Many funeral directors think that simply showing up on Facebook will allow them to “go viral.” These funeral directors create a Facebook Page for their business, post a few obituaries, and watch as their Facebook presence fails to take off, instead stagnating into a dormant ghost town. Does this mean that Facebook is a lost cause that can’t help funeral homes grow their audience and influence in their community? Absolutely not! To the contrary, Facebook is one of the most effective and cost efficient ways to increase your funeral home’s reach and presence. You just need to understand how to play its game.
As Facebook has grown to 1.6 billion users (yes, BILLION!), their platform has evolved to accommodate their swelling usage and maturing business model. In the early days, relatively few people and brands were on Facebook, and those that were didn’t post nearly as much. But today, most people have hundreds (or thousands) of friends and are following dozens or even hundreds of brands. At any given time you login, Facebook likely has up to a thousand or more potential stories to show you. This competition for room in your news feed has resulted in reduced organic (i.e. non-paid) reach for brand pages. Coupled with Facebook’s pressure to increase earnings, a new pay-to-play model has emerged for brands to reach their audience.
While spreading your message on Facebook is no longer as easy as it used to be, the good news is that for those funeral directors willing to put a little effort and creativity into their social media presence, the payoff is even bigger! Not only that, but because relatively few people in our industry truly understand how to get the most out of Facebook, there’s a market inefficiency that poses a huge opportunity for you, the savvy funeral marketing professional!
I’m going to show you the secret to succeeding on Facebook using targeted advertisements. Along with the basics of setting up your ads in a way that actually gets results, I’ll show you real examples you can use to increase your brand awareness and generate interest in your firm. And if you’re ready and willing to go big, I’ll even reveal several insider “hacks”, or pro tips for getting an enormous bang for your social marketing buck!
To get started creating any ad, from your Facebook news feed, you’ll click on Ads Manager on the left. From there, you’ll click Create Ad to start your ad campaign. Next, you’ll see a variety of options and objectives, so now let’s look at several common scenarios and how to set up effective campaigns for each.
Advertise to Grow Your Fan Base
The most common type of Facebook advertising is to run ads to grow the size of your Facebook Page’s fan base. The reason why it’s important to get more fans is because your fans are the people most likely to see the content you post organically in their news feed. Additionally, many people use your fan count as a gauge of your popularity. If your competitor’s firm has significantly more fans than yours, many consumers will assume they are more popular, or in a way, “better.”
To create ads for growing your fan base, after clicking Create Ad from within the Ads Manager, you’ll choose Engagement then Page Likes as your ad’s primary objective. After selecting your firm’s Facebook Page (note: you must be a manager of the page in order to create an ad for it), you’ll be asked to specify your audience and budget.
For most firms, I recommend targeting men and women in your community, ages 30 and up. While you might be tempted to limit your target demographics to just people 50 and older, for instance, it’d be a mistake to leave out the younger demographics. The reason you’ll want to include younger folks is because they are the most likely demographic to be active and engaged on Facebook, and their engagement with the content you post will be key to spreading the message to their parents and grandparents.
Next, you’ll select your ad budget, which can be as low as $1 per day. If your ad is highly optimized, you may get new fans for as low as $0.30 per new fan. If it’s a competitive market, or the ad’s message is not resonating, it may cost up to $3 per new fan or more. So you’ll want to set your daily ad budget accordingly.
Next is perhaps the most important step: choose your photos. The photos you attach to your ad have the biggest impact on the number of people who click through and ultimately become fans. So you’ll want to choose photos that are colorful, relevant and eye-catching; remember, people come to Facebook to quickly browse what their friends are doing. If you want to catch their attention, you’ll need to stand out!
Facebook has a great feature where you can browse a library of hundreds of thousands of stock images to be used in your ads. You can select up to 6 images, and Facebook will automatically create ads for each image you select and determine which ones perform the best, putting more of your budget into those. I like to choose a variety of different photos to see which are most effective, including some with local imagery that will stand out for people in your target community.
The last step is to enter your ad’s copy. You get up to 90 characters of text, so you’ll want to keep your message short and to the point. Again, since you are targeting people within your community, it’s best to keep your message local.
