Costly Facebook advertising mistakes to avoid

Chris Blaine of Sojern offers words of advice to hoteliers looking to make the most of their Facebook ad spend.

Advertisers are obsessed with Facebook and with good reason. The growth in ad dollars flowing into the platform is still accelerating predicted to reach $94.69 billion in worldwide ad revenues in 2021, up from $55.01 billion in 2018.

Why? Because the combination of Facebook’s massive global scale and ability to target ads to niche segments makes it appealing to companies of all sizes. A restaurant can easily run locally targeted ads to people that live near their location. A mid-sized company, like a hotel chain, can target ads across Europe to travellers that want to visit cities they operate in. And a large global business, like an airline, can use Facebook to target a variety of customer segments in nearly any country that they operate in.

We have worked on thousands of Facebook advertising campaigns at Sojern, and have been able to identify what drives success as well as pinpointing some common mistakes along the way.  Mistakes that I hope I can help you avoid, whether you’re new to Facebook marketing or a seasoned veteran. We also have a unique combination of platform knowledge through the acquisition of Adphorus, the only Facebook Marketing Partner to focus solely on travel. Our thousands of travel clients also provide us with detailed insights into how to drive performance for advertisers.

Here are three of the most common Facebook advertising mistakes advertisers make, and tips on how you can avoid them.

Common mistake #1: Know what you want to measure so you can effectively set up your campaigns and measure the right results
While it sounds simple, you should be optimising for your ultimate business objective and constantly measuring results.  This starts with defining clear goals and outcomes that you want to measure for your campaigns. For example, are you trying to increase awareness of your hotel brand? Increase direct sales of rooms? Upsell customers to a better package or room? Fill your hotel for a particular month? Drive people to your onsite restaurant? Or perhaps you’re trying to do all of these at once? These goals are all different and require different campaign ad creative, targeting setups, and approaches to measurement to inform and improve subsequent campaigns. While you have various campaigns targeting different stages of your marketing funnel, you ultimately need to measure your results and optimise based on your real business objectives.

Facebook has many measurement tools that help advertisers understand their campaign performance and track their target KPIs. The solution you use will depend on your campaign goal. For example, you can use brand lift if you are focused on growing your brand or conversion lift to measure the uplift in sales. Whether you are optimising for brand recall or Return On Ad Spend (ROAS), make sure that you are measuring and spending on what matters.

Common mistake #2 – Have an always-on testing strategy for creatives
As digital advertising becomes increasingly complex, testing should be at the core of your marketing efforts. This may be even more important on Facebook. Facebook has many different ad formats and placements that advertisers can take advantage of, but figuring out best practices for your brand can be tough. You need to be producing creatives at scale and testing, learning and optimising all components of the creative on an ongoing basis. This is a huge contrast relative to the traditional creative process that most brands still follow. Only by testing can you know for certain whether exterior pictures of your hotel work better than interior or whether 5 images perform better than 3 for example. Leave nothing to assumption and come to a data driven conclusion meaning you can execute marketing strategies which you know are going to be effective. It’s also worth noting that what works for your hotel may be entirely different to what works for similar sized hotel down the road.
Facebook empowers advertisers to deliver highly relevant creatives, but it’s up to advertisers to maximise the results they achieve on the platform.

Common Mistake #3 – Use AI and machine learning for your A/B testing
Everyone wants to use AI and machine learning to improve campaign performance. But, very few marketers have the time, tools, or expertise to develop it. Or they believe that access to this technology is limited only to a select number of large enterprises. Because the number of variables that one can A/B test is nearly infinite, from creative executions to targeting setups and other optimisations it gets complex very fast. A manual approach to optimisations just isn’t feasible to get the most out of your budget.

The good news is that there are lots of experts and tools that can help. For example, Adphorus has developed an AI-powered marketing assistant for clients, that we affectionately call Marvin. Marvin uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically test and optimise  the performance of Facebook campaigns. Marvin monitors campaigns and insights to help clients make data-driven decisions. There are lots of other AI tools out there that work across a wide range of platforms like email, display ads or search. The bottom line is that there is sophisticated artificial intelligence available to marketers, even with small budgets. If you’re not using it to improve your campaign performance, you should be.

2.3 billion reasons to work with Facebook and Instagram
With nearly 2.3 billion people on Facebook and 1 billion people on Instagram, it’s obvious that the opportunity for marketers on Facebook properties is massive. By making yourself aware of these common marketing mistakes you can avoid wasting time and money and focus on attracting new customers and increasing conversions.

Chris Blaine is the head of Sojern‘s EMEA team.

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