Looking for creative ways to generate sales leads? Most of us are. Yet the mindset we have surrounding sales and revenue generation can play a huge role in how we approach it. For business owners, the greatest concern is generally how to generate sales. For marketers and social media types, it’s usually how to gain subscribers. Their goals are the same – they both want to make the company money. So why the difference in focus?
Quite simply, the savvy marketer understands that one does not happen without first achieving the other.
To make a cold sale – sell to a person who has never heard of you before – is bloody difficult.
What is considerably easier is selling to a person who has had a chance to get to know, like, and trust you. Someone who has had multiple points of contact or ‘touches’ from you…no it’s not as dirty as it sounds.
That may begin with seeing a post on Insta or TikTok, continue with recognition as the relevant algorithm sends more of your content their way, and culminate in them deciding they want to hear from you on a regular basis, so they subscribe to your email list. The final push for them to do so often comes because you’ve offered a free incentive; they’ve see enough of your public content by now to trust the value of that freebie is enough to warrant ponying up their email address and agreeing to contact.
From that point on, the odds of them buying from you are considerably higher. It might not be today, tomorrow, or next week, but one day – as long as they enjoy your email content – they’re going to pay.
You can put exactly the same offer in front of a cold prospect and a warm lead and the odds are far, far high that the latter will buy and the former will pass.
If you’re paying to advertise your offer, why would you spend money putting it in front of someone unlikely to take you up on it, when you can spend considerably less warming someone up, convincing them to subscribe to your list, and put it in front of them for free?
Gaining subscribers is the critical first step to generating sales.
For most of us in the marketing game, that step has been achieved through either pay-per-click advertising or SEO for years.
PPC puts the content in front of the same people over and over again until they’re warm enough to signup to that lead magnet.
SEO drives traffic to content on your website. Super high-value content that leaves people wanting more and, wouldn’t you know it, right there on the page is the chance to subscribe in exchange for a free eBook or mini-course that will deliver precisely that.
While generating leads through SEO is highly successful, creating an entirely organic funnel takes a lot of time, and a hefty investment. That content needs to be absolutely top-notch in order to drive traffic, there needs to be a high volume of it, and the lead magnet on offer news to be of even greater value.
Most businesses don’t have the luxury of investing several thousand every month for 6-12 months before they see the volume of traffic and subscribers required. That’s where PPC comes in; social media has always been the golden child of marketing. Not only can it drive traffic to your website instantly (no 6-12 month wait required) it can utilise smaller pieces of content to warm up your audience and convince them to subscribe to that list a lot faster.
And the go-to platform to achieve this?
At least, that was the case.
GDPR, The iOS Update, And Current Issues With Generating Sales
Facebook has been the darling of the marketing world for years. And yet, I know a lot of people who are done with Facebook at the moment. I count myself among them to some extent. It began a few years ago, and has only grown worse since.
Many a marketeer thought they had the process of lead generation and sales licked. A year or so ago, we all had systems in place that warmed up our audiences before we tried to sell to them. There were social media campaigns galore that #targeted people with specific interests, retargeted those who engaged with more content, retargeted again with a lead magnet to entice them to subscribe, then emailed that list on the regular.
Worked like a charm.
Those days are gone.
The Impact Of The iOS Update
Last year’s catastrophic iOS update seemed to be the final nail in the coffin as far as Facebook advertising is concerned.
And it left people floundering. Again, myself included. At the time I was Head of Marketing at Acrylic Digital, and several of our clients experienced an abrupt and catastrophic plummet in ad results. Campaigns we’d spent months building and fine-tuning so they consistently delivered better and better results suddenly stopped delivering.
Those who relied on Facebook ads (and by extension Instagram ads) as their only means of generating sales were, very suddenly, screwed.
Just like the days of ranking number 1 on Google vanished the day the algorithms got wise to the fact people were keyword stuffing to the detriment of the content Google users were seeing. The priority of any search engine is to deliver the best content possible. Keyword stuffing meant that wasn’t happening. So the algorithms evolved to put a stop to it.
