if the bulk of that traffic you’re paying for bounces off the site quickly, then you’re wasting a lot of money. Sometimes, a less attractive ad with a low CTR filters out “curiosity clicks” and drives more quality traffic to the site.
Similarly, in an acquisition campaign, click-through rates and total impressions are less meaningful than the cost per signup, cost per donation, or the volume you are getting. Low CTRs may mean the ones clicking are the ones most likely to sign up, which can be a good thing. Establish with your online consultant—in advance—the specific metrics that are going to be used to judge success, and what metrics might trigger a change in creative or tactics. Hold persuasion online ad performance to similar criteria you hold other persuasion tools, like TV, radio, and direct mail. Make sure your acquisition, and especially retargeting, campaigns start early enough to accumulate both volume and low unit cost.
4. Building Swiss-Army websites that do everything adequately, but nothing awesomely
Not all web traffic behaves the same. People will navigate through your site in different ways, for different reasons, at different points in the campaign. As a result, it’s very common to see Swiss Army-like websites that try to facilitate every task at once without actually being great at one or two.
If the overarching goal of your site is to truly facilitate signups or donations, then all roads should lead to those pages. Every social media or external link that draws people away from those pages (or your website) is a barrier to your goal. Look at your analytics. If 25 percent of your traffic goes from the home page to the about page, then there needs to be a prominent “join” call to action on your about page. All roads must, eventually, lead to Rome.
If new visitors are bouncing off your site without going anywhere, it may be because you’re not giving them a clear reason to move forward, and it’s time to change the graphics on your rotator or the call to actions on whatever destination page you’re sending them to.
Let performance dictate design, and not the other way around. One of my clients (against our advice) insisted on design changes that beautified the aesthetics and increased the prominence of the campaign’s social media components, but significantly lowered our (excellent) email acquisition rates. The new site looked fantastic, but the way traffic flowed through it drastically changed for the worse.
Different phases of the campaign lend themselves to different online goals. To accommodate for the shifting needs of the campaign, you should budget ahead for website changes. In the beginning, you may want it the website to be more educational and direct people to issues or the about page. In the heat of the season, it may all be focused on contributions. Towards the very end of the campaign, you may want it to direct traffic to absentee ballot requests, volunteer signups or polling locations. Budgeting for these changes will pay off in efficiency, and allow you to take advantage of the surges of traffic (and varied audiences) that come.
5. Forgetting banner ads
With all the justified excitement about pre-roll, many campaigns are forgetting to do banner advertising, despite it’s much larger reach and lower cost. But there’s a reason that spending has continued to increase for banner and search ads, year after year: From a cost-benefit and reach standpoint, banners work. Major retailers use them for both branding and acquisition purposes, and the data justifies it. People actually see and click banners. Many of you own Facebook stock, the value of which is very much dependent on the concept that banner ads actually do work.