After you submit your ad, you’ll need to wait up to 24 hours for Facebook to approve it, at which point it will start being shown to your targeted audience.
Advertise to Increase Reach and Engagement
As your Facebook Page’s fan base grows, it’s often a good strategy to shift your ad budget to increase your reach and engagement. Often your fan growth ads reach a point of diminishing returns, where their effectiveness plateaus as most of the people in your target market have already seen your ads, and either liked or chose not to like your page. At this point, I recommend decreasing your fan growth budget or even eliminating it completely. Instead, you should apply that budget towards increasing your reach and engagement.
This type of advertising is effectively a shortcut that allows you to take any post viral. It’s called Post Boosting, which is really just a fancy name for advertising your post on Facebook. The beauty of boosting posts is that for a small fee, you can get your post seen by hundreds or thousands of people in your community. And you can target by age, gender, income and a bunch of other factors.
We use post boosting like crazy for our customers, because it’s amazing at getting funeral homes’ posts seen by the right people. For example, you can create a pre-planning message that speaks to a particular audience (such as women aged 50 and older), and then pay Facebook to show the ad to that exact audience within your funeral home’s community. As a result, thousands of women 50+ in your community will see the post! It’s effective and affordable. Now let’s see how it’s done!
There are 3 primary steps towards running a successful boosted post campaign.
- Choose your audience. The best posts speak to a specific audience, with the message and graphics, so you should first consider what your post’s goal is and choose your audience appropriately. If your goal is to simply create engagement, you might consider an audience of women ages 30 and up in your community, since we’ve found that demographic to respond with the most engagement. On the other hand, if your goal is to educate on the value of planning ahead for seniors, you might be targeting men and women ages 50 and older. The more targeted your audience, the better.
- Construct your post. There are 3 elements you should consider for your post: the caption, the graphic and optionally a link (if you’re trying to get them to take an action). The graphic should be simple and eye-catching, since you need to grab people’s attention as they scroll quickly through their feed. Importantly, for boosted posts, your graphic must not contain more than 20% of text, or Facebook will reject your ad campaign. To check the amount of text on your image, you can use Facebook’s text overlay tool: https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay
When it comes to creating a graphic, you may not be an artist or photoshop wizard, but there are online tools such as www.canva.com and www.picmonkey.com that will help you create gorgeous, eye-catching graphics quickly and easily.
While your graphic will be used to grab your audience’s attention, the details of your message should be contained in the caption. Based on your audience you defined above, you’ll want your caption and photo to speak to a specific demographic. The more specific the message, the better it will perform.
Finally, if you are asking the user to take an action, such as signing up for your newsletter, submitting their email to receive a planning ahead guide, or contacting you for a free consultation, you’ll want to include a link back to the appropriate page on your website, or even a dedicated landing page.
- Boost Your Post. Once your post is ready, you can publish it to your Facebook Page and then click the blue “Boost Post” button in the bottom right corner. From there, you can select your targeted audience’s location and demographics as well as your budget. We boost posts with anywhere from a $5 budget for a single day to $50 or more for a campaign lasting a week. You have flexibility here to experiment, so start small and you can always increase your budget and campaign duration as you feel more comfortable with the results.
Advertise to Generate New Leads
Once you’ve become comfortable and experienced running Facebook ads, you’ve successfully grown your fan base and are enjoying huge reach and engagement, it’s time to take the next step and use Facebook advertising to generate leads.
First it’s important to understand that the key to selling on Facebook is to not actually sell on Facebook. That sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? What I mean is that Facebook is a place people go to be distracted and enjoy themselves, not to be sold to. They can spot a blatant marketing ad a mile away, so to get their attention and get business results, it’s best to use Facebook as a way to get interested people off of Facebook and into your marketing funnel. One way to do that is to promote a giveaway or free resource on Facebook, in return for entering their email address, at which point your email drip marketing funnel can heat them up and convert the lead. Don’t worry if you don’t have a full drip marketing funnel yet (or if you’re not even sure what that is). For now, we can just focus on generating interest and collecting email addresses for follow ups.