SEO experts and bloggers the world over had a nervous breakdown when their sites suddenly plummeted into obscurity. They had no idea how to rank with the new algorithms. But, in time, it soon became clear: high quality, long-form content, that didn’t stuff in keywords but used Latent Semantic Indexing.
The same thing has happened with sales generation through PPC. The powers that be realised that their users were prioritising privacy over everything else. It began with GDPR and snowballed from there.
Nobody wants to see a marketing message they haven’t agreed to give their time to.
When the iOS update rolled out last year, retargeting based on previous activity became almost obsolete. It’s still technically doable, but people need to have agreed to it.
Ad campaigns that were generating thousands if not hundreds of thousands of pounds in revenue every month suddenly stopped working.
Sales went from booming and steadily increasing each month to practically non-existent. Costs per sale skyrocketed. ROI was sucked into a black hole and – for many, many companies – hasn’t been seen since.
In short, the method we all had of effectively warming up an audience and generating sales one year ago, is now as useful as the Yoast SEO plugin.
(If you’re wondering, this handy tool hasn’t been updated since keyword stuffing went the way of the dodo. The result is that in order to get the almighty green light from it, you have to stuff in your keyword. Doing so means that, rather than ranking well for the keyword, your post is penalised.)
How To Gain New Followers (And Why You Want To)
Ironically, the iOS update revived a previously antiquated practice while it scattered dirt and rose petals on the coffin of behaviour-based retargeting. Years ago, when Facebook first started out, many a business was set up and achieved overnight success by doing one simple thing: gaining followers.
The more Likes your page had the better. People obsessed over gaining page likes, and having a page with thousands of followers was like owning a gold mine.
I had the misfortune of doing a digital marketing course run by one such overnight success story early on in my own entrepreneurial career. I spent a lot of money before I realised the method she was teaching wouldn’t work for me or any of her other students.
Facebook had changed.
She was already successful at that point. She’d already built an audience of followers in that early period when there was practically nobody else on Facebook doing what she does. By the time she was teaching me how to generate sales, my feed was flooded with people professing to do exactly the same thing.
Since then, the market has only grown more crowded.
Running ads to gain more Likes as a primary means of sales generation was a huge waste of money that achieved absolutely nothing.
They were empty followers. They rarely bought from you, or even stuck around. Most couldn’t remember why they’d liked you in the first place, and the odds of them actually needing what you were selling were low.
I sought better methods and learned to build an audience through content marketing in a more effective way.
Likes ad campaigns were a waste of time, and money, and anyone who told you otherwise needed to be shot.
And then the iOS update happened and suddenly, things shifted.
Likes Campaigns Are Back From The Dead
You see, retargeting in order to warm up a cold audience is (for all intents and purposes) no longer possible if you’re retargeting based on their behaviour as they interact with content, which indicates they are interested in a particular thing. It’s no longer possible based on the fact they’ve previously engaged with your own content.
It does, however, still work like a charm if you’re retargeting people who like your own page.
After racking my brain trying to figure out how to get my client’s Facebook ad campaigns to be profitable again, I realised that I needed to roll back the clock. Create killer ‘Like’ campaigns that focused on getting as many people as possible to Like the business page. Once that was done, each new post could be put in front of all page followers very cheaply.
Getting a cold audience to buy from you? Damn near impossible. Getting a cold audience to Like your page, so you can expose them to more of your content regularly and warm them up?
If you’re on another platform like TikTok, you’ll find the same holds true, albeit for different reasons. TikTok is currently enjoying the initial boom that Facebook did in its early years when follower count equaled profit. As long as you have a genuine following on the platform (not bots) you can generate sales through the platform with ease.
Instagram is a trickier one. It’s in a kind of twilight zone between the two. Followers alone aren’t enough to do it, you need advertising too. But there is no equivalent to running a Likes campaign on Instagram, so the best you can do is run ads that direct people to your profile and hope they follow you.
List Building And Token Sales
Just remember, the need to get people on your list and nurture them from there hasn’t vanished. This is an effective strategy to work around the issues the iOS update created, as long as it’s done well. Even then, however, it is still reliant on people who follow you on social media.
