The Conversion Cocktail: Blending Facebook with Other Marketing to Stir Customer Traffic In-store and Online


Facebook has mastered the social scene when it comes to retail marketing. In August 2015, more than one billion people logged onto Facebook in a single day, meaning one in every seven people on the planet visited the social site in that 24-hour period. For daily news and information, it often serves as a “second inbox” for many of your customers. When it comes to reach and relevance, Facebook is a potent addition to your marketing cocktail – especially for retail marketers who understand how to use it well.

More recently, Facebook's Website Custom Audiences (FBCA) has become a powerful and proven cross-device remarketing tactic during the consideration phase of the customer journey. Let's begin with how it works, then explore ways to blend it with additional marketing channels to create a powerful customer experience that drives engagement in-store and online.

What's not to like?

Some industry experts claim that your Facebook strategy is as important as your overall Web strategy for 2016. The social site has already overtaken Google in its ability to drive inbound traffic to websites. It's quickly becoming a rival for YouTube in terms of video. While many see Facebook as a customer-engagement platform (driving “likes” to your page, for instance), its real value is in its retargeting and reach.

Because of this, retail marketers are flocking to Facebook. With the launch of FBCA, brands can leverage existing first-party, anonymous and known data to engage customers with highly relevant content within Facebook throughout the customer journey.

Here's how it works: On any given day, a customer visits your website and browses around but does not convert. This opens the opportunity to remarket to that individual across future touchpoints. If visitors don't convert on your site, you can bring them back into the conversion funnel by retargeting them on Facebook. To accomplish this, Facebook's Website Custom Audience builder relies on a rules-based approach to target known individuals with specific creative and messaging. It can also create look-alike audiences if you want to expand on your known audiences and find prospects with similar characteristics. Though not foolproof, FBCA results are impressive, which may explain why marketers have increased spend on Facebook an estimated 55 percent in the second half of 2015, according to some estimates.

Fresh ways to gin up conversions
FBCA alone can deliver nice results, but if you're looking for ways to take things a step further for a unique competitive advantage, the real power of FBCA comes when you shake it up with other components of your marketing mix.

Here are five suggestions to increase performance:

Orchestrate and coordinate your Facebook spend with marketing across other channels. Once you have identified the known audience you wish to target on Facebook, look for ways to expose that group to the flow of messaging and consistency on other channels. The Facebook creative should reflect their unique preferences and past online activity, with a user experience that is more like a connected conversation than a campaign.

Use cross-channel calls-to-action that deliver stronger in-store and onsite activity. Craft your Facebook-sponsored calls-to-action to do things like: drive audiences to a triggered email offer for in-store savings; recognize and reward them for past purchases; send them to a custom landing page and/or introduce website content designed around the unique tastes reflected in the products, images and messaging for a coordinated onsite experience.

Use your data and digital marketing tools to increase the level of customer "intimacy" beginning with Facebook and spreading to additional touchpoints. Customer data is at the heart of modern marketing, but even with piles of information, it's challenging for marketers to make that information actionable. For instance, CRM-exclusive details such as knowing what people bought six months ago or when they were last on the website may not reveal their current position in the purchase journey and conversion cycle. Advances in customer scoring (linking data from known and anonymous interactions with the brand to identify their level of engagement) open new insights into an individual's likelihood to convert. This allows marketers to understand where they are in that lifecycle to frame messaging around "who they are, where they are, what they want" at that moment. Applying that concept to Facebook and linked channels of an orchestrated customer journey directly impacts the ability to connect with individuals within an audience on a more intimate level, which has been proven to significantly increase conversion rates when done right. 

Tailor your content to the context as well as the interests of the audience. While the idea of personalization is nothing new, the ability to personalize campaigns and conversations to each unique audience, then amplify that against a custom-tailored online and offline experience, is a new twist. Start by mapping your FBCA campaigns, calls-to-action and cross-channel activities against the customer journey for each unique audience. Overwhelmed by where to begin? Start with your most profitable customer audience and build from there. While personalization is based on the idea of "show them you know them," the use of FBCA, supported by scoring and blended with the smarter use of additional touchpoints across each unique purchase path can add true substance to the brand-buyer relationship. Additional tools such as algorithmic scoring make it much easier for marketers to have the right touch in the right context in the right moment.

Look for new ways to combine channels with Facebook, allowing for a coordinated, orchestrated customer experience with brand. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the "Conversion Cocktail" when it comes to using FBCA with additional channels. That's because the strategy needs to start with the people within the audiences that matter most to your success. Be open to designing around the target, then applying smart data strategies to amplify your results. For instance, it may be combining FBCA with Google RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads), adding in a dash of Instagram, an SMS push and in-store POS. It varies based on each unique audience. While there are some quick wins to accomplish combining FBCA, email and dynamic website content, ultimately the right recipe depends on the needs and purchase path of each unique audience.

Why Facebook isn't foolproof
While much of this article has been highlighting ways to use FBCA to your advantage, keep in mind it's no silver bullet. Be aware that using a 100 percent rules-based approach for audience creation results in one of three potential outcomes:
  1. The rules may exclude highly engaged prospects that may fall outside the set criteria;
  2. The marketer is forced to make a best guess as to which audience best suits an individual; or
  3. Marketers may inundate individuals with irrelevant ads, wasting budget on the wrong people.
For example, let's say a visitor to a luxury retail website viewed four different types of products. Based on the standard Facebook custom-audience approach, that individual would be excluded from an audience designed for one specific type of merchandise and not another. As a result, the marketer either needs to guess which item to showcase (purses, shoes, scarves or jewelry) or blindly show them ads for all the items viewed. In other words, a rules-based approach doesn't always address the actual real-time behavior and preferences of today's consumers.

For this reason alone, a strategy that incorporates the use of FBCA along with smart-data strategies and technology can help to overcome deficiencies in the basics, introducing a competitive advantage for retail marketers obsessed with performance. By incorporating tools such as engagement scoring to inform the creation of specific Facebook custom audiences, individuals can be grouped into clearly defined audiences based on level of overall engagement and interest. Of the customers IgnitionOne has worked with, Toyota, saw a 95 percent increase in conversions using such a combination. The use of data and algorithmic scoring layered into the already strong retargeting capabilities of Facebook allows for impressive results.

As you look to 2016 for new ways to enhance the customer experience with your brand online, the smart use of Facebook is key to a comprehensive, informed strategy that has the potential to make your ROI bright and your new year even more prosperous.

Patti Renner is vice president of marketing, North America with IgnitionOne
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds