June 11, 2015
By Jeff Cracolici
With its unparalleled capacity to connect marketers with their customers, donors and prospects, the undisputed king of social media advertising is Facebook. In the first quarter of 2015 alone, Facebook received more than $3.54 billion dollars in ad revenue, and early forecasts only see that number going up.
Given these numbers, and the success in the for-profit world, nonprofits are starting to take notice. But is Facebook useful for helping nonprofits connect with both new and established donors? The simple answer is yes. However, success requires a carefully cultivated strategy and understanding of some of the key capabilities and trends of Facebook's robust advertising platform in order to run effective and efficient campaigns.
Whether you are considering your first Facebook ad campaign or are merely looking for some tips to improve your current Facebook marketing strategy, here are five things nonprofits need to know about Facebook advertising.
Tip #1: Make Sure Your Landing Page and Donation Processing Forms are ready for Mobile
It is particularly important to make sure your landing pages and donation processing forms are mobile-friendly due to the size and responsiveness of Facebook's mobile audience.
As of 2014, there were 112.3 million American Facebook users who accessed the site via a smartphone or other mobile device. The total number of mobile users is expected to jump to 123.1 million by the end of 2015, and that number is projected to only grow from there. With this breadth of mobile users, chances are any ad you run is going to be seen on a mobile screen.
While the size of the audience should alone stress the importance of a mobile-friendly landing page, mobile ads are the most responsive type on Facebook to date. In the first quarter of 2015, mobile ads saw three times as many click-throughs as desktop ads.
In sum, not only are there a ton of mobile users, but these are the users most likely to click on ads. Make sure your landing pages and any donation processing forms are tailored to mobile devices to avoid loss of donation revenue.
Tip #2: Utilize Your Own House Lists for Audience Targeting
One of the chief advantages of Facebook is that you can onboard and match your in-house donor files to Facebook profiles. For nonprofits, this option is great for retention and reactivation efforts because this level of direct targeting ensures a cost-effective campaign served only to those who you have an established relationship with.
When it comes to matching that file to Facebook, there are two options. The first is Facebook's native option of matching by email addresses or phone numbers. This may work for you depending on what type of donor data you have in-house and the percentage of active emails on the file. The more active emails you have on file, the better. The second option is to leverage vendors like LiftEngine, who can target donors on Facebook by name and mailing addresses.
Tip #3: Utilize Facebook for Acquisition
In addition to retention and reactivation efforts, using Facebook for acquisition is another great option for nonprofits.
Natively, you can use Facebook's own elements and lookalike audiences to build and reach new individuals for donor acquisition. While this option is great for organizations looking to dip their toes into Facebook Advertising, the huge downsides are that you will never know who’s targeted for your ads and response analysis is next to impossible.
For a more powerful donor acquisition campaign, nonprofits can onboard any rented acquisition lists to Facebook through a third party vendor and match that audience by name and mailing address. With this option, you have more options to control over the targeting before your upload a marketing list to Facebook, with paves the way for more options when it comes to post-campaign analytics.
For example, when targeting you can apply data models or other types of segmentation to your acquisition list before you onboard your audience, so the audience is tailored for Facebook ad engagement. On the back-end, since you know exactly who was targeted in your campaign, you can run accurate matchback and attribution analyses.
Tip #4: Integrate Facebook Ads with Other Channels
The best response that we have seen has been with campaigns that use Facebook as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. In short, you can onboard your entire direct mail or email file to Facebook and serve only that audience ads before, during and after the delivery of your mail piece. By adding extra impressions on the front and back end of a mailing, you increase the propensity of response drastically.
Tip #5: Test, Test, Test
No two nonprofits are exactly alike, which means that there will never be a “one-size-fits-all” Facebook campaign. To maximize results, you will have to test, test, and test various aspects of your campaigns.
On the creative side, Facebook allows you to test up to six images per ad. At first, all images are rotated equally as ads are displayed. After sufficient click-through metrics have been generated, Facebook will automatically show the highest performing images more often to boost performance.
In addition to the testing of creative elements, different audience panels should be tested and compared. In order to accomplish this in Facebook's advertising platform, you will need to duplicate your ad and assign each copy of the ad a different audience. When doing this, be careful not to test too many variables at once so you can easily evaluate what factors worked and what didn't.
Finally, it is necessary to try out different Facebook ad types. Even though mobile ads tend to engage more, we have seen success with every ad type.
Bonus Tip: Use the "Donate Now" Button (Tip Added on August 25th)
Finally, Facebook unveiled a "Donate Now" now call-to-action button for nonprofit advertisers. To give your ads a more charitable touch, make sure your ads have this button enabled!