And you do not own social media.
Getting people to follow your page is the new first step to warming them up so they subscribe to your list.
Don’t get confused and think it’s going to generate immediate sales from people as soon as they hit like.
It hasn’t replaced gaining subscribers, it simply comes before it now. The process gained a step.
Here’s one thing I learned from running ad campaigns for an agency for four years: repeat customers and the occasional impulse buyer will buy from your social media; new people buying for the first time will usually do so from your email list.
Revenue growth happens on your list, not on your social media.
The slight caveat to this is if you have a very low price offer that’s easy for people to say yes to on social. Most businesses offering such deals, however, don’t make their money off them. They simply use them to cover the costs of the ads needed to get people on their email list.
The notion of running ad campaigns to warm up your audience is very tough for a lot of business owners to swallow.
They don’t want to do it. They have – on many occasions – outright refused to let me do it. They just want sales. Once I’ve explained the campaign I’m proposing and they know the goal is not to generate sales but get people subscribed, they say no.
They don’t care that the end game is to generate sales from them at a later date.
They don’t want to spend money on ads that are designed to fail to generate revenue. They want sales now. NOW, NOW, NOW. They want the ads themselves to generate sales.
Otherwise, as far as they’re concerned, they’re spending money and seeing no return.
This is a common mindset issue in marketing.
I get it. This is a conversation I had repeatedly with one client for a year. I was trying desperately to build their email list but they refused to allocate any ad budget to campaigns that weren’t geared towards direct sales.
This despite the fact I showed them the numbers, which clearly indicated the value of a customer on their email list was astronomically higher than any of their sales on Facebook.
I could send out an email for this client that pulled in £10K in sales. Imagine, I would tell them, how much that revenue would be if your list was twice the size? Ten times the size? Now, look at how much it costs to get someone on your list. A fraction of the amount it costs to convert them to a sale on Facebook.
It didn’t matter.
When faced with the prospect of spending a large amount to generate sales, and a smaller amount to generate a higher number of signups that would eventually lead to far greater sales revenue, they went with the former every time.
At the same time, they insisted on spamming their email list with more and more campaigns, assuming that each would pull in the same amount, and all they had to do to scale their income from their list was send more emails.
Not grow their list.
Send more emails.
The result, inevitably, was the opposite. Revenue from email campaigns plummeted. People were sick of them. They began unsubscribing.
Honestly, I’ve never found anything so infuriating.
How To Generate Sales On Facebook Following The iOS Update
The solution to their negative money mindset was to create a very low-paid offer that could be used as an incentive to get people to subscribe. This was in place of a free lead magnet and was often a very nominal amount – 99p, 79p, etc.
It didn’t matter. It solved the problem.
Ads could now be run to gain new subscribers and grow that highly profitable email list, while the client was happy the ads were ‘earning’ them money. In reality, the revenue generated directly from the ad campaign wasn’t a lot. But it was enough for their mindset to accept it as a viable campaign.
And the revenue generated from the rapidly growing email list? Far greater than the ads that were trying to make people buy immediately.
If you’re impatient and one of the ‘now, now, now’ people when it comes to sales generation, working in a very low ticket offer is the way around it. You get those immediate sales, but your business gets what it actually needs – list growth to support consistent ongoing sales and repeat business.
How To Gain Followers And Generate Sales…
There are two games you can play here:
The long game focuses on gaining new followers, so you can retarget them and convert them into subscribers, who will be nurtured in order to generate sales.
The shorter version (from a mindset perspective at least) is to focus on gaining new followers, so you can retarget them and convert them into very small sales (while simultaneously getting them to subscribe), and then nurturing them in order to generate higher-priced sales.
Whichever way you go, the key to creating consistent long-term sales generation on Facebook (and every other social media platform) is content.
High-quality, engaging content your audience will love. Do this, coupled with an ad campaign that understands the necessity of warming up your audience AND the limitations of current targeting options, and you have a winning strategy.