When it comes to generating leads on Facebook, the first thing you need is a lead magnet. A lead magnet is an irresistible object of value you provide someone in return for their email or contact information. It doesn’t have to be a physical object, though. For instance, some great lead magnets for you to try might include a planning ahead checklist, a downloadable living will, a certificate of credit, a flower purchase coupon, sweepstakes, etc. We’ve also had success “5 Powerful Grief Poems”, “Planning Ahead Reminders” and “$1 local charity donation” as lead magnets for the funeral homes we partner with. Be creative and brainstorm what you can offer of value for people in your target market.
Once you’ve determined your lead magnet, you can follow the guidelines for the boosted post I outlined above for creating your ad. You’ll want a big, bold graphic that demands their attention and promotes your lead magnet, and include a caption with the details. In most cases you’ll want a link that leads to a form or landing page to capture their contact information, such as their email or phone number.
Then boost your post to your targeted audience using the instructions above, and let the leads start flowing. As people sign up for the lead magnets, you’ll begin collecting contact information from folks in your community, whom you can continue advertising to through an email newsletter, a drip marketing campaign or direct contact.
Insider Hack #1: A/B Testing
Want to squeeze out even better results from your lead ads? Try A/B testing! A/B testing is a technique where you run multiple versions of the ad at the same time, with just 1 difference between them. You can then determine which version of the ad resulted in more leads, declare that version the winner, and run another A/B test with the winning ad variation and yet another change. The idea is that little changes can make huge differences, such as changing the wording in the caption or the image used within the ad. If you continue to improve this way over several iterations, soon you’ll be seeing a dramatic increase in your ad performance, meaning more leads for less money!
Insider Hack #2: Lead Ads
Facebook recently rolled out a powerful new way of capturing leads called Lead Ads. These ads work just like any other boosted post, but instead of using a link back to your website, Facebook lets you embed a form into the ad. This allows the user to submit their contact information without ever leaving Facebook! Facebook has found that keeping the user on Facebook results in huge conversion increases. For instance, you could use a lead form ad in the lead advertisements I describe above, letting people submit their contact information in return for your lead magnet without leaving Facebook. To use Lead Ads, after clicking Create Ad from within the Ads Manager, you will choose “Collect leads for your business” as the objective and follow the instructions presented.
Insider Hack #3: Retargeting
People who are familiar with your funeral home are most likely to be receptive to your message, especially when you are promoting your lead magnets. Wouldn’t it be great if you could target your ads on Facebook only to people in your community who are familiar with your firm, or have recently been thinking about your brand? With retargeting you can do that! Retargeting lets you put a tracking pixel in your website, then create an audience of people to advertise to on Facebook based on those who have recently visited your funeral home’s website. Just like when you search for headphones on Amazon and then “magically” see a bunch of headphones ads on Facebook. That’s retargeting.
For funeral homes, you can use retargeting to increase your lead magnet signups. For example, you could advertise your downloadable living will on Facebook to people who have recently visited your funeral home’s website. Or you could advertise your “Powerful Grief Poems” lead magnet download to people who have visited one of your obituaries website pages. You could even show your “Planning Ahead Reminders” lead magnet just to people who have recently visited your planning ahead pages of your website!
Instructions for using Facebook retargeting are beyond the scope of this article, but if you contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org we’d be happy to show you how this is done!
Next Steps and Your Assignment
Targeted advertising on Facebook is extremely powerful and opens up enormous opportunities for progressive funeral homes to expand their branding, reach more people in their community and even generate leads.
I’ve thrown a lot of information your way, and it probably feels like drinking from a fire hose. However, your goal shouldn’t be to do everything I’ve described right away. Instead, you should consider the current status of your Facebook Page and choose your single next step. Strive to create a single ad campaign today! If you’re new to advertising on Facebook, start by creating your ad to grow your fan base. If you’re familiar with Facebook ads and have a nice start with your page, try creating and boosting a post to a targeted audience. Finally, if you are very comfortable and experienced with Facebook ads, challenge yourself to create ads that generate leads using lead magnets and even retargeting.